I asked my girlfriend, "Why are you so stupid?"


There's a new Think Again column, "No Substance, Please. We're Journalists," here, and a new Nation column, "Liberalism's Lost Libretto" about "The Coast of Utopia," here.

The Smart Boyz at The Note argue that it's a good thing to spend two years arguing over the minutiae of an electoral campaign because you learn more about the man or woman who might be president. That's a nice theory, too bad most of what we learn is idiotic nonsense that obscures rather than clarifies the truth. For instance, I lack the vocabulary skills to express my degree of annoyance at stories like these. Even if these stories were true in any significant sense, they would be silly and pointless.

Look, David Geffen held a fundraiser. That's all. If you think that means Obama gets to tell Geffen what to say or do when speaking to the press, you understand nothing whatsoever about politics and power. Hillary's camp knows this, but they also know a story like this is irresistible to reporters, even if it is based on a premise they know to be both factually false and intellectually unsupportable. Arianna makes a point here about Hillary's campaign's willingness to be purposely untruthful -- and for what? -- but even so, it's hardly the central one ...

I mean, just look at this crap. Un****ingbelievable.

Meanwhile, The Atlantic thinks my 2004 Hollywood piece is news again.

Bob Reich on trade and labor standards, here.

Hooray for this. I don't let my students use Wikipedia for their papers or oral reports, but you wouldn't believe what a struggle it is...

Ever notice how much Todd Gitlin looks like, um, Wilford Brimley?

(Who the heck is...)

From our sponsors:

That's why we needed The Politico. We weren't getting enough information about Bill and Hillary in the sack.

Also, I guess there was not enough sucking up to McCain going on ...

Wash. Post published four op-eds attacking prosecution and trial of Libby, none supporting them, here.

Remember, MSNBC hired this guy.

From Tom Dispatch:

Have you already been swamped by the 2008 presidential madness -- by Hillary, and her swiftboaters, and Obama(mania), and Edwards, and McCain hawking his wares in Iowa, and Hagel, and a gaggle (or maybe a gagel) of lesser presidential candidates, wannabes, and thought-abouts haggling over their prospects, and the latest definitively meaningless polls on the candidates, and whether various giant states are going to swamp smaller states in the race to be first in the primaries, and which of the candidates are ahead in the mad dash to the various moneybags who finance both parties?

Why this media and candidate announcement madness? You won't find out from reading your morning paper or catching the nightly news on TV. Sometimes a dash of history, a bit of historical context, not to speak of a little informed speculation is just what the media rush to the polls is lacking. Fortunately, Steve Fraser at TomDispatch has the antidote to the already headlong race to 2008. A canny historian, he considers the historical factors that go into a "turning-point" election, which previous elections in American history might qualify as such, and whether last November's midterm elections might slip under the definitional wire. He explores what happens when an old order rigidifies and what might (or might not) be born out of it -- and concludes that there is "a good case to be made that the 2006 election may turn out to be one of those rare turning points, or at least a signal that one is looming on the near horizon."

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Steve Silberman
Hometown: San Francisco

Dear Eric:

Thank you for citing my Wired article on antibiotic-resistant infections in US military hospitals, "The Invisible Enemy." While the Lt. Col. seemed to enjoy the story, he's painting with a pretty broad brush when he says that my story is "not news." For years, Defense Department spokesmen have been telling the press that the source of the bacteria in question, which has infected or colonized over 700 wounded US soldiers and killed at least five civilians in military hospitals, was the Iraqi soil. The Lt. Col. perpetuates this myth by referring to the bacteria as a "foreign bug," ostensibly from Iraq. In fact, as I point out in the article, the primary source of the infections was the US combat-support hospitals themselves.

The proliferation of the mistaken notion that the source of the bacteria was Iraqi dirt leads not only to misconceptions about how drug-resistant organisms are created (and can be controlled), but to bad medical practice on the front lines, which creates more death and disease. In a recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan was quoted as saying his team was planning on building double doors in their field hospital to keep out desert sand contaminated with this organism -- though it does not live in the sand, as the DoD has known for at least a year and a half, while saying otherwise publicly.

The fact that the same strains of acinetobacter causing the US military infections have now spread into civilian hospitals in Europe where wounded troops receive care -- resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians in London -- is worth noting. I interviewed several parents of wounded US soldiers who were never told that their children were infected with a potentially dangerous organism, and thus did not protect themselves from carrying it out of the hospital into other institutions. In one case cited in my story, the mother of a Marine was not even told that her son had died of a bacterial infection, but that he had expired as a result of his war wounds. It took a VA investigation to uncover the truth.

So while the association of war and disease is as old as war itself, and the evolution of drug-resistant organisms is a problem worldwide, I'm confident that my story of this particular pathogen, where it really came from, how it spread, and how this epidemic has been covered up by the DoD, was worthy of bringing to national attention.

Name: Mark
Hometown: Portland, OR

Administration cheerleaders like to warn of the dire consequences of Congress meddling in the conduct of the Iraq war, to wit: "If Congress proceeds to throttle the president's strategy, then it will seriously undercut the ability of future presidents to do what they need to do to protect the nation in a time of war," said James Phillips, a foreign policy scholar at the Heritage Foundation. "It's a mistake to think you can effectively run a war by committee."

Thing is, it's being run by committee now. The committee is composed of people who have offices in the White House and Pentagon. For four years, with a compliant Congress, an open checkbook, and a pass from the MSM, the committee running the war has failed miserably. I don't think it's due to the fact that it's a committee, but who is on the committee. Time for a new committee.

Name: John Sherman
Hometown: Moorhead, MN

While Dana Priest's story on the Walter Reed annex is a good story, what is surprising about it is that it got results. By constrast, Daniel Zwerdling's recent NPR series on the mistreatment of soldiers with PTSD in Colorado Springs apparently sank without a trace.

Name: Reed Richardson
Hometown: Ridgewood, NJ


In re "The Invisible Enemy," here's another compelling, even more troubling story about wounded soldiers and medical complications that was first covered by The Baltimore Sun almost four months ago (see here). It just so happens that it was honored with a George Polk award for medical reporting on Tuesday. Even more notable (and sadly ironic) about this story is that only weeks after the Sun's [reporter Robert] Little produced this excellent piece of on-the-ground journalism, the paper's corporate fathers at the Tribune Company felt it necessary to close the Sun's three remaining foreign bureaus. According to their logic, I guess the public and, more importantly, the bottom line is best served by more wire service stories. Anyway, it's not as if our country is involved in a war (or two).

Name: Adrian Crisp
Hometown: Seattle

Make yourself a place in history, Eric, advocate in this space for the creation of climate science as an addition to the list of fields for this prize.

Without that kind of work, the other prizes won't really matter in 20 years, will they?


From the February 22 edition of The Note:

Dust-up in the desert: morning television:
Appearing this morning on "Good Morning America," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos -- the moderator of yesterday's forum -- said that "Barack Obama wants to appear above the fray but it did not work out that way yesterday. I think the Clinton camp hit back hard yesterday because they're getting very frustrated. They think Senator Obama has been getting a free pass from the media on the one hand going out running against negative politics, but in private they believe both his supporters and Senator Obama himself are being very critical of Clinton behind the scenes and they wanted to call him on it."

Stephanopoulos also added, "neither one won this round. Both campaigns want to pull back from this engagement. People like Senator John Edwards who were out of it did well."

He also gave an indication of who could capitalize on the current drama saying, "with this race getting so negative so early, it leaves an opening for someone like an Al Gore to come in very late when people are sour on all the candidates in the race."

NBC's "Today" characterized the Nevada forum as having "descended into trash talk," with the preview headline, "When Democrats Attack."

While appearing on NBC's "Today" show, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., bemoaned the sparring that took place Wednesday between the Clinton and Obama camps over comments made by Obama supporter David Geffen to the New York Times' Maureen Dowd.

"I think it's awfully early for that sort of sniping back and forth," said Edwards, adding that he intends to run a "positive campaign."

More on the "Political Radar" from ABC News' Paul Fidalgo: LINK

Dust-up in the desert: winners and losers:
Slate's Dickerson says Clinton won. LINK

The New York Post's Podhoretz says the Republicans won. LINK

Newsweek's Fineman says that the Republicans and Edwards won, but he sucks up to Wolfson and Gibbs too. LINK

Dust-up in the desert: Geffen focused:
The New York Times' Patrick Healey and Jim Rutenberg write that yesterday's fighting between the Clinton and Obama camps "was a remarkably caustic exchange between the Clinton and Obama campaigns that highlighted the sensitivity in the Clinton camp to Mr. Obama's rapid rise as a rival and his positioning as a fresh face unburdened by the baggage borne by Mrs. Clinton&," LINK

"One adviser, who is not part of Mrs. Clinton's day-to-day inner circle but speaks to her regularly about politics and fund-raising, said Mr. Geffen's comments might not shock "political insiders" in Washington or New York who are used to hearing bad things about the Clintons. But such criticism, especially from a former Clinton supporter like Mr. Geffen, could surprise and concern average voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and in other politically important states where they are starting to form impressions of Mrs. Clinton as a presidential candidate."

"By pulling Obama into the controversy, Clinton aides hoped to take the shine off a candidacy that has sparked surprising excitement, not only in Hollywood but among many Democratic activists across the country," write the Los Angeles Times' Tina Daunt and Peter Wallsten. LINK

"Clinton, Obama Camps' Feud Is Out in the Open," reads the Washington Post headline on the front-page story by Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza. LINK

"The locale, with the snowy Sierra as a backdrop, was intended to steer the discussion toward regional issues, such as water and land use. But it was the war that dominated nearly two hours of talk by the Democratic hopefuls," writes the Los Angeles Times' Mark Barabak on the Democratic forum held yesterday. LINK

"The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses may be 10 months away," writes ABC News' Jake Tapper, "but the bitter sniping . . . is indicative of just how competitive the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has become. LINK

"H'wood Clash of the Titans," glares the New York Post's page one story. LINK

In tomorrow's Time magazine, Karen Tumulty compares the Clinton-Obama snit to "All About Eve." LINK

"An email fusillade yesterday left many Democrats shaking their heads that party infighting -- like everything else about the 2008 presidential campaign -- is starting so soon, nearly a year before the first nominating votes, writes the Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes under the header "Clinton-Obama Rattles Party Faithful."

For the New York Times' "The Caucus," Jeff Zeleny blogs about Obama's "it's not clear to me why I should be apologizing for someone else's remarks. LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis calls Sen. Clinton's denunciation of the "politics of personal destruction" a "throwback to the 1990s." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Mike Dorning and Jill Zuckman call the Geffen spat "the first big food fight of the 2008 presidential election." LINK

Steven K. Paulson of the Associated Press reports that while kicking off his Colorado campaign today, Gov. Richardson said of the Obama-Clinton flap, "I believe it's best if Sen. Obama apologizes for the comments made by David Geffen. This is a small blip. It will be over soon." LINK

Jeff Jones of the Albuquerque Journal reports on Richardson's speech yesterday at the AFSCME forum where he called on all candidates to keep it clean. LINK

John Tabin of The American Spectator compared the Nevada presidential forum to "speed dating," and Noted that, "While Barack Obama skipped the forum, pleading a scheduling conflict, Obama's ghost seemed to dominate the event." LINK

"Behind the brawl between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is a fight over the black vote, a valuable piece of political turf both are counting on to carry them to the White House," writes New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis LINK

ABCNews.com has the video clip of George Stephanopoulos asking Sen. Clinton whether Obama should repudiate Geffen's comments. LINK

More coverage of Clinton v. Obama from:

The New York Daily News: LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times Lynn Sweet: LINK

The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan: LINK

USA Today's Jill Lawrence: LINK

Washington Times: LINK

Jake Tapper's Political Punch Blog: LINK

ABC News' Ed O'Keefe: LINK

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.