Slacker Friday


I've got a new "Think Again" called "Lies, Justice, and the Punditocracy's 'Place,' " here, and I did a Guardian post on poor John McCain, which is here ...

Back in April, I asked, "Who was defending Imus?" My researcher Tim Fernholz has a piece up at answering that question. And here's Eric R. on FDR's latest critics in Slate.

From our sponsors:

Novak column on Libby recycled "no underlying crime" misinformation

In a July 4 column about President Bush's decision to commute the prison sentence of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak claimed that although former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for Novak's July 16, 2003, column revealing Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA employment, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "plowed ahead with an inquiry that produced obstruction of justice and perjury charges against Libby, though there was no underlying crime." He added: "Why did Fitzgerald pursue the investigation when he knew Armitage was the leaker and had determined there was no evidence of a crime?" But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, while Libby did not leak Plame's identity to Novak, he was reportedly the original source of the information for at least two other reporters during the summer of 2003. And as Fitzgerald clarified in a May 25 memorandum regarding Libby's sentencing: "The investigation was never limited to disclosure of Ms. Wilson's CIA affiliation to Mr. Novak; rather, from the outset the investigation sought to determine who disclosed information about Ms. Wilson to various reporters, including -- but not limited to -- Mr. Novak." Novak's suggestion that, legally, Armitage's leak of Plame's identity was the only disclosure that mattered also ignores that the statutes in question do not specify that the identity of a covert operative has to be published for a crime to have been committed.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

"Everybody's abused him/Ripped him off and abused him."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Wrong People In Charge" (Mem Shannon) -- I once again fell down on the job of painting up one side of the Sears Tower how much I love New Orleans.

I used to wonder what happened to Dennis Miller's sense of humor. Now, I know. It was torn apart by wild beasts and the bloody hunks of what was left of it were kept refrigerated in the meat locker that this guy apparently has for a brain. What in god's name do his daughters think about Dad's using them as props while he runs naked and batsh*t crazee all up and down the Intertubes? I sincerely hope he still can hunt down his own food, because all the grocery money's going to go for therapy sessions one day.

I don't know if it counts if you only said it in a bar and never wrote it down anywhere, but back in 1988, when it became plain that absolutely nobody was going to pay a price -- criminal, civil, or in the case of the senior Bush, political -- for the staggering mess that was Iran-Contra, I was in the late, lamented Eliot Lounge in Boston, chewing it over with a friend who'd reported extensively on the scandal. I told him that the country was going to pay a fearsome price one day for having let these crimes go unpunished. That the whole business lodged something malignant deep in the government that needed to be roughly, and bloodily, excised. I believed an impeachment inquiry should have been opened on both the president and the vice-president. I believed that Beltway wise-man schemes like the Tower Commission and the Joint Congressional committee investigation would muddy the waters and likely would do more harm than good. (It was the committee that created the loophole through which ultimately squeezed, among other people, Oliver North.) I believed the whole thing should have been left in the hands of Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, since the DOJ until Edwin Meese had been hopelessly entangled in the original cover-up.

Moreover, no matter how often the pundits and Important Reporters told me the whole thing was too complicated for anyone to understand, I believed that selling missiles to Islamic crazoids in order to help finance our own Central American crazoids in defiance both open and covert of the laws and the Constitution was worth sending a whole lot of somebodies to the sneezer. I believed it was worth bringing down a president, just so no other president would ever again hire fly-by-night think-tank cowboys to sell the country's soul wholesale to grifters like Manucher Ghorbanifar.

None of it happened, of course. As Mark Hertsgaard limned in his brilliant "On Bended Knee," nobody in my business or his was willing to discomfit poor old Dutch Reagan, lost as he was in the beginnings of an amyloid cascade. It became more important that Daddy Bush "stood up to" Dan Rather than it was that he was lying his withered hindquarters off while doing it. Michael Dukakis abandoned the field. Walsh got assaulted, over and over again, for being an "out of control" prosecutor, even though it was the ongoing stonewall that ran up his bills. Then, after a forgettable four years in office, and just as Walsh finally pried loose some documents that didn't go into the shredder, Bush père pardoned everyone except Shoeless Joe Jackson on his way out the door, guaranteeing that none of them would ever have to testify to the extent of his lies.

(Note to my friend, Mr. Olbermann -- THIS is the parallel, not Nixon and Archibald Cox.)

Tell me we're not paying for that now. Tell me we're not paying for tolerating a renegade theory of Executive power. Tell me we're not hearing how inconvenient and cumbersome and counterproductive the impeachment process of the Constitution is. Tell me the Democratic candidates aren't soft-pedaling the whole issue, preferring to micromanage the end of the kind of war that the renegade theory of Executive power makes not only likely, but inevitable. (Go back and read the minority report of the Iran-Contra committee. Go see who wrote the part about how the president has an inherent right to do stuff like this. Hint -- he has a lesbian daughter, a bad heart, and lousy aim.) Tell me the press isn't running away from the gravity of the whole business. Tell me you haven't heard some anchor-drone or another sigh about how hard it all is to understand. Tell me that Bush presidencies don't invariably come down to buying the silence of the people who can put you away. Tell me Alberto Gonzales isn't Edwin Meese, except less competent. Tell me that Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, Michael Ledeen, and the rest of the Iran-Contra Legends Tour ever would have found their bloody hands back on the levers of government if we'd done what we should have done as a nation 20 years ago. Jesus, even Ghorbanifar's back in the news.

That said, what happened with Scooter Libby this week didn't surprise me at all, or even horrify me. I've seen this movie before.

Name: David Shaffer
Hometown: Harleysville, PA

Doc --

May I suggest you post this link? It's a clip from "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," and it sums up a lot of people's feelings, I'm sure.

Name: Justin
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Hi Dr. Alterman,

I take no issue with the numbers in your article on affirmative action which suggest a class-based approach may be more effective. However, a class-based approach rather than a race-based approach lets America off of the hook for the government sponsored race-based oppression it used in the past (the effects of we see today. i.e. segregation and home ownership issues created in large part by explicitly racist government programs such as the FHA & VA loan program where black taxpayers subsidized the creation of the white middle class but received no benefits themselves) rather than requiring the government to aknowledge and remedy its racism.

Perhaps a bit of both class & race AA would accomplish more than either alone.

Name: Bob Rothman
Hometown: Providence, RI

Dear Dr. Slowhand (still can't get over that separated-at-birth likeness):

In your Guardian piece you argue for class-based, rather than race-based affirmative action in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in the Louisville and Seattle cases. Most of your arguments, though concern college admissions. The issues in college admissions and those in the Court cases are very different.

In admissions, colleges attempt to allocate scarce resources -- slots in the freshman class. The beneficiaries are those who receive the slots. The question of who should those beneficiaries be, as you point out, is not always clear.

Louisville and Seattle, though, were attempting to create diverse environments in each one of their schools. The beneficiaries were intended to be the entire student body, white and black. This goal might not be served a class-based system: a school with mixed economic groups could still be all African American.

There is evidence that diversity, in and of itself, is beneficial. In a report issued just after the Court ruling, the National Academy of Education (here) found that: "Early experience in desegregated schools tends to reduce expectations of hostility, improve skills and comfort with interracial settings, and create a tolerance for -- if not a preference for -- subsequent desegregated educational settings. Research also consistently finds an association between early desegregated schooling experience and later working in desegregated workplaces, living in desegregated neighborhoods, and expressing a sense of having acquired increased skills in being effective in interracial contexts."

Race still matters.

Name: Paul Goode
Hometown: Redmond

Class-based affirmative action sounds fine, but what are the mechanics? Why would middle-class parents feel any better about their children being excluded from their school of choice because of income discrepancy as opposed to racial imbalance? How will it address the problem of middle-class and affluent families locating in the suburbs because they'd rather have their kids go to school there and because the best-paying jobs are there?

Seattle public school enrollment fell from 100,000 in 1964 to fewer than 50,000 in 2005 (see here) while its population remained stable (here). The overall growth of King County, however, has exploded: Its population increased from 935,000 in 1960 to 1.7 million in 2000. With the growth came larger and more affluent school districts. Families who can live in the suburbs because of what they perceive as a better educational opportunity for their children. Or, they send them to private schools: According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Seattle has long had one of the highest rates of private school attendance in the country, hovering at 25 to 30 percent for the past two decades" (here).

We already *have* class-based school assignments: The poor attend city schools, the middle-class attend suburban schools, and the wealthy attend private schools. How can class-based affirmative action change that? It can't because the model for public school administration is local and not regional. Any attempt to regionalize public school administration will provoke a backlash that will make the opposition to busing look as docile and uncommitted as the 2007 Yankees.

We have to equalize school funding. Make *that* class-based and maybe you have something.

Name: Kendall
Hometown: Baltimore

We are hearing a lot of defenders of the administration saying that you can't call for Libby to serve time if you didn't think Clinton should have for his perjury. Why does no one point out that President Clinton was acquitted, where Libby was convicted?

Name: Richard Harvey
Hometown: Austin

Here We Go Again v3.0.

Barack Obama has $31 million in the bank ready for the primaries, while Giuliani has about $15 million stashed in a safe somewhere, Romney has loaned himself another $4 million, bringing his cash on hand total to about $12 million and McCain has just $2 million.

And what headline makes the main page of last Tuesday, July 3rd?

"Rudy Giuliani leads '08 hopefuls," obviously suggesting that Rudy leads all 2008 Presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat.

Did Murdoch buy CNN when no one was looking?

Name: Anthony Bauer
Hometown: Janesville, WI

Good Morning Eric,

Would it be fair to compare Roger Clemens' announcement of his return at Yankee Stadium to Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech?

Keep up the good work.

Name: Brian Donohue

Eric, you keep researching and I'll be in line to buy that book, whatever you wind up calling it. The McGovern speech was a brilliant find; it brought tears.

On the musical scene, one memorial note for opera lovers: one of our favorites left the stage on Monday, and she'll be missed. The Globe's remembrance of Beverly Sills is here, and my own tribute to her is at the blog. She really changed things, and brought an awakening to an art form that desperately needed one.

Name: Stephen Carver
Hometown: Los Angeles reported (here) that Marc Rich (pardoned by President Clinton and now being used as the Republicans' main excuse for commuting Scooter's sentence) was legally represented, between 1985 and 2000 (15 years!), by none other than I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who "told a House committee in 2001 that prosecutors "misconstrued the facts and the law" in pursuing the tax evasion charges."

So, our current President will commute the sentence of a white man who was convicted of lying under oath and obstructing justice to protect his presidency, but as Governor of Texas, didn't commute the sentence of a black woman facing death on Texas' death row after she found Jesus and was born again. I leave it to America to decide whether or not this man is a Christian.

I know what I think.

Name: Stephen Crosby
Hometown: Malibu, CA


As a very good friend of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, I would politely ask that you never refer to Led Zeppelin as "Led Zep" ever again. You might think it makes you look hip or that you have a certain closeness to the group which is appreciated, however, Jimmy, and especially Robert, hate that name. Please do the boys a favor and never do it again. I guarantee you they would appreciate it.

Dear Stephen: Sorry, but neither Mr. Page nor Mr. Plant, much less their good friends, gets to decide what I call their former band. Maybe if they hadn't written "Stairway," or possibly even if they had written it, but Mr. Plant had not said "Does anyone remember laughter?" in the middle of their performance of it that they then put on their live album, The Song Remains the Same, I'd care a little. As it is, I don't care at all. I bought the CDs. That's all they get from me.

Name: Bob Wenning
Hometown: Chicago


I will be anxiously waiting for your history of liberalism to be published. However, though I've never looked very closely, I wonder if there is an equivalent history of conservatism that has ever been published.

I think the history of the current strain (stain?) of conservatism is rooted not so much to Barry Goldwater as to Joe McCarthy. As much as Goldwater and Ronald Reagan tried to put an appealing face on it, conservatism can't seem to help itself but to fall back on hatefulness, half-truths, reckless accusations and hypocrisy when the chips are down. They love to wrap themselves in the flag, declaring that they are the true patriots even while they trash the rights enumerated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. McCarthy did it in the name of fighting communism; Bush & Company are doing the same thing in the name of fighting terrorism. The other thing they have in common -- their tactics play directly into the hands of those they claim to be fighting so desperately.

Name: Michael Goldfarb
Hometown: London


Your reference to Sidney Hook brought back memories. He was not a neo-con as such but was the trailblazer for left-thinking Jewish intellectuals who having got theirs went all the way right to protect their new wealth and privilege as well as serve people who but a few short years previously wouldn't have allowed them into their country clubs or Ivy League colleges.

Anyway, my first semester at the soon to be shuttered Antioch College I took a course in Philosophy of History and Hook's The Hero in History was an assigned text. Next to it we read Plekhanov's The Role of the Individual in History. They don't syllabize like that any more and Altercators with a few minutes to spare might take the time to read the two side by side (and the professor who made the assignment, a Marxist, decided to walk it like he talked it and left teaching to get a law degree and defend the indigent and underprivileged in Oakland).

To the point: Sidney came to Antioch to take part in a symposium on John Dewey (Hook had been a student of Dewey's in the 20's). I admired greatly the clarity with which Hook had made his point in his book but had come down on the side of Plekhanov (social forces more greatly affect historical events than great men or heroes). I engaged with Hook over coffee - It was like talking to a nasty Uncle. I thought we had a lively debate but later I found out from my philosophy professor that at a private lunch Hook said, "If all Antioch students are like Goldfarb they're a bunch of assholes."

I guess honest disagreement in pursuit of truth, an Enlightenment virtue that he would have been in favor of when he wrote the passage you quote, was something not to be tolerated once he had ascended to a sinecure at the Hoover Institution.

That happened 35 years ago and I still remember his assessment of me with pride.

(I am not the Michael Goldfarb who is deputy editor of The Weekly Standard)

Name: John Mojack
Hometown: Holiday, FL

I think Corky in Atlanta must not have done well on certain portion of the SAT. The comparison is not in the individuals (Dale vs Jerry), it is how their deaths impacted their fans.

Dale's death also had a significant impact on NASCAR regarding safety issues. (SAFER barriers, HANS devices and the COT). Since I'm not a deadhead, I'll just assume they all went out and got jobs.

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.