"... and none of what you hear"


George and I have a new "Think Again" column called "Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction: Did 'Everyone' Agree?" Robert Wright was good enough to ask, and Julia Kamin was good enough to agree to our doing a BHTV devoted entirely to a discussion of Why We're Liberals. You can find it here. And my new Nation column, "Silence of the (MSM) Lambs," is here. Meanwhile, info on the Alterman/Edsall Washington "free lunch" discussion at CAP on Monday is here, and back in New York, on June 25, I will be appearing after a performance of the New York premiere of Palace of the End by Judith Thompson, 2008 winner of the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for playwriting, by the Epic Theatre Ensemble. You can find that here.

Why does the United States Supreme Court hate America?

If there are any more generous, more principled, more admirable Americans than Paul Newman, I've never met them. (And I say this as I am literally watching his most ridiculous performance, as Ari Ben-Canaan in Exodus.) Seriously, the word "mensch" has no meaning if not embodied by this great goy, I mean guy. All best wishes for more health and happiness.

Saddest line in the film circa 2008: Ari to his noble Arab friend: "Now we will be equal citizens in the free state of Israel ..."

"Nothing is broken that cannot be fixed if enough people are committed." More than 3,500 people gathered to watch Bill Moyers deliver this keynote address at the 2008 National Media Reform Conference this past weekend. "Sadly," Moyers explained, "the fourth estate has become the fifth column of democracy, colluding with the powers that be in a culture of deception that subverts the thing most necessary to freedom -- that is the truth." Meanwhile, Porter Barry of The O'Reilly Factor garnered more than 300,000 views on YouTube when he ambushed Moyers (again -- this happens a lot) at the conference, peppering him with insipid questions and allegations. Moyers set the record straight and invited Barry (and his underling, Bill O'Reilly) on his show. The O'Reilly Factor responded to the viral, unedited footage of this exchange by putting the whole thing on mute and "analyzing" the oh-so-important body language.

This just in:

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."

Kozinski said he would delete some material from his site, including the photo depicting women as cows, which he said was "degrading ... and just gross." He also said he planned to get rid of a graphic step-by-step pictorial in which a woman is seen shaving her pubic hair.

Kozinski said he must have accidentally uploaded those images to his server while intending to upload something else. "I would not keep those files intentionally," he said. The judge pointed out that he never used appeals court computers to maintain the site.

The sexually explicit material on Kozinski's site earlier this week was extensive, including images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex. There was a slide show striptease featuring a transsexual, and a folder that contained a series of photos of women's crotches as seen through snug fitting clothing or underwear. There were also themes of defecation and urination, though they are not presented in a sexual context.

This story is actually quite a bit more complicated, morally and intellectually, than that merely titillating excerpt would indicate. I'm not even sure I think Kozinski did anything actually wrong, apart from carelessness. I do think it fair to say that if he were a Democratic-appointed judge, rather than a Republican appointee, he would immediately become a symbol for typical "liberal" moral depravity. Anyway, read it and see if you find it as difficult to synthesize as I do.

A hell of a man. Nothing to add there ...

Be the best you can be: This guy should work for Bush:

San Antonio Express-News music writer Ramiro Burr resigned Tuesday after being accused of hiring a ghost writer to produce more than 100 pieces since 2001. The paper began looking into allegations against Burr after lawyers for Douglas Shannon sought "formal byline credit" for stories Shannon claimed he "ghost-wrote" for Burr. He says: "I may have been a little overzealous, or overreached in trying to be the best reporter/syndicated columnist I could be."

George Zornick writes: One question I've often seen Eric asked in discussing Why We're Liberals is: Why is this label so important? If a politician is actually liberal, but the particular word bothers voters, than why not just drop it? That's certainly the strategy that, for example, John Kerry took, when he said about the Massachusetts liberal label: "It's not real ... that stuff is just old hokey that just doesn't stand up." (It's also a strategy currently employed by Barack Obama, warning voters against listening to that label: "Don't let them run that okie doke on you.")

But read this story, headlined: "Okla. Dem calls Obama liberal, declines to endorse." It's about a Democratic congressman in Oklahoma who says he will vote for Obama, but not endorse, because he is "the most liberal senator." He explained that "We're much more conservative.... If you look at his record, he is the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate. That doesn't reflect who I am. That doesn't reflect Eastern Oklahoma."

Now, I don't pretend to be an expert in Oklahoma politics. But based on available polling data, this seems to be a case where Obama is being hurt more by the label of "liberal" than his positions.

SoonerPoll, a large outfit in Oklahoma, conducted a poll in February that asked Oklahomans for their opinion on a wide range of issues. The data was, in some cases, what one might expect: there was opposition to abortion, and strong agreement that the "definition of marriage is one between one man and one woman."

But note these results:

  • 46 percent favor civil unions, with 28 percent opposing
  • 55 percent said President Bush's tax cuts should be repealed, while 33 percent said no
  • A majority support a statewide vote on the use of medical marijuana
  • A majority agree people should have full access to information about birth control
  • A majority acknowledge humans are changing the Earth's climate
  • A majority want to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible
  • A majority oppose a voter identification card

Yet, 51 percent considered themselves conservative, while only 11 percent identified themselves as liberal. This is likely why Boren declined to endorse Obama, while calling him out as a scary "liberal." (But while at the same time saying he'll vote for Obama, and doesn't like McCain, because "I don't want to be in Iraq 100 years from now," and "[McCain]'s on the sidelines on the housing foreclosure issue.")

Now, I wouldn't say Obama would win Oklahoma otherwise, but the liberal label is seemingly distancing voters, and Rep. Boren, from him despite a similarity in many positions. The time to defend the label seems certainly to be upon us...

The now-infamous E.D. Hill, who wondered about Obama's "terrorist fist jab," is no longer hosting her 5 p.m. show on Fox News. Whew. Maybe the system works ...

Wait, what? They're replacing her with who? And she's said what? (More examples here.)

Wait, there's more. From Why We're Liberals:

Laura Ingraham has written an entire book about the dangers posed by liberal elites, entitled Shut Up & Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics and the Media Are Subverting America. In it, this daughter of a Connecticut lawyer, and graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Virginia Law School, who now lives in an expensive home in Washington, D.C., distinguishes between liberal elitists and those whom she terms "true Americans." She begins her treatise by explaining who these "elite Americans" are and what they think: "They think we're stupid. They think our patriotism is stupid. They think our churchgoing is stupid. They think having more than two children is stupid. They think where we live -- anywhere but near or in a few major cities -- is stupid. They think our SUVs are stupid. They think owning a gun is stupid. They think our abiding belief in the goodness of America and its founding principles is stupid."

In Ingraham's case, as in many others, one detects a strain of anti- Semitism in her insistent elite-bashing. During the flap over Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ ... Ingraham announced, "I want to see any movie that drives the anti-Christian entertainment elite crazy." Presumably Ingraham did not mean to imply that this "anti-Christian entertainment elite" was mostly made up of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, or Scientologists.

McCain Suck-Up Watch: When Sen. John McCain twice touted the idea of a gas tax "break" during an interview on NBC's Today, Matt Lauer failed to challenge him over whether economists believe a gas tax holiday is a good idea. But when Sen. Hillary Clinton mentioned her proposal "to get the gas tax paid this summer out of the record profits of the oil companies" on the same program a month earlier, Meredith Vieira challenged her, saying that economists are "saying it's not sound policy." More here.

From the people-may-be-talking-too-much-about-politics-on-cable-news file:

Chris Matthews: "Pennsylvania Governor Eddie Rendell. I tell ya, this guy would surround that slice of ham -- Obama -- with so much rye bread, he'd have the whole state of Florida munching on it!"

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Paul Goode
Hometown: Redmond, WA

A permanent U.S. occupation in Iraq not only makes a mockery of democracy in this country, it makes a mockery of democracy in Iraq, the establishment of which is supposedly the reason we're there. Can anyone even at the White House seriously think that the Iraqi people want to give the United States "immunity for troops and contractors, control over Iraq's airspace, authority to detain Iraqis and not turn them over to the judicial system, and permission to conduct military operations without the approval of the government." It defies reason to suppose so. Oh ... I get it ...

Name: Derrick Gibson
Hometown: http://allpanthersareblack.blogspot.com/

I am in need of counseling. Well, really it is for a close friend of mine, a pundit.

All pundits. actually.

Yesterday, McCain goes on the Today show and says that it is not important when American troops return from Iraq.

Wow, methinks.

And yet my friend - pundit - tells me that Americans will always trust McCain on "national security" issues more than they will Obama, because he has "a lifetime of service" and that his family has "four generations of military service", which means that no matter the size of the dichotomy between McCain's words and the wishes of the American public - that American public will still choose McCain over Obama.

Now -- I just picked up my copy of "Why We're Liberals" yesterday, so I have not made it through all of the conclusions, but I do have this question:

How can the American public be both liberal in nature and at the same time seemingly enthralled to a Republican Party divorced from the reality of the ramifications of the "authorization to use military force" in Iraq (oh - and is an AUMF the same as a declaration of war and if so how and why is it different and if not is it even legal?)

Name: J. R. Taylor
Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Tom Engelhardt's fine essay actually understates the "faintly un-American" nature of such words as "homeland." "Homeland security" is clearly derived from its one-word German equivalent, heimatsicherheit.

Name: David Dennie
Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia

Hey Dr. A,

I second Chuck Lawhorn's praise for the former glories of the The Bayou rock club in Georgetown. I once saw Harry Dean Stanton there, backed up by The Call, during one of his occasional forays into country/folk musicmaking - a real concert-going pinnacle of a sort. Anyway, The Bayou was wonderful, and is much missed.

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