Wednesday, June 29, 2005

No Worries

Arthur Silber frets that too many are giving too much credit to, and are taking much too seriously, Andrew Sullivan's recent blogging.

He shouldn't worry. Pretty much everyone knows better than to believe that Andrew Sullivan has really reformed. Sure, if some newbie -- ignorant of the context of Sullivan's history and the awesome badness of his oeuvre -- comes across a recent Sullivan anti-torture post, he's likely to be moderately impressed. But that newbie will soon learn that Sully has been at best a useful idiot for the Bushies, and is even more appropriately considered as being complicit in the whole fucking mess that Republicanism has wrought over the last 10 years: Iraq, the culture war, fiscal stupidity, rampant corruption, all of it.

Not that Silber doesn't make some good points, especially the one of relativity: that Sullivan may now seem decent to innocent eyes is not a testament to any recent self-reinvention much less reformation on his part, but is, rather, merely an indication of the amount of fanaticism in rest of the rightwing.

Yeah, that's good stuff.

However, a nice irony is that in Silber's making of this point, it is partly at his expense.

Well-meaning anti-Bush people should take Sullivan, no matter his latest stance, with a certain grain of salt. And I think most do exactly that. But then well-meaning anti-Bush folks should take a similar attitude to the moral pronouncements of a nominally deactivated Randroid like ...Arthur Silber. I can't speak for others, but that's exactly my habit.

The Rot Starts From The Top

I liked this whole editorial, but one part struck me as especially nice:

When we became cadets, we were taught that the academy's honor code was what separated West Point from a mere college. This was a little hard to believe at first, because the code seemed so simple; you pledged that you would not lie, cheat or steal, and that you would not tolerate those who did. We were taught that in combat, lies could kill.

But the honor code was not just a way to fight a better war. In the Army, soldiers are given few rights, grave responsibilities, and lots and lots of power. The honor code serves as the Bill of Rights of the Army, protecting soldiers from betraying one another and the rest of us from their terrifying power to destroy. It is all that stands between an army and tyranny.

However, the honor code broke down before our eyes as staff and faculty jobs at West Point began filling with officers returning from Vietnam. Some had covered their uniforms with bogus medals and made their careers with lies - inflating body counts, ignoring drug abuse, turning a blind eye to racial discrimination, and worst of all, telling everyone above them in the chain of command that we were winning a war they knew we were losing. The lies became embedded in the curriculum of the academy, and finally in its moral DNA.

By the time we were seniors, honor court verdicts could be fixed, and there was organized cheating in some units. A few years later, nearly an entire West Point class was implicated in cheating on an engineering exam; the breakdown was complete.

The mistake the Army made then is the same mistake it is making now: how can you educate a group of handpicked students at one of the best universities in the world and then treat them as if they are too stupid to know when they have been told a lie?

The West Point Honor Code as "The Bill of Rights of the Army", as not just an ideal but a necessary checks-and-balance system, is a very good way of looking at it.

Anyway, his larger point is also spot-on. This is what our side means by "demoralisation". An injust war, a war built on lies, demoralises and degrades not only the vanquished but also the victor. True, one can't corrupt the already corrupted, and so the rule doesn't apply to the civilian leadership that told the lies and started the war, but it certainly does apply to the troops that have to fight it. As matters of moral consequence, Abu Ghraib and Gitmo were probably inevitabilities.

A Yellow Elephant In The Room

My own little contribution to Jesus' General's crusade, which had merits and movement even before gaining steam with recent dispatches that detail the astounding cowardice of the rightwing's war cheerleaders:

Following Dear Leader's latest speech, even such ordinarily congenitally, spontaneously vile hacks such as the NRO crowd are acknowledging that too few of their fellow wingnuts are putting their money, as it were, where their mouth is. Here's John Derbyshire:

"There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces." That would ring a little less hollow if this country's ruling classes were better represented in the military. In fact the military is a lower-middle-class and working-class occupation, which U.S. elites avoid like the plague.

True. Derbyshire's commentary had to have made his colleague Jonah Goldberg more than a little fidgetty.

Goldberg is the most infamous chickenhawk of the chattering classes, the perfect counterpart to Bush's supreme infamy among the ruling class chickenhawks. Apart from his own uniquely pathetic excuse-making for not signing-up for military service, Goldberg also leans on the self-revising defense of "Armchair Generals" served-up by Christopher Hitchens. (Hitchens has recently typed a similar defense of older war-lovers who carefully shield their own children from military service while constantly calling on other people's children to fight and die in their stead.)

Well I, too, can lean on a Hitchens essay, but in this instance for making a case against Goldberg and his fellow chickenhawks:

...On television and in their syndicated columns, leading conservatives like George "Triumph of the" Will excoriate liberals for their reluctance to use force and for their generally bleeding-heart attitude. Meanwhile, the glistening pectorals of Sylvester Stallone have become inescapable as Rambo stalks the land, growling out of the side of his mouth about the stab in the back that "our boys" received from unnamed pointy-heads.

But, as Kipling showed long ago, patriotism and jingoism are not by any means the same thing. Jane Mayer in The Wall Street Journal, and the less surprising Jack Newfield in The Village Voice, decided to take a look... What they found was what social scientists might call an inverse correlation. The louder a man shouts for bombing and strafing, the less likely he is to have felt the weight of a pack. There are pitiful examples of this, like the former Reaganite Congressman Bruce Caputo, who actually fabricated a Vietnam War record, deceived even his own staff, and was finally given the breeze by the electorate he had hoodwinked. And there are grandiose examples, like the President himself, who convinced Yitzhak Shamir that he had personally taken part in the liberation of the concentration camps, and who repeated the story to other auditors until his handlers and speechwriters admitted that he had never left Hollywood between Pearl Harbor and Potsdam. Mostly, though, the proponents of militarism are simply inglorious.

Congressman [Bob] Dornan, for example, turned out to have been rather a cautious reservist throughout the Vietnam War. Congressman [Dan] Lundgren, he of the Contras and the tae kwon do, was eligible for the draft between 1964 and 1970, but now says: "I had a knee injury from football." Newt Gingrich, who last year told Congress, "I am the very tough-minded son of a career soldier," was eligible from 1961 to 1969 but took the prudent course of a student deferment and told The Wall Street Journal: "What difference would I have made? There was a bigger battle in Congress than in Vietnam." Arguably true, but since he took part in neither... Best of all, from the aesthetic point of view, is Sylvester Stallone himself. He dodged the draft in the most agreeable possible way, hiding in Switzerland as coach to a private school for girls...

..And there's nothing wrong in wishing that you had had a good war, but something, well, rum about pretending that you did. Something rummer still about defaming those who opposed the last war or who are unenthusiastic about the next.

The green-eyed monster must be at work somewhere. As it happens, the leading "doves" (ludicrous term) have rather more to show on their chests and sleeves. The new Senator from Massachusetts, for example, John Kerry, was a renowned officer in Vietnam but also helped found Vietnam Veterans Against the War. George McGovern was a decorated bomber pilot in World War II. Congressman Andrew Jacobs, who originated the idea of calling the rightist bluffers "war wimps," was a marine in Korea.

And the coincidences are extraordinary. Look into the past of any rabid patriot of the moment -- and you will find that they wrangled a job at the base. There never was such a collection of bad knees, weak lungs, urgent academic priorities, or, as in the case of Stallone, sheer bloody gall...

...The open secret about the American Armed Forces is that, by rank and file, they are composed of poor blacks, Hispanics, and rural whites... Both sides wage class war on the point: the Right by suggesting that the liberals are out of touch with "grass-roots America" and the liberals by alleging that the Right only fancies the plebians as cannon fodder.

...[E]verybody agrees, somewhere in his heart, that there ought to be some connection between what you believe and how you behave, what you advocate for others and how you live yourself. At the moment, the gap is more conspicuous in the case of the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots...

This was published in late summer 1985 by the Spectator (U.K.).

I should pause to note that in one important aspect, Hitchens has not revised himself. In parts that I excised, he firmly states his opposition to the word he admits is superficially amusing (enough so, it seems, that he used it as the essays's title) but, on reflection, decides is too vulgar and philistine to be used decently: "chickenhawks". All the same, the arguments above against rightwing hypocrisy and cowardice hold up nicely -- which, of course, cannot be said of Hitchens himself.

Still, though, without saying the word, he can continue to call spades spades provided the chickenhawks in question are not the Republican fuckwits who are his new allies. Here's Hitchens reporting on Iran:

But Iran's problem is not a surplus of orphans. It is, rather, that the country is afflicted with a vast population of grieving parents and relatives, whose sons and daughters and nephews and nieces were thrown away in the ghastly eight-year war with Saddam Hussein, and who were forced to applaud the evil "human wave" tactics of shady clergymen who promised heaven to the credulous but never cared to risk martyrdom themselves. [My Emphasis.]

He still knows a chickenhawk when he sees one, and can make the essential point, if loathe to use the actual word. He's just not about to deploy the argument against his own newly sacred cows (to mix zoological metaphors) in Washington.

But then Hitchens himself is not the point. Rather, the point is that the 101st Keyboard Kowards lean on his self-revisionist defences of their current armchair cowardice and boffo hypocrisy without knowing or caring to know that his better arguments condemn them (via their immediate political ancestors) for the same reasons.

It's one thing that wingnuts are such jock-sniffers as well as so bitterly envious of those among their political enemies who have served bravely and with distinction (Kerry, Clark); it's another thing altogether that they affect such martial attitudes from the safety of their parents' basements for the purpose of enabling policies and actions which get other people, and other people's children, killed. Practice what you preach, wingnuts, or shut the fuck up.


Update: See Crooked Timber and Roger Ailes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I'm Not Done Yet

Just to clarify:

Raich and Kelo aren't that bad. The Commerce Clause should be "big" and eminent domain must be in the government's power. The principles are fine.

The specifics suck, of course. But it only means that we need to fight this stuff on the legislative front, which is exactly where it belongs.

With regard to the specifics of Kelo, we now have a poster child for the affect of Big Business on local politics. Through principles that relate to Kelo, we can fight this via a counterattack, or, otherwise, simply by grassroots campaigns for good goverment (which we should be doing anyway).

With regard to the specifics of Raich, parodoxically, we now have a "means" by which to address the medical marajuana/drug decriminalisation issue nationally. This has to be done at the federal level, and with the coming post-Watergate-esque reaction to the Police Torture State, our chances will be better than they have been since the original post-Watergate era.

Right now, the political culture is very much authoritarian. But, with Iraq and with all the Bush corruption and depravity coming out, the pendulum will swing the other way. The late 00s will be very much like the late 70s: culturally "permissive", fascists forced underground, political and governmental dirty tricks at relative minimum. Unfortunately, the economy, thanks to Bush's insanity, will also resemble that era's. I'll take it, though.

Primary Sources

I've blogged a bit lately on the wingnuts' "stab in the back" rhetoric, how it's a throwback to the post-Vietnam era, and how that, in turn, shows just what the situation in Iraq has become.

By now you've heard of Karl Rove's recent commentary, which aims to be the biggest, baddest bit of scapegoating yet.

Rove and the Repugs didn't invent "The Stab in The Back" schtick from whole cloth, but then neither did the neocons of the late 70s and early 80s who made it such an important part of their anti-60s platform.

This is their source.

Stars In His Courses

Shelby Foote passes away:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Novelist and historian Shelby Foote, whose Southern storyteller's touch inspired millions to read his multivolume work on the Civil War, has died. He was 88.

Foote died Monday night, his widow, Gwyn, said Tuesday.

Foote, a Mississippi native and longtime Memphis resident, wrote six novels but is best remembered for his three-volume, 3,000-page history of the Civil War and his appearance on the PBS series "The Civil War."

He worked on the book for 20 years, using a flowing, narrative style that enabled readers to enjoy it like a historical novel.


Though hardly a recluse, Foote had long been known around Memphis as having little interest in parties and public gatherings. And he was often outspoken about his likes and dislikes.

"Most people, if the truth be told, are gigantic bores," he once said. "There's no need to subject yourself to that kind of thing."

It is said that the losing side produces the best histories, and the Mississippian Foote would seem to buttress that claim.

As far as I know, Foote's number was always in the phone book, and I want to say he lived in Northtown, but now that I think about it, that may not be right (Chickasaw Gardens area, rather?) At any rate, he was old-fashioned and private; he shunned callers. These are high virtues, which most people respected -- and that is really saying something for an almost pathologically history-conscious town like Memphis.

It was nice knowing that such a grand old man of Southern literature and historiography lived in town. So long, Mr. Foote.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Kelo's Froot Loops

While I can find no one who really likes the Supreme Court's recent Kelo decision, there are a few, mostly on the left, who come down with a "it's not that bad" verdict, while the majority -- mostly on the right, but with a few leftists several populists and many centrists thrown in -- seem to view it as a sign of the apocalypse.

Count me in the former group. I don't like Kelo, but it's not the worst thing that could happen. Atrios has the same attitude, and for the same reasons (which I'll get to shortly). Tim, the Answer Guy, at first denounces the verdict, then seems to moderate his take on it at his post's conclusion.

When Liberals like Brad R. worry that this decision aids the Rich in using the government "like an ATM machine", I take them at their word. Yes, that is the worry; it's something to take very seriously.

Atrios was right to call his post "semi-contrarian". Brad's post, and the sentiments behind it, are about par for the course for the decent side of the blogosphere.

I was helped greatly in fleshing out my own sentiments by participating in a Primer thread that became devoted to the subject. Since it was Primer, many lawyers joined in.

On the other hand, reading the reactions of the rightwing has been a real pleasure; one comes across posts of disappointment, incredulity, and (as is typical) hypocrisy. Starting with the last first, TBOGG catches Jonah Goldberg helpfully advising Bush to push the Ownership Society argument in opposing Kelo. What's funny, and what Goldberg knows full-well but hopes everyone else will forget is that George W. Bush owes his own fortune to greasing a local government into abusing its eminent domain powers:

In 1993, while walking through the stadium, Bush told the Houston Chronicle, "When all those people in Austin say, 'He ain't never done anything,' well, this is it." But Bush would have never gotten the stadium deal off the ground if the city of Arlington had not agreed to use its power of eminent domain to seize the property that belonged to the Mathes family. And evidence presented in the Mathes lawsuit suggests that the Rangers' owners -- remember that Bush was the managing general partner -- were conspiring to use the city's condemnation powers to obtain the thirteen-acre tract a full six months before the ASFDA was even created.

Hindsocket, meanwhile, says:

There is a sense in which it is perfectly logical to say that the democratically elected branches of government are in the best position to decide what is a legitimate "public use," and the courts shouldn't second-guess those decisions. And in many contexts, we conservatives do argue that the courts should defer to legislatures and local governments. The problem here is that accepting that principle would read the relevant language out of the Fifth Amendment. If anything that a state legislature or city government calls a "public use" is, ipso facto, a public use, then the constitutional protection is gone.

Actually, it's not gone: the government still has to pay fair compensation. But I do enjoy Hindsocket's grasping for states' rights exceptionalism here. His fear is palpable. Hindsocket, and most of the rest of the wingnuts and objectively pro-wingnut libertarians, don't give a shit about these people's houses -- or, indeed, any person's houses but their own and the mansions of the plutocrats they serve. What he does care about is that eminent domain could also be used to seize, condemn, or forcibly move business property -- the holiest of holies. What Wal-Mart can bribe a local government to give, a concerned and energised electorate could in theory take away. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Instayokel reports that, aside from a few who echo Jonah's sentiments, most (of Reynolds's fellow) wingnuts are mopey over the decision. One is already panicking about the poor vulnerable churches that sit on primo real estate. Yeah, well, fuck them.

The real delight is found in reading the reactions of the libertarians. My favorite, whose devotion to property rights is so great that he prefers the Chinese Constitution to America's, is so despondent that I fear his delusions of being the Kira Argounova of America may be pushed to the breaking point, whereby it's possible that he may try to swim the Pacific, away from liberals and the Federal Guv'ment, to freedom in sweet totalitarian-but-property-protecting China. Don't do it, man! Though I doubt he has much to fear from sharks (they can recognise one of their own), even a self-regarding ubermensch should find that swim daunting, and besides, while salt water may do wonders in unsticking the pages of the masturbatory fodder (Atlas Shrugged, Free To Choose, pictures of dead Palestinians, Nozick, Old JDL and Kach Party propaganda) that serves as his library, it can't be good for its bindings.

Anyway, depressed:

Mark Twain was right

No man's life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

This is an auspicious beginning from a "libertarian" who continually sneers at anti-imperialists who are very much in the tradition of Twain. More to the point, Twain's comment was directed to the Gilded Age Robber Barons, and their whores in Congress; it takes some chutzpah for Nieporent to quote a man who was attacking the surrogates of Nieporent's beloved Gilded Age ubermensches -- who was, indeed, attacking the very system and epoch that libertarians consider Eden.

Quoting Justice Stevens' majority opinion: "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government." He just left out the word "Soviet" before government. Wasn't it liberals who used to find the statement, "What's good for General Motors is good for America" to be odious? Now they've enshrined it as official Constitutional policy.

Yes, we did and yes, we do. However, the attitude in that statement represented the de facto status quo, which conservatives and libertarians always considered a good thing. What, now that it's "official", you shy away from it?

I love the "Soviet" slag, so redolent of that other self-described ubermensch, Gordon Liddy, in Dick when he warned the heroines that when they grew up, they'd "be living in the Soviet Union of America!"

But speaking of commies, there is something to be said of the old Marxist wish for events that "heighten the contradictions", hopefully to bring about revolution more quickly. (I would substitute "reform" for revolution, however.) Now that "What's Good For General Motors Is What's Good For America" is official, is out in the open, it can't be denied by those robber baron fuckwits that so many libertarians identify with and, shamelessly, enable. As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. What Kelo can give, Kelo can end up taking away.

Anyway, as I said, I'm depressed right now. With the exception of the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown to the federal bench, this has not been a good year for libertarians. Social Security privatization is stalled, federalism is deader than Terri Schiavo, the drug war remains in full effect, and private property exists only at the sufferance of local government, bought and paid for by real estate developers and other big businesses.

I'm not above stooping to schadenfreude. Therefore I point and laugh that such counter-revolutionists are having so difficult a time. But niether am I without sympathy: this is a new experience for them, after all. Since the 80s, they have been steadily at war not just with the New Deal and with the Progressive Era reforms, but with original "big government" concepts of the Founders. If people like Nieporent had their way, there would be no commerce clause, no power of public domain. It's not just that these idiots see Stalinism in, say, the Food Stamp program and that they long for the days of no Child Labor Laws and no Pure Food and Drug Act, they also want to repeal all government power of property. On the other hand, with regard to government power over life and liberty... well in a time of war (wink, nudge) they're ever ready to compromise.

What is it about libertarians and most conservatives that makes them so different from us? Another libertarian, digamma, channeling a Right-Thinking post, gives the game away. Though his post is a joke (his penultimate punchline was lame, I thought, but his throwaway line at the end was rather funny and redeems the whole), the philosophical bias behind it is deadly serious. He regards as equivalent the anti-flag burning law with the Court's decision in Kelo. At a deeper level, what is equivalent to a libertarian is the right to property to the right of political expression. We are different, then, in that we regard the latter as a human right and the former as an important right but a comparatively lesser one. Some of us regard the equasion of any lesser right with a human right to be a de facto cheapening of the more important right. And as a result this cheapening, we believe, certain inevitablities come to pass.

I posit that Kelo officially expresses what was long unofficial; Kelo is the inevitable product of the longterm beneficiaries of the libertarian "property uber alles" attitude's coalescence of power. In such a system as ours, political power inevitably accrues to those with the most property. Big Business has been wedded to the state since the Gilded Age; Kelo merely acknowledges the fact.

Look, I do think it should be exceedingly difficult for the state to appropriate homes. But I don't think the state should be denied power of eminent domain. The first thing that makes me different from a libertarian is that I believe that not only are property rights subordinate to human rights (life, liberty, privacy), but that there is a heirarchy of property rights. I think my friend Backlasher laid it out well:

I... believe property has a hierarchy: Principal residence, real, miscellaneous chattel, and wealth.

I... imagine each of those categories have a scale.

I think these rights of the individual should be preserved by the state. I just don't go as far as the libs and believe they should be preserved at all costs.

To infringe on those individual rights, the state must have a need, and as you move up the scale, the need has to become larger and larger.

There is nothing unique or novel about this position. I'd opine it is the basis of most of western law. Its just on this one decision, I think we had the wrong endpoint.

He's right; this is how it should be and, in fact, was meant to be. I think most lefties would agree. On the other hand, to libertarians and most conservatives, all these property rights are equal in theory to each other and to the rights of life, liberty, privacy (human rights), but when push comes to shove, it's the human rights that are abandoned.

Moreover, there is a heirarchy of ownership status. I believe the state has less of a duty and less of an interest in respecting the property rights of corporations than it does of flesh and blood individuals. Jefferson thought this, though he saw the danger too late; Marshall probably held the reverse opinion, yet the anti-Jeffersonian protections did not truly extend until ...the libertarian paradise of the Gilded Age. Libertarians and conservatives, agreeing with a corrupt Gilded Age Supreme Court decision, believe that corporations and humans have an equal basis for ownership; in this, too, they cheapen humanity.

I've said that most on the right don't care about the people named in Kelo losing their homes, and I think that's true in most cases. Again, I believe their real aim is protecting Big Business, which had a better time of it moseying along under cover pre-Kelo, getting pretty much what it wanted. This may seem counterintuitive because the obvious beneficiary of Kelo are Rich developers, but then again, most of the complaints are by people smart enough to see that the Kelo that gives can end up being the Kelo that takes away. They would have prefered the old way where Wal-Mart, say, used its $hadow influence over the local polity to get everything it wants. Again, their problem with Kelo lies in its "officialness". But for the odd wingnut who doesn't operate in bad faith, Kelo is still what you deserve.

The problem here is not Kelo, nor is it with the people of Connecticut who elected the corrupt politicians who wish to perfrom the land-grab, which conservatives/libertarians are quick to blame, as is their wont (they do have the greatest contempt for democracy: euphemised as "the State" to make it sound as if they are righteous communist dissidents). The problem actually has more to do with the inevitable products of their philosophy: a political system they themselves have poisoned and continue to defend the poisoning of.

If one is outraged that the Rich can manipulate elected politicians into seizing desirable property, it is not democracy's fault nor is it the fault of the righteous state power of eminent domain: rather, it is the fault of the Rich and the politicians. Destroy this symbiosis, by which I mean, make them hostile to each other as entities, and our problem will be lessened. Why do politicians elected by the public do favors for the Rich? Because they are bribed, legally, a practice that every awful libertarian and conservative will defend with his dying breath. Well, fukkos, this is what you get. The relevant politicians of Connecticut's corruption is simply the result of the stupid, crass, and cynical libertarian/conservative corruption of the concept of free political speech and expression. Thus, more "speech", more influence, accrues to those with the most money. That the servants in this process, the politicians, deliver quid to this quo in the form of land-grabs, is entirely the fault of the very libertarians/conservatives now decrying Kelo.

In the current context, Kelo just means that the biggest businesses that can purchase the biggest politicians can, through the state, swallow smaller businesses' and individuals' property. Well, again, that's what you get with such a system. The nasty symbiosis between business and government inevitably tends to bigness, and conservatives and nutjob libertarians have only themselves to blame for it.

There is no longer a 4th Amendment in the age of Gonzales; why shouldn't the hesitation traditionally read in the 5th be too flushed down the toilet? What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Some of us warned that authoritarianism was ascendant, but conservatives and far too many libertarians didn't listen; they just wanted to get rich, get a tax cut and kill sum a-rahbs. Sorry, wingnuts, but you helped change the zeitgeist by accelerating the processes by which you had already soiled this political system; this is your just dessert.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Obama Slamma Jamma

Barack Obama wants the Senate to do what Bernie Sanders led the House in doing: stop that part of the PATRIOT Act that allows spooks to raid library and bookstore records.

Libraries should be "sanctuaries of learning where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that 'Big Brother' may be peering over our shoulder," Obama said in the keynote address at the American Library Association's annual conference.

Well, yeah. Bonus points for the Big Brother reference, which is exactly what this is about.

The ALA, and their supporters such as Arthur Fonzarelli, are pleased and hopeful.

David Gelertner, however, whose attitude and visage are so similar to Muqtada al-Sadr's (though without, of course, Mr. Sadr's aspect of physical and moral bravery)*, thinks that the efforts of the Librarians, Sanders, Obama, and civil libertarians are misguided and dangerous. For good measure, he adds the accusation that the civil libertarians are cynical and partisan: if they really were concerned about Big Brother, says Gelertner, they'd focus on the IRS. Uh-huh.

*By which I mean, both are corpulent troglodyte reactionaries, but at least Sadr will put himself in harm's way for his beliefs.

Better Late Than Never?

Okay, so I didn't come back. Damned if that ebay crap doesn't take a lot of time. But, also, I've just been lazy: dog days aren't supposed to be until August but it feels like them already, 90+ degrees every day here for over a week.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those few who read my rants here: Michael Humphreys, Cap'n Redneck, Meds, Dayn, digamma, Tim, Aunt Jenna, The Sadlys, mithras, Tom. I also should thank those who are nice enough to read my blog because they know me in real life: Tgun and poly.

Mucho grassyass!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Me! I Disconnect From You!

Sorry for the absence. Probably no more blogging for one more day, then I should be back at it. I'm listing a bunch of crap on ebay (I need some spendin' muhney fer July 4) and that, friends, takes all my attention. Like most men, I can't multitask for shit.

See ya tomorrow, for sure.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Al-Qaeda? Pssh, The FBI Has Bigger Fish To Fry

Like animal rights and environmental groups:

Violence by environmental and animal rights extremists against U.S. drug makers has increased so much in recent years that it's currently the
FBI's top domestic terrorism issue, a top agency official says

Well, if the unthinkable happens, it won't be Leftists' fault after all.

The mind reels at "what if?" analogies.

It would be.. as if the CIA had said that the biggest communist threat was from Albania. Or, like the US Marshals saying that the biggest threat to law & order is the removal of mattress labels. Like the DOE saying that the biggest hinderance to education is the chewing gum stuck under school desks. Like Ann Coulter saying that "her" top concern is pastry-chucking liberals and not the syphilis spirochete that swims through "her" own brainstem. Oh, wait...

Anyway, a few comments:

-- This is the Bush creeps' message to Big Pharma: we're with you all the way.

-- I hate PETA types, and regard them as a considerable annoyance, but they aren't fucking terrorists. The FBI's domestic terrorism concerns should be over the abortion clinic-bombing American Taleban, or over the White Supremacist fucktards out west. Naturally, these folks are too close to Important Republican Constituencies, so that ain't gonna happen.

-- As these "terrorists" have attacked property and not people (admitedly, there is a "so far" element to that statement, but then their attacking people is not the inevitability that wingnuts claim), the philosophy therefore exhibited by the "reformed" post 9-11 Bushie FBI is one of militant Friedmanism -- by which I mean that it radically (via a bastardisation of Locke) asserts that property rights are not just equal to civil rights but are indivisible from them. Pushed to its logical extreme, it means that attacking the neighbour's shrubbery, say, is morally equivalent to attacking their person. Of course, that such people equate humanity with human possessions just shows what crass and depraved fuckwads they are, but then we are talking about the libertarian strain of Republicanism, here, so it's very fitting. Yes, the old socialist adage is true: the ruling class really does care more about property than people.

-- It might as well be said: al-qaeda and Osama bin Laden are the ultimate, in both the political and literal sense, cash cows for the spooks and Republicans. Would it be too tacky for me to mention that a certain interest is served by Porter Goss's laughable foot-dragging and fretting over Pakistan's sovereignty, and by the FBi's choosing to emphasise the environmentalist and animal rights groups over all others?

It Makes Me All Melty Inside

Is it possible to write a blog post that bitchslaps Roger L. Simon, the libertarian fucktards at Reason, Jonah Goldberg, and that faux-liberal Kevin Drum all at once?


As you might have guessed, I quite like it.

He's Pre-emptive!

Local blogger autoegocrat shares a juicy Limbaugh quote:

Let me tell you something, folks, if we are hit again [with a terrorist attack - R.], if we are hit again, we need to hold these people in our country who are undermining our efforts responsible. It ain't going to be the FBI's fault next time. It isn't going to be the CIA's fault next time. It isn't going to be some bureaucracy's fault next time. It's going to be the fault of politicians, left-wing groups and the like who have names and identities and spend their every waking moment trying to obstruct our ability to secure intelligence information for our own national security.

You want some names: [Sen. Patrick] Leahy [D-VT], [Sen. Joseph R.] Biden [D-DE], [Sen. Richard J.] Durbin [D-IL], [Sen. Barbara] Boxer [D-CA], [Sen. Edward] Kennedy [D-MA], [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV], Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, Amnesty International. If we get hit again, these are the names of the people and organizations we need to look at when we're trying to find out why and how it happened.

That must be the best "stab in the back" bit of scapegoating since Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell laid the blame for 9-11 on homosexuality and abortion, yet Limbaugh is beyond even these louts in that such a second attack hasn't even happened. Like his Dear Leader, then, Rush is pre-emptive.

autoegocrat makes all the right points; read his post.

Relatedly, Wolcott has found a wingnut "stab in the back" argument that gives Limbaugh's, Robertson's and Falwell's some genuine competition.

Overload, Pleasure Overload

I've wasted a bit of time playing the greatest video game ever, GTA-Vice City, over the last couple of years, but I still haven't played its sequel, GTA-San Andreas.

The exuberant violence of these games is a great stress-reliever.

Roomie, however, being a much bigger gamer than I, has had it a while now and is, of course, addicted. By his account the music and layout isn't as good as Vice City. But the vehicles are better. Oh, yeah, I say, how?

Well, he told me, one can steal a combine, run over pedestrians and cops with it, scoop them up in the header, and spew chunks of their bodies out the back (through the straw chopper).

OMG. I must play this game!

Growing up on a farm, with such heavy and imposing machinery around, one's imagination as a child ran wild -- with fear and awe, mostly.

Later, as a teenager and young adult, since I was scrawny and limber, I was most often designated as "monkey", the guy who climbed onto and into the frame and guts of these steel beasts to fix what I was told to fix. I'm fairly claustrophobic, so this was definitely a creepy experience. What if some nutter started this thing up while I'm in here?

Farming's incredibly dangerous -- a cousin's cousin was nearly killed a few years ago whilst working on a planter's marker arm. Most accidents on the farm, I'd guess, are caused by open driveshafts: we were all shown this gruesome scenario in an FFA film. I know a guy who lost a leg from a cabless tractor accident. An in-law's brother was killed by a cabless Massey flipping over on him. I know a local old man whose John Deere MT model flipped on top of him, pinning him for a long while and tearing his guts up real good. While riding on the fender of a JD 4020, my own leg was grabbed by the tire and pulled underneath the fender; thankfully, the tractor wasn't going too fast, and I grabbed hold on the seat tight and screamed for the driver to stop before the tire could pull me off. Danger, danger. (Fortunately, we didn't have the sorts of silos that are common on most farms, so the scary scenes in Witness and Dark Night of the Scarecrow weren't so nightmare-inducing as they might have been.)

Therefore it's with a certain bravado that I want to play that game. To sort of sneer at the fear that is ground into one who has grown up on the farm. I was about 7 or 8 when I first did something stupid but liberating in response to this fear. While my grandfather was working the field around the house, I ran out and grabbed a plow on the last row of the implement, letting it drag me on my belly through the soft earth. It was such a rush. I got in trouble, of course, but now I can tell that it was hard for him to really get on my case since he saw what a blast I was having. I was just forbidden to do it again. Sure, GTA-San Andreas is just a game, but the psychological purpose remains.

Here's a screenshot of the combine; it looks like a 6600 with a 30ft header somehow stuck on it -- the better, presumably, for scooping up baddies.

Surprise! They Are Stalinists!

Via Atrios, who's really been on fire lately, comes this excellent little expose' on Washington Times owner Rev. Sun Myung Moon's connection to North Korea's Kim Jong-Il:

An American Prospect investigation reveals that The Washington Times offices, housed in an imposing building on a northeast Washington strip otherwise known for tire shops and fast-food joints, serve as the base of operations for Moon’s diplomatic missions to his homeland. Moreover, the paper itself has served as an instrument of Moon’s partnership with the communist regime. Throughout the 1990s, as Western observers predicted that the Kim dynasty that rules North Korea would collapse for lack of hard currency reserves, the Moon organization invested tens of millions of dollars, which apparently included payments made before U.S. sanctions eased in 1999.

The Japanese press has accused Moon of involvement in an arms deal that appears to have enhanced North Korean missile-tube research -- a serious charge, considering recent fears about the advancement of North Korea’s missile-range capabilities. Indeed, Moon’s connections with the Kim regime have long been a matter of active concern for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Yet Moon remains a Washington political powerhouse in his own right, a generous friend of the Bush family, and a patron of religious-right and other conservative causes. Now 85 years old, he oversees a secretive international empire of media, religious, real-estate, commercial, and industrial entities, as well as a shifting maze of front groups with far more names than leaders.

Yes, read the whole thing; it's great.

Now, I seem to remember, during the run-up to the war, arguing with a certain rightwing jackass (ahem) who tried his very best to smear the whole protest movement as "objectively pro-Saddam", "America-hating", "useful idiots" and "Stalinist" because of its occasional and tenuous association with Ramsey Clark's ANSWER, which takes a perversely cheery line with Pyongyang. Yet this new revelation of Moon having legitmately friendly tie$ with Kim (which, I think, most on the left had intuited already) provides a nice opportunity, with much more of a factual basis, for me to turn the argument around, with a nice "fuck you" added for good measure.

There is linkage here. Moon, a propagandist for the Republican Party and G. W. Bush in particular, has financial dealings with the last Stalinist country on earth.


The first cult people I ever saw, or learned about, were Moonies. I never saw Hari Krishnas in Memphis, but Moonies used to sell roses on many intersections around town. "Mom, who are those people?" "Moonies. They are brainwashed, Josh." After that explanation, I couldn't stop staring whenever I'd see them, looking for the vacant eyes of the zombie. Amazing how one can learn truths at such a young age.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Jeb's Jabs

Dear Leader's brother (and heir-apparent), continues his cynical meddling in the Schiavo affair:

LARGO - Refusing to give up on the Terri Schiavo case, Gov. Jeb Bush has asked Pinellas prosecutors to sort out time discrepancies Michael Schiavo has provided regarding the hour he found his wife unconscious 15 years ago.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe has agreed to review the time elements in the case, his chief assistant, Bruce Bartlett, said Thursday.

Of course.

Jefferson famously said that "the earth belongs to the living"; Jeb obviously subscribes to the contrary philosophy. Though the concept of a necrocracy is not unfamiliar to those of us who have grown weary of the brain-dead politics of the Bush klan, Jeb, as envious younger-brother, perhaps has more ambition in this regard than even Dear Leader or Dear Leader's Father.

Jeb's sympathy may have been elicited when the plug was pulled on Ms Schiavo's Bush-like intellect, but the younger Bush's actions and rhetoric over the Schiavo affair outdid even the most cynical among congressional Repugs -- save Dr Frist and Tom DeLay, who cannot be outdone.

Maybe Jeb is a cynical idealist -- an oxymoronic description, but also true -- a fairly common type among politicians.

One thing's for sure, he doesn't care about the living:

Last month, we reported here about Jeb Bush's courtroom efforts to crush the life of an abused, poverty-stricken 6-year-old girl in his gubernatorial satrapy of Florida. Later, against all odds, a jury of ordinary citizens thwarted the dynast's brutal will. But as befits a scion of the ruling family, Bush is now brushing aside this interference from the rabble and pressing ahead with his plans to strip the little girl of all public assistance.

Bush's minions went to court earlier this year in a bid to cut off medical aid to Marissa Amora, who, at the age of 2, had been abandoned by Jeb's "Department of Children and Families" despite overwhelming evidence of horrific past abuse -- and the imminent danger of more to come. More came. Within weeks, she was beaten almost to death; then Jeb's agents tried to stop her medical treatment and let her die. She survived their malign intervention and is now thriving with a new family -- but still suffers from permanent, catastrophic damage caused by the entirely predictable beating she received after the DCF cast her aside.

Read the whole thing. It's marvelously wrathful. Fuck Jeb Bush.

**Added: Read Aunt Jenna.

There Be Prudes At This Juncture

Mount Sterling prepares for "Testicle Festival", but some people are shocked, shocked by such a reference to zoological anatomy:

The festival, which will feature beef, pork, lamb and turkey testicles, even has a motto: "Come one, come all, let's have a ball." The festival gets under way at 1 p.m. and runs until about midnight. Besides the feature food, there is a motorcycle show at 2:30 p.m., a drag queen contest at 5 p.m., kids' games and live music. Proceeds will go to several charitable causes.

Other similar festivals exist. For example, Byron, Ill., located near Rockford, has its annual turkey testicle festival in October.

Huston purchased the Sportsman's Club last year and decided to expand the festival into the street outside. A banner was hung across U.S. Highway 24 proclaiming the "Sportsman's Club Testicle Festival."

The banner split the town into two camps. Several churches started petition drives. Eventually the banner was taken down. Of course, the controversy brought with it plenty of snickers and quite a bit of media coverage.

The Rev. Matt Martin, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church in Mount Sterling, said his church didn't object to the festival itself.

"We just didn't feel like we wanted a word like that floating along Main Street," he says.

Oh, do STFU. You know, it's only natural that Bush and the Repugs want us to go back to the 1870s, government and economic policy wise, because their idiot consitutency is equally atavistic with cultural matters. This sort of priggish bullshit died with the Victorians; trust the fundamentalist Christians to keep the flame alive.

Where's PETA When You Need Them?

Because George Bush has been abusing his poodle, Mr Blair.

He's forcing a watered down version of the upcoming G8 summit proclamation on climate change, Tony Blair's baby with which he hopes to win back some political capital with his constituency:

A June 14th draft of the proposed G8 statement provided to The Associated Press has brackets around disputed language, including assertions that the impact of global warming already is being felt in Africa, small islands, the Arctic and other regions.

Bracketed portions include statements that the world is warming, human activity is mostly to blame and developed economies must lead the fight against the problem.

"While there will always be some uncertainty, inertia in the climate system means we cannot afford to postpone action if we are to manage the risk of irreversible change," reads one sentence in contention.

The political pressure to delete that language comes directly from Bush administration officials, say environmental advocates who have talked with G8 leaders' negotiators.

"All of the changes in the June 14 draft are the result of the White House refusing to be part of any statement that says that action on climate change is urgent, that impacts are already being felt, and that the science is strong," said Philip Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust.

"The president refuses still to acknowledge that reducing global warming pollution is urgent, and that the developed nations have a responsibility to take the lead in reducing it," he said Friday.

Blair needs a strong statement at G8, but Bush ain't about to let him have it.

Poor Brits, what saps! But then why should Bush be honest with them? They too are pawns in the Great Straussian Game of Vietnam Redux:

American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."

Ooops, huh.

Napalm. I suppose we should be thankful that Iraq is a desert and so unnecessary to defoliate with Agent Orange.

Anyway, Lies, Lies, Lies. And it's obvious that Bush, if he had a plan for reconstruction, didn't share it with the Brits:

On March 25 Straw wrote a memo to Blair, saying he would have a tough time convincing the governing Labour Party that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq was legal under international law.

"If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the U.S. would now be considering military action against Iraq," Straw wrote. "In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with OBL (Osama bin Laden) and al-Qaida."

He also questioned stability in a post-Saddam Iraq: "We have also to answer the big question what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this than on anything."

So much for the "we wanted democracy all along" argument. But then I'm pretty sure that Bush wished to install Chalabi from the start. Small wonder Wolfy & Crew didn't share post-war plans with their faithful servants in Albion.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Virgin Ben Strikes Back

Upset, perhaps even crying, from his bunker of chastity amply stocked with kleenex and Vaseline, Ben Shapiro lets the meanies who have made fun of him know that he's not gonna take it anymore:

Those with values are under attack in a culture that treasures "tolerance" above morality. It's no wonder that because of my outspoken advocacy of traditional morality in general and of virginity in particular, I've become a favorite target of Internet leftists, who often refer to me as "The Virgin Ben."

The Internet is riddled with writing like this: "In [Ben's] case, it is helpful to remember that some people choose celibacy, while others have it thrust upon them. Poor Ben. He no more chose abstinence than Clarence Thomas chose to be black." "The Virgin Ben also apparently has never had a really great Saturday night …" "The Virgin Ben, indeed. This guy's 'interview' so completely reeks of repression that I almost feel violated having read it. Like I stepped into someone else's wet dream. It's freakin' eerie, man." "You know I'm starting to feel sorry for this kid. I look into his future and I can see that not once is he ever going to get to have really good hot sweaty sex with Miss Scarlet in the parlor with a bottle of lube. That kind of sex may not approach godliness, but for a few brief moments and a lifetime of memories, it sure feels like it."

Such heated, inarticulate and unreasoned hatred for moral standards should not be shocking. Social liberalism seeks to promote a "live and let live" society wherein all types of deviant behavior is tolerated and accepted.

And he had to shave his palms to type all that out.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Worst Of The Worst


Ms. Chang is very, very hard on Mao, whom she draws as a monster. Well, he was a monster. The only really interesting question about his monstrousness is where it ranks in the 20th-century scale, among Hitler, Stalin, and the rest.

Personally I'd rank him rather low. China being such a populous nation, he had a lot more material to work with than most dictators. Macias Nguema of Equatorial Guinea murdered around a quarter of his country's population (and likely ate several of them); but it didn't notice, since that's a small country. Similarly with Pol Pot. Mao was trying out crackpot social experiments on 800 million people, so when the eggs turned into a mess instead of an omelet, the mess was tremendous. Just the famines following the Great Leap Forward of the 1950s saw off 25-30 million souls... but that was only around 3 percent of China's population. You need to decide on some scaling considerations when making these comparisons.

That aside, I have never though Mao was as malicious as, say, Stalin. I am sure he didn't care about the people his policies killed; but I doubt he took actual pleasure in reflecting on their deaths, as I feel sure Stalin did, and probably Hitler, too. Mao's inward reflection on the famine mega-deaths was probably something like: "Darn it, the cadres didn't carry out my instructions properly!" I doubt there was much of an element of: "Well, those people who died were only useless mouths, anyway," which, with Stalin, I feel sure there was. Stalin really seemed to hate peasants. Mao's affection for them was abstract and cold, but I don't think he hated them.


In any case, the great villain of the age that has gone by was surely Lenin. Perfectly cold-blooded, urging the use of terror as a peacetime political instrument, gleefully contemplating the suffering of "class enemies," teaching Hitler and Mao all their techniques. The whole thing comes back to Lenin. Leszek Kolakowski, in _Main Currents of Marxism_, scoffs at Mao's intellectual attainments as (I am working from memory) "a few regurgitated Leninist cliches."

Derbyshire implies that Kolakowski was making the same judgement in moral degree as he himself is. I don't think so. But, anyway, the point is that Derbyshire wants to blame every 20th Century monster on Lenin. By extention, he wants to make equivalent the ideologies of all these monsters.


Till now, to put it straightforwardly, Stalinism hasn’t been rejected in the same way as Nazism. We are fully aware of its monstrous aspects, but still find Ostalgie acceptable: you can make Goodbye Lenin!, but Goodbye Hitler! is unthinkable. Why? To take another example: in Germany, many CDs featuring old East German Revolutionary and Party songs, from ‘Stalin, Freund, Genosse’ to ‘Die Partei hat immer Recht’, are easy to find. You would have to look rather harder for a collection of Nazi songs. Even at this anecdotal level, the difference between the Nazi and Stalinist universes is clear, just as it is when we recall that in the Stalinist show trials, the accused had publicly to confess his crimes and give an account of how he came to commit them, whereas the Nazis would never have required a Jew to confess that he was involved in a Jewish plot against the German nation. The reason is clear. Stalinism conceived itself as part of the Enlightenment tradition, according to which, truth being accessible to any rational man, no matter how depraved, everyone must be regarded as responsible for his crimes. But for the Nazis the guilt of the Jews was a fact of their biological constitution: there was no need to prove they were guilty, since they were guilty by virtue of being Jews.

In the Stalinist ideological imaginary, universal reason is objectivised in the guise of the inexorable laws of historical progress, and we are all its servants, the leader included.


We do not find in Nazism any equivalent to the dissident Communists who risked their lives fighting what they perceived as the ‘bureaucratic deformation’ of socialism in the USSR and its empire: there was no one in Nazi Germany who advocated ‘Nazism with a human face’. Herein lies the flaw (and the bias) of all attempts, such as that of the conservative historian Ernst Nolte, to adopt a neutral position – i.e. to ask why we don’t apply the same standards to the Communists as we apply to the Nazis. If Heidegger cannot be pardoned for his flirtation with Nazism, why can Lukács and Brecht and others be pardoned for their much longer engagement with Stalinism? This position reduces Nazism to a reaction to, and repetition of, practices already found in Bolshevism – terror, concentration camps, the struggle to the death against political enemies – so that the ‘original sin’ is that of Communism.


It is here that one has to make a choice. The ‘pure’ liberal attitude towards Leftist and Rightist ‘totalitarianism’ – that they are both bad, based on the intolerance of political and other differences, the rejection of democratic and humanist values etc – is a priori false. It is necessary to take sides and proclaim Fascism fundamentally ‘worse’ than Communism. The alternative, the notion that it is even possible to compare rationally the two totalitarianisms, tends to produce the conclusion – explicit or implicit – that Fascism was the lesser evil, an understandable reaction to the Communist threat.

Read it in its entirety: anything by Zizek is pure gold. Hitchens made a similar, if less devastating, argument against Martin Amis. It's correct, of course, to judge both forms of totalitarianism as wrong, but one is demonstrably more horrible than the other and the distinction cannot be fudged.

No one ever claimed that Hitler betrayed the ideals of Fascism; many claimed that Stalin had betrayed the ideals of the revolution. And so he did.

Now as far as acts go, which is more in tune with Derbyshire's post, there is a distinction between genocides on the grounds of intent. Callous disregard or incompetence or stupidity which killed millions, as in the case of the Great Leap Forward or, more arguably, with the Ukrainian Famine, aren't on a level plane with planned mass murder, much less the planned and intended extermination of a whole ethnic group.

Don't get me wrong, all were horrible and deserve scorn. They all permanently and rightly discredited their ideologies. But Zizek is correct to point out that Naziism was a singular evil, and that communism at least had some good in it at one time. One can't corrupt the already corrupted. Fascism was never good and could never produce decency even in theory.

One thing Zizek doesn't argue that Hitchens did, which is a great buh-buh-buh inspirer when thrown on a wingnut (it is especially good to smack a Randroid with) is that were it not for the Russian Revolution, it is likely that Nazism would have been born in Czarist Russia before it was actually born Germany: under the Czars, Russia was the most anti-semitic society on earth (which is really saying something); the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was, after all, a White Russian invention and distributed by the Czar's secret police, and during the civil war the White areas were notoriously pogramish. There's a lot on the rightwing who would have preferred this outcome. I'm very glad there was a communist revolution, myself.

Electric Eye

She's right, this site is cool. Check out the combines.

Nixon, Anti-Semitism, And Watergate (Deeply Throttled Part III)

Yeah, I know I'm late but...

Here are Parts I and II of the series.

First, let me get a few loose ends out of the way before I smack around Ben Stein.

Here is the best joke out of the whole ordeal (the one attributed to "Tad Hauer").

There is another side to Mark Felt. Most everyone was aware of it, but I'm not sure many liberals knew just how how dark and creepy he was. Of course, people are capable of doing good and bad things, and Felt's crucial role in Watergate was a very good thing. But, just for the record, COINTELPRO was bad stuff, though absolutely typical of the spook mindset at the time, and Felt was into it up to his eyeballs. (Parenthetically, I might add that everyone's whipping boy, Ward Churchill, did some of the first valuable research on the FBI's COINTELPRO activities.)

More information has come out on how Felt pulled off the Deep Throat act: he was, apparently, his own boss -- so to speak.

Okay, and now on to business. Richard Nixon was an anti-semite, no question at all. The most virulent sort, too, the paranoid variety. On the Hardball program I linked to in my first post, Andrea Mitchell, who is vile for other reasons but here perfectly righteous, says:

Let me just show you a bit of a transcript, or read you a bit of a transcript, of an October taping in 1972 between Halderman and Richard Nixon. And the subject was Mark Felt, because Halderman suggested that the leaks that were coming out might have been from Felt.

And at this point, Nixon says, “What can we do about it?” And Halderman says, “If we move on him, he‘ll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that‘s to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything.”

Nixon, “What would do you with Felt?” Halderman, “Well, I‘d ask Dean.” Nixon, “What the hell would he do?” Halderman, “He says you can‘t prosecute him, that he hasn‘t committed any crime. Dean‘s concerned if you let him know, he‘ll go out and go on network television.”

I wish he had. Nixon then says, “Is he a Catholic?” Halderman says, “Jewish.” Nixon, “Christ, put a Jew in there?” Halderman, “Well, that could explain it, too.” Does that give you a sense of how ugly things were in the Oval Office back then when they did not remember that they were being recorded, Chris? [misspellings in original]

To which Chris Matthews responds:

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. And by the way, if you really study the tapes
I‘ve spent a lot of time with them—the worst possible influence in Richard Nixon, when it came to that ethnic stuff, was Bob Halderman. He always seemed to lead him into the ugly stuff, all the time when you go into those transcripts.

Is there or not an element of excuse-making in this explanation? Actually, Nixon needed no "help" in being an anti-semite, and though Haldeman was indeed a jackass, the person most likely to share with Nixon bigotted commentary in this regard was the Reverend Billy Graham, icon of the Religious Right. There's much more evidence at Rense, but there's a particular quote from it that I want to share...

Nixon then broaches a subject about which "we can't talk about it publicly," namely Jewish influence in Hollywood and the media. He cites Paul Keyes, a political conservative who is executive producer of the NBC hit, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," as telling him that "11 of the 12 writers are Jewish."

"That right?" says Graham, prompting Nixon to claim that Life magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, are "totally dominated by the Jews." He calls network TV anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite "front men who may not be of that persuasion," but that their writers are "95 percent Jewish."

Nixon demurs that this does not mean "that all the Jews are bad" but that most are left-wing radicals who want "peace at any price except where support for Israel is concerned. The best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews."

"That's right," agrees Graham
[My emphasis]

It's Nixon's attitude to Israel that makes several rightwing Jews, who should know better, defend him and his genuine anti-semitism. This attitude was carried over in policy, and of course the Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson types, and their "constituents" who commonly hold similar feelings on Jews-in-general, are all fiercely pro-Israel.

Now Ben Stein had already soiled himself in vilifying Mark Felt and defending Richard Nixon (particularly citing Nixon's act of "saving Eretz Israel") before his latest atrocity. We had already "won Ben Stein's baloney", and speaking for myself, it didn't feel like a Publisher's Clearing House moment. Well, the latest was so bad that even Andrew Sullivan was horrified. It's worse. Far Worse:

Now, we read that Mark Felt's family and Mark Felt put out their story solely to make money off it. So, this makes the family's karma even more unnerving. The father, patriarch, Mark, took out his anger and frustration for being passed over at the FBI, by ruining the career of the peacemaker, Richard Nixon. So, he condemned a whole subcontinent to genocide and slavery and poverty to please his own wounded vanity. (Maybe his nickname should be "sour grapes" and not "deep throat" because he has as much in common with that fox as with a porn star.) And, blood will tell, as the old saying goes: his posterity is now dragging out his old body and putting it on display to make money. (Have you noticed how Mark Felt looks like one of those old Nazi war criminals they find in Bolivia or Paraguay? That same, haunted, hunted look combined with a glee at what he has managed to get away with so far?)

And it gets worse: it's been reported that Mark Felt is at least part Jewish. The reason this is worse is that at the same time that Mark Felt was betraying Richard Nixon, Nixon was saving Eretz Israel. It is a terrifying chapter in betrayal and ingratitude. If he even knows what shame is, I wonder if he felt a moment's shame as he tortured the man who brought security and salvation to the land of so many of his and my fellow Jews. Somehow, as I look at his demented face, I doubt it.

Stein, accusing Felt of betrayal of the tribe and in the most toxic way with the Nazi war criminal reference, actually here exhibits the apotheosis of a particular right-wing brand of betrayal. If I remember correctly, the Jewish analogue to the black "Uncle Tom" is an "Uncle Sal". Stein, covering up for Nixon's anti-semitism far beyond even his own father's lame apologies for Dick, is the Ultimate Uncle Sal. Ben Stein has displayed his copious idiocy on other matters before, and Nixon hacks making strained and hypocritical appeals to ethnicity is not a new phenomenon. But why the nastiness and vehemence? Hypocrisy is one thing, but why hypocrisy squared or cubed? Or, as Atrios asks it:

You'd think the faux philo-semitism which has become a part of the religion of the Right would lead to at least a few Righties being disturbed by [Nixon's taped anti-semitic comments]

I'll tell you why they're not, because long ago Stein, and fuckwits on the right like Norman Podhoretz, decided that genuine anti-semitism is no big deal so long as Israel is supported without qualification. Because Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger encouraged Israel to violate the cease fire of the October War, the United States, reacting to the Soviet reaction to this dirty trick, was put on Defcon III. And this action wasn't done to save plucky little Israel, it was done to preserve/enlarge the Occupied Territories (a.k.a Eretz Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip). This is what makes the likes of Stein go silent when Richard Nixon's anti-semitism is mentioned.

Okay, that takes care of Stein, but is it so widespread on the right? Yes. Since Norman Podhoretz essentially invented the formulation that re-defined anti-semitism to mean "absence of unqualified support of Israel", the whole of the rightwing picked it up. Don't believe me? Well, I'd think that the opinions of AEI "scholars" are pretty representative of wingnuttery, Jew and Goy divisions:

We wanted to know: is it the power of their ideas, or is it their power?

After spending a day at AEI, we suspect it's the latter.

In the morning, we caught a session titled: Europe: Anti-Semitism Resurgent?

Looked around the audience. There was Bork. There was Kirkpatrick.

They were there to listen to what was supposed to be a debate between two right-wingers, Ruth Wisse of Harvard University and John O'Sullivan, of United Press International.

But there was little debate.

Everyone agreed that the issue wasn't anti-semitism, as traditionally defined, but anti-Israel views.

In fact, Wisse and O'Sullivan had now effectively redefined the term anti-semitism to mean anti-Israel.

We had suspected this, but didn't get a confirmation until a questioner in the audience asked Wisse about Billy Graham's 1972 conversation with Richard Nixon, memorialized on the White House tapes, and made public earlier this year by the National Archives.

In the conversation, Graham says to Nixon that "a lot of Jews are great friends of mine."

"They swarm around me and are friendly to me," Graham says. "Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country."

And how does he feel?

Graham tells Nixon that the Jews have a "stranglehold" on the country, and "this stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain."

"You believe that?" Nixon says.

"Yes, sir," Graham replies.

"Oh boy," Nixon says. "So do I. I can't ever say that but I believe it."

So, the questioner wanted to know whether Professor Wisse considered these sentiments, as expressed by Graham, and widely publicized earlier this year, to be anti-semitic.

No, they are not anti-semitic, Professor Wisse says.

Not anti-semitic?

No, anti-semitism exists today in the form of "political organization" against Israel.

Inference: the religious right in this country, as long as they organize politically to support Israel, can say and think whatever they want about Jews.

Not anti-semitism.

Right. Exactly right. I've had my own encounters with it, courtesy of this fucking asshole. It's been there more or less since the mid-70s (though it wasn't really "official" until after '82), it is a horrible formulation that trivialises or excuses real anti-semitism, but Stein's Nixon-defenses are the worst examples of it that I've ever seen.


I'll probably do a few more Watergate posts eventually, especially on the Greek connection I mentioned in my second post. With regard to this subject, I have something in mind relating to Kissinger and the Hersh piece that I linked to above, but it'll be a while before I can find it.

This Digby post on Stein is also a good read.

Hello, Hooray!

I must give Bill at Kos big props for linking to the Paul Lynde section of the classic squares site.

It's been a long while since I've read it, and in the meantime it's grown by an extra page -- almost all of the additions being "zingers".

Read them. Laugh. They hold up beautifully. This is what you could get away with in the 70s, and not just on TV, but on daytime TV. Lynde's jokes were filthy, his innuendos atrocious. He was very un-PC. He was also "as gay as christmas". I mean to say that these are all good things.

This is how it was before the Moral Majority took hold. True, Anita Bryant was basically a Falwell-Santorum type back then, but the puritans had yet to coagulate into the mass movement that they became in the 80s. It was also before the Left overreacted whereby every joke had to be closely inspected for possible misogyny, homophobia, racism, etc. This was the era of Richard Pryor and George Carlin records.

Look, Alice Fucking Cooper was on Hollywood Squares, for God's sake. Yeah, he's a wrinkled old golf-playing fart now, but in his day he was pure Satan (in the, uh, best sense of the term), Marilyn Manson to the thousandth power (though unlike Manson, Alice had real musical talent: even Bob Dylan said that Alice was an overlooked songwriter). You had Billy Crystal playing a gay guy on Soap. The average Charlie's Angels episode was far more.. well, titilating than our era's infamous "wardrobe malfunctions". Aside the great Jonathan Winters, all the great comics of that day worked "blue": Pryor, Foxx, Carlin, the incomparable Buddy Hackett. You had real music on In Concert and Don Kirschner's ABC stuff. Hee Haw had real country music every week; Johnny Cash even had a TV show -- this was before Garth Brooks killed the genre. SNL was never fresher nor more subversive. Talking heads then, too, were of infinitely better quality. You had Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer on TV all the time; from the right you had Buckley on Firing Line and John Simon occasionally on the Tonight Show.

I know the 70s were bad in a lot of ways, and I admit I see the decade through the filter of my early childhood. I must admit that I'm not old enough to remember anything but the last three or so years of the decade. But post-Watergate, we were on the right track; it was a great time to be a child in rural America. Earl Butz's "Farming Is Now Big Business!" policies hadn't yet fully congealed into the system; every farm family had money in the 70s. Unlike my parents' generation, I didn't fear being incinerated at any moment by a nuclear exchange -- I didn't know that fear until the 80s, thank you, Ronald Reagan, may you burn in hell -- because detente was a sane policy even though it was perfected by a sociopath. I understand why Mike Watt and Eddie Vedder sang to Generation Y that "Kids Today Should Defend Themselves Against The 70s", and I admit their point, but also must dissent on other grounds.

Girlfriends see my childhood pictures and love the clothes I was dressed in, my haircut (or, rather, my lack thereof), the period ephemera in the background. It wasn't always this way. There was great shame in the 80s and early 90s of 70s fashion, though I never shared it. It's true, though, that it comes across much better re-interpreted in the oughts.

But 70s pop culture, despite its many flaws, deserves some respect and, as well, some study other than of the kitchy/nostalgic variety. It was a deeply cynical post-Watergate culture, it did have its moments of pure hedonism, and though perhaps reacted against by Nixon's "Silent Majority", it inspired no reaction, no counter-revolution, quite like what what we saw in the 80s which continues to this day. The cultural commissars and anti-Hollywood anti-modernist cretins of the right had yet to really set up shop, and so the 70s deserves a special place in the hearts of the Left if only for that.

No, You Don't Say...

Ms. Pickler belatedly learns that we are governed by plutocrats:

They're on the government payroll, but some of President Bush's top aides have millions of dollars in stocks, real estate and other investments, according to financial disclosure forms released Wednesday.

Read it all, it's a nice list.

Pickler's the worst of the AP (google her name through Atrios or Media Matters), so who knows what this is all about, but regardless this story was nice to see on the Yahoo's front page.

Yeah, of course it's a "coincidence" that they are all rich, or, at most, an "accident" of the system's structure and don't you know that these are all great men with the highest standards of rectitude and there's just no way that the biases of their class would influence government policy: that's just an outrageous thought. Yadda yadda yadda.

The Right Honorable Gentleman Is A Totalitarian Fucktard

I've been procrastinating about ..something, so I watched a little C-SPAN.

Rep. Bernie Sanders (I - VT) introduced an amendment to stop the funding of that part of the PATRIOT Act by which the FBI, without probable cause, can demand that libraries and bookstores turn over their records to the government. The Bushies quite like that power, of course. Most Orwellianly, "oversight" is provided by a secret court. This is the current status quo, and I suppose it was naive to think that such fascists would let go of such power without a fight. The prospect of keeping tabs on dissidence is too great a temptation to let go of -- wouldn't it be great if the government kept tabs on anyone checking, say, Gramsci's books out of the library? Collect a lot of anti-war anti-Bush people's names that way. What? We wouldn't do that! How dare you imply...

Rep. Frank Wolf (R - Politburo) led the counter-attack, and every Congressperson who spoke with Wolf against Sanders's amendment was, as you might guess, a Republican. Wolf waved the bloody shirt of 9-11 shamelessly, even by Republican standards: he explicitly said that if the FBI had had this power pre-9-11, the attack would have been thwarted. (This would be news to the 9-11 Commission.) His comrades followed suit but I should mention that Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut was especially hysterical and offensive.

On the side of Constitution and what Jefferson called "the decent opinion of mankind" the speakers were Sanders, several of the ladies from California including Ms Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida (I am at your disposal, ma'am) and many others including, tellingly, two Congressmen who are extremely conservative yet are not Republican party hacks. Indeed, their conservatism seems to consist, at least in this instance, of the desire to conserve the Fourth Amendment. Rep. Butch Otter of Idaho and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas both gave good (and blessedly brief) speeches in favor of Sanders's amendment, Otter deserving special credit for using an earthy farm metaphor.

The amendment lost the voice vote. But decency won when the "real voting" began.

Here are the totals. Sanders's Amendment passed 238 to 187. 38 Republicans broke ranks to side with Sanders; only one Democrat sided with authoritarianism and the "Secret Government Mentality" of the Bushies, something to remember next primary.

Here's the AP's version.

* I wrote this post yesterday but it was eaten by Firefox. Following the resultant tirade.. well, I was in no mood to try to blog anymore, thus my absence. Sorry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Read This

Busy, Busy, Busy's takedown of Fred Hiatt is awesome.

Several euphemisms and cliches are destroyed or, put better, exposed for what they really mean. Great post.

A Wolfowitz In Creep's Clothing

His reputation was already soiled, but Paul Wolfowitz looks more and more like a jackass as the days go by.

Consider the latest ("Another") Downing Street Memo, which is too meaty to quote appropriately, but is short enough to read on its own. Even the Brits could tell that Wolfowitz was a hack for Chalabi. Wolfy was pushing the Saddam/Atta/Czech connection, which we know was crap. Even through the memo's diplomatese one can discern Wolfowitz's blaming other elements in the administration for emphasising the WMD claim (honestly? or as Kissinger put it in a rare moment of candor, "to deflect the guilt from [his] own person?") instead of the Human Rights claim, and he then blew off a "coup" scenario, presumably broached by the Brits, laughably claiming that the Ba'athists that would have to be employed in such an operation had too much blood on their hands -- as if the first caretaker puppet government we installed wasn't full of former collaborators anyway!

Then there's this, which Catch -- rather appropriately, I thought -- caught. Wolfy the dissembler and revisionist, who did not, repeat, not, emphasise the WMD argument. Except that he did. Yeah.

Juan Cole reminds us that Wolfowitz, even in his new project at the World Bank, still pushes versions of the "My Opponents Are Objectively Pro-Saddam" argument that serves the 101st Keyboarders so well.

You know, there is something about Wolfowitz that set him apart from all the other hacks in Bush's cabinet: he seemed almost human, maybe even a decent person, or at least he roused those suspicions. He does seem to have a charm. I read Eric Alterman's account of a cocktail party meeting with Wolfowitz, and was relatively impressed. Hitchens, of course, is a rabid Wolfowitz partisan, and his description of the man emphasised an alleged bleeding-heart philosophy; the implication being that Wolfy isn't the liberal's stereotype of a ruthless rightwing hack. Alterman and Hitchens both cite as evidence an episode occuring early in Wolfowitz's tenure as deputy DoD Secretary where he told a crowd of Likudistas to bear in mind Palestinian suffering, something that clique isn't, to say the least, used to hearing in Washington. This is indeed evidence of even-handedness and sobriety.

But in the end, it's not enough, and I decide that Alterman was simply charmed while Hitchens is gullible and, frankly, such a fanatic now that his judgement is worse than useless. I think Wolfowitz told these guys exactly what they wanted to hear; Alterman had low expectations, Hitchens was told the Palestinian anecdote and apparently snowjobed on a little of Wolfowitz's Cold War history, and that was that. Sure, all politicians do this, but the trick is to not be fooled by them.

Paul Wolfowitz's biography at the DoD is in typically bland bureaucratese: nothing to be learned there.

Now, what I have always wondered is what Wolfowitz did in the 70s. Like so many Bushies, he was close to the Ford Adminstration. Later, Wolfowitz worked for Reagan in Indonesia. Hitchens calls him a moderate -- i.e., not a Kirkpatrick-esque supporter of dictators. I think Hitchens is optimistic. Now, for background reference, I'll mention that Henry Kissinger, while serving the Ford Administration, gave Indonesian dictator Suharto the greenlight to commit genocide in the then-breakaway province of East Timor. The Indonesian army used our weapons in the operation; indeed those arms deals were done with it well-known to both parties what they would be used for. At Kissinger's urging, most of the murders were done quickly in 1975, yet the United States continued to prop-up Suharto until the 90s -- in other words, all through Wolfowitz's term there under Reagan.

Tim Shorrock is instructive on Wolfowitz's history:

If that sounds like hyperbole, consider Wolfowitz's recent public comments on Indonesia. As late as May 1997, he was telling Congress that "any balanced judgment of the situation in Indonesia today, including the very important and sensitive issue of human rights, needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia has already made and needs to acknowledge that much of this progress has to be credited to the strong and remarkable leadership of president Suharto".

Uh-huh. Now Wolfowitz, as an ambassador, might have had to issue this sort of shit for consumption while he was in Indonesia, to the Indonesian press (such that it was), but for him to say it here and at that late date is inexcusable. He knows full well that this is the same Suharto who murdered 500,000 "communists" (actually, merely his political opponents of all ideologies) some of whom came from lists helpfully furnished by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Then, of course, the mass murders in Timor, which were blessed by Kissinger (and, by extention, Ford) with a "do it and do it quick" slap on the ass.

Now let us consider Wolfy's revisionism with regard to other Asian trouble spots he dealt with as a Reagan hack:

In his Heritage speech, Wolfowitz also took credit for the downfall of Marcos. The "private and public pressure on Marcos to reform", he asserted, "contributed in no small measure to emboldening the Philippine people to take their fate in their own hands and to produce what eventually became the first great democratic transformation in Asia in the 1980s". Once again, Wolfowitz was rewriting history, implying that the Filipino people, like the South Koreans, ignored two decades of massive US military and financial support for Marcos. In both countries, US policy toward these dictators (which in Korea would include Park Chung-hee, Chun's assassinated predecessor) only began to weaken when US officials decided that their continued hold on power would lead to further instability, thus threatening US "interests".

"Bleeding heart"? Hitchens, you fool, Wolfowitz is plainly the most craven sort of realpolitiko. Marcos was propped-up as long as possible by Reagan, which Wolfowitz knew full well. Marcos wasn't allowed to "retire" because the US suddenly embraced ethical foreign policy, no, it was because he could no longer hold back the reaction against him. The reaction of the Filipino people stopped Marcos, but Wolfowitz wants himself and Ronald Reagan to take credit for it. Fred Kaplan asks the right question: How does Wolfowitz keep a straight face? But not just "these days", how did he ever?

I don't really care, aside a generic objection to Republican hypocrisy, about Wolfowitz's alleged marital infidelities, but in reading about that story, I came across this funny article in the Sunday Times:

The US, Wolfowitz prescribed, should be sure of “deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”, including Japan and Germany. He envisaged the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry pre-emptively, “even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests”.

In 1997 Wolfowitz and colleagues including Cheney, now vice-president, and Richard Perle, dubbed “the Prince of Darkness” when he was Ronald Reagan’s assistant secretary of defence, founded a think tank called Project for a New American Century. In a 2000 document, the group speculated that “some catastrophic and catalysing event, like a new Pearl Harbor” was needed to assure US global power.

Uh, the sentiments expressed in that are a little stronger than even PNAC, which is of course bad enough on every level. But there's more:

after gaining a maths degree from Cornell University, he decided he preferred the world of international affairs and pursed a PhD in political science at the University of Chicago.

There he fell under the spell of Albert Wohlstetter, a military thinker who instilled in Wolfowitz the belief that sophisticated arms technology was the key to American supremacy. Wohlstetter and his nuclear theories became the supposed model for Dr Strangelove in Stanley Kubrick’s film, while Wolfowitz himself inspired a character in Saul Bellow’s novel Ravelstein.

Wohlstetter, huh? Hmm. Wohlstetter. Oh, you mean Wohlstetter, the Father of Team B? Yes, I think that's the guy:

How did the Team B notion come about? In 1974, Albert Wohlstetter, a professor at the University of Chicago, accused the CIA of systematically underestimating Soviet missile deployment, and conservatives began a concerted attack on the CIA's annual assessment of the Soviet threat. This assessment--the NIE--was an obvious target.

Team B was the original Straussian fraud that destroyed detente. It was useless as research, a real tissue of lies. But it gave a "factual basis" by which Ronald Reagan could call Gerald Ford "a communist", an appeaser, Scoop Jackson could procure even more contracts for Boeing, and the world could enjoy the fruits of a renewed nuclear nightmare. But Team B's "research" got rid of the doctrine of coexistence for the sake of averting nuclear annihilation -- the object of the exercise. By the time it was found out to be worthless propaganda, it was too late. And Wolfy? Well, like teacher, like pupil:

"Team B members, all approved by the CIA, were hardly outsiders to the national security establishment. They included political scientist Richard Pipes, General Daniel Graham, who had headed the Defense Intelligence Agency, Paul Nitze, a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, General John Vogt, the former Air Force Chief of Staff, Thomas Wolfe, a top Rand Corporation executive, General Jasper Welsh, the head of the Air Force's system analysis and Paul Wolfowitz, who was at the Arms Control Agency.

It was there all the time, people. Wolfowitz was Machiavellian, a menace to peace, an apologist for tinpot dictators, and a manufacturer of propaganda way back then. A leopard does not, as the saying goes, change its spots.

About Wolfowitz's recent move, Kaplan is hopeful:

Some who know Wolfowitz tell me that he wanted to fill the impending vacancy at the bank. He may be, in this sense, a latter-day Robert McNamara—a war-weary Pentagon master seeking refuge to wring the blood from his hands. McNamara suffered something close to a public breakdown when he moved from secretary of defense to president of the World Bank in 1967, as the Vietnam War spiraled out of control. Lyndon Johnson had been complaining to aides for months that McNamara had "gone dovish" on him. It's unlikely that Wolfowitz has exactly turned tail on George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld. Still, Wolfowitz is a smart guy, smart enough to know that Iraq has not gone at all as he thought it would, and perhaps he sees McNamara's personal exit strategy as a model to emulate.

Well, that'd be nice, but, well.. I doubt it. I think that Bush moved Wolfowitz mostly because the Satan of Texas has something nasty planned for the Third World (or, had -- that may be put on the backburner now because of Blair, G8, Live 8, etc.). I can easily see Wolfowitz cackling as he dispenses "Argentina remedies" to various and sundry among the global south.

For a parting shot, illustrative or not I don't know, I'll share this anecdote from Al Franken's book:

Speaking of pissing off a neo-con: Later, at the after-party given by Bloomberg News, I went up to Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of Defense and the architect of the Bush preemption doctrine. "Hi, Dr. Wolfowitz. Hey, the Clinton military did a great job in Iraq, didn't it?"

He looked at me for a couple of seconds, then said, "Fuck You."

That Wolfy. At least he's funny. Told you he was different than the rest of 'em.


PS: this Billmon post on Wolfowitz is a good one.

See also Wolcott, who has as good a take as any on Wolfowitz.

*** Edit 6/16/05: Read this essay on Wolfowitz, too. Yes, there is a certain cootie-factor given the source, and some of the conclusions therein can be charitably described as retarded (no, he's NOT an idealist, he's a realpolitik hegemon), but it's still worth reading.