We told you so

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

There are too many problems with the mainstream media to say the sentence "The problem with the MSM is..." If you ask me what its biggest problem is, however, I would say it is its ahistoricism. Here we have three stories in which the CIA concludes that the invasion of Iraq has increased the danger to America from terrorism, here, here, and here.

Not one of these articles highlights the key point that the CIA reported to Bush that this would be the case before we went to war. For instance, in the Times story -- which led the pack on this -- you need to wade in pretty deeply to learn that "The estimate's judgments confirm some predictions of a National Intelligence Council report completed in January 2003, two months before the Iraq invasion. That report stated that the approaching war had the potential to increase support for political Islam worldwide and could increase support for some terrorist objectives. In other words, the CIA -- not The Nation, not Media Matters, not George Soros -- warned the president that he would be increasing, not decreasing the threat of terrorism to the United States by invading Iraq. That story appeared above the fold in the right corner of The New York Times as well. Bush ignored the warnings and purposely misled the United States into the most ruinous war in its history. Liberal hawks cheered. And there's no good way out. All of that belongs in the story, too. The degree of both incompetence and dishonesty involved in the selling and conduct of this war is literally criminal. And it's all happening right before our eyes.

Torture is a bad idea, here.

Vladimir Bukovsky explains why the Bush/Cheney plan to torture people is like most of what they do, not merely immoral but also counterproductive, here.

And asking our soldiers to torture and (and be tortured) is just the beginning. Bush is destroying the military, part XXXVIII.

Three right-wing items in Howie's column today. It shouldn't surprise anyone to see the MSM close ranks around Chris Wallace and his right-wing hectoring of Bill Clinton, and I say bully for Clinton for fighting back. Democrats should take heed and learn from a pro. Read it for yourself, here. (And as it happens, Edsall is hardly a liberal, bub. Just ask (or read) him.)

According to Mark Halperin and John Harris's new book, the most influential news person alive is Matt Drudge.

NO BRA ON BABS! is Drudge's idea of an important headline. Meanwhile, can this blogger-boob story really be happening? Are these people really this idiotic and unashamed of their idiocy? I say some stupid, immature things sometimes, but for God's sake, I try not to broadcast them.

Kinsley writes, here: "I'm not sure what that new form will look like. But it might resemble the better British papers today (such as the one I work for, the Guardian). The Brits have never bought into the American separation of reporting and opinion. They assume that an intelligent person, paid to learn about some subject, will naturally develop views about it. And they consider it more truthful to express those views than to suppress them in the name of objectivity." Let the record show that this is exactly the conclusion of this excellent book originally published a mere 14 years ago.

George Allen has only been a Jew for 10 minutes, and he's already a shande. Hey, goyim, would you be willing to take him back? We'll throw in John Kerry if necessary ...

Now's the time, Barack. (And congrats on being moved from Altercation's "Bush Presidency/Democrats" file to the "2008" file.

From the website A Tiny Revolution:

The Republican Party may be run by loathsome, contemptible hatemongers who cynically manipulate America's basest instincts, but you've got to give them this: they do good work. By contrast, the Democrats seem to be led by people who couldn't successfully organize an elementary school bake sale.

For instance, take this appearance by Bush on CNN today:

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war...

BUSH: Yes, you see -- you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people... Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.

If Democrats were like Republicans, there would be ads like this running in all fifty states by noon tomorrow:

[sad piano music]

MOTHER:
[holding picture of son in uniform]
This is my son James.

CUT TO:

BUSH:
I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq...

CUT TO:

MOTHER:
James was killed in Iraq last year.

CUT TO:

BUSH:
...it will look like just a comma.

CUT TO:

MOTHER:
My son was not a comma. He had a wife and a son and parents who loved him.

CUT TO:

BUSH:
[at Correspondents Dinner]
Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere!

[audience laughs]

CUT TO:

MOTHER:
Now James is dead because of a war based on lies.

CUT TO:

BUSH:
[at Correspondents Dinner]
No, no weapons over there!

[audience laughs]

CUT TO:

MOTHER:
A war that's made all of President Bush's corrupt buddies rich.

SUPER: Headlines -- "Halliburton gets billions in contracts," "Lockheed CEO payout in millions"

MOTHER:
Please vote this November, and send George Bush a message.

CUT TO:

REPORTER:
Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden.

BUSH:
I truly am not that concerned about him.

SUPER: "Vote to send a message. Vote for change. Vote Democratic."

• • •

Meanwhile, on whatever the Democratic equivalent of Fox News would be, there would already be splashy graphics and theme music for "Comma-gate." It which would be the sole topic of conversation on the channel for the next month, with the Democratic Chris Wallace mournfully asking guests "Should the president resign?"

Fortunately for Bush, however, he is up against actually-existing Democrats, who will get themselves organized to the point that Barney Frank will mention this once in an interview on a 300-watt radio station in Louisville.

More on the "commas" from Greg Mitchell.

Bush states that the economy is robust. Then why is his administration taking the unprecedented step of closing the EPA Library due to "budget cuts"?

EPA Closing Headquarters Library

WASHINGTON, DC, September 22, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is closing its Headquarters Library to the public, as well as its own staff, effective October 1. The decision, formally announced Wednesday in a Federal Register notice, cites lack of funding for the closure.

The Headquarters Library collection contains 380,000 documents on microfiche, including technical reports produced by EPA and its predecessor agencies, a microforms collection that includes back files of abstracts and indexes, 5,500 hard copy EPA documents, as well as more than 16,000 books and technical reports produced by government agencies other than EPA.

This shutdown is the latest in a series of agency library closures during the past few weeks, government watchdogs said, and as with the other library collections, the books, reports and research monographs in the EPA Headquarters Library have been boxed up and are currently inaccessible to anyone.

"EPA is busily crating up and locking away its institutional memory, "said Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that more than 10,000 EPA scientists and other specialists are protesting the library closures as hindering their ability to do their jobs. "Despite its 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' public statements, EPA has no coherent plan let alone a timetable for making these collections available."

The agency has not said when any of the materials at the library will again become available to its staff or the public either via the Internet or through inter-library loans. It has no dedicated funds for digitizing hard copies, making microfiche available online or re-cataloguing the tens of thousands of documents that will be relocated to large storage areas called "information repositories."

Ruch criticized EPA for failing to at least issue public notice for its closures of its regional libraries in Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City. The three libraries provide services for the general public in 15 states and 109 tribal nations.

Hezbollah wins.

On postwar Polish anti-Semitism: worse than you thought.

Speaking of TNR, it's kind of funny that Marty Peretz's blog, "The Spine," has a big book on top of it, here. It's the only book Marty's ever written, and alas, it doesn't exist. If Marty were to write a book, it would almost have to be called 1001 Reasons to Hate Arabs. Glenn Greenwald has more, here.

They will have to pull his adulation for the insider consensus from David Broder's cold dead hands.

Count me among the majority, Billyboy.

Springsteen was 57 on Saturday, which means it's the, um, 29th anniversary of my mom getting her doctorate. It's a national holiday here. Way to go, mom. (It also reminds me of one of the funnier headlines I ever saw, in Backstreets, when Bruce played for the crowd at his birthday party seven or so years ago. It was: "How to Get Bruce Springsteen to Play at Your Birthday Party: Be Bruce Springsteen."

This Subway Series piece says "Mets in six." What will the owners do with the $93.5 million they saved in payroll expenses, when they have all that WS cash to spend too?

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago

A double sorry (for missing Friday -- see below -- and botching the e-mail I sent Thursday night during a break in (online) library class).

Re: Clinton and Rwanda: I'm willing to reconsider his presidency in light of recent history (and I never held triangulation that much against him anyway). And I don't think he should be judged just on Rwanda. But what sticks in my craw was his speech at the Rwanda airport years after the genocide (either when he was at the end of his presidency or had just left office -- I forget which it was). The story he told was a lie -- that he didn't know and was slow to act. He did know and he acted in the exact wrong way. Sure, he wasn't going to raise the whole Presidential Directive #25 to Albright thing, but he could have vaguely hinted at it rather than tell a self-serving fable, didn't the dead at least deserve that?

But damnit, every time you're reminded of something like that, he pulls something that leaves you applauding (as I write this I'm fresh from reading the transcript of the Fox Sunday show) -- I almost want to get behind Hillary just to get this man in the game again.

Name: R. Scott Leary
Hometown: Langhorne, PA

Doctor,

I've been reading Altercation for less than a year, although I have come to truly enjoy the intelligence and diversity of the arguments presented. That said, I am surprised that you haven't taken up the issue of the Hewlett-Packard spying. This case is a prime example of the country following the lead of the government (warrantless surveillance, disdain for the rule-of-law, etc.), and, I think, represents the precarious state of our (remaining) civil liberties.

This erosion of liberty, and the attitude that any action/behavior is acceptable in the name of "security" (by the Bush administration, the HP board, et al.) only means that the perpetrators of the incidents of 11 September 2001 (I personally never liked the 9/11 designation) have already won - we've surrendered what it fundamentally means to be American.

P.S. I'm actually a Republican!!

Eric replies: Dear people, I say this every once in a while, and I try to be nice. Please don't write me and tell me that I haven't taken up something that is on the front page of the newspapers. If it's on the front page, it doesn't need me. I'm just one guy with about six jobs (and a family), etc. I'm not a news organization. I contribute where I think I have something useful to say. I don't feel any responsibility to be anybody's primary news source, and if I am, you're making a big mistake.

Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eric --

Glad to see all the links up on Altercation once again. But alas, I'm unnerved by a Slacker Friday without Stupid. And you teased us with the prospect of a Charlie Pierce return. Was this legit or just a come on?

Don't get me wrong. I'm delighted to still have your insight on a daily basis. But I want Altercation in all its glory. Thanks to Media Matters for knowing a good thing when they see it.

Now to real stuff. I've not seen anything on Altercation about John Yoo's NYTimes op-ed from Sunday. It strikes me as odd that Bush claims that he defers to military commanders about troop strength, but he ignores their concerns about end-running Geneva. Instead, he calls in a legal sophist to further shred the Constitution. That the Times would have this torture-endorser offer his weird imperial presidency rationale at this moment is disturbing.

I've got only one recourse: UC, Berkeley -- my alma mater, Yoo's employer -- will get no more support from me. I'm a stalwart defender of academic freedom, but I draw the line when one provides cover for war crimes. Not another dime.

Eric replies: See above, dude. Also, I profoundly disagree. If you're a stalwart defender of academic freedom, then you can defend Yoo's freedom too. Law school is exactly where such views belong, where they can be subject to dispute rather than put to legal use for the purpose of torture.

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