Get your hatred here ... at the White House mess

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

"I now find that I am infected with a hatred for the very quarter that inspired the rule -- the deranged, lying left. ... I detest them as among the most loathsome people America has ever vomited up. ... I hate the executives at CNN. ... I now hate Howard Dean. ... I hate the Democrats." -- Paul Burgess, director of foreign-policy speechwriting at the White House from October 2003 to July 2005, here.

Losing Afghanistan, continued:

Afghanistan is now the globe's pre-eminent narco-state. Ann Jones, author of the memoir Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan, recently plunged into the Alice-in-Wonderland world of U.S. drug-eradication efforts to show why all our Afghan programs are headed for the nearest cliff.

When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, poppies were grown on only 7,600 hectares. Under the American occupation that followed the defeat of the Taliban, poppy cultivation spread to every province, and overall production has increased exponentially ever since -- this year by 60 percent. Now, hundreds of millions of dollars of drug-eradication programs later, 165,000 hectares (408,000 acres) are under cultivation and our program does only one thing -- makes life miserable not for the drug kingpins and top players in the heroin trade (often our allies) but for the small farmers who are driven into the arms of the Taliban for protection -- and the only plan that has a chance to control the Afghan drug trade hasn't been given the time of day by the Bush administration.

And how about a little noise about Salah Choudhury?

The mainstream media seems to be ignoring the case and leaving it to the right-wingers and Jewish-oriented publications. What's up with that? I am so sick of being sensitive to Muslim and other sensibilities that deny peoples' right to free speech because what you say might offend them. Life is offensive, OK? I'm offended every time George Bush or Dick Cheney opens their respective mouths, but I deal with it. If liberals believe in anything, we believe in the Enlightenment, and tough luck on those who don't. Sign this petition. Send it around. (Thanks to Jeff Weintraub.)

Greatest use of lawyers in a video?

(Thanks, Petey.)

Greatest YouTube so far?

(Thanks, I think, Spencer.)

No, this. Brilliant and genuinely painful to watch, here. (Thanks, Petey.)

Greatest Concert Rider of all time? (Thanks to Her Royal Highness, Rosanne ... and hey, how cool is this? Iggy and I have the same lawyer.)

A thoughtful, critical review of When Presidents Lie, at HNN, here.

Get your liberal vs. progressive debate here.

Not Just My Imagination ...

OK, you can be jealous of me. I saw the Stones last night at the Beacon (though for the record, I didn't use any Clinton connections to get the ticket). It was thrilling for a lot of reasons. One was, until recently, I lived a half a block away. So I got to see the Stones on the street where I lived. Second, I saw my first show ever there back in 1976. It was the Kinks. So now I've seen two of the four great British Invasion bands at that beautiful, majestic but cozy theater, and it only took me 30 years. I was way up in the balcony, which meant I couldn't really see the lines on their faces. So when they played "As Tears Go By," "I'm Free," and the like, it felt just like I was seeing this great little band at this nice little theater and wow, they were good. (This feeling was helped by the open bar at the Lodge level.) When I went downstairs for "Satisfaction" at the end, though, it felt like you were watching a movie being filmed, so overwhelming was the Scorcese crew's presence and the biggest camera boom I've ever seen. They had to pull out half the seats and there must have been fifty technicians on stage.

Third, one of the craziest things I ever did was hitchhike to Oshawa, Canada, to scalp tickets to see them play at a 5,000-seat theater when Keith was sentenced to play those shows for his heroin bust (thanks to that little blind girl who went to see the judge). One reason I did that was because I was pretty sure Keith was going to die sometime soon, and I needed to seem them in a small hall. So I did. But hey look, they are grandparents and we're all still here.

The crowd was just like the crowd in the VIP section of a Democratic convention. I said hello to President Clinton, Elvis Costello, George Soros, Norman Lear, and a few fancy journalists who have managed to remain in Clinton's good graces despite having, for the most part, given George W. Bush a much, much easier time of things. Here's a setlist. (Tony Bennett on "JJF"? Did that really happen? Could such a thing really happen? I totally missed it ...)

From the Benton Foundation:

FCC COMMISSIONERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST MEDIA CONSOLIDATION [SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle, AUTHOR: Joe Garofoli]

As the Federal Communications Commission reviews its rules on media ownership, Commissioner Michael Copps urged Friday that the process be more open than it was in 2003, when the Commission "eviscerated" ownership rules "without seeking meaningful input from the American people." Though the changes were largely overturned by a federal court, Commissioner Copps warned 350 people at a community forum in Oakland that "we're right back at Square 1. Big Media hasn't gone away; their lobbyists haven't gone away; and they're still marching behind their 'Pied Piper of Consolidation.''' Copps and Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, the five-member panel's only Democrats, appeared at the California State Conference of the NAACP to rally interest in media consolidation issues at a forum sponsored by the NAACP and several progressive organizations. The FCC will hold five more official hearings nationwide on consolidation, and could vote as early as March on any changes. Copps and Adelstein, who oppose further consolidation, plan to hold a dozen similar unofficial forums elsewhere. While there is more awareness of the issue after the 2003 battle over media consolidation, the two commissioners' path this time will be equally difficult. Not only are they outnumbered by Republicans on the panel, both said that they are also having a hard time getting information from their own agency about what studies the FCC is conducting on consolidation issues.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Sue
Hometown: Katonah, NY

About the many people who get used up and spit out by Bush: I always compare him to Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and the way they drew people into their fold, only to "carelessly" discard them once they had served their purpose. They go on with their self-absorbed pursuits while leaving behind a wake of ruined lives and destroyed careers. Surely Colin Powell and Tony Blair would see the resemblance.

Name: David Yarbrough
Hometown: Atlanta

Eric,

I had a week of bliss considering a Democratic Congress till reality set in. In the Senate there never really was a chance since the Dems had to hold their own and with NJ looking doubtful it's too much to ask. I comforted myself with the thought of taking the House, but when you get right down to it, regardless of money, Rove can't let it happen. There has been so much malfeasance on the part of the Republicans that the truth CANNOT come out till they are safely out of the public eye. I'm not a conspiracy nut but living in Georgia and watching the debacle of the 2002 election with the new Accu-Touch machines (the one that the Princeton study so effortlessly corrupted) to believe that we can get a fair election. It only takes 1 person in one state to magically keep the Republican-controlled Congress around.

Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eric:

The president is at it again. No sooner did the NJ Supreme Court render a rational opinion of jurisprudence than the president labelled them "activist judges." When will someone ask the president what his beef with the equal protection clause is? After all, his propensity for signing statements to negate portions of bills is based on the claim that he can decide what's unconstitutional--even though the Constitution grants him no such authority. But if he thinks he has such a keen grasp of constitutional issues, he owes us an explanation of how the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment -- "No state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" -- is supposed to work. I notice that he didn't balk when the US Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore absurdly cited the 14th Amendment, and then followed up with the further absurdity that bracketed the decision idiosyncratically as a non-precedent.

Unlike the US Supreme Court in that bit of hollow reasoning, the NJ Supreme Court has done its job commendably in this case: it weighed the condition that was presented to them against the equal protection clause in their state constitution, and found that same-sex couples were being treated unequally to different-sex couples. Indeed, they could not have found otherwise; the whole point of the attack on equal marriage is to institutionalize inequality. In reaching their inescapable conclusion, the NJ Supreme Court did what responsible judicial bodies regularly do -- they returned the matter to the legislature to devise a remedy.

Now I understand that many Americans are incensed over this, but their complaint should not be with the NJ Supreme Court but with that pesky equal protection clause. This goes double for members of the black church and black lawmakers who side with the black church on this matter (among these is none other than Barack Obama; I like the guy, but he's a civil rights lawyer already). If they don't want civil rights to be applied equally, then they should imagine American life without that little clause in the 14th Amendment.

Name: John Ransom
Hometown: Carlisle, PA

Hi Eric, a quick note on Stupid's comment that partition might make sense for Iraq. It seems to me that this ignores the context in which Iraq has to work. One of the biggest motivations behind forming nation-states in history was the threat non-state actors encountered from already-established states. France played this role in Europe, especially in the early nineteenth century during the Napoleonic wars. Once nation-states get going, security concerns are going to force everyone else to create equally powerful states, just on grounds of self-preservation. Doing so is, for instance, the only way to get an army big and strong enough to compete in the arena of modern warfare. It doesn't seem to me that partition is going to be workable given the powerful players that surround Iraq: Saudi Arabia to the south and west, Syria in the west, Turkey north, Iran east.

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