Who will take away his license to kill?


Glenn Greenwald is on this so I don't have to be, but ruhhly, you would think that, in its never-ending desire to fit the "facts" in its newspaper to suit the fantasies of this awful president, The Washington Post would:

a) stop short of changing stories already published in the paper so as to cover up for the president's lies.

b) do a little bit less of this kind of thing now that the president has been repudiated by a far larger percentage of voters than voted against Bill Clinton 12 years ago.

Note also Greenwald's observation of Howie's column on it, "the whole point of which is to explore the unbelievably stupid question of whether Bush's lie about Rumsfeld was "on par with [meaning: as bad as] President Bill Clinton's hair-splitting defense in the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation that 'it all depends on what the definition of is is'? In other words, was Bush's pre-election 'untruth' about management of the Iraq war as bad as Clinton's lie about sex with Monica?"

Actual Democratic percentage, according to Andrew Gelman and colleagues (using the actual numbers, rather than trying to triangulate using the NYT summaries): 54.8 percent, not 56 percent, of the average district vote.

(The general point still holds -- that they did a lot better than the Republicans did in 1994 -- but not so much as I'd thought at first.)

Mallaby to Democrats: Ignore your election pledges, and play by our rules or else (and by the way, don't bother asking us to explain why our rules are our rules or even whether they are based on sound intellectual principles; we don't take kindly to that kind of thing):

During the recent congressional campaign, Democratic candidates mostly had the right diagnosis and the wrong prescriptions. They saw that middle-class and poor Americans have not experienced wage gains during the past five years of growth, and they saw that families are one health crisis away from financial hardship. But the Democrats' remedies -- bashing Wal-Mart, railing against globalization -- offered little more than symbolism for the poor and middle class while promising damage to the economy.

For a useful corrective, read Krugman ($), who, by the way, is an, um, pretty highly decorated economist, unlike Mr. Mallaby.

Lifted from Matt Yglesias:

If you're looking for evidence that Democrats should get more serious about gerrymandering, you need look no further than Illinois. Check out these results. One Democrat ran unopposed. Four Democrats won with over 80 percent of the vote. Three more had over 70 percent of the vote. Phil Hare won with 57 percent. Melissa Bean won with just 51 percent. That's ten Democrats. Of the nine Republicans, all drew opponents, one secured just 51 percent of the vote and and five more won sixty percent of the vote or fewer.

You could transfer voters out of the Democrats 6-7 safest seats in a way that kept those seats safe but turned all six of the least-safe GOP districts into ones that were very friendly to Democratic challengers. It would require you to create some "funny looking" districts that start out in Chicago with super-Democratic precincts and then reach out into the suburbs rather than having very compact all-urban districts where Democrats get 70-90 percent of the vote, but lots of states work like that.

Things upon which I don't have time to elaborate:

1) I watched the first two seasons of The Wire in the past month or so. I think it's not quite as good as The Sopranos but better than Deadwood. Brotherhood is also in league with these shows, by the way. Nothing on network TV is, alas, though I really like Studio Whatever on Sunset and am glad they're giving Aaron more time.

2) I saw Borat finally. Some of it was so gross I had to leave the theater. Still, idiots, he's mocking American ignorance of foreign cultures, not those cultures themselves. Speaking of Maureen Dowd's boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, someone tell John Tierney to get a clue.

3) I'm listening to Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex on DVD. I loaded it into my iPod before realizing it was about a hermaphrodite. I guess I'm glad about that. It's not really about a hermaphrodite, and it's pretty great.

4) Ellen Willis was a great writer, though I didn't agree with her much. Her essay, "Beginning to See the Light," belongs in any collection of great essays of the second half of the 20th century.

5) Ed Bradley was a great friend to jazz. He was supposed to MC the Jazz@LC gala at the Apollo tonight, alas.

David Grossman: There is no king in Israel.

Eqbal Ahmed, an extremely interesting fellow.

Philip Roth by my old friend Bob Thompson.

Alan Wolfe on Judt, Walt/Mearsheimer, etc.

Rummy and Andrew Marshall in The New Yorker.

Ellen Willis on Woodstock.

Greg Mitchell: Bush and Rove lost on purpose?


They lost my ticket for this Dylan tribute show the other night, so I had to watch most of the show from backstage. I'm not sure that was the best way to assess the music, which was, almost without exception, daring and ambitious, though not always -- by quite a long shot -- successful. Jon Pareles' review, above, strikes me as on the money -- and demonstrates to me, anyway, that reviewing these shows is a lot harder than it looks. To me, the musical highlights were "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," by Philip Glass and Natalie Merchant, Jamie Saft's "Ballad of a Thin Man," and Phil Lesh, with Warren Haynes, doing a song from Modern Times. (Rosanne was her usual luminous self, on "License to Kill," Joan Osborne and was also quite good and the Roots were really interesting and innovative. Ryan Adams went on much too long with a good idea, and Sandra Bernhard -- my god, who could possibly have invited this woman to ruin "Like a Rolling Stone" with her typically myopic, egomaniacal inanities. I'd almost prefer to watch Borat wrestle naked. Anyway, actually, I want to draw attention away from the concert for a moment, to the terrific cause of Music for Youth. Really, what could be more useful than to put instruments in the hands of young people who can't afford them. Music provides young people with the things that religion is supposed to, but rarely does: an incentive to learn self-discipline and the possiblity of transcendance. And our society is too cheap to provide it so we will have to. Join them.


Petey's right: this is funny.

Shout it from the mountains and out from the sea; another in a continuing series.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Jeff
Hometown: Baltimore

I haven't seen anything in the wake of the political massacre about the guy who spearheaded it. For once the Dems attacked using a cohesive strategy. They specifically targeted candidates that Bush had actively campaigned for. Most lost.

So maybe it's better that the media so gleefully and openly torpedoed Howard Dean's run for the presidency. And maybe it's better that the Democrats spent their time eating their own rather than rally the party against the opposition.

Attack. Zero in on specific issues, especially those that people tend to respond to on an emotional level. Focus on specific candidates. Find the tiniest crack and drive a wedge into it. It's a familiar strategy. Thanks, Karl Rove, for showing the Democrats how to win.

And thank you, Howard Dean, for bringing order to the chaos that was the Democratic Party.

Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eric --

I think that Stupid is right about the disaffection of the religious right and the importance of Kuo's revelations. A glance at the usual wedge initiatives shows that they either didn't win as in South Dakota or Arizona, or didn't win by the same margins. The results point to lower turnout by those that made the difference in Republicans' earlier margins.

However, Stupid's suggestion that the Democrats reach out to those voters by proposing a bipartisan approach to faith-based initiatives doesn't really sit well with me. I was opposed to them as unconstitutional intrusions of religion in civil matters, and I expect Democrats to oppose them on principle. The honest religious charities have long argued that they cannot handle the job in the ways that government can. Those religious organizations who supported the shift of social services to them often saw it as an opportunity to use government funds [that is, everybody's money] to expand their congregations.

Name: David Calderhead
Hometown: Carrboro, NC

Stupid is exaggerating the level of support Democratic candidates received from religious voters. That "1/3 of these "Rove base" voters " is almost the exact level of support Kerry received in 2004 and the same as Democrats received in 2002. Evangelicals are the most reliable Republican vote in the country and the Democrats would be foolish to start trying to win them over. They don't need to go out of their way to antagonize them, but I think targeting moderates and independents might be a bit more lucrative then reviving the "Faith Based Initiative" which was basically a slush fund to keep the base happy.

Name: Roger H. Werner
Hometown: Stockton, California


I wonder how many fellow Alteractors believe that Bush has even the slightest interest in working in a bipartisan manner. I was amused by Bush's continued efforts to get John Bolton appointed by the lame-duck Senate and that he had the termerity to be talking bipartisanship and trust-building with one side of his mouth while pushing Bolton back into Senate from the other. In my opinion, George Bush has no interest in bipartisanship. Bush has come a long way from his days as Texas' governator and I believe he is only capable of the crassest autocratic behavior.

I spent the last few days feeling satisfied about the last election. I tried hard to convince myself that we on the left need to put the past behind us and move forward for the good of the country. This afternoon I heard a radio program about a 25-year-old Marine who threw himself on a grenade to save his fellows and that Bush would present his survivors with a Medal of Honor. I heard this story and had to stop driving because I felt a mixture of blind rage and utter sadness. As I sat in my vehicle, it occurred to me that sadly, Democratic control of both houses of Congress and the humiliation of a man who is in my view a war criminal was not satisfaction enough.

I was revolted by Richard Nixon and his gang of slimeballs, but my loathing of George Bush and his crew exceeds any negative feelings I ever felt for Nixon. I have never been able to forgive Ford for pardoning Nixon because of his obvious guilt and that the pardon circumvented justice that was clearly needed. Had Nixon been hung out to dry we might not have had to suffer Cheney/Rumsfield. George Bush harps about the need for justice, and I think that is what is needed in his case. He needs to be tried and removed from office and if it could be done legally let us ship him over to the Hague to be tried for war crimes. Maybe dear old Dad and James Baker can bail his sorry ass out once again. But why stop with modern civility ... I am feeling positively Medieval about a suitable punishment. Let us keep him in the U.S. and try him for treason. If he can be found guilty, he should be subjected to a suitable punishment for a traitor ... drag him in a hurdle to a scaffold and hang him from a gibbet with along with his pals Cheney and Rove. Only then might I feel some measure of satisfaction and justice. Is this extreme and harsh? Yes indeed, but I should think a religious troglodyte like Bush would appreciate the symbolism here.

Name: Mark Paul


A few observations about Super Tuesday:

Don't forget to add Webb to the list of winning, defense-credentialed candidates. And I think Casey wasn't the only winning Dem with serious reservations about abortion rights. But as someone who firmly supports abortion rights, I see this important distinction between Casey, etc. and the religious right. Casey isn't interested in using the issue as a wedge. Instead, I expect he'll make important contributions to the Rare component of Safe, Legal and Rare.

Apart from the disgusting persona of Conrad Burns, liberals with a knowledge of history weren't too surprised about Tester's victory. I haven't done the math, but Tester may be taking over Mansfield's seat. There's a long and bitter history of labor activism in the Montana mining industry. And Missoula is a great town along the lines of Berkeley, Ann Arbor, and Madison. When my hippie western swing band played there for a week during the Nixon administration, Garcia's brother-in-law sat in on fiddle.

Lost in the pre-election buzz and substantive discussion about Vanity Fair's sneak peak at its neocon feature was any comment about the Perle portrait. It reminded me of this.

Hats off to the Vanity Fair photographer and photo editor, who undoubtedly are familiar with Eisenstaedt's work. And no need for historical analogies. Just enjoy, even if posting them on Altercation would cause copyright headaches. Or you could link to the Goebbels pic here.

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