To everyone he meets, he's a stranger ...


How sad about Michael Ledeen.

When I was a young journalist, I did a short piece on Michael Ledeen. I had the interview scheduled for the day that The Washington Post revealed that Ledeen had been denied tenure following apparent allegations of plagiarism. He invited me over to his house where he and his wife served me spaghetti with no sauce and tap water, which was just stupid. When I asked him about that morning's paper, he said I could withdraw the question or he would put me through his living room window -- making him, together with Geraldo Rivera, one of the two people who threatened me physically for doing my job that year and not following through.

It was a long time ago, but I remember Ledeen giving me a long speech about all his amazing accomplishments and gave me his resumé. I remember that on that resumé, he listed a book that was an interview he did with a famous Italian expert on fascism where his name did not even appear on the cover. I mention this because Ledeen -- accused plagiarist, resume-puffer, physical threatener, and Iran-contra adventurer -- is the kind of person who advises our government on how to behave in this world. For even more humor, take a look at this interview about what a great idea it would be to start yet another war:

Why will this work?

Well, I'm not sure it will work. But it ought to work. I mean, Iran fulfills every condition of a revolutionary society. It's a wildly unpopular government, it's a very young population, they've shown their unhappiness with it in every way that you can imagine, from street demonstrations to celebrating banned holidays and everything like that. The polls that the regime itself takes show upwards of 70 percent of the people wanting regime change. So why not? I mean, it ought to work. And most revolutions require some kind of external base of support in order to succeed.

What happens if democratic revolution doesn't work?

Then we're left in the same bind that we're in now, which is that Iran -- the Iranian regime -- has been waging war against us for 27 years, 28 years. And we haven't yet responded to it. I gather this administration is trying to grope their way through some way to do it now in Iraq.

But what would you want to see happen if democratic revolution doesn't work?

I don't really have an answer to that, because I expect that revolution will work. I certainly -- the only military things that I support are what I consider legitimate measures of self-defense, that is, going after terrorist training camps in Iran and Syria, where they train people who come in and kill coalition forces, and going after the facilities where they're putting together these explosive devices [IEDs].

Do you speak Farsi, the language of Iran?

No. That's why God invented translators.

Do you think that's at all a drawback for you in trying to understand what's going on there?

I don't know, I've been working on Iran since 1979. I think I've done pretty well.

Read the whole sad mess here.

E.J. Dionne gave an important speech at the Shorenstein Center recently. Here's a paragraph from it: "The real issue confronting modern journalism is thus a paradoxical one. There is a need to resurrect a concern for what's true -- to draw clearer distinctions between fact and opinion, between information and mere assertion. At the same time, there is an urgent requirement that the media take seriously their obligation to draw people, as citizens, into the public debate, to demonstrate that the debate is accessible and that it matters. What is needed, in other words, is both a strengthening of the older professional ethic involving accuracy and balance and a new engagement with the obligations of journalists to democracy." You can watch it here.

John Judis says America is a rogue nation.

I concur.

An Actual Story: I have a friend who is good-hearted but not political. She caught John Edwards on C-SPAN and was impressed and so went to see him at Riverside Church for MLK Day. After seeing him, she wants to change her life and find a job in the "helping poor people and children" sector. I promise.

McCain Suck-Up Watch Continued, from our sponsors, here and here.

More from the sponsors:

USA Today column cited Rep. Carney warning against Iraq intel probe, but not his former job, here.

Russert called Lieberman a "Democrat ... who agree[s] with the president," here.

Media perpetuate myth that Gore claimed to have "invented" Internet, here. (That one's kinda sad ...)

ABC: Still lying about lying about 9/11, here. (Remember this?)

Sullivan is whining about gay-baiting again. Ooops.

A Martin Luther King Moment from National Review via Brad, here. Scroll down for his Nobel speech.

ABC, the home of John Stossel, The Note and The Path to 9/11, was busy last week hiring right-wing talker Glenn Beck as a network commentator, as well as cleaning up the mess after it tried to kick liberal blogger Spocko off the internet. All in all, a shameful week for ABC.

From the American Historical Association:

Whereas the American Historical Association adopted a resolution in January 2004 re-affirming the principles of free speech, open debate of foreign policy, and open access to government records in furthering the work of the historical profession;

Whereas during the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror, the current Administration has violated the above-mentioned standards and principles through the following practices:

  • excluding well-recognized foreign scholars;
  • condemning as "revisionism" the search for truth about pre-war intelligence;
  • re-classifying previously unclassified government documents;
  • suspending in certain cases the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus and substituting indefinite administrative detention without specified criminal charges or access to a court of law;
  • using interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, Bagram, and other locations incompatible with respect for the dignity of all persons required by a civilized society;

Whereas a free society and the unfettered intellectual inquiry essential to the practice of historical research, writing, and teaching are imperiled by the prctices described above; and

Whereas, the foregoing practives are inextricably linked to the war in which the United States is presently engaged in Iraq; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the American Historical Association urges its members through publication of this resolution in Perspectives and other appropriate outlets:

1. To take a public stand as citizens on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession; and

2. To do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.

From HNN, here.

Alter-television guide:

As part of my never-ending campaign to save both Studio 60 and 30 Rock from ratings-induced cancellation, I'll explain what you missed.

a) Wasn't that great the way on 30R, they kept showing that Canadian guy's hand on Condi's ass?

b) If you noted last week that Alec Baldwin (America's greatest character actor at the moment), was supposedly dating Maureen Dowd. That's because Aaron Sorkin of Studio 60 was or is dating Maureen Dowd, which is one reason why there is a Maureen Dowdish character writing a Vanity Fair feature on the show the same way Maureen Dowd was, at the time, writing one about The Daily Show. I don't spend a lot of time on Aaron's love life -- or Maureen's for that matter, even when she was dating Michael Douglas -- but Petey follows it, since he still has a crush on Kristin Chenoweth and wants her to have his baby (and yes, ladies, he's available again), and he told me that Aaron used to date this Chenoweth woman too, who I think is that woman on the show who is supposedly breaking up with that guy who used to be on Friends who is always in the tabloids for doing drugs, or maybe it's one of the other "friends"; I always hated that show. (Seinfeld, too, for the record.)

c) Another plot on Studio 60 had all the writers leaving because the Friends guy did all the writing. Funny, lots of Studio 60's writers were let go right around that time because of budget reasons, though also because Aaron does most of the writing, inspiring, I'm told, Eli Attie, who is a guy I really like and who used to be Al Gore's chief speechwriter, to leave his executive producer's position. They turned it into a show. Funny, huh?

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Rob Breymaier
Hometown: Chicago, IL


I'd like to address your debate topic on helping poor people versus helping black people. Race is still a trumping factor over income in one very important arena -- housing. While there are some huge overlaps between racial segregation and income segregation in housing (as pointed out in Alex Polikoff's Waiting for Gautreaux), race is overwhelmingly more influential than income. This is especially true in the midwest and northeast.

Chicago provides a prime example of how race is the determining factor in the opportunities available to people. Here are 3 examples from scores of research papers on the topic.

The Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities in conjunction with scholars from the University of Minnesota and Ohio State (shortly before its closing) showed that racial segregation at least correlates and probably causes the disparities in affordable housing development, community development, and infrastructure maintenance in the Chicago region. (The Segregation of Opportunities; 2004.)

Previously, the Leadership Council worked with academics from Loyola and Chicago State to show how income does not explain the pattern of racial exclusion found in the Chicago region (Black, White, and Shades of Brown; 1998 [sorry not online]). Additionally, the report showed that poor whites were more likely to live in higher-opportunity suburbs than middle class blacks in 1980 and 1990. The data in 2000 continued to show that income was not a determining factor in racial segregation.

The Woodstock Institute has shown that racial inequality in mortgage lending actually worsens as income increases:

In the Chicago Six County Area, minority borrowers were more likely to receive high cost loans than white borrowers. ...This disparity widens as borrower income increases.

In the Chicago Six County Area, minority communities were more likely to receive high cost loans than white communities. ... Middle-income census tracts that were 80 percent or greater minority had the highest incidence of high cost lending for any type of census tract.

Chicago is lucky to have great universities and non-profits that look into these issues. I'm sure that if similar studies were done around the country the conclusions would be almost the same. (In fact, the model for The Segregation of Opportunities has been repeated in Baltimore, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Austin and found similar patterns)

I'm no expert on education or employment segregation. But for housing, which often plays a definitive role in the educational and employment opportunities available to a person, race is THE most significant factor in determining where a person will likely live. Since discrimination cases are harder and harder to prove, affirmative measures are an essential component in the future progress of fair housing. Let's not lose sight of the fact that racism, discrimination, and exclusion, still exist despite civil rights laws that outlaw racist behavior.

Name: John O'Leary
Hometown: Edwardsville, IL

Eric --

Credit where it's due. The first (and, arguably, the best) to use rock lyrics for headlines that I'm aware of was one Hunter S. Thompson. He was brilliant at capturing the emotional undercurrent of an entire chapter with a lyric or song title.

I keep thinking of the "agonizing reappraisal" chapter in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that's titled, "Awww, Mama, can this really be the end ...", or the headline for his half-drunk first meeting with Jimmy Carter, "Third rate romance, low rent rendezvous ..."

I'm not smart enough to get most of yours, but I vote to keep it (like I have a vote). Done well, it's an art form.

Name: Pat Healy
Hometown: Vallejo, CA

Fact 1: Air Force Staff Sgt. is in trouble for posing out of uniform (with extreme prejudice!) for Playboy.

Fact 2: Active duty military personnel, presumably including some officers, disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq, including his plans for escalation.

So, maybe we should embed photographers for Playboy, Playgirl, and assorted mags with the troops ...

"Is that a surge, or are you just happy to see me?"


Name: Jim Celer
Hometown: Omaha

Keep the quotes. I admit groaning at the cliches (time for "For What It's Worth" to take a bow and go off somewhere) but it's fun to have one clank around in the brain until it finds its home (Radiohead today, right?)

Eric replies: Actually it was my Clash Crutch again ... Radiohead was last week ...

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