Still the Same Slacker Friday


Petey and I saw Bob Seger last night, hence the hed. Meanwhile, from yesterday: I've got a new "Think Again" here, called "Conservatives Blame America First, Again," and a new Nation column, "Kristolizing the (Neoconservative) Moment," here, and I did this short little thing for the Guardian. Finally. I have a few misgivings about recommending this done at Sundance (the "State of the Union Dinner" video in the "Featured" box), but as my people know, I have nothing to hide, even this.

The Note instructs us: "Be sure to tune into 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' on Sunday. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos goes 'on the trail' with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to talk about his just-announced presidential campaign. Back in studio, Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) talk about the war in Iraq." We Note that on the day of what is expected to be a massive demonstration against the war for a position that represents the vast majority of Americans, Mr. Stephanopoulos and company cannot bring themselves to book anyone who actually opposed the war when it counted. The Establishment Poohbahs are actually worse than they were during Vietnam in this respect, so much the more so because we've been to this nightmare before. Oh well, maybe next war ...

Also from the Smart Boyz: "The Washington Times' front page has a large photo of Sen. Obama with Sharpton under a 'Shaprton: [sic] Step up or I'll run in '08' header."

Shouldn't Barack tell Sharpton to go commit an impossible anatomical act with himself? Wouldn't that win him gazillions of non-racialist votes and only cost him a few hacks? Show some cojones, too. Think about it, bub.

I got a letter about Max Boot, which I don't remember if it was supposed to be anonymous, but to be safe, I'm anonymizing it. Looks pretty solid though. See for yourselves.

I know that you're not a big fan of Max Boot. Well, there's some interesting stuff on his wiki site. Back when Boot was cutting his teeth on right-wing demagoguery at the Wall Street Journal, he wrote this hatchet piece going after Congressman Waxman and EPA regulations to protect public health.

I doubt that his editors at the WSJ know this, but Boot sent a copy of his article over to this tobacco lobbyist to check out. The only reason this came to light is because of the tobacco litigation, where the edited draft became part of the discovery documents.

When you pull up the document, you can see that it's a fax from Boot at WSJ going over to the lobbyist, and there are editing marks from the lobbyist in the margins.

That lobbyist is Steven J. Milloy, who is now a science columnist for Fox News. Milloy was exposed last year for being on the take from the tobacco companies in an article that ran in TNR.

It's all so sordid.

If you look at the wikipedia history of Boot's entry, you'll notice that someone from the Council on Foreign Relations has been trying to scrub the material out and remove the links.

It's all here.

Crazy/Racist Marty Watch, by Atrios here, by Glenn Greenwald here, by Spencer here, and by Robert Farley here, and here's Matt on TNR, Israel, and the coming, catastrophic attack on Iran, with a response from Jon Chait here.

Everybody watch Cheney and Wolfie (the pregnancy part) here if you haven't already. What a metaphor!

The great William Shatner in Time:

[Q:] Babylon 5 actress Claudia Christian recently gave an interview in which she accused you of once making advances on the set of T.J. Hooker.

[A:] Well, who am I to tell a lady that she's a liar. I have no recollection. I'm sure it was memorable for her, though.

Note: Time apparently sent an interviewer who had no idea that Shatner's Has Been is actually a terrific album; the best single album of 2005, as I recall. Sheesh.

From our sponsors:

To The Washington Post: Stop screwing John Edwards and apologize, here.

From TomDispatch:

Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch has returned to a subject little discussed -- where the American dead of the Iraq war come from. He has come across a demographer and a journalist connected to the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute who have crunched the numbers on this. They are startling. The death rate in Iraq for rural Americans is 60 percent higher than for soldiers from major metropolitan and suburban communities.

He considers their study, as well as Pentagon death notices, and suggests what it means (and what it may have meant in terms of Bush administration strategy) when the dead of your wars come from underserved communities and areas of the country you've largely forgotten. He makes some comparisons to the Iraqi situation, pointing out, in part, that if the 3,000 American dead represent 0.001 percent of our population (and a largely ignored part of it), the recently released UN count of civilian dead in Iraq in 2006 alone (and it is, for many reasons, clearly an undercount) of 34,000 represents 0.1 percent of its population and essentially confirms that, since the invasion of 2003, at least a full 1 percent of Iraqis are among the dead. He concludes:

If you add in the Iraqi wounded, those who have fled the country, those who have become internal refugees in the roiling civil war and ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods, there obviously can essentially be no one in Iraq who has escaped intimate knowledge of the ravages of the American invasion and occupation, and the insurgency and civil war that have followed. In other words, you have a war launched by a country whose people, in a personal sense, can hardly know that it's going on and it's being fought in a country that has been taken apart and ravaged more or less down to the last citizen.

Or think of it this way: The forgotten rural American dead are the Iraqis of the American War. I leave you to wonder about what the Iraqi dead are.

From the Benton Foundation:


The Bush administration has employed extraordinary secrecy in defending the National Security Agency's highly classified domestic surveillance program from civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs and judges' clerks cannot see its secret filings. Judges have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies. Judges have even been instructed to use computers provided by the Justice Department to compose their decisions. But now the procedures have started to meet resistance. At a private meeting with the lawyers in one of the cases this month, the judges who will hear the first appeal next week expressed uneasiness about the procedures. Lawyers suing the government and some legal scholars say the procedures threaten the separation of powers, the adversary system and the lawyer-client privilege. Justice Department officials say the circumstances of the cases, involving a highly classified program, require extraordinary measures. The officials say they have used similar procedures in other cases involving classified materials.

  • Dismissal of Lawsuit Against Warrantless Wiretaps Sought: A lawsuit challenging the legality of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program should be thrown out because the government is now conducting the wiretaps under the authority of a secret intelligence court, according to court papers filed by the Justice Department yesterday.


When the government decided to take a hard look at how well broadcasters were serving their communities, two economists at the Federal Communications Commission got a research idea: They would look at whether locally owned TV stations produced more local news than stations owned by companies based outside the area. They found that local ownership resulted in more local news coverage. They also realized they had turned up what one of the researchers, economist Keith Brown, called "inconvenient facts." The findings were at odds with what their agency, under heavy lobbying from the broadcast industry, had endorsed. The months-long study was spiked by the agency with "no plausible explanation," Brown says. He suspects it was because the conclusions were at odds with the shared position of the FCC and the broadcast industry: that media ownership rules were too restrictive and should be loosened. Economic research reports were at times altered to reflect a more favorable view of lifting ownership caps, and at least in some cases they were spiked altogether.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

I'm a lucky fella/and I just gotta tell her ...

Nice to have you back. I hope you brought enough swag back from Sundance for the whole class.

Note to Eric B. -- the "Don't Do It" from The Last Waltz is OK, but it's not on the same planet with the version from Rock Of Ages, which contains the definitive live version of every song in The Band's canon with the exception of "The Weight," the definitive version of which is the one with the Staples from TLW. (As with most of the stuff from TLW, that pretentious dweeb Robbie tromps all over the song.) And neither of them cuts the studio track of "Don't Do It" that they made immediately post-Stage Fright -- "Get Up Jake" was the flip -- which may be the best track they ever made.

Oh, and Letters From Iwo Jima is just very close to being the most astonishing film I've seen in a decade.

We continue.

While you were busy panhandling the better neighborhoods, the capital of this great land seems to have lost what was left of its mind. Is it that hard for people there to realize that the country wants out of Iraq now? It is not a "divisive issue," except in the sense that it's divided the Avignon Presidency from its nominal employers. It is no longer even a serious debate beyond the various green rooms. I remember Vietnam. People threw punches at each other over that. Families splintered. Political allies got in pissing matches that finally died out about an hour and a half ago. THAT was a divisive war. When was the last time that 61 percent of the country polled on the same side of an issue? Repeatedly. Over the course of nearly a year. If there were a draft today, you'd see demonstrations that would make the Chicago convention in 1968 look like Shining Time Station. I've seen more popular epidemics. From where I sit, Chuck Hagel and Russ Feingold seem to be the only two people who understand this. Certainly, none of the announced presidential candidates do. Nuance away, you Circus of the Stars, you. By next Labor Day, any position other than Out Now is going to be a non-starter.

Name: Linda Whitener
Hometown: Charlotte, NC

I'm sure I'll be just one of many to set the record straight, but you figured wrong: Peter O'Toole has never won the Oscar for a specific performance -- not for "Lawrence of Arabia," not for "The Lion in Winter." He received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy a couple of years ago, but almost declined it -- contending that he's "still in the game and might have a chance to win the lovely bugger outright." Which he should.

Name: David Shaffer
Hometown: Harleysville, PA

Jeff Lichtman points out:

The defenders of habeas corpus need not make inferences from the preamble or the 10th Amendment to assert that the Constitution guarantees it. Section 9 of the Constitution states:

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

I would further point out that Section 9 specifies only two cases in which it *may* be suspended -- Rebellion or Invasion. Emphasis on the word *may*, as in, it's a judgment call based on the circumstances, even *if* the cases are met. As we are neither in the middle of a rebellion or invasion, there would be no apparent legal basis for suspension of Habeas Corpus.

Then again, when has anyone in the Bush Administration ever been concerned with the law?

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