You've got a lot of nerve...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

This Nader piece gets to the heart of the problem both with the man and the film. I saw an interview with the filmmakers where they say something of the order of "Alterman may complain, but he gets more airtime than anyone else." I don't know about that. I saw the film a long time ago, when I think it must have been even longer. But the fact is, this is not screen-time contest. It's a question of context. Gitlin and I are used in the film largely as foils. We make a statement or level an accusation, and then a Nader defender is given all the time necessary to appear to dispute it. This happens over and over and we are never given the opportunity to point out why their alleged point of dispute is incorrect. It is, in other words, merely the appearance of fairness. Neither Todd nor I are ever offered the opportunity for a follow-up or to provide the context necessary to make our points.

And by the way, I've been getting accosted a lot by Naderites -- at least, I was when I was in LA -- and Nader himself, when asked about my criticism, thinks he makes the brilliant point that the idea of him dropping out and endorsing Gore is anti-democratic. Well, that would be true only if there were ever a reasonable possibility that Nader could have won the election. But he could no more have won the election than I could have. All he could do is spoil it sufficiently to allow George W. Bush to somehow sneak in. Nader wanted this to happen because he is a deluded Leninist megalomaniac who preferred to lead the country closer to disaster in the hopes that this would somehow make things better in the end. This is why he was willing to lie to his supporters, taking their money while promising not to campaign in contested areas and then doing so right before the election, and why he lied to the entire country about there being not a "dime's worth of difference" between Gore and Bush. (Can anyone be stupid enough to really believe that today?)

In any case, to those open-minded people who don't think Nader cost Gore the election and don't think he could have prevented all of the awful things that have since befallen the world and the country as a result, ask yourself: If Nader had come to his senses and endorsed Gore on the night before the election, would Bush be president today? And just what, I ask you, could have been more important to anyone who calls him or herself a progressive than preventing the presidency of George W. Bush?

From our sponsors: The Times' hatred of Gore continues to infect the quality of its journalism, here. Matt has more evidence.

From FAIR: What used to be a point in Bush's favor is now proof the guy's not up to the job, here.

Fred Kaplan rips off my high school yearbook quote.

From TomDispatch:

A little over a week ago, Seymour Hersh published "The Redirection" in the New Yorker. Among many other things, he revealed that two years ago the "veterans" of the Iran-Contra scandal with positions in the Bush administration held an "informal" meeting, led by Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to discuss "lessons drawn" from that sordid affair. They declared it to have been a success -- and suggested that it would have worked even better (in evading congressional oversight) if the CIA and the military had been left out of the loop and it had been run out of the Vice President's office.

According to Hersh, Iran-Contra redux was then set in motion from Cheney's office and, in conjunction with the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Brits, stolen funds from occupied Iraq and Saudi moneys were funneled through the Lebanese government into the hands of Sunni jihadi groups, some with al-Qaeda sympathies, and the Muslim Brotherhood, all to undermine the Iranians, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Syrians. And that was only the beginning of Hersh's revelations.

Tom Engelhardt writes: "Now imagine the response [to Hersh's piece]: Front-page headlines; editorials nationwide calling for answers, Congressional hearings, or even the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into some of the claims; a raft of op-ed page pieces by the nation's leading columnists asking questions, demanding answers, reminding us of the history of Iran-contra; bold reporters from a recently freed media standing up in White House and Defense Department press briefings to demand more information on Hersh's various charges; calls in Congress for hearings and investigations into why the people's representatives were left so totally out of this loop."

This should, in fact, have been the response to the single most explosive piece our premier investigative journalist has written, but of course none of it happened. None at all. In "A Journalist Writing Bloody Murder ... ," he explores the almost across-the-board non-response to Hersh's piece in the mainstream and consider what it tells us about ourselves. He concludes:

In my childhood, one of the Philadelphia papers regularly ran cartoon ads for itself in which some poor soul in a perilous situation -- say, clinging to the ledge of a tall building -- would be screaming for help, while passersby were so engrossed in the paper that they didn't even look up. Now, we have the opposite situation. A journalist essentially writing bloody murder in a giant media and governmental crowd. In this case, no one in the mainstream evidently cares -- not yet anyway -- to pay the slightest attention. It seems that there's a crime going on and no one gives a damn. Think Kitty Genovese on a giant scale.

From the Benton Foundation:

FCC CUT STUDY FINDING 911 FLAWS [SOURCE: USA Today, AUTHOR: Leslie Cauley]

Satellite-based emergency 911 technology often can't pinpoint the location of cellphone users dialing 911 from homes, offices, sports arenas and other indoor locations, a never-released report commissioned by the Federal Communications Commission concluded last year. More than 60% of wireless usage now takes place inside buildings. The report's author, Dale Hatfield, found that the rush to embrace wireless has only exacerbated the problem with the 911 service designed for mobile phones. So what happened? Hatfield's report says the public never heard about his concerns because the FCC decided to terminate the study a few days later. His report, details of which were presented to FCC staff, was never finished or released. He never presented the report directly to Chairman Kevin Martin or the other commissioners. "(The study) was terminated," says Hatfield, who performed the work on contract. He had formerly been the FCC's chief technologist. He is currently chairman of the Commerce Department's Spectrum Management Advisory Committee. Hatfield says the unpublished report was supposed to be a follow-up to a 2003 report he did for the agency on the same subject.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: JB Sheehy
Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Regarding this little US Attorney issue, the question I feel that is not being asked is, why didn't the Dems in the Senate bring up the issue or ask questions Or (harder questions)about any new provisions in the Patriot Act? Especially one involving allowing the President being able to fire at will and then appoint US Attorneys for an indefinite amount of time without Senate confirmation? Did they not read the whole act before they voted? To frail in shock as Senator Feinstein did in her press conference this morning trying to make the point that she feels that this was a concerted and deliberate effort by the White House to insert more White House "friendly" (read Republican) as US Attorneys, is disingenuous at best. Why was this not an issue BEFORE this act was voted on in the Senate or House? We know we can't trust the MSM to cover and/or ask these questions. We should however, be able to trust our representatives to ask these questions. Sample question: Please tell us, how is National Security enhanced by the White House being able to replace any US Attorney at will, for an indefinite amount of time, without Senate approval? It is that simple. Again, did she read the whole act and then feign shock? How could she or any other senator who read the act, containing this provision, not think that this White House would seek to use this provision as a political tool? Do you think it is time to take another look and see what else is buried in this legislation?

Name: Jim Carlile
Hometown: Burbank, Califonia

Reader Tyrone Mason brought up a great point that I've never seen mentioned by anyone: since Valerie Plame's CIA cover was blown, doesn't that mean that anyone in the world who ever came into contact with her shadow company is now suspected of being a CIA contact?

This is obviously why the CIA freaked about the unmasking, and it's amazing that no one else even thought of this problem. Rove and his ilk ruined it for a lot of people, not just Plame. Mason asks if anyone's in hiding because of the exposure. How about has anyone been executed over it?

Eric replies: Um, dude, you reading, say, Think Again?

Name: Raymond Billy, Jr.
Hometown: Harvey, LA

Mr. Alterman,

Mr. Lippmann was spot-on about the complexities of civic affairs that go unreported in the media.

Right now, I'm in the middle of David Shipler's 2004 book The Working Poor, which dealt with the intricacies of poverty that dwarf the simplistic solution lawmakers devise to help the poor:

"A run-down apartment can exacerbate a child's asthma, which leads to a call for an ambulance, which generates a medical bill that cannot be paid, which ruins a credit record, which hikes the interest rate on an auto loan, which forces the purchase of an unreliable used car, which jeopardizes a mother's punctuality at work, which limits her promotions and earning capacity, which confines her to poor housing." -- Shipler, The Working Poor (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004) P. 11

Name: schell
Hometown: Milton, PA

Your link to Bush's low popularity says, "The only groups that noticeably increased their approval of Bush were [women over 45 years of age] ... and investors with family incomes between $25,000 to $50,000, whose approval rating climbed 11 points to 29%."

Investors with family incomes of 25-50K? Is this retired folks? Low to middle income working people with IRAs? Or some class that bears no resemblance to any I have ever seen?

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