... for feeling so blue


I've got a new "Think Again" column called, "Hot Planet, Hot Air," here.

What would you say about someone who thinks he can get the presidential nomination of the Republican Party as a pro-choice candidate who, together with his current wife, boasts six marriages -- how many annulments? -- lots of consorting with criminal types like Bernie Kerik, and too many other nutty adventures to mention (and who will be undermined by the Vatican)? Maybe you'd call him crazy. And you'd be right. But he's not only crazy, he's corrupt as well extremely nasty to those who are most vulnerable to his whims and desires. I seem to remember a story in Barrett's book about how Rudy would dump his son Andrew off to go to Yankee Stadium with the Secret Service detail while Rudy and Judy high-tailed it to their favorite motel, or whatever. Of course, his public humiliation of his wife would have been enough to turn Andy against him in any case, but it's amazing, as strange as the Republican Party has been in recent times, that they could actually find a guy who, I can't believe I'm writing this, could make George W. Bush look good. (This is just what Bush did for Reagan, who was, despite the current orgy of revisionism under way, a terrible president and a generally dishonorable fellow who purposely enabled mass murder in Central America.)

Did Bush try to order the murder of Al Jazeera journalists?

Oh, and one last thing. If you've been following the trial of the two British officials accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act, here, you'll see that not only did George W. Bush and Tony Blair lie about their discussion -- which is no surprise and, I'd submit, no big deal -- but that George W. Bush really did want to murder the Al Jazeera journalists in Doha, Qatar. Otherwise, what would be the "official secret" that these two patriots are accused of leaking? I salute them, and I only wish our government was peopled with such brave souls. I also wish our media would pay attention to the fact of our having a president who apparently thinks it appropriate to target journalists for deliberate assassination.

Unintentionally funny headline department: "G.O.P. Moderates Warn Bush ..."

Or what? Will they spit out their quiche and send themselves to bed?

Here's Shaha Ali Riza's contract.

Glenn Greenwald explains a few things to me I didn't understand about the conservative bias that frequently manifests itself in The Politico. Apparently it's bought and paid for by Reagan and Bush supporters and operatives.

And speaking of The Politico, both The Politico and Matt Y. are confused, here and here, about Hollywood fundraising, methinks.

There are two kinds of Hollywood money: corporate, which is given by PACs to protect copyrights (well beyond anything that would be required by the intent of the law, by the way), and the ideological money, which is for most purposes, almost entirely un-self-interested. When I investigated the process for The Atlantic, I focused on the latter, and was occasionally accused of ignoring the former. Well, perhaps, but the point still stands. The fact that Disney's PAC operates like any other PAC does not obviate the fact that the rich folk in Hollywood (and a few other places) contribute far more selflessly than the ones the media appear to admire. I tried to make that point here.

From our sponsors:

Last year CNN tarnished its reputation by hiring hate merchant Glenn Beck in exchange for a ratings boost. This year, Glenn Beck is limping along in last place and still staining the news channel's name. Well played, CNN; here.

NewsHour hosted Melanie Morgan on Iraq war despite her history of misinformation and smears

PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer hosted a segment on grassroots groups seeking to influence Iraq policy that included conservative radio host and Move America Forward chairman Melanie Morgan, whose history of false, misleading and unsubstantiated claims regarding the Iraq war went unmentioned during the segment, as did her numerous smears.

Spinonymous sources: Wash. Post cited "State Department official" who bashed Dems' war funding plan

In a May 9 Washington Post article reporting on a new House Democratic proposal that would give President Bush half of the emergency funds he has requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, staff writers Karen DeYoung and Jonathan Weisman granted anonymity to "a State Department official" who denounced the plan as a "moral hazard." The official also mocked the Democrats' plan, claiming: "Now we're in Excedrin headache No. 1," adding, "How do you fight a war two months at a time?" DeYoung and Weisman did not explain to readers why this official was granted anonymity.

Don't hold the sins of the brother ... from TomDispatch

Patrick Cockburn has been hailed by Sidney Blumenthal in Salon.com as "one of the most accurate and intrepid journalists in Iraq." And that's hardly praise enough, given what the man has done. The Middle Eastern correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, he's been on the spot from the moment when, in February 2003, he secretly crossed the Tigris River into Iraq just before the Bush administration launched its invasion. Often, he's to be found in the most dangerous place around, completely unembedded, ready to record the unraveling of Iraq under the pressure of American invasion and occupation.

Last year, he wrote The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction. Now, in "Iraq Dismantled," just posted at Tomdispatch.com, he offers a brilliant overview of what the Bush administration has wrought in that country. This remarkable essay, which will be the introduction to the paperback edition of his book, when it is released this fall, comes direct from Baghdad (and Arbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan).

Cockburn begins with a striking account of a still-poorly covered January American operation against Iranian officials, who were in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and ends this magisterial piece in this way:

The U.S. occupation has destabilized Iraq and the Middle East. Stability will not return until the occupation has ended. The Iraqi government, penned into the Green Zone, has become tainted in the eyes of Iraqis by reliance on a foreign power. Even when it tries to be independent, it seldom escapes the culture of dependency in which its members live. Much of what has gone wrong has more to do with the U.S. than Iraq. The weaknesses of its government and army have been exposed. Iraq has joined the list of small wars -- as France found in Algeria in the 1950s and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s -- that inflict extraordinary damage on their occupiers.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Mitch Schapira
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska

I feel like the story of corruption in Alaska is going under-reported. Two former and one current member of the House of Reps have been indicted on charges of bribery and corruption. One of the state's largest employers, VECO, saw its President and V.P. for government affairs plead guilty to related charges. An unindicted co-conspirator is Ben Stevens, former president of the State Senate and son of the senior Republican in the U.S. Senate (Ted Stevens, R.-AK) The house member who was indicted nearly drowned under most bizarre circumstances the weekend before the indictments were unsealed.

The President of VECO who pled guilty is an interesting case. VECO purchased the Anchorage Times many years ago. The Times was purchased later by the Anchorage Daily News but the purchase agreement mandated that the Times have an editorial presence in the Daily News. This half page is called "The Voice of the Times" and is edited by Bill Allen, president of VECO and newly convicted corporate criminal.

You can read about it by following the links on my blog, "What we know so far ..."

"... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!"

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

So the VP made a "surprise" visit to Baghdad. Why the need for surprise? Why doesn't one article mention that the need for the surprise is that it is not safe for him to do it any other way. Does that sound like progress, or mission accomplished, or the final throes of the insurgency?

Name: Beth Harrison
Hometown: Arlington, VA

First off, the evolution question at the Republican debate was asinine. Chris Matthews should have left that bell unrung. But it is good to know who are the Republican Luddites. But there are two obvious follow-up questions to the evolution question: does a candidate believe in the Copernican model of the universe and Kepler's theory of planetary motion?

Name: Steve
Hometown: Brandon, Vermont

Lt. Col. Bateman,

As you justifiably point out, the ethics of our military men and women may be no worse than the general public, but what your comment ignores is this: Recruitment advertising for as long as I can recall (I'm 50) has focused to some extent or another on the character-building aspect of joining the armed services. The sad stories you reference certainly don't support the notion that the military builds character, and claims to the contrary, like all too much of what comes from the Pentagon, are just propaganda.

Lest I sound hostile, let me add that I greatly enjoy your informed commentary, so thank you for sharing your experience and education with us.

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