You speak 16 words, and what do you get?

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

A tribute to Rev. Falwell:

In His Own Words

"Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them."

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

"I think [Desmond Tutu]'s a phony, period, as far as representing the black people of South Africa."

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'."

"The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability."

Alan Wolfe has more.

Making stuff up on the Net:

I doubt that there are many people who enjoy the Mickey/Andy spat as much as I do, particularly when Mickey goes long and pulls out Andy's bragging -- yes, bragging -- about his embrace of racist pseudoscience here and his continued inability to come clean about his hysterical McCarthyite intellectual dishonesty about Iraq and 9-11 here. But yesterday I put up an example of Andy making an unsubstantiated statement as truth, coupled with only pretend evidence. It's only fair that we note that Mickey makes an argument today where he does not even pretend to have any evidence. In his obsessive attacks on America's unions, the neocon/neolib writes, "Do they [sic] unions realize how bad they look if a candidate has to be 'brave' to tell them something 75% of Americans probably agree with?" Here.

Mickey doesn't link anywhere, but I'm guessing that 75 percent of Americans don't have any opinion at all on the issue, which is charter schools, (with which I, personally, am fine, but according to the evidence I've seen, don't perform any better than regular schools.) Anyway, with his talent for making up polling statistics, Mickey could get Andrea Mitchell's job at NBC ...

My point being MSM types make up stuff all the time, too. For instance ...

From our sponsors:

Newsweek, Kurtz uncritically repeated false fuel efficiency accusation against Obama

In a recent column, Newsweek's Keith Naughton stated as fact that Sen. Barack Obama's "assertion that Japanese cars average 45mpg, when the actual mileage is closer [to] 30mpg" was a "factual gaffe," echoing the Chicago Tribune's Jim Mateja. Likewise, The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz uncritically reprinted part of a Power Line post that highlighted Mateja's claim. However, a report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change stated that the 2002 average fleet fuel economy value in Japan was 46.3 miles per gallon when converted to the U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard.

CNN allowed Beck to decry "leftist witch hunt" against shock radio, didn't mention his own hate speech

CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck appeared on the May 14 edition of CNN's American Morning to discuss the dismissal of radio host Don Imus and New York shock jocks JV and Elvis and claimed that there is a "leftist witch hunt" against shock jocks. But in discussing the issue with Beck, host Kiran Chetry introduced Beck simply as a "syndicated talk show host," and not as the host of a nightly program on CNN Headline News. Chetry also ignored Beck's own history of inflammatory remarks -- including a remark he made on the May 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show: "I wouldn't vote for Joe Lieberman at this time because of the complications it would add in this country or on the planet right now because of the way the Middle East would use it. That's not saying the same thing as I wouldn't vote for a Jew for president." On American Morning, Beck attributed the "leftist witch hunt" to the failure to "get the Fairness Doctrine out," saying, "so what they're trying to do is to shut people down."

The Washington Post's heavy-handed indifference to the achievements of liberal bloggers is now well established. The paper all but ignored Josh Marshall's extraordinary work in the still-unfolding U.S. Attorneys purge story. The paper completely ignored Firedoglake's groundbreaking work in live-blogging the entire Scooter Libby trial. And the Post dismissed the bloggers' ability to get canceled a Democratic debate sponsored by Fox News. Note, though, that in February the Post published a splashy, Style section feature on factually challenged warblogger Michelle Malkin. The paper's double standard has become blindingly obvious. Read more here.

Do you know about the Center for American Progress's new Middle East Bulletin? It's a pretty excellent resource, and they'll email it to you every day like Progress Report if you sign up.

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." God bless Margo Guryan and her "16 Words," here. (Thanks to Todd Gitlin.)

Not everything about YouTube is so great. (Thanks, sort of, to David Rudd.)

And hey, as Petey reminds me, I was two days late on catching The Sopranos, but didja notice that Tony and, er, Christopher are loving The Departed soundtrack and, particularly, my then-favorite song, the Van Morrison/Band version of "Comfortably Numb," about which I made a big deal before they even released a soundtrack? (Did they even release a soundtrack?) Eric Alterman, Martin Scorcese, David Chase ... great minds, huh? (But don't settle for the three-minute version; get the eight-and-a-half-minute one.)

Unrelated, but I warned about this. Bono's the world's greatest guy, really, but he's just naive about Bush, Blair, and the like. A lot of money was thrown away on those concerts that could have fed, clothed and medicated starving and sick people.

Lifted from Atrios:

In A Sane Media Universe

The testimony going on right now would have some prominence. Short version is (I think) that Gonzo and Card tried to pressure Ashcroft and Comey while the former was severely ill and in the hospital to approve what is presumably their illegal wiretapping program. They balked, and the White House decided they could tap all your phones without warrants anyway.

I'm reminded of Joe Klein's comments on the program:

"People like me who favor this program don't yet know enough about it yet," he says, "Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do.

Those of us opposed to it know it's... illegal.

From Jeff Weintraub:

Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari imprisoned in Tehran

The prominent Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari, head of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, was arrested without charge in December 2006 when she went to Tehran on a family visit. Since then she has been held under house arrest and repeatedly interrogated.

On May 8, the Iranian government escalated an already serious situation by putting Esfandiari in "Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where Human Rights Watch has documented cases of torture and detainee abuse." As Human Rights Watch noted in its most recent statement about this case (see below), Esfandiari's imprisonment coincides with an increased campaign of repression against internal dissidents (including student, labor, and women's-rights activists) by the Iranian government.

Iran should immediately release Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari and allow her to return to the United States, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Iranian authorities have subjected Esfandiari to arbitrary detention and coercive interrogation. [....]

Esfandiari, who is head of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, had traveled to Iran in December to visit her ailing mother. On December 30, prior to her planned departure from Iran, armed and masked men stopped her taxi and seized both her Iranian and US passports. Since December, Iranian authorities have failed to replace her passport and instead have subjected her to repeated and protracted interrogation sessions.

In a statement on May 10, the Wilson Center said that during interrogations, Esfandiari "was pressured to make a false confession or to falsely implicate the Wilson Center in activities in which it had no part."

Human Rights Watch said the Iranian government's mistreatment of Esfandiari recalls that of Ramin Jahanbegloo, a Canadian-Iranian philosopher whom Iranian authorities arbitrarily arrested in April 2006. [JW: For more on the case of Ramin Jahanbegloo, see here.] After nearly four months of detention and interrogation, Jahanbegloo "confessed" that his scholarly works had contributed to the planning of a "velvet revolution."

Iran's decision to increase its pressure on Esfandiari by detaining her comes at a time when the authorities have also escalated repressive campaigns against Iranian women's right activists and student leaders. [Etc.]

The Iranian government's treatment of Esfandiari is, indeed, unpleasantly reminiscent of its imprisonment of Ramin Jahanbegloo, one of Iran's most prominent scholars and democratic intellectuals, in 2006. However, since Esfandiari is an American citizen (according to the BBC News report, she holds both US and Iranian citizenship), this action looks deliberately provocative as well as repressive.

(The Iranian authorities apparently do not recognize dual citizenship, and they are not shy about ignoring the foreign citizenship status of people they consider Iranian nationals. In 2003, for example, the journalist Zahra Kazemi, who held both Canadian and Iranian citizenship and lived in Montreal, was arrested in Tehran while covering a demonstration, accused of taking photographs of Evin Prison, and beaten to death while in custody. Of course, there is no reason to expect that the detention of Haleh Esfandiari will end so drastically. They are probably trying to extract a false "confession" of some sort from her, as they did with Jahanbegloo.)

=> Naturally, the Iranian regime has accused Esfandiari of being a Zionist agent as well as a US spy. From the BBC report:

Iran's Kayhan newspaper has accused Ms Esfandiari of spying for the US and Israel and of trying to incite a democratic revolution in the country.

Her husband, Shaul Bakhash, denied the newspaper's allegations.

"It is a false and hollow accusation that Haleh Esfandiari is one of the 'principle instruments' of Israel, or a Mossad spy service, in advancing the strategy of a 'velvet revolution' in Iran," he said in a statement sent to Associated Press news agency.

"It is a lie that Haleh Esfandiari had 'undercover assignments' or that she was one of the 'media spies' in Iran."

=> On May 11 the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America sent a strong letter of protest to the Iranian government. As MESA's letter emphasizes:

Harassment and detention of scholars is always cause for grave concern, but in this case it should be noted that the scholar in question is widely respected both for her knowledge and ability to provide clear and dispassionate analysis. Her treatment sends a chilling message to scholars throughout the world.

Amen. --Jeff Weintraub

=========================
Human Rights Watch
May 12, 2007
Iran: Jailed Iranian-American Scholar Faces Coercion
Arbitrary Arrest of Haleh Esfandiari Coincides With a Week of Crackdowns

(Washington, DC, May 12, 2007) - Iran should immediately release Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari and allow her to return to the United States, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Iranian authorities have subjected Esfandiari to arbitrary detention and coercive interrogation.

On May 8, officials at the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence summoned Esfandiari for questioning, arrested her without warrant or explanation, and transferred her to Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where Human Rights Watch has documented cases of torture and detainee abuse. Prior to Esfandiari's arrest, ministry officials had repeatedly interrogated her in their offices on Africa Street in Tehran, and subsequently in their main building on Khaje Abdollah Ansari Street.

Esfandiari, who is head of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, had traveled to Iran in December to visit her ailing mother. On December 30, prior to her planned departure from Iran, armed and masked men stopped her taxi and seized both her Iranian and US passports. Since December, Iranian authorities have failed to replace her passport and instead have subjected her to repeated and protracted interrogation sessions.

In a statement on May 10, the Wilson Center said that during interrogations, Esfandiari "was pressured to make a false confession or to falsely implicate the Wilson Center in activities in which it had no part."

"President Ahmadinejad is desperately trying to discredit his government's many critics as American pawns," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Haleh Esfandiari is a well-known advocate of dialogue between Iranian and American scholars, and the Iranian authorities are trying to coerce her into making a false confession to incriminate Iranian writers and activists."

Human Rights Watch said the Iranian government's mistreatment of Esfandiari recalls that of Ramin Jahanbegloo, a Canadian-Iranian philosopher whom Iranian authorities arbitrarily arrested in April 2006. After nearly four months of detention and interrogation, Jahanbegloo "confessed" that his scholarly works had contributed to the planning of a "velvet revolution."

Iran's decision to increase its pressure on Esfandiari by detaining her comes at a time when the authorities have also escalated repressive campaigns against Iranian women's right activists and student leaders.

On May 9, three students from Tehran Polytechnic University - Pouya Mahmoudian, Majid Sheikhpour and Majid Tavakoli - responded to a summons to appear before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Authorities then arrested and transferred them to Evin prison. At least four other students from Tehran Polytechnic University are also arbitrarily detained in Evin. All are active in student organizations. None has been charged with any offense.

Student and women's rights activist, Zeynab Peyghambarzadeh, is also being held in Evin prison. She was among the 33 women arrested by security forces on March 4 when they gathered before a branch of Tehran's Revolutionary Court where other women's rights activists were being prosecuted. On May 7, authorities detained Peyghambarzadeh for failing to provide the bail the court recently set in relation to her pending case. She is currently being held in Unit 3 (youth section) of Evin prison. When Peyghambarzadeh's father and lawyer arrived at the Revolutionary Court on May 8 to put up her bail, court authorities prevented them from entering the court.

From TomDispatch:

When Chalmers Johnson's book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire -- focused on the "unintended consequences" of the CIA's covert activities abroad and the disasters they might someday bring down upon us -- came out in 2000, it was largely ignored (or derided) in the mainstream -- until September 11th, 2001. Then, "blowback," and the phrase that went with it, "unintended consequences," entered our language, thanks to Johnson, and the book, suddenly seen as prophetic, became a bestseller.

Now, with Nemesis, the final volume of what has turned into his "Blowback Trilogy," just published (and a New York Times bestseller), Johnson, former CIA consultant, Japan scholar, and professed Cold Warrior, has completed a remarkable intellectual journey from the Cold War world into the heart of American militarism and empire. In "Evil Empire," a magisterial essay posted at Tomdispatch today, he considers these last disastrous imperial years and peers into an unknown American future, asking the crucial question: Can the American people take the necessary steps to dismantle our empire -- or will whatever is left of the American Constitutional system, American democracy and the republic itself be swallowed up?

After a striking review of these last years, including that "made-in-America human catastrophe," the Iraq occupation and war, he concludes:

When Ronald Reagan coined the phrase "evil empire," he was referring to the Soviet Union, and I basically agreed with him that the USSR needed to be contained and checkmated. But today it is the U.S. that is widely perceived as an evil empire and world forces are gathering to stop us. The Bush administration insists that if we leave Iraq our enemies will "win" or -- even more improbably -- "follow us home." I believe that, if we leave Iraq and our other imperial enclaves, we can regain the moral high ground and disavow the need for a foreign policy based on preventive war. I also believe that unless we follow this path, we will lose our democracy and then it will not matter much what else we lose. In the immortal words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Alter-reviews:

The Doors re-releases on Rhino by Tony, NYCD:

I'm not the world's biggest Doors fan. In fact, I'm not a fan at all. But I know a good CD reissue when I hear one, and these new remasters of the Doors' six studio albums are so good they make me wish I liked the music more.

For the 40th anniversary of their debut on record, the band and original engineer Bruce Botnick went back to the master tapes for the umpteenth time, remixed and remastered them, and the results are probably as good as we're ever going to get. Of special interest is the self-titled first album, which has been speed corrected for the first time, meaning you can now hear "Light My Fire," "Break On Through," and "The End" the way they were intended to be heard. But all the albums look and sound great, and they're worth checking out, especially if you still listen to music on a stereo as well as through earbuds on an iPod. The remixes add clarity without tampering with the sound. Each disc features a couple of bonus tracks, some of which are previously unreleased, which means that Jim Morrison is still up there with Jimi Hendrix and Elvis as The Hardest Working Dead Men In Show Business.

I can't say anything bad about these CDs. I can only say that I find Ray Manzarek's organ playing and Jim Morrison's lyrics annoying. But I think I'm in the minority on that one. If you dig the Doors, these CDs are worth checking out, no matter how many times you've bought the music before.

Correspondence Corner:

Lifted from Romenesko:

From JEROME WEEKS, book/daddy: In his CNN coverage of the National Book Critics Circle's campaign to save book review pages and book editors' jobs in newspapers, Howard Kurtz made this remarkable statement about newspaper ad revenues: "Newsroom budgets are strapped these days and publishing companies aren't doing as much print advertising. That is how it works. Food sections get supermarket ads. Auto sections get car ads. Travel sections get vacation ads. Since book reviews deal with exactly one product, it's hard for them to survive without plenty of publisher's ads." (The transcript can be found here.)

Let's apply this inventive analysis to the other sections of the paper: Ads from professional teams must support the sports section -- good luck finding a single display ad from the National Football League, by the way -- while criminals and the city school board must support the metro section. Federal agencies underwrite a newspaper's Washington bureau, letter writers and angry cranks buy ads to pay the editors and the op-ed columnists their salaries and, oh yes, umbrella salesmen and hail repair specialists must surely buy ads because otherwise no paper would run a weather map.

Instead of Mr. Kurtz' fanciful notion of newspaper finances, I would suggest this process as a more accurate version of events: Rather than being forced by a lack of book ads, when there never were many book ads, newspaper managers are choosing from the many areas of the paper that do not directly fund themselves. They are choosing to gut international, national and cultural coverage because they've lost all faith that their reporters and critics could supply anything worthwhile or sufficiently different from whatever's available on wires or online.

Instead, they're bravely concentrating their efforts on local areas where they have, essentially, little or no competition. [Permalink]

Name: Ron Kampeas
Hometown: Arlington

How odd that anyone would think "JFK" would shape perceptions considering the degree to which its accuracy was trashed in real time.

In any case, as someone, I suspect, of the same generation as the lawyers Bugliosi was addressing in 1992, I'll tell you what shaped my own doubts about the Warren Commission report -- the terrific 60 Minutes series of hour-long examinations of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, MLK and the attempted assassination of George Wallace. As I recall, those reports raised plenty of credible questions about whether the MLK and JFK gunmen acted alone. (Arthur Bremer and Sirhan Sirhan, they concluded, were pretty much on their own.) This was circa 1976, I was 16, 60 Minutes was the highest rated show in its slot, and cable barely existed. Who needed Oliver Stone? As you say, the film, while a whole lot of fun, probably did more damage than good to theories about more than one gunman.

Name: Karl Weber
Hometown: Irvington New York

Mark Richard is repeating a substanceless canard, popular in the mainstream media, when he accuses liberals like Edwards and Kerry of hypocritically combining a "right-wing lifestyle" with "leftish economic views." Think about it, Mark -- what are you actually saying? That Edwards and Kerry have a lot of money, live in big houses, take nice vacations, etc. -- and that therefore they cannot speak up for the rights of the poor and working class? If that is true, then who CAN speak up for the poor -- only those who are poor? And how exactly is a poor person supposed to get elected to the Senate or otherwise become a well-known public advocate? Where is the poor person whose positions the media will cover? Where is the poor person who is going to be invited to appear on Face the Nation? Where is the poor person that the media will decide is a "serious" presidential candidate?

It's a catch-22: our system ensures that only people with a lot of money can get their voices heard . . . then, if they use those voices to defend the poor, they are attacked for hypocrisy. End result: voices for the poor are stifled.

Name: Debra Beller
Hometown: Chapel Hill

Oy. Your correspondent Mark Richard is a bit misguided. I don't think any candidate's personal wealth and subsequent "right wing lifestyle" (whatever the eff that means) is the issue. Franklin Roosevelt was quite wealthy, but he worked diligently to help the less fortunate. The same can be said of the Kennedys, Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards and many others. I begrudge no one the fruits of their labors; however, I do have issues with those wealthier types (typically Republicans) who ignore their obligations to society.

And, let's be realistic here. Without true campaign finance reform, the only people who can get elected are millionaires. The best we can do is elect millionaires who care about the rest of us, rather than millionaires who care only about other millionaires.

Name: Nate
Hometown: Portland, OR

In harmony with Larry Kness' comment, I always like to play the Beatles to show how violence against women has always been a part of rock music. (Yes, I love 'em, but still ....)

From "Run For Your Life," on Rubber Soul:

Well I'd rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man,
You better keep your head, little girl, or you won't know where I am,
You better run for your life if you can, little girl,
Hide your head in the sand, little girl,
Catch you with another man, that's the end - little girl.


Let this be a sermon, I mean everything that I said,
Baby, I'm determined, and I'd rather see you dead.

Name: Tony Zito
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY

In this morning's LA Times, Jonah Goldberg makes hay out of this result, which I quote from the Rasmussen Reports web site:

"Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure."

The trouble is, I don't see any way to find out, at the Rasmussen site, exactly what question was asked. I find the results as expressed here hard to believe. Surely this many people may think he knew enough to take action but sat on his hands, or should have known better, etc. But actually knew?

Eric replies: See here.

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