Who will take away their license to kill?

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My Nation column on the Vegas Democratic debate is here. It seems as if the debate took place a long time ago already, but the issues raised by the column are ones, I believe, that will haunt us throughout the campaign and ones with which Democrats and their friends must be prepared to deal, in part, at least, by getting much tougher with the networks. Tim Russert's debate questions, it goes without saying, were no better. Also in The Nation is Bill Moyers on FDR and his dad, here, from his remarks at the Four Freedoms dinner of a few weeks ago. (And since we appreciate the clicks, and you might have been traveling, here, too, is last week's "Think Again" column, "Exposing Stevens: Journalism Happens Here." See below for further links.)

How weird is this Jackie Calmes story that appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on 11/23?

As Hillary Clinton huddled with advisers not long ago, she was pressed to stake a position popular with the party's left-leaning voters on one issue. But the presidential front-runner resisted. It wasn't her position.

"If I do what you all want me to do, I'll look great for the next couple months," she said, according to one insider's account. "But what if I'm the nominee? I'll be ripped apart by the Republicans. And what if I'm the president? My hands will be tied."

The New York senator's response captured the tension at the core of her 10-month-old presidential bid, and helps illuminate why she has hit a dangerously bumpy stretch as January's first nominating votes near.

What's weird about it? Well, nowhere in the piece does Calmes actually identify what the issue was. It's just "a position popular with the party's left-leaning voters on one issue." What kind of crap is this, I ask you? How are we expected to evaluate the story when the very first sentence in the piece puts one over on us? Why in the world is this being done? It's obviously not good journalism. Here are some hypotheses:

1) Calmes and her (front-page[!]) editors are aware that said position, whatever it is, not only "popular with the party's left-leaning voters" but also with a majority of Americans, as with most issues. But also with most issues, it is not popular with that tiny number of Americans who make up the insider punditocracy and the tiny coterie of political reporters. And they don't want to explain all this -- or even deal with the fact of it being true, and so they ignore it, even at the cost of writing a lede that deliberately pulls the wool over the eyes of their readers.

2) Hillary Clinton's press operation is so tough and tight that they can feed out crumbs like this to reporters -- give them the description of the story without the story itself -- and reporters are so desperate for these crumbs, they eat them up as if they were the tuna filet mignon at Union Square Café. This last explanation gains further credence by the passive-aggressive tone of the piece, which is hostile to both the Clinton campaign and "the party's left-leaning voters" -- and therefore to the views of most Americans -- as is typical of MSM political reporting.

3) Why the false choice? They're both true, but perhaps I am also forgetting ...

"If the Nazis are winning, we should help the Commies, but if the Commies are winning..."

Little Roy Sullivan gives David Horowitz his coveted "Malkin Award" nomination for the following statement:

"Why do liberals love water-boarding? Because it gives them yet another opportunity for self-righteous anger and the moral hatred that goes with it -- hate as always directed against America and its democracy.

It gives them a chance to deflect their attention away from what they have actually been doing, which is to sabotage the war against terror in Iraq...

the fact is that for four years, from Abu Ghraib to Haditha, progressive America -- most of progressive America -- has not wanted us to win the war but has done everything it could to help the enemy and encourage his war against us. Shame on these progressives; shame on the left. It's time to stop calling such people "anti-war" and recognize that they are anti-us,"

He terms Horowitz "now, sadly, completely off his rocker." True, save for the "now" part, but here's my question: How is Mr. "Off His Rocker" any different than Little Roy was before he embraced the views of the people he regularly and casually termed traitors?

Remember this?

"The middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -- and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column. But by striking at the heart of New York City, the terrorists ensured that at least one deep segment of the country ill-disposed toward a new president is now the most passionate in his defense."

Or this?

He denounced Susan Sontag as "contemptible" and "a pretentious buffoon," and lied about her "constant attraction" to "the acolytes of Bin Laden."

And this:

"These people have already openly said they do not support such a war, and will oppose it. Read Sontag and Chomsky and Moore and Alterman and on and on, and you'll see that I'm not exaggerating."

(I see from Google search that back on February 1, 2005, I offered a thousand bucks to the charity of Andy's choice if he could back up that slanderous statement regarding my views with any evidence, by the way. I'm still waiting for it.)

It's not the fan base, bub. It's the city. Yours sucks, such as it even can be said to exist. Ours is the greatest in the world, as you may have heard, even with the awful Mr. Thomas running things for the awful Madison Square Garden people. (Has anyone been to Vegas lately? It's not a very funny place, but I did enjoy the hotel/casino New York-New York calling itself "The Greatest City in Las Vegas." Not a hundred percent sure it's true, though. Sure it's better than Bellagio, but Paris is tough to beat. And if the Hard Rock were a city, it'd be a great city, too. By the way, I do recommend the Hard Rock. Great rooms, a nice, cheap, authentic-ish coffee shop, and when I didn't answer my wake-up call, they actually sent someone up to see if I was all right. Don't expect to charge your betting cash on your Visa card, though. That's expensive.)

It's official: Absolutely everyone who puts their faith in George Bush ends up a loser for it. Premature Bush Hater that I am -- my new motto is "Hating Bush since 1999" -- I am loving this. And here is William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) with a doctorate in modern history from Oxford who as taught at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School, on the coming stab-in-the-back campaign. And here is Henry Siegman on the possibilities of success and failure at Annapolis. And Glenn Greenwald, once again, takes up the thankless task of trying to educate Joe Klein about FISA and, even less likely, humility, here. Meanwhile, private security companies in Iraq are still licensed to kill. Is it any wonder they hate us?

Alter-reviews:

Books (not previously reviewed) that merit the Altercation gift-giving seal of approval:

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond

Peter Gay's one-volume study of modernism, studying the 130 years between Baudelaire to Andy Warhol. The book contains 92 illustrations, including two eight-page color inserts of seminal works such as Munch's The Scream and Warhol's Marilyn. The Amazon link for the book, published by W.W. Norton & Co., is here.

The Politics of Hope and The Bitter Heritage

The James Madison Library in American Politics at Princeton University is releasing these two works by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., with a new foreward by Sean Wilentz. The Politics of Hope was published in 1963 when Schlesinger was working in the Kennedy White House, and The Bitter Heritage, written four years later, looks at the implications of Vietnam. The books are bound into one volume, which sells for $24.95, and the Amazon page is here. (They've also published Lippmann's Liberty and the News, which is so brilliant and prescient it's scary, and is the first book I've assigned in my media and politics seminar next semester.)

Books I'd recommend for people who don't like to read much:

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

In her first book written for the home cook, organic and sustainable food advocate Alice Waters has included in this primer cookbook 19 lessons for learning basic principles for local, sustainable foods, and over 200 recipes. Published by Clarkson Potter, the book's Amazon page is here.

(Note from Eric: This year's Nation Institute dinner is being catered by Alice Waters with performances by Steve Earle and Allison Moorer. Go here if you want to go.)

BOOM! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today

Tom Brokaw's first book since The Greatest Generation details his experiences during the 1960s, along with interviews with over 50 artists, politicians, and others. The 661-page book is available from Random House, and you will no doubt see Brokaw on television or on the radio during an extensive publicity tour. Excerpts from the book are here. (P.S. I actually have a lot of problems with this thing as a historian, but it's readable and likeable and your dad or someone might like it...)

Lynn Goldsmith, Rock and Roll, (Abrams):

Take a look at this thing here. It's terrific, generous, and well-produced, and with striking photos you've probably never seen before. And given the size and quality, it's actually cheap.

More to come...

Correspondence Corner:

Name: David Hulen
Hometown:
Anchorage Daily News

Eric:

For whatever it's worth: We created a new web page ourselves, the Alaska Newsreader, to do a daily aggregation of all the Alaska news from non-ADN sources, including corruption news from blogs, web sites, other media, etc. It's kind of an experiment, has built a loyal little audience and we're proud of it.

Thanks again.

Eric adds: Here are a few more web addresses for the aggregated news on the ongoing scandal:

Company raises campaign funds with payroll plan

VECO chairman's ties to Arco go back 15 years

VECO's leap into politics

'The better mousetrap'

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