Thursday, September 27, 2007


My Mocking Letter to Senators Bunning and McConnell Calling for a Resolution Denouncing Rush Limbaugh for his slander of our troops.

Dear Senators Bunning and McConnell-

I'm writing to let you know that I noted your vote of approval for the (Cornyn Amdt. No. 2934 ) condemning the MoveOn ad concerning General Petraeus.

Because you have shown such courage in denouncing those who would slander the integrity of our men and women in uniform, I'm asking you to support a similar resolution condemning Rush Limbaugh for his recent remarks regarding our Men and Women in Uniform.

As you know, during the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers."

I hope that you will show the same intellectual rigor in attacking this slander or our men and women in uniform as you did with your vote condemning the Moveon ad.

Hugs and Kisses,

The Punisher


Is the Senate Going to Condemn Rush Limbaugh Like It Did The MoveOn Ad?

So I'm a "Phony Soldier" Rush?
Jon Soltz
September 27, 2007

As Media Matters reported today, Rush Limbaugh, on his show said that those troops who come home and want to get America out of the middle of the religious civil war in Iraq are "phony soldiers." I'd love for you, Rush, to have me on your show and tell that to me to my face.

Where to begin?

First, in what universe is a guy who never served even close to being qualified to judge those who have worn the uniform? Rush Limbaugh has never worn a uniform in his life -- not even one at Mickey D's -- and somehow he's got the moral standing to pass judgment on the men and women who risked their lives for this nation, and his right to blather smears on the airwaves?

Second, maybe Rush doesn't much care, but the majority of troops on the ground in Iraq, and those who have returned, do not back the President's failed policy. If you go to our "Did You Get the Memo" page at, there's a good collection of stories, polls, and surveys, which all show American's troops believe we are on the wrong track, not the right one, in Iraq.

Does Rush believe, then, that the majority of the US Armed Forces are "phony?"

Third, the polls and stories don't even take into account the former brass who commanded in Iraq, who are incredibly critical of the Bush administration, and it's steadfast refusal to listen to those commanders on the ground who have sent up warning after warning. Major Generals John Batiste and Paul Eaton left the military and joined for that very reason.

Does Rush believe that highly decorated Major Generals are "phony soldiers?"

Finally, as Media Matters notes, just recently, members of the 82nd Airborne in Iraq wrote a New York Times op-ed, very critical of the course in Iraq, and suggesting it was time to figure out the exit strategy. Two of them just died. Will Rush call up their grieving parents and tell them that they should stop crying, because they were just "phony soldiers?"

Get the point here, Rush?

You weren't just flat out wrong, you offended a majority of those of us who actually had the courage to go to Iraq and serve, while you sat back in your nice studio, coming up with crap like this.

My challenge to you, then, is to have me on the show and say all of this again, right to the face of someone who served in Iraq. I'll come on any day, any time. Not only will I once again explain why your comments were so wrong, but I will completely school you on why your refusal to seek a way out of Iraq is only aiding al Qaeda and crippling American security.

Ball's in your court.


Why Did Right Wingers Oppose Ahmadinejad's Speech When He Sounds So Much Like Them?

"There are no gay people in Iran"

I'm going to say more on the topic of free speech -- hopefully a lot more -- later on, but now that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has given his much-feared, much criticized talk at Columbia University, you really, really have to wonder what those critics were so terrified about. Of course, the sunshine of free speech was today, as always, a disinfectant, exposing Ahmadinejad not just as a hate-monger but as an utter moron.

Especially with this unexpected gem, which drew a huge and well-deserved laugh:

In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that like in your country. ... In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this.

Well, maybe they watched this, for one thing:

But my other question is this. In suggesting that America's problems lie partly in our "phenomenon" of rampant homosexuality, didn't Ahmadinejad sound a lot like our own right-wing pundits like Dinesh D'Souza, Glen Beck. or Pat Robertson, who concured with the late Jerry Falwell when Falwell blamed 9/11 on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle..."?

I'm sure all the TV talking heads and columnists who opined in the recent past that Osama bin Laden sounds just like a blogger on Daily Kos or a member of the Democratic Party are now going to inform America that Ahmadinejad sounds just like a right-wing homphobe, aren't they?

OK, actually I'm not holding my breath on that.

UPDATE: Americablog has the video of Ahmadinejad's remark.


Rush "Anal Cyst Deferment and College Dropout" Limbaugh Dishonors the Troops. Calls anyone who disagrees with Him "phony soldiers."

Limbaugh: Service members who support U.S. withdrawal are "phony soldiers"

During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers." He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, "Mike from Chicago," who said he "used to be military," and "believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq." Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as "Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington," that "[t]here's a lot" that people who favor U.S. withdrawal "don't understand" and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, " 'Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.' ... 'Save the -- keeps the troops safe' or whatever," adding, "[I]t's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people." "Mike" from Olympia replied, "No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media." Limbaugh interjected, "The phony soldiers." The caller, who had earlier said, "I am a serving American military, in the Army," agreed, replying, "The phony soldiers."

On August 19, The New York Times published an op-ed by seven members of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division. They ended their assessment of the situation in Iraq with the following passage:

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, "We need security, not free food."

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are -- an army of occupation -- and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

On September 12, The New York Times noted: "Two of the soldiers who wrote of their pessimism about the war in an Op-Ed article that appeared in The New York Times on Aug. 19 were killed in Baghdad on Monday."

As Media Matters for America has documented, Limbaugh denounced as "contemptible" and "indecent"'s much-discussed advertisement -- titled "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" -- critical of Gen. David Petraeus, but has repeatedly attacked the patriotism of those with whom he disagrees. For instance, on the January 25 broadcast of his radio show, he told his audience that he had a new name for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a Vietnam veteran: "Senator Betrayus." A day earlier, Hagel had sided with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in voting to approve a nonbinding resolution declaring that President Bush's escalation in Iraq was against "the national interest." Additionally, on August 21, 2006, Limbaugh said: "I want to respectfully disagree with the president on the last part of what he said. I am going to challenge the patriotism of people who disagree with him because the people that disagree with him want to lose."

As Media Matters has also documented, on the August 2, 2005, program, Limbaugh repeatedly referred to Iraq war veteran and then-Democratic congressional candidate Paul Hackett as "another liberal Democrat trying to hide behind a military uniform" and accused him of going to Iraq "to pad the resumé." On the day of Limbaugh's comments, Hackett narrowly lost a special election to Republican Jean Schmidt for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat.

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Bill Clinton on Republican Hypocrisy and MoveOn.


'A Coup Has Occurred'

Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20.

Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? … They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.

It’s a little hard for me to distinguish the two contingencies; they could come together. Another 9/11 or an Iranian attack in which Iran’s reaction against Israel, against our shipping, against our troops in Iraq above all, possibly in this country, will justify the full panoply of measures that have been prepared now, legitimized, and to some extent written into law. …

This is an unusual gang, even for Republicans. [But] I think that the successors to this regime are not likely to roll back the assault on the Constitution. They will take advantage of it, they will exploit it.

Will Hillary Clinton as president decide to turn off NSA after the last five years of illegal surveillance? Will she deprive her administration her ability to protect United States citizens from possible terrorism by blinding herself and deafening herself to all that NSA can provide? I don’t think so.

Unless this somehow, by a change in our political climate, of a radical change, unless this gets rolled back in the next year or two before a new administration comes in – and there’s no move to do this at this point – unless that happens I don’t see it happening under the next administration, whether Republican or Democratic.

The Next Coup

Let me simplify this and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It’s not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That’s the next coup, that completes the first.

The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution, … what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years as a model and experiment to the rest of the world – in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of impeachment.

There have been violations of these principles by many presidents before. Most of the specific things that Bush has done in the way of illegal surveillance and other matters were done under my boss Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War: the use of CIA, FBI, NSA against Americans.

I could go through a list going back before this century to Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War, and before that the Alien and Sedition Acts in the 18th century. I think that none of those presidents were in fact what I would call quite precisely the current administration: domestic enemies of the Constitution.

I think that none of these presidents with all their violations, which were impeachable had they been found out at the time and in nearly every case their violations were not found out until they were out of office so we didn’t have the exact challenge that we have today.

That was true with the first term of Nixon and certainly of Johnson, Kennedy and others. They were impeachable, they weren’t found out in time, but I think it was not their intention to in the crisis situations that they felt justified their actions, to change our form of government.

It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out, that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had precisely that in mind since at least the early 70s. Not just since 1992, not since 2001, but have believed in Executive government, single-branch government under an Executive president – elected or not – with unrestrained powers. They did not believe in restraint.

When I say this I’m not saying they are traitors. I don’t think they have in mind allegiance to some foreign power or have a desire to help a foreign power. I believe they have in their own minds a love of this country and what they think is best for this country – but what they think is best is directly and consciously at odds with what the Founders of this country and Constitution thought.

They believe we need a different kind of government now, an Executive government essentially, rule by decree, which is what we’re getting with signing statements. Signing statements are talked about as line-item vetoes which is one [way] of describing them which are unconstitutional in themselves, but in other ways are just saying the president says “I decide what I enforce. I decide what the law is. I legislate.”

It’s [the same] with the military commissions, courts that are under the entire control of the Executive Branch, essentially of the president. A concentration of legislative, judicial, and executive powers in one branch, which is precisely what the Founders meant to avert, and tried to avert and did avert to the best of their ability in the Constitution.

Founders Had It Right

Now I’m appealing to that as a crisis right now not just because it is a break in tradition but because I believe in my heart and from my experience that on this point the Founders had it right.

It’s not just “our way of doing things” – it was a crucial perception on the corruption of power to anybody including Americans. On procedures and institutions that might possibly keep that power under control because the alternative was what we have just seen, wars like Vietnam, wars like Iraq, wars like the one coming.

That brings me to the second point. This Executive Branch, under specifically Bush and Cheney, despite opposition from most of the rest of the branch, even of the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran which even by imperialist standards, standards in other words which were accepted not only by nearly everyone in the Executive Branch but most of the leaders in Congress. The interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our need to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is consensual in our establishment. …

But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that quietly, I don’t mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it’s not only aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime, but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.

Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn’t, it doesn’t even make it unlikely.

That is because two things come together that with the acceptance for various reasons of the Congress – Democrats and Republicans – and the public and the media, we have freed the White House – the president and the vice president – from virtually any restraint by Congress, courts, media, public, whatever.

And on the other hand, the people who have this unrestrained power are crazy. Not entirely, but they have crazy beliefs.

And the question is what then, what can we do about this? We are heading towards an insane operation. It is not certain. It is likely. … I want to try to be realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what we must do, what is needed to be done with the full recognition of the reality. Nothing is impossible.

What I’m talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on Iran is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.

And … we will not succeed in moving Congress probably, and Congress probably will not stop the president from doing this. And that’s where we’re heading. That’s a very ugly, ugly prospect.

However, I think it’s up to us to work to increase that small perhaps – anyway not large – possibility and probability to avert this within the next 15 months, aside from the effort that we have to make for the rest of our lives.

Restoring the Republic

Getting back the constitutional government and improving it will take a long time. And I think if we don’t get started now, it won’t be started under the next administration.

Getting out of Iraq will take a long time. Averting Iran and averting a further coup in the face of a 9/11, another attack, is for right now, it can’t be put off. It will take a kind of political and moral courage of which we have seen very little…

We have a really unusual concentration here and in this audience, of people who have in fact changed their lives, changed their position, lost their friends to a large extent, risked and experienced being called terrible names, “traitor,” “weak on terrorism” – names that politicians will do anything to avoid being called.

How do we get more people in the government and in the public at large to change their lives now in a crisis in a critical way? How do we get Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for example? What kinds of pressures, what kinds of influences can be brought to bear to get Congress to do their jobs? It isn’t just doing their jobs. Getting them to obey their oaths of office.

I took an oath many times, an oath of office as a Marine lieutenant, as an official in the Defense Department, as an official in the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. A number of times I took an oath of office which is the same oath office taken by every member of Congress and every official in the United States and every officer in the United States armed services.

And that oath is not to a Commander in Chief, which is not mentioned. It is not to a fuehrer. It is not even to superior officers. The oath is precisely to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Now that is an oath I violated every day for years in the Defense Department without realizing it when I kept my mouth shut when I knew the public was being lied into a war as they were lied into Iraq, as they are being lied into war in Iran.

I knew that I had the documents that proved it, and I did not put it out then. I was not obeying my oath which I eventually came to do.

I’ve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada – who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war – is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath.

The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. Everybody under him who understands what is going on and there are myriad, are violating their oaths. And that’s the standard that I think we should be asking of people.

Congressional Courage

On the Democratic side, on the political side, I think we should be demanding of our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate – and frankly of the Republicans – that it is not their highest single absolute priority to be reelected or to maintain a Democratic majority so that Pelosi can still be Speaker of the House and Reid can be in the Senate, or to increase that majority.

I’m not going to say that for politicians they should ignore that, or that they should do something else entirely, or that they should not worry about that.

Of course that will be and should be a major concern of theirs, but they’re acting like it’s their sole concern. Which is business as usual. “We have a majority, let’s not lose it, let’s keep it. Let’s keep those chairmanships.” Exactly what have those chairmanships done for us to save the Constitution in the last couple of years?

I am shocked by the Republicans today that I read in the Washington Post who yesterday threatened a filibuster if we … get back habeas corpus. The ruling out of habeas corpus with the help of the Democrats did not get us back to George the First it got us back to before King John 700 years ago in terms of counter-revolution.

We need some way, and Ann Wright has one way, of sitting in, in Conyers office and getting arrested. Ray McGovern has been getting arrested, pushed out the other day for saying the simple words “swear him in” when it came to testimony.

I think we’ve got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the time for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth struggling for in part because it’s only with the power that the Constitution gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world from mad men in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran.

And the current generation of American generals and others who realize that this will be a catastrophe have not shown themselves – they might be people who in their past lives risked their bodies and their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere, like [Colin] Powell, and would not risk their career or their relation with the president to the slightest degree.

That has to change. And it’s the example of people like those up here who somehow brought home to our representatives that they as humans and as citizens have the power to do likewise and find in themselves the courage to protect this country and protect the world. Thank you.

Daniel Ellsberg is author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Why Keith Olbermann is so Great


Judging Bill O'Reilly: Why His Comments About Lunch in Harlem Matter

Eric Deggans
posted September 26, 2007 at HuffPo

The worst thing about trying to talk honestly and incisively about race in America is dealing with the demagogues.

And there are few folks in modern media -- besides, perhaps fellow red state pundit Rush Limbaugh -- who push buttons on race more effectively from the conservative side than Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.

I've written before about the ways in which O'Reilly couches racially insulting ideas -- treating gangsta rap culture like the primary voice of black America and then blaming a host of ills affecting black people on that cartoonish caricature.

Now, after an attempt at rapprochement with civil rights advocate Al Sharpton, O'Reilly has stepped in it again, this time by marveling at how he had dinner with Sharpton at a Harlem restaurant and people were civil to him; no cursing, crotch grabbing or ugly behavior in sight.

Here's the quote, fresh from the admittedly liberal media watch Web site, Media Matters: "(O'Reilly) reported that he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful," adding: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O'Reilly asserted: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."

For background, here's my first column, written in 2002, about how O'Reilly uses racially charged language about gangsta rappers to scare his presumably white viewership and press his points. Here's my second column about O'Reilly's racist rhetorical tricks, employed this time to criticize those stuck in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Here's his response to the Katrina column -- a typically personal attack in which he cites his radio comments, not the TV appearance I criticized.

I think these comments are typical of O'Reilly's technique. Too smart to personally use an epithet in the way Don Imus finally did, he instead turns rap culture into a straw man used to represent all or most of black America. Then, he's free to tee off on the stereotypical excesses of THAT culture, rather than talk about real, live black people with all their contradictions intact.

In O'Reilly's world, black people were either vocal protesters like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, or straight-up thugs like N.W.A. After his trip to Sylvia's, O'Reilly seems amazed to meet black folks who don't fit his disconnected stereotype of what we are.

The most disappointing turn for me in this media meltdown was watching a discussion on the issue this morning on The Today Show. Anchor Matt Lauer, clearly unsympathetic to critics, kept pressing the point that O'Reilly was trying to be complimentary, if by using "ham-fisted" language.

But when it comes to dialogues on race, I judge people's intent and meaning by their history. And O'Reilly has never been one to seek understanding with an open mind. To this black American, his words felt like the most backhanded compliment I'd heard from a celebrity in many years -- a congratulation to black people for having, finally, the ability to act like we have some sense.

News flash, Bill: black people have been conducting themselves this way for many, many years. I'm just sorry that it took a lunch with Al Sharpton for you to finally realize it.


Sweet Jesus Fox News is filled with the most ignorant broadcasters on the planet. Spending their days trying to save White Priviledge.

Gibson on Jena demonstrators: "Black devils stalking their streets," but "[t]hey wanna fight the white devil"

During the September 21 broadcast of his nationally syndicated Fox News Radio show, while discussing recent events surrounding the so-called Jena Six with the show's executive producer, known on air as "Angry Rich," John Gibson asserted that the demonstrators who gathered last week in Jena, Louisiana, only "wanna fight the white devil." Gibson aired news coverage of the Jena 6 protests and challenged protestors' claims that the incidents in Jena are representative of ongoing racism in this country. He said: "[W]hat they're worried about is a mirage of 1950s-style American segregation, racism from the South. They wanna fight the white devil. ... [T]here's no -- can't go fight the black devil. Black devils stalking their streets every night gunning down their own people -- can't go fight that. That would be snitchin'."

From the September 21 edition of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show, which included an audio clip of a news report of the Jena 6 demonstrations by Tim Tooten, an education reporter at Baltimore station WBAL-TV:

GIBSON: But I have been trying to point out the last couple of days that people have been loaded on buses to go to Jena to protest the racial injustice there -- you know -- and be told that slavery still exists and that segregation still exists across the country; that there are -- being told there are schools where principals allow white students to segregate themselves from black and won't let the black students sit under their tree. Tell -- they tell them that. I bet they can't find one other example of it. But they're being loaded on buses from cities where black people are being killed every day, at an astonishing rate, by black people, and no one's saying a word.

[begin video clip]

TOOTEN: Protestors wore black to symbolize their support for six high school students they say were targets of racism. And some in the crowd hope the outcry over Jena Six is a starting point for a new generation to help raise the banner for justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Young people are picking up. We're getting sensitive; we're moving on. It's a wonderful time.

CROWD: What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Justice!

TOOTEN: There was a similar protest across town at Morgan State University.

CROWD: (singing) Free the Jena Six.

GIBSON: What is it -- Jeena or Jena?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not an isolated incident. Things like this happen all over the United States --

GIBSON: Where?!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- whether they go reported or unreported --

GIBSON: Where?!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- or publicized or not.

GIBSON: Where do they go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it's our job to make everyone accountable for what's going on.

GIBSON: Where?!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: Racism is not confined just in Louisiana, and we have to confront it everywhere, but racists feel --

GIBSON: Where?!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: -- ashamed at being racist. That's not acceptable here.

GIBSON: Where?! Where is this going on? I'll tell you where it's going --

TOOTEN: As Morgan students hold their protest --

GIBSON: Why didn't that rep --

TOOTEN: -- they also pledged to help Jena 6 families pay their legal bills.

[end audio clip]

GIBSON: Why didn't that reporter challenge that? Why did he just let them say that?

ANGRY RICH: Political correctness.

GIBSON: He's from Baltimore. What's the murder number in Baltimore right now? Just up the road.

ANGRY RICH: It's hard to tell, because there are two or three more every night. I think it's hovering around 160.

GIBSON: And they're all young black men -- right?

ANGRY RICH: For the most part.

GIBSON: Who are being killed by young black men.

ANRGY RICH: That's right.

GIBSON: So, this is -- what they're worried about is a mirage of 1950s-style American segregation, racism from the South. They wanna fight the white devil. I -- you know, there's no -- you can't go fight the black devil. Black devils stalking their streets every night gunning down their own people -- can't go fight that. That would be snitchin'.

ANGRY RICH: New benchmark in Philly last night.

GIBSON: Philly hit 300.


Fox News and Bill O'Reilly Take a page out of the Right Wing Handbook for Responding to Accusations of Racism: Attack the Messenger.

Bill O’Reilly’s and Fox News Responses to criticism of O’Reilly’s Sylvia’s Comments:

“"Rick," he said, "there was no racial intent in what I said. It was a benign program. We didn't receive one single complaint on any of our radio stations, this is a hatchet job by Media Matters.”

“This is nothing more than left-wing outlets stirring up false racism accusations for ratings. It's sad.' " According to the on-screen graphic, the statement was from Bill Shine, Fox News' senior vice president of programming.

During the September 25 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly advised listeners to tune in to his Fox News program for "a great segment tonight" on how "CNN has now entered the dark side with Media Matters." O'Reilly further claimed that CNN "will use the far-left assassins," and "will prop them up." Later in the broadcast, O'Reilly referred to "another attack on me by another far-left, loony, smear website that CNN picked up."

On the September 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, during a discussion of Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's controversial comments about a recent trip to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, co-host Brian Kilmeade said O'Reilly's remarks have "been blown out of proportion by a group called Media Matters," while co-host Steve Doocy asserted, "I was on The O'Reilly Factor last night doing the 'Culture Quiz,' and he [O'Reilly] told this story about how ... they're on this personal jihad, it seems, CNN and Media Matters, to destroy Bill O'Reilly."

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Sylvia's family spokesperson reportedly found O'Reilly comments "offensive to the black culture"

According to reports by several media outlets, a family spokesperson for Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem said that comments made by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program were "[o]ne of the worst stereotypes ever of our customers, of our people," "extremely insensitive," and "outrageous." Describing dinner with the Rev. Al Sharpton at the restaurant, O'Reilly said: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. It was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship."

A September 25 Associated Press video included a clip of a member of the family that owns Sylvia's, Trenness Woods-Black, who said: "We know that Bill O'Reilly is very controversial, but that statement was not only offensive to the black culture, but it was extremely insensitive."

On the September 25 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Mary Snow reported: "[A] member of the family that owns Sylvia's restaurant tells us she feels O'Reilly's comments were, in her words, 'extremely insensitive and insulting to our race.' "

Snow noted: "O'Reilly's words were first brought to the media's attention by the liberal-leaning media watchdog group Media Matters. It's the same group that first noticed the controversial remarks made by Don Imus that cost him his job."

CNN Screenshot

A September 26 New York Daily News article reported that Woods-Black said, "It is very insulting. ... O'Reilly's knowledge about the African-American community is limited and his statements are outrageous and unfortunate." The Daily News further reported that:

Media Matters spokesman Eric Burns said he expected O'Reilly to claim to have been victimized, describing it as "his automatic response to scrutiny of his ignorant comments." Sylvia's managers weren't too surprised, either.

"It's commonplace for O'Reilly. It's his position and overview of the world," said Kenneth Woods, Sylvia's grandson.

In an interview aired on the September 26 edition of CBS' The Early Show, CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano asked Woods-Black: "Do you feel that Bill O'Reilly's comments about his meal here are racist?" Woods-Black replied: "Definitely. One of the worst stereotypes ever of our customers, of our people."

From the September 25 Associated Press video:

WOODS-BLACK: We know that Bill O'Reilly is very controversial, but that statement was not only offensive to the black culture, but it was extremely insensitive.

From the 7 p.m. ET hour of the September 25 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER (host): Fox's Bill O'Reilly is riling up people with a remark he made about his visit to a primarily African-American restaurant. Let's go right to CNN's Mary Snow. She's in New York following this controversy.

Mary, what's it all about?

SNOW: Well, Wolf, the Fox News host went for dinner in Harlem recently with the Reverend Al Sharpton. It's his comments about that dinner that are generating criticism.

[begin video clip]

SNOW: Here's what Bill O'Reilly had to say about his recent dinner at Sylvia's, a famous restaurant in Harlem.

O'REILLY [audio clip]: And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that's really what this society's all about now here in the USA. There's no difference. There's no difference.

SNOW: Radio talk show host and CNN contributor Roland Martin says callers to his show see stereotypes in glaring neon lights.

MARTIN: What bothered me was when he says that he was surprised that there was no difference between Sylvia and someone else. Well, why would you be surprised? Have you not gone to a black restaurant before?

SNOW: CNN's Rick Sanchez reached O'Reilly by phone yesterday.

SANCHEZ: He said, look, to be fair now, this is what he says. He said, "This is totally -- it was a totally benign conversation. There was absolutely no racist intent. "

SNOW: O'Reilly also went on to talk about stereotypes of rappers, saying --

[begin audio clip]

O'REILLY: There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."

JUAN WILLIAMS (NPR senior correspondent and Fox News contributor): Please.

O'REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all.

[end audio clip]

SNOW: O'Reilly's words were first brought to the media's attention by the liberal-leaning media watchdog group Media Matters. It's the same group that first noticed the controversial remarks made by Don Imus that cost him his job. Fox News' reaction, quote, "This is nothing more than left-wing outlets stirring up false racism accusation for ratings. It's sad."

[end video clip]

SNOW: Now, as for the restaurant that left such an impression on O'Reilly, a member of the family that owns Sylvia's restaurant tells us she feels O'Reilly's comments were, in her words, "extremely insensitive and insulting to our race." Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow watching this story for us in New York. Mary, thanks very much.

From the September 26 New York Daily News article:

"I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. It was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks [and has a] primarily black patronship," O'Reilly said. "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea!'"

"It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people [who] were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all," he said.

O'Reilly was apparently trying to say that not all black people are into profane gangsta rap culture.

The comments, made in an hour-long show about race last Wednesday and then publicized by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, prompted jeers, outrage and guffaws yesterday.

"It is very insulting," said restaurant manager Trenness Woods-Black, granddaughter of the famous Sylvia Woods.

"O'Reilly's knowledge about the African-American community is limited and his statements are outrageous and unfortunate."

The ever-obstinate O'Reilly insisted on "The O'Reilly Factor" last night his remarks were meant to show "there was no difference" between whites and blacks and "stereotypes are not true."

He branded CNN and Media Matters, which monitors "conservative misinformation in the U.S. media," as "smear merchants" for reporting the story.

CNN, he opined, is "out to destroy me and Fox News" to protect its ratings.

Bill Shine, Fox's senior vice president of programming, backed O'Reilly. "This is nothing more than left-wing outlets stirring up false racism accusations for ratings," Shine said.

Sharpton said he and O'Reilly have eaten together in Harlem before and he was surprised at the radio comments. "I understand he says he's been taken out of context. I'll be going on his show and I want to talk directly with him," Sharpton said.

During last Wednesday's show, O'Reilly decried rap music and hip-hop culture. He also said he'd been to a concert at Radio City Music Hall and noted that "the blacks were well-dressed."

"This is what white America doesn't know, particularly people who don't have a lot of interaction with black Americans. They think that the culture is dominated by Twista, Ludacris and Snoop Dogg," he said.

Media Matters spokesman Eric Burns said he expected O'Reilly to claim to have been victimized, describing it as "his automatic response to scrutiny of his ignorant comments." Sylvia's managers weren't too surprised, either.

"It's commonplace for O'Reilly. It's his position and overview of the world," said Kenneth Woods, Sylvia's grandson.

From the September 26 edition of CBS' The Early Show:

SOLORZANO: Sylvia's has been in Trenness Blacks-Woods' [sic] family for 45 years.

SOLORZANO: Do you feel that Bill O'Reilly's comments about his meal here are racist?

WOODS-BLACK: Definitely. One of the worst stereotypes ever of our customers, of our people.


SOLORZANO: As far as Blacks-Woods [sic] sees it --

SOLORZANO: If O'Reilly walks in here tomorrow and asks to be served --

WOODS-BLACK: Welcome to Sylvia's.

SOLORZANO: Bianca Solorzano, CBS News, New York.


Bill O'Reilly is a Racist. Remember these Gems?

O'Reilly's Racist Slurs--in Context (2003)

By Peter Hart

In April 2003, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly hosted a fundraiser for Best Friends, a charity benefiting inner-city schoolchildren. As reported in the Washington Post (4/15/03), O'Reilly was trying to fill the time before a singing group connected with the charity, called the Best Men, was set to perform, and quipped: "Does anyone know where the Best Men are? I hope they're not in the parking lot stealing our hubcaps."

According to the Post report, some of the conservatives in the audience were aghast at the seemingly racist crack. But if anyone was shocked by O'Reilly's apparent racism, they haven't been paying much attention.

Two months before O'Reilly's "hubcaps" remark, he used a racist slur on the air. Searching for a word to describe someone who assists immigrants crossing the border, O'Reilly came up with "wetback" (2/6/03). The incident was explained away by Fox officials as an unfortunate gaffe (New York Times, 2/10/03), but the Allentown, Pa. Morning Call (1/5/03) had O'Reilly using the same racist term in a speech earlier in the year: "O'Reilly criticized the Immigration and Naturalization Service for not doing its job and not keeping out 'the wetbacks.'" O'Reilly denied making the comment (Washington Post, 2/17/02), but the reporter stands by his account.

Though he calls his show a "no-spin zone," O'Reilly's response (CNBC, 4/26/03) to the "wetback" incident was a blatant, if feeble, exercise in spin--and an attempt to blame his guest:

We were talking about border patrol and the problems they were having. I'm going, "What's the jargon? What's the jargon? We got coyotes, right? Coyotes and we got wetbacks. Is that what they call them? Is that what they call them?" All right? And the guy goes, "Yeah. The wetbacks are the slang for the people who come over and the coyotes are the slang for the people who get paid to bring them over." That was the context.

A transcript of the show demonstrates O'Reilly's highly imaginative memory. Here's how the interview really went: In support of his proposal to militarize U.S. borders, O'Reilly remarked, "We'd save lives because Mexican wetbacks, whatever you want to call them, the coyotes--they're not going to do what they're doing now, all right, so people aren't going to die in the desert." He then offered the "last word" to his guest, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D.-Texas), who did not address O'Reilly's slur at all, but instead tried to explain why he thought using the Army to patrol the borders was a bad idea. (O'Reilly reneged on his promise to give Reyes the last word, interrupting him with a rebuttal.)

The actual "context" of O'Reilly's slur is a history of making derogatory, stereotyping comments about people of color. Just a few examples:

* During an interview for Stuff magazine (11/02), O'Reilly opined that "the most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries." O'Reilly later insisted (New York Daily News, 10/10/02), "There was no malice intended. It was just in jest."

* During a segment (2/9/00) about black athletes suing over the minimum academic standards for college admission, O'Reilly commented: "Look, you know as well as I do most of these kids come out and they can't speak English."

* Criticizing Democratic politicians who met with Rev. Al Sharpton, which O'Reilly compared to meeting with white supremacist David Duke: "Why would it be different? Both use race to promote themselves." (3/16/00) O'Reilly also equated the Black Panthers with Duke (1/11/99): "You were promoting your people, black people, and he's promoting white people. So what's the difference?"

* "We have black leaders in this country who blame everything on whitey, everything's the system's fault, and that gives a built-in excuse to fail and act irresponsible. 'Oh, I can't get a job. Whitey won't let me,' or 'I can't get educated. The teachers are bad, so I'm going to go out and get high and sell drugs. That's the only way we can make money here.' You know what I mean? And it's a vicious cycle" (6/8/99).

* "Will African-Americans break away from the pack thinking and reject immorality--because that's the reason the family's breaking apart--alcohol, drugs, infidelity. You have to reject that, and it doesn't seem--and I'm broadly speaking here, but a lot of African-Americans won't reject it" (2/25/99).

* "I've been to Africa three times. All right? You can't bring Western reasoning into the culture. The same way you can't bring it into fundamental Islam" (5/6/02).

After the "wetback" incident, O'Reilly wrote in a newspaper column (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/1/03) that Americans "must realize that racial demonization is now organized and well-funded, and it will not end until everyday people begin condemning it." He wasn't talking about himself, though; he was referring to critics who label him a racist.


How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Bombing Iran.



Burying the truth about Bush

by Dave Neiwert

The credibility of the Washington Post's editorial page took another hit today with Charles Lane's nasty hit piece attacking Dan Rather -- suggesting he's not in his right mind -- for suing CBS in the aftermath of the "Rathergate" ratfucking. Especially the nut graf:
Finally, no one in his right mind would keep insisting that those phony documents are real and that the Bush National Guard story is true.

On both counts (as with nearly all those preceding), Lane is factually and profoundly wrong. There were plenty of reasons at the time to think that the so-called "proof" that the "Killian documents" were fraudulent was itself mostly fraudulent, or at best fatally flawed. And there are plenty of reasons to believe that the documents may well have been authentic -- including the study by Utah State professor David Hailey [PDF of the study itself here], who concluded that he was "totally persuaded they were typed."

Moreover, Rather's attorneys point out in their complaint (which Lane appears not to have read) the private investigator hired by CBS in the aftermath of the debacle concluded that "the Killian documents were most likely authentic, and the underlying story was certainly accurate."

As Eric Boehlert -- whose contemporary reporting for Salon on the story was authoritative and convincing -- wrote in his book Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush:
Not one of the key facts, all established thourgh Bush's own military records, were altered by CBS's botched National Guard report. But the MSM, having already displayed little initiative on the story, took the 2004 CBS controversy as confirmation that they had been right in 2000 to wave off the issue of Bush's Guard duty; that there was nothing there. Spooked by the angry conservative mob assembled online and that had been taking aim at CBS and its anchor Dan Rather, the MSM in 2004 quickly sprinted away from questions about Bush's service and focused its attention solely on CBS's sins.

The CBS fiasco essentially buried the hard factual reality based simply on the very authentic public records -- namely, that George W. Bush failed to live up to his military commitments in a time of war, and that he and his minions continue to lie about it to this day.

It's important to remember that at the time of the CBS report, there were many reports that reached this same basic conclusion, including Boehlert's, an accounting in the Boston Globe, and even a damning report in U.S. News and World Report.

It's likewise important to remember that, because of the manufactured and utterly phony "Rathergate" controversy, the White House never did answer the questions that CBS raised in the course of its reportage utterly separate from the documents:
Did a friend of the Bush family use his influence with the then-Texas House Speaker to get George W. Bush into the National Guard?

Did Lt. Bush refuse an order to take a required physical?

Was he suspended for "failing to perform up to standards"?

And did he complete his commitment to the Guard?

The established record, of course, shows clearly that the answers to these questions are "yes," "yes," "yes," and NO. Yet this has never been made clear to the public -- and it's actively obfuscated by mendacious nonsense like Lane's.

The CBS report, and the way it fell apart, had all the earmarks of a classic ratfucking. Most of all, it allowed the White House to lie with impunity about Bush's military records afterward, and to continue doing so to this day.

This ratfucking was especially hard for me to take; I had been collecting information on the story since the summer of 2000, and began posting about it back in 2003. After Michael Moore inadvertently awakened the story in early 2004, I began posting on it with great regularity (a sample list can be found here).

The story continues to have real relevance, because it lays bare the character of the cynical manipulator Americans have had as their president for the past seven years. As wrote at the time:
The problem isn't George W. Bush's behavior in 1972. It is his behavior, and that of his administration and his campaign officials, in the very recent past that is at issue here.

Because the AWOL matter, first of all, demonstrates clearly that Bush has been lying to the American public about his behavior then, in an attempt to cover it up; and secondarily, in an extension of the first behavior, his military records appear to have been tampered with. The latter, we hardly need remind the critics, is a violation of federal law.

At the same time, the gross character flaw that the AWOL matter reveals is also very much part of what we have gotten from this presidency. There is no sense of accountability to the public anywhere in this administration; if something goes wrong [Can you say, "Weapons of mass destruction?" I knew you could.] it places the blame elsewhere. It falsifies budget figures and misleads the public about the grotesque debt load its deficits are placing on future generations. And it distorts intelligence estimates so that it can convince the public to participate in a war it had planned even before winning election. It bullies its opponents, and traffics in the most transparent way in keeping the public in line by fanning its fears of terrorist attack.

This is a presidency sold to the public on the phony image of Bush as a man of superior character -- a straight shooter, a veteran, a man who understands and respects duty and honor. (This was meant to contrast with Bill Clinton and, by extension, Al Gore.) ... This personal character of Bush's has been a cornerstone of his entire governing style. Should we go to war? Trust Bush -- he's a "good man." Economy's in the dumpster? "He's working hard to make things better." Wrecking the environment? "How can you impugn our motives?" Valerie Plame? "That's just politics."

This style gives way to the kind of arrogance that can dress Bush up in a flight suit and send him jetting out to the deck of an aircraft carrier, in way specifically designed to emphasize his own phonied-up service record, for the sake of a photo op prematurely announcing "Mission Accomplished." It's what lets Bush get away with posing for all the world as a veteran "war president" with a real respect for the suffering of average soldiers. And it's what lets him and his minions get away with impugning the motives and patriotism of the people who question his leadership.

Bush's re-election campaign was predicated on the notion that he is a straight shooter: "You know where I stand," was his signature line at the 2004 GOP convention. What the Texas Air National Guard episode makes clear, beyond any serious doubt, is that the man is lying manipulator -- one willing to falsify (perhaps criminally) the record about not only his own conduct in the military, but also his war-hero opponent's -- and there is no reason any of us should believe a word that comes out of his mouth. We know where he stands, all right: on the side of George W. Bush, and everyone and everything else is fair game.

Most importantly, it revealed that George W. Bush, the man who is demanding American boys and girls and their families continue making the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a failed and fruitless war built on a foundation of false pretenses -- that man was himself unwilling to even live up to his own modest military commitments, none of which involved so much as even placing himself in combat with the enemy. He continues to lie about that fact -- even as he and his Republican cohort assail the patriotism and integrity of anyone who dares stand up to them.

And guys like Charles Lane are evidently happy to serve as his willing enabler.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Republicans are Liars and "the media" are Stupid.

Book Watch

Roger Lowenstein writes in the New York Times Book Review: "Five years into the Iraq war, it is hard to remember that George W. Bush once was controversial for something that had nothing to do with terrorism or the Middle East. But in 'The Big Con,' Jonathan Chait reminds us that Bush will also leave an economic legacy, and it is as radical and, he argues, as wrongheaded as anything his administration has managed overseas.

"Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic who writes the magazine's TRB column, argues that a band of ideological zealots succeeded in capturing first the Republican Party and then, by poisoning the political process, Washington itself. Though their true agenda, tax cuts for the rich, was both economically unsound and politically unpopular, Chait writes, Bush and his conservative foot soldiers deceived the public and the press before pushing their policy -- four huge tax cuts in six years, in case you lost count -- on an enfeebled and corrupted Congress. . . .

"Since tax cuts tilted toward the rich were unpopular, George W. Bush and his supporters had to argue that the rich were not in fact the main beneficiaries. Thus, under Bush, dishonesty became 'integral to the Republican economic agenda.' As Chait baldly puts it, 'Lying has become a systematic necessity.' . . .

"Chait is particularly good in describing how the press, wary of seeming partisan, simply reported the claims on each side rather than analyzing them. The problem with this approach, he argues, is that the relationship of the two political parties is no longer symmetric. Democrats do not patrol their ranks for heretics or force them to sign no-tax pledges; liberal think tanks like the Brookings Institution are not devoted to a single view of taxes, as is the conservative Heritage Foundation; and liberal newspapers are far more balanced than, say, Fox News. . . .

"[Splitting the difference] is the approach, he ruefully observes, of most of the Washington press corps, and it is one of the secrets of the Republicans' success. Reporters mechanically grope for the 'middle,' but when one party is veering rightward, the middle is, too."

Here is Chait's first chapter.


W is for Warmonger.

Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1
Demonizing the Iranian president and making his visit to New York seem controversial are all part of the neoconservative push for yet another war.

By Juan Cole

Sep. 24, 2007 | Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly has become a media circus. But the controversy does not stem from the reasons usually cited.

The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of al-Qaida, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States.

Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran's 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament.

There is, in fact, remarkably little substance to the debates now raging in the United States about Ahmadinejad. His quirky personality, penchant for outrageous one-liners, and combative populism are hardly serious concerns for foreign policy. Taking potshots at a bantam cock of a populist like Ahmadinejad is actually a way of expressing another, deeper anxiety: fear of Iran's rising position as a regional power and its challenge to the American and Israeli status quo. The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state.

The neoconservatives are even claiming that the United States has been at war with Iran since 1979. As Glenn Greenwald points out, this assertion is absurd. In the '80s, the Reagan administration sold substantial numbers of arms to Iran. Some of those beating the war drums most loudly now, like think-tank rat Michael Ledeen, were middlemen in the Reagan administration's unconstitutional weapons sales to Tehran. The sales would have been a form of treason if in fact the United States had been at war with Iran at that time, so Ledeen is apparently accusing himself of treason.

But the right has decided it is at war with Iran, so a routine visit by Iran's ceremonial president to the U.N. General Assembly has generated sparks. The foremost cheerleader for such a view in Congress is Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who recently pressed Gen. David Petraeus on the desirability of bombing Iran in order to forestall weapons smuggling into Iraq from that country (thus cleverly using one war of choice to foment another).

American hawks are beating the war drums loudly because they are increasingly frustrated with the course of events. They are unsatisfied with the lack of enthusiasm among the Europeans and at the United Nations for impeding Tehran's nuclear energy research program. While the Bush administration insists that the program aims at producing a bomb, the Iranian state maintains that it is for peaceful energy purposes. Washington wants tighter sanctions on Iran at the United Nations but is unlikely to get them in the short term because of Russian and Chinese reluctance. The Bush administration may attempt to create a "coalition of the willing" of Iran boycotters outside the U.N. framework.

Washington is also unhappy with Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He has been unable to find credible evidence that Iran has a weapons program, and he told Italian television this week, "Iran does not constitute a certain and immediate threat for the international community." He stressed that no evidence had been found for underground production sites or hidden radioactive substances, and he urged a three-month waiting period before the U.N. Security Council drew negative conclusions.

ElBaradei intervened to call for calm after French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said last week that if the negotiations over Iran's nuclear research program were unsuccessful, it could lead to war. Kouchner later clarified that he was not calling for an attack on Iran, but his remarks appear to have been taken seriously in Tehran.

Kouchner made the remarks after there had already been substantial speculation in the U.S. press that impatient hawks around U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney were seeking a pretext for a U.S. attack on Iran. Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation probably correctly concluded in Salon last week that President Bush himself has for now decided against launching a war on Iran. But Clemons worries that Cheney and the neoconservatives, with their Israeli allies, are perfectly capable of setting up a provocation that would lead willy-nilly to war.

David Wurmser, until recently a key Cheney advisor on Middle East affairs and the coauthor of the infamous 1996 white paper that urged an Iraq war, revealed to his circle that Cheney had contemplated having Israel strike at Iranian nuclear research facilities and then using the Iranian reaction as a pretext for a U.S. war on that country. Prominent and well-connected Afghanistan specialist Barnett Rubin also revealed that he was told by an administration insider that there would be an "Iran war rollout" by the Cheneyites this fall.

It should also be stressed that some elements in the U.S. officer corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency are clearly spoiling for a fight with Iran because the Iranian-supported Shiite nationalists in Iraq are a major obstacle to U.S. dominance in Iraq. Although very few U.S. troops in Iraq are killed by Shiites, military spokesmen have been attempting to give the impression that Tehran is ordering hits on U.S. troops, a clear casus belli. Disinformation campaigns that accuse Iran of trying to destabilize the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government -- a government Iran actually supports -- could lay the groundwork for a war. Likewise, with the U.S. military now beginning patrols on the Iran-Iraq border, the possibility is enhanced of a hostile incident spinning out of control.

The Iranians have responded to all this bellicosity with some chest-thumping of their own, right up to the final hours before Ahmadinejad's American visit. The Iranian government declared "National Defense Week" on Saturday, kicking it off with a big military parade that showed off Iran's new Qadr-1 missiles, with a range of 1,100 miles. Before he left Iran for New York on Sunday morning, Ahmadinejad inspected three types of Iranian-manufactured jet fighters, noting that it was the anniversary of Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980 (which the Iranian press attributed to American urging, though that is unlikely).

The display of this military equipment was accompanied by a raft of assurances on the part of the Iranian ayatollahs, politicians and generals that they were entirely prepared to deploy the missiles and planes if they were attacked. A top military advisor to Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday, "Today, the United States must know that their 200,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are within the reach of Iran's fire. When the Americans were beyond our shores, they were not within our reach, but today it is very easy for us to deal them blows." Khamenei, the actual commander in chief of the armed forces, weighed in as well, reiterating that Iran would never attack first but pledging: "Those who make threats should know that attack on Iran in the form of hit and run will not be possible, and if any country invades Iran it will face its very serious consequences."

The threat to target U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the unveiling of the Qadr-1 were not aggressive in intent, but designed to make the point that Iran could also play by Richard M. Nixon's "madman" strategy, whereby you act so wildly as to convince your enemy you are capable of anything. Ordinarily a poor non-nuclear third-world country might be expected to be supine before an attack by a superpower. But as Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Iranian deputy speaker of Parliament, warned: "Any military attack against Iran will send the region up in flames."

In the end, this is hardly the kind of conflagration the United States should be enabling. If a spark catches, it will not advance any of America's four interests in the Middle East: petroleum, markets, Israel and hegemony.

The Middle East has two-thirds of the world's proven petroleum reserves and nearly half its natural gas, and its fields are much deeper than elsewhere in the world, so that its importance will grow for the United States and its allies. Petro-dollars and other wealth make the region an important market for U.S. industry, especially the arms industry. Israel is important both for reasons of domestic politics and because it is a proxy for U.S. power in the region. By "hegemony," I mean the desire of Washington to dominate political and economic outcomes in the region and to forestall rivals such as China from making it their sphere of influence.

The Iranian government (in which Ahmadinejad has a weak role, analogous to that of U.S. vice presidents before Dick Cheney) poses a challenge to the U.S. program in the Middle East. Iran is, unlike most Middle Eastern countries, large. It is geographically four times the size of France, and it has a population of 70 million (more than France or the United Kingdom). As an oil state, it has done very well from the high petroleum prices of recent years. It has been negotiating long-term energy deals with China and India, much to the dismay of Washington. It provides financial support to the Palestinians and to the Lebanese Shiites who vote for the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon. By overthrowing the Afghanistan and Iraq governments and throwing both countries into chaos, the United States has inadvertently enabled Iran to emerge as a potential regional power, which could challenge Israel and Saudi Arabia and project both soft and hard power in the strategic Persian Gulf and the Levant.

And now the American war party, undeterred by the quagmire in Iraq, convinced that their model of New Empire is working, is eager to go on the offensive again. They may yet find a pretext to plunge the United States into another war. Ahmadinejad's visit to New York this year will not include his visit to Ground Zero, because that is hallowed ground for American patriotism and he is being depicted as not just a critic of the United States but as the leader of an enemy state. His visit may, however, be ground zero for the next big military struggle of the United States in the Middle East, one that really will make Iraq look like a cakewalk.

-- By Juan Cole


Bill O'Reilley is an Idiot. Billow makes Don Imus look like Ghandi. Shouldn't this guy have been fired by now?

O'Reilly surprised "there was no difference" between Harlem restaurant and other New York restaurants

Summary: Discussing his recent dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's, Bill O'Reilly reported that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." O'Reilly added: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "

During the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, discussing his recent trip to have dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia's, a famous restaurant in Harlem, Bill O'Reilly reported that he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful," adding: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O'Reilly asserted: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all." O'Reilly also stated: "I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the [Rev. Jesse] Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out. 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it."

As Media Matters for America has documented, O'Reilly has made a number of provocative statements about race. During the February 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, in a conversation about President Bush's description of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as "articulate," O'Reilly told Temple University education professor Marc Lamont Hill: "Instead of black and white Americans coming together, white Americans are terrified. They're terrified. Now we can't even say you're articulate? We can't even give you guys compliments because they may be taken as condescension?" Other examples include:


Bush and NeoConservatives are actually Insane. Who's More Dangerous? Bush or Osama bin Laden? Two sides of the same coin.

Podhoretz Granted Secret Access To Lobby Bush On ‘The Case For Bombing Iran’

npodhoretz.gif Norman Podhoretz, the “patriarch of neoconservatism,” recently published a book entitled “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism,” staunchly supporting the Iraq war and pushing for war with Iran. In June, Podhoretz published a controversial piece in Commentary magazine titled “The Case for Bombing Iran.

The Politico reports today that President Bush has been listening to Podhoretz’s radical agenda, recently enlisting Podhoretz to discuss his views on Iran. In a meeting that “was not on the president’s public schedule,” Bush and Karl Rove “sat listening to Norman Podhoretz for roughly 45 minutes at the White House”:

Rove was silent throughout, though he took notes. The president listened diligently, Podhoretz said as he recounted the conversation months later, but he “didn’t tip his hand.”

“I did say to [the president], that people ask: Why are you spending all this time negotiating sanctions? Time is passing. I said, my friend [Robert] Kagan wrote a column which he said you were giving ‘futility its chance.’ And both he and Karl Rove burst out laughing.

“It struck me,” Podhoretz added, “that if they really believed that there was a chance for these negotiations and sanctions to work, they would not have laughed. They would have got their backs up and said, ‘No, no, it’s not futile, there’s a very good chance.’”

President Bush has loyally supported Podhoretz’s agenda in the past. In 2004, he bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — on Podhoretz, calling him a “fierce intellectual man” with “fine writing and a “great love for our country.”

Today, Podhoretz’s calls for bombing Iran are being echoed in the administration. According to Newsweek, Vice President Cheney considered a plan to allow Israel to conduct missile strikes against Iran “in an effort to draw a military response from Iran, which could in turn spark a U.S. offensive against targets in the Islamic Republic.”

Podhoretz has argued that “if we were to bomb the Iranians as I hope and pray we will…we’ll unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we’ve experienced so far look like a lovefest.” By enlisting Podhoretz’s advice, President Bush is demonstrating that there isn’t any idea too radical for him to consider.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Taser This... FUCK BUSH. *see Cohen v. California 1971.

September 23rd, 2007 6:13 am
Profane Language Puts Student Editor's Job On Line

Editorial Raises Eyebrows, Controversy At CSU

By Lane Lyon / 7NEWS

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A four word editorial with a four letter word in it is sparking a spirited discussion on free speech at Colorado State University.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian published an editorial on page 4 of the paper Friday which read "Taser this ... F*** Bush."

The expletive was spelled out.

The last two words were in bold type, larger than most headlines. A caption below said, "this column represents the views of the Collegian's Editorial Board."

"I think they went over the line a little bit, but it's free speech and they're allowed to write what they want," one student told 7NEWS.

The editorial comes fresh on the heels of freedom of speech issues that arose from the Tasering of a Florida student at a Sen. John Kerry speech.

Collegian Editor David McSwane said a group of seven student editors discussed the statement for several hours before agreeing to publish it.

"We felt it illustrated our point about freedom of speech," McSwane told 7NEWS. "I think we could write 250 words and ramble on and I don't think anyone would pay attention."

In a letter to the University Community and Collegian readers, McSwane wrote, "While the editorial board feels strongly with regard to First Amendment issues, we have found the unintended consequences of such a bold statement to be extremely disheartening."

McSwane told 7NEWS that ads from the CSU Bookstore were pulled from the paper in response to the editorial. Bookstore managers declined to comment.

The Associated Press Saturday reported the student newspaper has lost $30,000 in advertising and had to cut pay and other budgets by 10 percent because of fallout.

CSU released a statement Friday that said in part, "While we understand that the editorial in today's Rocky Mountain Collegian is upsetting and offensive to many people, CSU is prohibited by law from censoring or regulating the content of its student media publications."

The Board of Student Communications has the authority to hear any and all grievances and complaints related to student media operations. The BSC can also remove student managers, like McSwane, if it deems necessary.

A special meeting of the BSC is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m. to hear comments regarding the editorial.

McSwane said he knows his job is on the line.

"I plan to be honest," he said. "Our intentions weren't 'Hey, let's upset the community.' It was, 'Let's get college students to talk about freedom of speech.'"


*Cohen v. California 403 U.S. 15

Appellant was convicted of violating that part of Cal. Penal Code § 415 which prohibits "maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person . . . by . . . offensive conduct," for wearing a jacket bearing the words "Fuck the Draft" in a corridor of the Los Angeles Courthouse. The Court of Appeal held that "offensive conduct" means "behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace," and affirmed the conviction. Held: Absent a more particularized and compelling reason for its actions, the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display of this single four-letter expletive a criminal offense. Pp. 22-26.

1 Cal. App. 3d 94, 81 Cal. Rptr. 503, reversed.


Democrats Blow It.... Again. Jesus, when are the Democrats going to get it?

Outflanked In Iraq
Drew Weston

Posted September 22, 2007 | 12:43 PM (EST)

stumbleupon :Outflanked in Iraq digg: Outflanked in Iraq reddit: Outflanked in Iraq Outflanked in Iraq

In a press conference Thursday, the president labeled MoveOn's recent ad in the New York Times "disgusting" and questioned the patriotism of Democrats who refused to repudiate it. Those were disingenuous words from a president who was either silent or complicit in the whisper campaign against John McCain in the 2000 primary election (which suggested that McCain's years as a prisoner of war had left him a little unbalanced) and who said nothing as an "independent" organization attacked the metals of a decorated war veteran, John Kerry, in the 2004 election while American boots were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rather than calling attention to the president's faux outrage at attacks on a military man and the fact that the real outrage is his steadfast refusal to stop playing Russian Roulette with other people's children without a clear exit strategy or even a realistic definition any more of "success" that doesn't shift like the sand depending on which guidepost is no longer even visible in the desert, Senate Democrats took the bait. The same Congress that has never held anyone accountable for the policy that has left 30,000 American soldiers dead or wounded, largely by incendiary devices, suddenly mustered a rousing 72-vote majority to condemn an incendiary turn of phrase.

In a scene that is now all too familiar, Democrats were once again outflanked, playing checkers while the other side played chess, worrying about the next move ("They'll say we don't support our troops") while Republicans were thinking several moves ahead. For years they had allowed Republicans to elide the war on al Qaeda with the war in Iraq with the carefully crafted phrase, "the war on terror"--and they allowed them yet again to reinforce the association between the two by permitting General Petraeus to testify about Iraq on September 11. For years they have allowed the Republicans to blur the distinction between supporting our men and women in uniform and deploying them to referee a civil war in the desert with the phrase, "support our troops.'

Now, in hastily supporting a Republican-crafted resolution just like the ones used while the Republicans were in the majority to trap Democrats into unpopular stands readily taken out of context for campaign ads, Democrats yet again allowed Republicans to mix and match messages that have no logical relation to one another, eliding respect for Petraeus as a general, support for his conclusions, and support for our men and women in uniform: "To express the sense of the Senate that General David II. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces."

If the Democrats in the Senate were worried about the impact of the headline of the MoveOn ad, which attacked the general's recounting of the facts on the ground less effectively than the text of the ad, they have just amplified it by reinforcing that the central theme of the Republican message on Iraq from the start: that opposition to the war is an attack on the military, when in fact the Iraq war, by all accounts, has done nothing but weaken our military, strengthen the foothold of terrorists abroad, and undermine our national security. And they have done nothing but to reinforce the message that people who question administration policy on matters of war and peace are traitors. For the record, Americans have died for over 200 years defending, not passing resolutions against, free speech.

No matter that Petraeus had in fact taken the highly political step of publishing an op-ed piece just prior to the 2004 election designed to support the re-election of George W. Bush. No matter that the carefully sourced criticism of Petraeus' depiction of the Iraq War in the MoveOn ad has gone unchallenged, while its questionable headline has been seized upon by Republicans looking to reinforce their branding of Democrats as anti-military and un-American--and now by Democrats, who have lent the imprimatur of the United States Senate to the Republicans' branding campaign. No matter that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid himself had had to offer a convoluted message to describe the Democrats' response to Petraeus' purportedly independent testimony (which sounded eerily similar to the president's recent message on Iraq, including a similar number of troops dangled as potentially returning home at some indeterminate date): "I have every belief that this good man, General Petraeus, will give us what he feels is the right thing to do in this report, that is now not his report...It's President Bush's report. President Bush took final ownership of this when he landed in Anbar Province just a few days ago." After suffering one humiliating defeat after another at the hands of the Republican minority, the Democrats had to prove they could pass something, even if it was their own epitaph.

Last November, the electorate was angry but hopeful. When the Democratic Congress surrendered to the president in late May in an attempt to "support the troops before Memorial Day," however, they were surprised that the outrage had now turned on them. Within a week they found their performance rated unfavorably not only by Democrats but by the Independents who had swept them into power. That should have been a wake-up call that their strategic calculations were miscalculations, and that their attempt to craft a "middle ground" that would appeal to moderate Republicans in the Congress--and in the process make Democrats appear, as they had been for the last five years, like supplicants to their Republican colleagues, begging for crumbs and pleading for them to be reasonable--was not winning the middle in Middle America. After repeating the same strategy, punctuated by public hand-wringing and protestations of impotence (justified in terms of rules about cloture and filibusters arcane to the average citizen), they find themselves today with an approval rating at 11 percent.

The conclusion they should have drawn is that you can't project fear and have people trust you on national security. When voters perceive a mismatch between what their leaders say and what they do, they pay attention to what they do. And right now, they aren't listening to Democrats' positions on national security, which are difficult to discern (because they vary by the day, depending on whether they are preaching compromise, confrontation, or helplessness in the face of Republican intransigence). They're watching their posture, which seems anything but courageous and upright. They remember well how Republicans bullied the Democrats for five straight years in Congress and cowed them into relinquishing their right to use the same filibuster Republicans now threaten to use at every turn, and they get the message: that Democrats are weak in the face of aggression, and can barely put their hands in front of their faces to block the blows from a minority in Congress and from a bully sitting in his bully pulpit at 29 percent in the polls.

Since 2001, Democrats have repeatedly cast votes for things they didn't believe in because they don't trust the intelligence of the American people. They don't believe they can convey, or their constituents can grasp, the subtleties of the situation in Iraq, habeas corpus, torture and detention of foreign nationals (creating rules of the game that can be used against our troops and our children if the travel abroad), and warrantless wiretapping. But in so doing, they vastly underestimate the emotional intelligence of the electorate -- which happens to be a much better predictor of their voting behavior. People may not follow closely arguments about FISA courts, but they do follow the messages their elected representatives convey louder than words. They understood in 2006 what the Republican leadership really cared about when they discovered how long they'd known about Mark Foley's illicit interest in high school boys, and they understood what was happening in Iraq when George W. Bush was using the same words he'd used for the last three years as the situation visibly deteriorated.

Today, they understand that Democrats are afraid of taking a stand for fear of being branded. If Democrats really want to end the war, there is only one place to start: they need to stop repeating the Republican brand about what it means to "support the troops" and tell Americans what it really means to support the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America: to deploy every other weapon in our arsenal--including diplomacy--before we ask them to risk their lives; to enter into war only after an honest and judicious examination of the evidence, not to cherry-pick the data to justify a predetermined plan and demote and impugn any general who tells you that the plan offering the best opportunities for selling the war (i.e., no cost, no sacrifice) is not the plan offering the best possibility for success (as occurred with General Shinseki); to take care of our wounded soldiers when they return home, and to give them time with their families to recover, physically and psychologically, between tours of duty; to stop fighting at every turn increases in their combat pay and the survivor benefits to their loved ones should they perish in battle, and to shed a tear with their families at their funerals, so that they know our leaders are truly with them in their grief and so those who send them to war get a visceral feeling for the costs of war; to proudly display their flag-draped coffins when they return to shores they will never see, rather than to whisk their bodies into the country in the middle of the night and ban photographers from taking any pictures of them because it might be bad for "public relations"; and when it is clear that staying the course is no longer a viable option, to plan for their safe return to their country and loved ones rather than to justify further losses with past losses and to brand anyone who opposes an indefinite drain on our military as a traitor.

If Democrats really want to end the war, and to carry out the job the people sent them to do in November of last year, they need to tell the kinds of stories I'm hearing when I talk to servicemen and women every time I go to the airport, like the 23-year old mother of two who just got sent back for her second tour of duty, who had tears in her eyes as she described what it's like to abandon her three-month old baby and how her older child didn't recognize her when she returned home from her last deployment. If they want to end the war, they should put forward the most responsible bill they can propose, with whatever guidelines or timetables they believe are truly in the best interest of our nation and our soldiers, and if the Republicans filibuster, let them filibuster, and attach the names and faces of every soldier killed or maimed in the meantime to those who are obstructing the will of the people. That's supporting our troops, and that's what will bring this terrible chapter in American history to a close, as Americans start to see on television, live and on camera, who is supporting our troops and who is sending them to their graves while happily spending time with their own families or planning lavish White House weddings for their own children when we are allegedly engaged in a battle for our freedom and civilization.

If Democrats really want to end this war, they should make clear that our troops won this war valiantly and with remarkable efficiency in a matter of weeks in 2006, when they toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, but that they have no business fighting in someone else's civil war, created by an administration that at every step mishandled the plans for peace and continually changed the definitions of victory when they needed to lower expectations. If Democrats really want to end this war, they will make clear to parents of teenagers that an indefinite presence in Iraq will likely require reinstatement of the draft, so that next time they vote with a realistic concern for the lives and well-being of their teenagers. And they should demand that the president and those who support what is now unambiguously a Republican war pay for their war and tell us whose taxes they are going to raise to pay not only for the next appropriation but for the last half a trillion dollars they spent while the Republicans in Congress charged the costs of their miscalculations to our children and grandchildren and generations yet unborn. If Democrats want to end this war that has for four years required no sacrifice from anyone but our troops and their families, they will refuse to appropriate another penny from our children's piggy-banks so voters can decide if they really think it's worth it when they feel it in their paychecks or portfolios. Perhaps then Republicans will decide it's time to bring our troops home--or the voters will bring them home in 2008.

Drew Westen, Ph.D., is professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University and founder of Westen Strategies. He is the author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation

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