It took only a few nanoseconds for the right side of the blogosphere to get fired up.
It took, in fact, only two words: Jane Fonda.
News that the actress and activist is planning an antiwar bus tour was greeted by calmly reasoned analysis.
The Conservative Zone | http://www.theconservativezone.com/archives/2005/07/hanoi_jane_is_a.html:
"Hanoi Jane is at it again. . . . In 1972, she committed Treason when she collaborated with the enemy and urged that US soldiers quit fighting. Today, she is calling for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, leaving them in the lurch and unable to withstand the terrorist forces.
"This B-I-T-C-H is a traitor twice now in my eyes. She has the right to voice her opinions, but her past actions have branded her a traitor and she deserves to be treated like one."
Simi Valley Sophist | http://simivalleysophist.blogspot.com/2005/07/hanoi-janes-rerun-as-jihad-jane.html: "Hanoi Jane's Rerun As 'Jihad Jane'
"No matter how you slice and dice it, a traitor is still a traitor. Jane Fonda is back in the anti-war game, and this time it is the war in Iraq."
The Pirates Cove | http://www.thepiratescove.us/2005/07/jane_you_ignora.html: "Jane, You Ignorant Slut
"So she is going to revisit her Vietnam days, and all the atrocities against American troops that she herself caused, to promote her book?"
Mark Noonan at GOP Bloggers | http://www.gopbloggers.org/mt/archives/001682.html: "I wonder if she'll have herself photographed wearing a suicide-bomb belt?
This is, however, what the left is all about - ignorant, self-absorbed people doing destructive acts to make themselves feel better about themselves."
And this valentine from Bad Example | http://badexample.mu.nu/archives/106545.php#106545:
"AN OPEN LETTER TO JANE FONDA
"Haven't you already done enough damage for one lifetime?
"Please die soon.
Now I'm not going to defend what Jane Fonda did in going to North Vietnam. (She apologized when she published her memoir, about three decades too late.) And the fact that her bus will run on vegetable oil does lend itself to parody. But the notion that this is "what the left is all about" is a joke as well.
Fonda has to know she's a lightning rod and that resuming an antiwar role would subject her to plenty of personal abuse. But I wonder if the media (which gave war opponents short shrift before the invasion, unless they were semi-famous like Janeane Garofalo or Mike Farrell) will lavish plenty of coverage on the former Barbarella. After all, lots of people now oppose the war, which, whatever your view of it, has become a depressing slog of a story with people getting killed day after day. Do only celebrity opponents warrant press attention?
Ah, here's Rick Folbaum on Fox, asking his guests fair-and-balanced questions: "What is Jane Fonda thinking? Will she never learn?" And: "Who thought it would be a good idea for Jane Fonda to go and do this?" L.A. radio host Paul McGuire called Fonda "the poster girl for al-Qaeda" and said "American men and American women are dying in Iraq because of people like Hanoi Jane." Huh?
Adam McKay | http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/featuredposts.html#a004688 is quick to note the criticism:
"The reactions in the comments section of Huff Post to the story that Jane Fonda will now be protesting the Iraq war are some of the all-time hilarious blogging thread arguments to date. The whole run should be put into a time capsule. But then again, the argument has been around for so many centuries it isn't really time specific.
"Righties, knowing that they have little ammunition to justify this war in Iraq, are positively jumping for joy at Fonda's stepping out against the invasion."
Speaking of the war, some more bad poll numbers:
"Most Americans don't believe the United States will succeed in winning the war in Iraq or establishing a stable democracy there, according to a USA Today | http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-26-poll-us-not-winning-iraq_x.htm/CNN/Gallup Poll.
"But an ambivalent public also says sending troops to Iraq wasn't a mistake, a sign that most people aren't yet ready to give up on the war. . . .
"For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- the central justification given for invading. . . . By 58%-37%, a majority say the United States won't be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq, similar to the results when the question was asked in April 2004."
On the John Roberts front, the administration has reached new heights of audacity in dealing with the press. Check out this sentence from yesterday's WashPost | http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/25/AR2005072501785.html on the White House agreeing to turn over some but not all documents demanded by the Dems:
"The officials disclosed the new policy under ground rules requiring anonymity and an embargo until midnight, too late for Democratic reaction."
Now they're dictating when the story can run and who can be called for comment? Incredible.
Here are some of the paper trail stories, starting with the New York Times | http://nytimes.com/2005/07/27/politics/politicsspecial1/27records.html?hp&ex=1122436800&en=fc843157b76024c3&ei=5094&partner=homepage:
"As a young lawyer in the Justice Department at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's presidency, John G. Roberts advocated judicial restraint on the issues of the day, many of which are still topical, documents released Tuesday by the National Archives show.
"He defended, for instance, the constitutionality of proposed legislation to restrict the ability of federal courts to order busing to desegregate schools.
"On other civil rights issues, he encouraged a cautious approach by courts and federal agencies in enforcing laws against discrimination.
"Mr. Roberts also argued that Congress had the constitutional power 'to divest the lower federal courts of jurisdiction over school prayer cases.'"
The Boston Globe | http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/07/27/roberts_showed_way_to_shift_the_debate/:
"As a young aide in the Reagan administration's Justice Department, John G. Roberts Jr., now a Supreme Court nominee, advised his conservative colleagues to cloak their views behind broadly acceptable terms such as ''judicial restraint," according to memos released yesterday.
"In 1981, for example, when the Justice Department was prepping Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor for the same Senate confirmation questioning that Roberts will soon face, Roberts counseled her to avoid giving direct answers on legal issues facing the court."
Chicago Tribune | http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0507270072jul27,1,3030715.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed: "Roberts generally took strongly conservative positions, often with a pointed tone, although it is often difficult to tell if the views are his own or those of the powerful individuals for whom he was drafting speeches, articles and memos. But taken together, they suggest he was on his way to becoming."
American Prospect's Matthew Yglesias | http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10047 doesn't want the Democrats to give up on Roberts:
"As just about everyone seems to agree, John Roberts is a shrewd choice to serve as Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the Supreme Court. By all accounts, he's a smart man and a clever lawyer, and he has no record of nut-job rhetoric or obviously mistaken decisions. He is, in other words, a tough nominee to oppose.
"At the same time, it seems clear that he'll be a bad justice. This basic reality has been obscured in much commentary from liberal legal experts, who've focused on the evidence that things could be worse. And, indeed, they could. There seems to be a reasonable chance that Roberts will turn out to be one of the 'good' right-wing justices -- the kind who do bad things in smallish, incremental steps rather than huge, gaping leaps of badness. That's nice, but it's still bad, and Democrats should say so. Indeed, the party ought to recognize that being in the minority comes with a few advantages -- first and foremost among them a release from the obligation to think realistically."
I noted yesterday that the Time and Newsweek profiles of JR were incredibly laudatory, and Salon media guy Eric Boehlert | http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/eric-boehlert/newsweek-time-heart-john_4708.html is stunned:
"Fawning, glowing, congratulatory, adulatory, Sycophantic. Take your pick, the stories are so over the top they have to be read to be believed, with the only real question being should Fred Thompson -- Roberts' WH-appointed handler--have received ghostwriting credit? I mean, how could Thompson possible top Newsweek | http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8683401/site/newsweek/'s almost comical portrait of Roberts as a too-good-to-be-true 'centrist' who's 'enormously self-confident' but 'not arrogant or showy.' An 'unpretentious' 'regular guy' with a 'wicket wit' who 'mows his own lawn.' (Newsweek conveniently omits the name of the high school John 'Regular Guy' Roberts attended; La Lumiere.) According to the weekly he's loyal to church, family, school and 'most importantly' (wait for it...) 'to the law.'
"The Time | http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1086169,00.html piece isn't quite so embarrassing, although editors there think nuggets that Roberts is ambidextrous on the racquet ball court and plays Candyland with his kids qualify as insight. The piece ends with the completely baseless speculation that liberals might come to love Roberts as a Supreme Court justice.
"There's nothing wrong with the press toasting a man's life accomplishments, and certainly Roberts has had many. But aren't Time and Newsweek supposed to be news magazine, helping to put events in context? Their Roberts profiles lacked any.
"For instance, combined, the two features run 6,390 words, with over two dozen people quoted. Here's how many quotes there are from people even politely questioning the Roberts nomination: 0."
A perfect record.
News stories remind us that Roberts could serve into the 2040s. "Is this something even the right should be celebrating?" asks OpinionJournal's John Fund | http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110007012. "Do we really want lifetime tenure for Supreme Court justices? The Framers of the Constitution, of course, gave us this judicial sinecure for the express purpose of insulating the courts from political pressures of the moment. But then again, 220 years ago life expectancy wasn't what it is today and the courts had yet to claim the power of 'judicial review,' the power to determine which laws meet constitutional muster. For the Founders, the courts did not exercise the sweeping, unaccountable power they do now.
"That's one reason why many people are now coming around to the notion of instituting an 18-year term limit on Supreme Court justices. They include conservatives such as former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and liberals such as Paul Carrington, the former dean of Duke University's law school.
"A seat on the high court is now so powerful and so heady that many justices stay long past their prime. Legal scholars have concluded that half of the last 10 retirees have been too feeble or inattentive to fully participate in the work of the court . . .
"From 1789 to 1970, justices left the Supreme Court at an average age of 68 years after only 15 years of service. Since 1970, they have stayed until they were an average of 78 years old and had served a quarter century."
Of course, the odds of a constitutional amendment passing are about a zillion to one.
George Pataki will step down after three terms, says the New York Post | http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/50882.htm:
"Gov. Pataki told a group of aides last night that he will not seek re-election next year -- and alluded to a possible run for president in 2008 -- after he summoned them to a meeting at the Executive Mansion, sources at the gathering told The Post."
Are the media publicizing phony numbers about Iraq? National Review's Stephen Spruiell | http://nationalreview.com/comment/spruiell200507260924.asp thinks so:
"Last Tuesday, the hard-left antiwar group Iraq Body Count issued a 'dossier' on civilian casualties in Iraq. The group compiled this dossier using its database of civilian casualties, which it maintains using reports from various media sources. The database is irredeemably flawed -- to say nothing of the dossier it spawned.
"The dossier alleges that 24,865 civilians in Iraq died violently between March 20, 2003 and March 19, 2005. It alleges that coalition forces were responsible for 37 percent of those deaths, and that insurgents were responsible for only 9.5 percent. 'Criminal violence' gets 36 percent of the blame, and 11 percent goes to 'unknown agents' -- a category into which suicide bombers are strangely lumped.
"The group's antiwar credentials are impeccable -- they are affiliated with a who's who of hard-left organizations, from Counterpunch to Peace UK to Operation Human Shields. A number of music professors from a group Musicians Opposing War round out the group's roster, making it such an imminently credible source of scholarly research that the mainstream media, once it got the press release, trumpeted the group's findings without much qualification. . . .
"The only story I've read that attempted to answer that question came from Los Angeles Times reporter Alissa J. Rubin | http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq20jul20,1,3193186.story?coll=la-headlines-world, who wrote:
"Outside experts cautioned that because of the difficulty of gathering reliable information in Iraq and the inevitable political biases, the information was almost certainly incomplete."
The San Francisco Chronicle's reader rep, Dick Rogers | http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/07/24/EDGSJDRPR91.DTL, looks at anonymous sources in the paper:
"The use of unnamed sources appeared easily avoidable or inappropriate. In one case an 'informed source' is allowed to commit the journalistic equivalent of a drive-by shooting -- criticizing the performance of a colleague from behind a shield of anonymity.
"What bothered me most is that the paper too often failed to give readers basic information about why sources were allowed to avoid identification and why their comments ought to be believed.
"In 80 percent of the cases, the paper said nothing about the sources' motives for remaining anonymous. Were their jobs in jeopardy? Were they potentially in danger? Or was the paper just making it easier for sources to avoid embarrassment or criticize without risk?
"Half of the time, the paper failed to give readers clues to the sources' expertise or insight. If my paper tells me that an 'informed source' says someone is mishandling the city budget, it's asking me to put complete faith in both the paper and the source. If it tells me that a budget analyst who is worried about losing her job but has direct knowledge of the process says the money is being mishandled, I have reason to take the information more seriously."
Finally, my Monday column | http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/24/AR2005072401256.html on the paucity of Supreme Court coverage on TV draws this reaction from HuffPost media man Harry Shearer | http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/featuredposts.html#a004656:
"Greta von Susteren, Dan Abrams, and Jeff Toobin. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're arguably not the dumbest people on cable news, but they'll play dummies on TV. . . . All three bemoan the lack of pictures as the reason why they won't be doing as much serious coverage of the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts as they'd really, really like to do.
"From the little I've seen of it, the Natalee Holloway coverage doesn't have all that many current pix either -- where do you get current video of a missing person? No, it has endlessly repeated family snaps, just as boring (except for the youthful blondness) as the endlessly repeated "class photos" of the enrobed Supremes.
"Toobin, whom I like, says: 'It's very difficult to illustrate the concept of separation of powers, or separation of church and state.' Anybody who, as I once did, worked as a secondary school social studies teacher has figured out ways to visualize exactly those concepts on the shoestring visual resources of the public schools. I bet somebody at CNN who runs the Harry (no relation) or Paintbox or whatever the latest visual-effects box they use for promos could figure out a neat way to visualize the separation of powers in less time than it takes to, as Greta brags about her Holloway coverage, teach us a lot we didn't know about Aruban law."