Tuesday, August 31, 2004

That security threat

The Memory Hole makes an amazing catch regarding the latest hijinks of that wacky Ashcroft Justice Department.

Seems that, in the course of a nasty legal battle with the ACLU over the Patriot Act, Ashcroft's crew -- which has the right to redact those portions of the ACLU's court filings that it deems inappropriate for public release (for national security purposes, of course) -- went so far as to redact a quote from U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling, as it happens, is United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, 407 U.S. 297 -- which, like all Supreme Court rulings, is part of public record. This was a 1972 ruling regarding the government's ability to lawfully engage in electronic surveillance. It was historic in many regards, since in it, the Supreme Court rejected Richard Nixon's attempt to gain unchecked executive power in conducting warrantless wiretaps while investigating alleged "national security threats" posed by domestic groups.

Free-speech rights proved central to the decision, the court observing that "official surveillance, whether its purpose be criminal investigation or ongoing intelligence gathering, risks infringement of constitutionally protected privacy of speech" because of "the inherent vagueness of the domestic security concept ... and the temptation to utilize such surveillances to oversee political dissent."

Here's the passage from the ruling that Ashcroft's redactors redacted from the ACLU filings:
"The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect 'domestic security.' Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent."

And of course, the Justice Department has now proven precisely that point.

[Via Lance McCord, via Eric Muller.]

Shut 'em up, shut 'em down

Here's what happens to anyone dares call themselves a "fairly liberal journalist":
Credentialed columnist denied access to Cheney speech

An award-winning syndicated columnist was denied access by unidentified security officials to Vice President Dick Cheney's speech Wednesday at Bloomsburg University, a public college in northeastern Pennsylvania, despite having received a media credential from the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign.

Upon arriving to pick up his credential at the university's gymnasium, where Cheney spoke, columnist Walter Brasch was told he could no longer attend the event. A journalism professor at Bloomsburg for the past 25 years, Brasch said he was approached by a group of men who refused to identify themselves, including who they worked for and why Brasch was suddenly no longer allowed to attend the event.

"I repeatedly said I was there as a reporter, not a protestor or anything else," Brasch, 59, said. "I had my notepad, and they could see that I was taking notes on what they were saying.

"Every time I asked who they were, they said, 'We don't have to tell you that.' " he added.

Of course, the Republicans excused their behavior by claiming it was Brasch who misbehaved:
Ann Womack, a spokesperson for the Cheney campaign, said Brasch was told to leave because he could not provide a valid press credential to verify his media affiliation, and because he violated a "security zone." Womack said Brasch parked his car in a restricted area and refused to move it.

Brasch, who writes for Spectrum Features Syndicate, said he was never asked to provide any verification of his identity. He said he introduced himself to the woman managing the press check-in table, she marked his name off on a list of those credentialed to attend the event, and wrote his name on a press pass. It was not until he already received the pass that he was told to leave, without explanation.

Next time, don't go writing that awful Bush-hating stuff. Got it?

News you might be missing

While all the media is enthralled with the ongoing Bush Manly Love Fest, it might be worth noting that there have been a few other things happening that aren't quite getting the same attention as Purple Heart Band-Aids.

F'r instance:

Yet another federal terrorism conviction vacated -- this time in Detroit, most notably because of prosecutor misconduct. (Note that this is just the latest in a string of failures by Ashcroft's DOJ in the terrorism-prosecution arena.) Fables of the reconstruction wonders why they waited until Friday; but on a week like this, there's no need. The story will be buried anyway.

Well, just in case anyone forgot that we actually also have a war going on in Iraq, there's just the latest update from Today in Iraq:
Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded by roadside bomb near Mosul.

Bring 'em on: Iraqi education official assassinated in Kirkuk.

Bring 'em on: US Army convoy ambushed near Balad.

Bring 'em on: Four Iraqis killed, seven wounded in mortar attack near Samarra.

Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen wounded in ambush near Kirkuk.

Bring 'em on: Four Iraqis killed, five wounded in US airstrike near Samarra. [Ed. note: The dead included two children and a woman.]

Bring 'em on: Fighting reported near Fallujah.

Bring 'em on: US troops under heavy mortar attack near Baquba.

Bring 'em on: Insurgent attacks near Basra stop oil exports.

Bring 'em on: Twelve Nepalese hostages executed by insurgents.

Bring 'em on: US patrol ambushed near Mosul.

When, exactly, are we going to see the DNC ads featuring "Bring it on" and "Mission accomplished"?

Capitulating on hate crimes

It's only relegated to a news brief, but the Los Angeles Times recently had a story about a hate crime in San Diego County:
The two 15-year-olds were arrested this week on suspicion of battery causing serious injury, making violent threats and civil rights violations for allegedly participating in the Aug. 20 attack on the 17-year-old victim as he left football practice at El Capitan High School in Lakeside, said Det. Ellen Vest.

A third juvenile has been informed that he will be taken into custody, Vest said. The suspects identified themselves as white supremacists, threatened to burn crosses in their yards and gave a Nazi salute, Vest said. School staff members intervened in the attack, she said.

This incident reflects, as I've discussed previously a couple of times, the ominous signs of a resurgence of white supremacist beliefs among young people, particularly in places like California and the Midwest, where rapid demographic shifts are occurring in places that were previously largely homogeneous white communities. We've also been seeing a number of hate crimes in the Pacific Northwest being perpetrated by angry young white men who seem increasingly drawn to right-wing extremism.

Why is this happening, even in historically "progressive" places like California and the Puget Sound?

Well, it's hard to establish a causal connection for anything as formative as this current trend just yet. But it's worth noting that's happening in a setting in which two concurrent trends related to hate groups and their associated criminal activity are arising:

-- Increasing right-wing hostility to immigrants, particularly Latinos.

-- An increasing liberal laxness -- almost an apologetic stance -- regarding hate crimes.

I've discussed the former trend several times, as well as the way it's manifesting itself in mainstream conservatism.

But what I've let go unremarked until now is the way liberals and centrists have increasingly abandoned their previously firm stance on hate crimes.

This is a shift that is in many ways a product of an aggressive campaign by the religious right to undermine support for the laws against hate crimes, and in that regard bears a remarkable resemblance to the way the mainstream press was intimidated by the right's "liberal media bias" meme into becoming a de facto conservative organ.

What you'll find, increasingly, is liberals and centrists with a strong civil-libertarian orientation are quietly conceding the religious right's main charge against hate-crime laws: namely, the myth that they create "thought crimes".

As I've explained in detail here previously -- as well as, obviously, in my book Death on the Fourth of July -- this is one of the more persistent false myths about the laws, and a careful examination of the laws themselves, their enforcement, and the court rulings surrounding them reveals this to be the case.

Bias-crime laws no more create "thought crimes" than do any other laws consigning greater punishments for crimes committed under certain species of mens rea (or the mental state of the perpetrator), including anti-terrorism laws. Differences in intent and motive can make the difference between first-degree murder and manslaughter. Enhanced punishments are especially warranted when crimes are believed to cause greater harm -- and hate crimes quantifiably do so. These are standard features of criminal law, and no more create "thought crimes" than do laws providing the death penalty for first-degree murder.

More to the point (and as I also argue at length in Death on the Fourth of July), hate-crimes laws are not about taking away anyone's freedoms -- rather, they are about ensuring freedoms for millions of Americans.

As I point out in the book, hate crimes have the fully intended effect of driving away and deterring the presence of any kind of hated minority -- racial, religious, or sexual. They are essentially acts of terrorism directed at entire communities of people, and they are message crimes: "Keep out."

Rural dwellers' dread of the dark colors of the inner city is something of a cliche, one based nonetheless on reality. What is less observed, however, is the common dread held by many minorities for America's more rural spaces. Black people fear stepping foot in Idaho because of the presence of the Aryan Nations in the state's Panhandle. Gays and lesbians view driving through places like Wyoming and Montana with a palpable anxiety.

If you get out a map of the country and put yourself in the shoes of a person of color or another sexual persuasion, and start looking at the places you would feel safe visiting, you'll suddenly realize that this can be a very small country indeed for people who are not white heterosexuals. This is what Yale hate-crimes expert Donald Green means when he says that hate crimes annually create a "massive dead-weight loss of freedom" for Americans.

This point, however, seems not to occur to many supposed lovers of freedom on the civil-libertarian left, who now almost reflexively defer to the religious right's attacks on hate-crimes laws as creating "thought crimes." They are similarly vulnerable to the related contention that the laws are merely a product of "identity politics" -- a charge that, as I've already noted, is largely groundless, and tends to reveal more about the speaker than it does the subject.

Rather than think the issue through, a number of liberals often privately sacrifice support for hate-crime laws, at times bending over backward trying to "understand" what motivates hate-crime perpetrators, to the point that "understanding" becomes a kind of excuse-making or, at worst, exoneration.

Probably the most egregious example of this is Elinor Langor's A Hundred Little Hitlers: The Death of a Black Man, the Trial of a White Racist, and the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Movement in America, which set out to attempt an in-depth examination of the Mulugeta Seraw case, the November 1988 beating death of an Ethiopian immigrant by a gang of white skinheads in Portland. What Langer produced instead was an over-earnest attempt at "fairness" on behalf of the white supremacists: the book, as Daniel Levitas (and others) have observed, Langer paints an extraordinarily sympathetic portrait of Tom Metzger, the leader of White Aryan Resistance, as well as the young thugs who murdered Seraw -- while attacking the Portland community for expressing well-deserved outrage over the crime.

The Seraw case was especially noteworthy, of course, because the criminal convictions of the three young white supremacists and their intimate connections to WAR became the basis for a civil lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center that wound up putting WAR out of business. She essentially winds up indicting the SPLC for having more skilled lawyers than Metzger.

This is known as keeping such an open mind that your brain falls out. It's true that it's important not to dehumanize your subjects, and never to forget that even the most brazen thugs and noxious racists have a human side. Certainly, I wound up having more than a small share of sympathy for some of my subjects in both of my books -- the right-wing extremists (especially some of the elderly Montana Freemen) of In God's Country and the young hate criminals who are the chief subject of Death on the Fourth of July.

But it's equally important not to lose perspective, either: These are still brazen thugs and noxious racists, and they create victims, too. Had Langer devoted as much time to "understanding" the pain and misery inflicted by those three young skinheads on the family of Mulugeta Seraw, as well as the terror they inflicted on Portland minorities, as she does to the suffering of the skinheads' families and Tom Metzger, she might have crafted a study worth reading.

The worst part of Langer's book, though, is her easy dismissal of the reaction of the Portland community to the crimes, which she likens to a "witch hunt," and dismissing the organized demonstrations in response to the Seraw attack (as well as other instances of skinhead violence in Portland) as being, in essence, mere knee-jerk examples of reflexive liberal political correctness.

Well, it's true that community responses against emanations of racial hate -- particularly hate crimes -- often take on the trappings of Liberal Chic and its attendant self-righteousness. But it's important to understand that in the case of hate crimes, these kinds of demonstrations play an essential role in curbing the crimes. They have real practical value, which is why you'll see them attract support not merely from civil-rights groups and liberal churches, but also from law enforcement and city officials.

The vast majority of hate-crime perpetrators, as I explain in Death on the Fourth of July, believe fully that they are committing these crimes with the unspoken approval of their respective community -- that they are merely acting on its real desires. This (combined with a high incidence of narcissistic/antisocial personality disorders) lends itself to another common trait of hate criminals: they rarely believe they've done anything wrong. And it's important to note that these perps consistently held these views well before they ever acted upon them.

Thus, high-profile and widely sanctioned expressions of community disapproval of these crimes play an essential role in discouraging further such acts. They inform any would-be hate criminals that, contrary to their preconceived notions, the community at large clearly does not approve of these kinds of acts, and rather than being community heroes, they will be pariahs.

Unfortunately, the increasing willingness of the civil-libertarian left to capitulate to the right-wing assault on bias-crime laws and its charge that they create "thought crimes" has resulted in a serious softening of community positions when the crimes do occur.

Emil Guillermo had a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle recently pointing to a case where an egregious hate crime -- one surprisingly similar in nature to the one that occurred in Ocean Shores on July 4, 2000 -- was given the kid-glove treatment:
Is S.F. soft on hate crime?

As Guillermo points out, the most glaring instance of mishandling of the case lies with a local judge:
Just last month, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Kevin McCarthy found the defendant, a juvenile, to have committed two felony hate crimes against Asian Americans.

But the judge gives him a break this week.

He won't be sentenced as planned Aug. 25.

Instead, sentencing will be pushed back to September or later. And the proceedings, which have been open to the public by legislative exception due to the nature of the crimes, may be closed.

Why the hesitation now?

Perhaps the judge is trying to show a little sympathy for the juvenile. But, then, why deny the public the satisfaction of seeing the City's legal apparatus take the issue of hate crimes seriously?

But it also extends to both local police investigators and local prosecutors, who failed to tackle the many other perpetrators who participated in the crime. Indeed, it's clear that police completely botched the investigation, at least from the standpoint of what steps law-enforcement professionals recommend for their fellow officers in identifying a hate crime and handling the crime scene:
In June 2003, [the defendant] was part of a mob of 15 to 20 white teens and young adults from the Sunset District who thought it would be fun to smack around five Asian American teenagers out for a bite to eat.

Jeff Woo, Ken Zeng, Paul Wong, Sung Noh and Tim Wen were caught in a whirlwind of hate.

Wong testified that the defendant approached him, said something to him and immediately punched him in the face, said Edwin Prather, the pro bono attorney for the victims. "All the boys clearly saw him that night," said Prather. "They testified that he not only hit more than one person but also that he used racial slurs in doing so."

The identification was key to why the defendant stands alone. All the members of his mob participated. But apparently the prosecution found sufficient evidence to bring only one person to trial.

Prather said a delay by police investigators resulted in spoiled and lost evidence.

But to net only one person out of as many as 20?

If my abacus is correct, that's a 5 percent arrest rate.

That, as it happens, is fairly typical for most hate crimes. It's rare -- indeed, almost unheard of -- for the multiple perps of most hate crimes to actually face the full measure of the law. Indeed, it's quite common for hate-crime charges to go utterly uninvestigated. The SPLC, for instance, estimates that roughly 30,000 hate crimes go unreported and uninvestigated annually in America (compared to the 8-9,000 that are reported).

You'd think that would be a problem for liberals. But they have been strangely silent about the issue of hate crimes in the past few years.

One of the results of this is that Democrats have virtually conceded to Republicans the fact that they will, once again, bury a true federal hate-crimes law -- the first ever to be passed -- by allowing the Republican House leadership to repeat their behavior in 2002 and 2000 by squelching the bill's passage despite overwhelming support for it both in the House and the Senate.

Though you won't have read about this anywhere in the press -- nor even through key liberal advocacy organizations -- earlier this summer, the Senate passed, 65-33, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, and attached it to the annual Defense Authorization Act. But in doing so, this meant that instead of the bill going directly to the House for a vote -- where it enjoys overwhelming support -- it was subjected to the tender mercies of Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert in House conference committee. As Barney Frank subsequently commented, this meant the bill was doomed, since he had already been informed the bill would not make it out of conference.

Obviously, there was no way that, in an election year, the GOP poobahs were going to allow this bill go before George W. Bush, where he would almost certainly be forced to veto it under overwhelming pressure from his religious-right base.

Right where you'd think Democrats would want them, right. But Democrats have, so far, allowed Republicans to get away with this entirely.

This is a bit of history repeating itself, but in reverse. Republican advocates for the federal anti-lynching law known as the Dyer Bill succeeded, in 1922, in having it pass the House by overwhelming margins, and it faced certain passage in the Senate as well. But a coterie of Southern Democrats raised a lengthy filibuster, and in the end, Republicans capitulated, in no small part due to privately weak support for the legislation from key GOP senators, notably Henry Cabot Lodge. (Similar attempts to pass anti-lynching laws met identical fates in 1927 and 1934.)

Nowadays, of course, it is the Democrats who are supposed to be championing civil rights and fair play and the Republicans who are thwarting the popular will. But so far, Democrats have simply let their opponents slide off the hook, rather like those 19 or so uncaught hate criminals.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A question

Can anyone tell me why this incident is not being reported, both by government officials and the press, as a case of domestic terrorism?
Police Confirm Pipe Bomb Blast at Stem-Cell Lab

BOSTON (Reuters) - An explosion that blew out a number of windows at a Boston-area laboratory specializing in stem-cell research was caused by a pipe bomb, local police said on Friday.

No one was wounded in Thursday's early morning blast at Watertown, Massachusetts-based Amaranth Bio, which says on its Web site its technology is focused on organ regeneration and that it is working on cures for diabetes and liver disorders.

In a statement, Watertown police confirmed the explosion was the result of a pipe bomb and said they believe someone broke into the facility. No arrests have been made, police said.

Just wondering.

I guess the worldview of our new CIA chief, Porter Goss, has permeated federal law enforcement. It was Goss, you may recall who dismissed the notion that abortion-clinic bombers (like, say, Eric Rudolph) were genuine "terrorists":
"The trouble is, 'terrorism' is a very broad word, and it lends itself to a lot of mischief for people who would abuse common sense," Goss said. He then cited bombings of abortion clinics. "To me, that's not the kind of terrorism I'm talking about."

"That's criminal law enforcement," Goss said. "But it would fit most broad definitions of terrorism because the purpose [of those attacks] is to scare people."

'I feel terrorized'

Looks like that ol' anti-abortion extremist, Flip Benham, is not only stepping up the nastiness of his campaign by targeting abortion providers at their homes -- a tactic intentionally remniscent of the fate of the victims of James Kopp -- but he's doing so incompetently:
Abortion protesters target wrong house

That's right. Benham and his cohort, the Rev. Frances McCloskey, targeted the home of a Planned Parenthood executive in the Albany, N.Y., area, and instead terrorized a young family with a newborn at home:
Parents of a newborn were erroneously targeted Wednesday by about 50 abortion protesters who raised posters of mutilated fetuses and called "Evil dwells here" through a bullhorn.

The problem is they had the wrong house, said Tricia Lehra, who was on the receiving end. The group apparently thought Lehra's Washington Road home belonged to a doctor who performs abortions. Lehra, who has a 2-month-old daughter, is a Shenendehowa Central Schools counselor; her husband, August, is an electrical engineer.

The target of the misplaced protest was a neighbor, Paul Drisgula, an executive of Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson.

"I feel terrorized," said Lehra, who was not home when the group arrived. Still, later that evening two teens bicycled past her house and screamed "No abortion," she said.

"They do not have their facts straight," she said of the protesters. "They took pictures. Is my house going to end up on their Web site? I feel victimized in my own home."

The protesters also made a good impression on the neighbors for their obviously deep respect for family values:
The 90-minute parade angered some neighbors on the quiet, maple-lined street, drawing them to the sidewalks at around 2:30 p.m.

"I heard them yelling, 'A murderer lives on your street,' " said Brian Whitter, who lives up the block from the Lehras and was getting ready for work when he saw the parade shortly after 2 p.m. "They were shouting about homosexuals. It was really offensive."

"The police told us to go inside because we were arguing with them," Amy Cremo said. "My 8-year-old came in and asked, 'What's abol-chion?' I couldn't let my kids outside. They're coming to a residential area with these disgusting signs, saying 'You have blood on your hands.' They don't know what we believe. They said, 'There's a gay couple on the street.' I said, 'What's next, you're going to come with burning crosses?' It was rude. It was just a circus."

Benham, longtime readers may recall, is the enlightened leader of the theocratic right who last year penned a piece equating abortion and homosexuality with Islam as the tripartite threat facing America. In that piece (which ran at his Operation Rescue America site), he concluded:
We must stop relying on Conservative and Republican mercenaries to fight our battles for us. It is said that politics is the "art of compromise." The Gospel of Christ, however, is not up for negotiation. There can be no compromise when it comes to any one of the issues mentioned above for they are simply different colored gloves camouflaging the same fist. It is the fist of the devil. We must take this battle to the streets in the Name of Jesus Christ and win it there before we can ever expect to win the battle in Washington, D.C.

Evidently, it doesn't matter whether he takes it to the wrong streets.

Almost Heaven, but not quite

Readers of my first book, In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest, will be interested in this Associated Press feature by Rebecca Boone about Bo Gritz's apparently failed attempt to establish a right-wing encalve in north-central Idaho called Almost Heaven, whose founding I described in detail in the book:
Almost Heaven almost gone? "Patriot" haven now silent a decade later

This is largely an update that finds most of the extremists have seeped out of the community, leaving a handful of more stable occupants whose politics are certainly far to the right but who appear less inclined to cause trouble.

The activity generated by the extremists was well worth noting:
Some residents filed documents with the Idaho County Courthouse, renouncing their U.S. citizenship and claiming to be "sovereigns" of the "Idaho State Republic."

Others started a militia group called the Idaho Mountain Boys. The group was later accused of plotting to kill U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, and member and former Almost Home resident Larry Raugust eventually pleaded guilty to 15 counts of making bombs. He was accused of planting land mines around the foreclosed property of a friend near Almost Heaven. Two other militia members were convicted of a 1999 plot to blow up a propane tank farm near Sacramento, Calif.

Meanwhile, the enclave also had a ripple effect, spreading to nearby areas such as Grangeville, but also creating a countercurrent:
Meanwhile, all the press piqued the interest of other extremists who settled around Idaho County, not just at Almost Heaven, [Kamiah businessman Larry] Nims said.

"Probably 5 to 10 percent of extremists settled in Grangeville. We've always had a number of ultraconservatives and it's never been threatening. It's a good thing, a balance. But when you get hundreds of them, well, I was heartened to see the county wake up," Nims said.

Local residents became more active against the patriot group, joining a loosely organized discussion group started by Nims -- the Clearwater Valley Citizens for Human Rights. Area businesses posted signs stating "No Guns" after some Almost Heaven residents began toting six-shooters on their hips. Letters were written to local lawmakers and newspapers, and over time law enforcement agencies became more successful in arresting any lawbreakers in the patriot group.

Readers may also recall that I wrote a kind of follow-up for Salon on Bo Gritz's divorce and subsequent suicide attempt.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Racism and hysteria

Did racism and hysteria play significant roles in producing the internment of Japanese Americans? Or can you, as Michelle Malkin would have us think, simply parse the racism from the thinking of those responsible for the decisions?

Judge for yourselves. Here is only a tiny sampling of the representative material available in the press from the months leading up to the internment:

A fairly typical cartoon, this from the March 5, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Note the way racist stereotyping is conflated with security concerns.

This was the lead headline in the Dec. 11, 1941 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (the Seattle Times had a nearly identical story). The hed on the jump page proclaimed: "Fifth Columnists Set Fires to Guide Planes; U.S. Authorities Know Identity of Guilty Parties."

Neither paper had a follow-up to this story. That may be because the "Fifth Columnists" turned out to be white loggers randomly burning slash piles, as they always did on the Olympic Peninsula.

Still, that didn't dissuade them from running headlines like this, from the March 5, 1942 Seattle Times front page:

Or this one, two days later in the Times:

And then there were the advertisers, of course:

A Texaco ad in the March 19, 1942 edition of the P-I.

As I mentioned, this was only a small sample, and fairly representative.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Malkin, dual citizenship and profiling

Over at her blog, Michelle Malkin has posted a lengthy response (including a separate Word document) to her critics, primarily Eric Muller and Greg Robinson (your humble correspondent, evidently, has been designated a "lesser detractor" whose posts have been "mostly uninformed and irrelevant noise"; of course, I'll let my readers judge for themselves).

Muller, as always, can more than adequately speak for himself. But something Malkin writes in the response on her blog is especially noteworthy, because it gets to the core of what is wrong with her In Defense of Internment.

Malkin, somewhat correctly, is annoyed that some commentators have referred to her as "self-hating":
The idea that since I am an Asian-American who has defended the so-called Japanese-American internment, I must therefore hate myself, is absurd. What in the world does my ethnic heritage (Filipino) have to do with the book's thesis?

Of course, she's quite right that the presumption that because she's Asian American she "ought to be" opposed to the Japanese American internment is nonsense. However, the fact that she is of Filipino descent in fact has a great deal to do with her book's thesis.

Malkin, you see, makes great hay of the fact of "dual citizenship" among the Nisei as a clear indicator of "torn loyalties" and a cause to suspect them of potential sabotage or espionage.

But Malkin, as it happens, is a dual citizen herself.

Under Filipino law, any child born to Filipino parents, whether living abroad or not, is reckoned a Filipino citizen. Malkin was born in Philadelphia in 1970 to Filipino-immigrant parents.

This Filipino government site explains the details of this:
Dual citizenship is the status of a person who is a citizen of two or more states. For example, a child born in the United States of parents who are Filipino citizens is both a Filipino (since his parents are Filipinos at the time of birth) and an American (since he was born in the United States).

The only means by which Malkin could have shed her dual-citizen status would have been by filing for the "express renunciation of citizenship." Perhaps Malkin has done so, but considering the lengths at which she has discussed the significance of the failure of the Nisei to renounce their Japanese citizenship -- and the fact that she has not been shy about dicussing her personal background in the context of the book's theses -- it seems she'd have told us about it by now if she had.

Malkin discusses the dual-citizenship issue in the longer Word-doc response to Muller and Robinson:
4. Was dual citizenship among Nisei a "canard," as Robinson asserts? This is false. In February 1942, the overwhelming majority of adult Nisei (U.S.-born American citizens of Japanese descent who were 18 years or older) were dual citizens, meaning they were citizens of both Japan and the U.S. Robinson says the citizenship conferred by Japan on Japanese-Americans was "nominal." The fact that thousands of Nisei served in the Japanese military proves that many Nisei took their Japanese citizenship quite seriously. (See p. 24 of my book: Estimates of how many Nisei ended up joining the Imperial Army and Navy forces range from 1,648 to as high as 7,000, not including those who assisted the Japanese military in other capacities.) Robinson says individuals from many other ethnic groups were dual citizens as well, but provides no evidence to support this assertion.

The Issei

It might be useful at this juncture to examine more fully exactly what Malkin writes in her book on dual citizenship, particularly pages 23-24:
Another connection between most of America's ethnic Japanese and Japan was Japanese citizenship. With the exception of a small handful of World War I veterans who were granted citizenship through special legislation, all of the Issei were Japanese citizens because they were precluded by U.S. law from becoming U.S. citizens. For many Issei, the connection to Japan was naturally much stronger than the connection to the United States. [Malkin goes on to cite a couple of anecdotes regarding Issei loyalty to Japan, especially in Hawaii, as support.]

A few words about the Issei: There is little question that indeed many Issei remained loyal to Japan and never had any intention, let alone hope, of ever becoming American. While a certain amount of native loyalty certainly was at play in this syndrome, almost just as certainly the major factor in the persistence of this attitude lay in the very fact that the American government discriminated against all Asian races in refusing them the right to naturalize.

It's a classic one-two setup: Refuse citizenship to an entire nation's immigrants, then suspect them of disloyalty for not becoming citizens. Its use was a commonplace, especially in the letters to the editor, in the spring of 1942; what's surprising is that Malkin manages to dust off this tactic's mouldering corpse and prop it up long enough to make an argument out of it.

It's also worth noting that Malkin utterly ignores the role of racism in creating this situation. The reality is that, for the 40 years preceding Pearl Harbor, white supremacist beliefs about the "undesirability" of allowing "Asian blood to mix" with that of whites dominated American immigration policy regarding Asians. A typical expression of the supposed unassimilability of Asians in America was the phrase, "Oil and water don't mix."

Between the years 1912 and 1924, a concerted campaign by whites on the Pacific Coast to completely drive out all Japanese immigrants and return them to their homeland was one of the major subjects of the public discourse in the West. Riding a wave of "Yellow Peril" conspiracy theories -- which, among other things, posited that the Japanese immigrants actually were secret shock troops sent by the Emperor to act as an immediate fifth column for a long-planned invasion of the Coast -- most of the Western states, beginning with California, passed a series of "Alien Land Laws" which sought to deprive the Japanese immigrants of the right to own land. Even a brief review (and especially a more detailed one) makes unmistakably clear the nakedly racist nature of this campaign. "This is a white man's land!" was one of their chief rallying cries.

Indeed, underlying all of the anti-Japanese campaigns of the early 1900s were the bedrock principles of white supremacism. The widespread belief that white people were the consummate creation of nature, and that they were destined to bring the world civilization and light, went essentially unquestioned. And it was supported by popular literature and self-proclaimed "scientists" who used the questionable methodology of the day to lend an academic veneer to longstanding racial prejudices.

Among the most popular of the time were Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant, who boasted credentials from Harvard and Yale universities respectively. They approached the matter of race ostensibly from anthropological and biological perspectives, but in fact largely did little more than clothe white supremacism in pseudo-scientific language. Wrote Grant, in his 1916 text The Passing of the Great Race:
"We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century, and the maudlin sentimentalism that has made America 'an asylum for the oppressed,' are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the Melting Pot is allowed to boil without control, and we continue to follow our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to all 'distinctions of race, creed, or color,' the type of native American of Colonial descent will become as extinct as the Athenian of the age of Pericles, and the Viking of the days of Rollo."

And as Stoddard would later write in The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy -- a 1922 work complete with admiring introduction from Grant -- the real threat was not blacks in the South, but Asians: "There is no immediate danger of the world being swamped by black blood. But there is a very imminent danger that the white stocks may be swamped by Asiatic blood."

Both of the men's books were national bestsellers (sound familiar?) that underwent multiple printings. And their core arguments -- which became entwined with deeply cherished beliefs about the nature of race -- provided an intellectual and "scientific" veneer to the campaign to exclude the Japanese. Ultimately the issue was couched, like many racial issues of the preceding century, in the terminology of eugenics, a popular pseudo-science that saw careful racial breeding as the source of social and personal good health. Thus many of the campaigns against non-whites cast the race in question as not merely subhuman but pernicious vermin who posed a serious threat to the "health" of the white race. As James Phelan, arguing for exclusion in California, put it: "The rats are in the granary. They have gotten in under the door and they are breeding with alarming rapidity. We must get rid of them or lose the granary."

These people called themselves "exclusionists," and after passing a succession of Alien Land Laws, they won their greatest victory in 1924 when they succeeded in passing a federal law -- known as the "Asian Exclusion Act" -- forbidding any further Japanese emigration.

The United States Supreme Court seems to have been affected by this mindset as well. Its 1922 ruling in Ozawa v. United States officially sanctioned the exclusion of all Asian races. A Japanese immigrant named Takao Ozawa -- arguing that he had been almost entirely raised and educated in the United States, was a product of its universities, and was a Christian who spoke English in his home -- sought to overturn a district-court ruling that denied him the right to seek citizenship. And though the Court agreed that he was "well qualified by character and education for citizenship," it denied his appeal on the grounds that immigration laws limited naturalization to "free white persons and aliens of African nativity."

The decision was settled well within the parameters of the written law, which were largely inarguable. But even in this ruling -- issued, of course, at the apex of the agitation -- there is a hint of the underlying racism. Near the end of the text, the court says:
These decisions are sustained by numerous scientific authorities, which we do not deem it necessary to review.

It's a reasonable guess that those "scientific authorities" more than likely were along the lines of Lothrop and Stoddard.

Taken in isolation, these little acts of racial mean-spiritedness may have seemed of little moment. But in fact they had consequences that eventually exploded into the history books. In Japan, the public had been closely watching the passage of the Alien Land Laws with mounting outrage. And when news of the passage of the Asian Exclusion Act was announced, mass riots broke out in Tokyo and other cities. As Pearl Buck would later observe, the then-nascent movement for American-style democracy, which had been slowly gaining momentum in Japan, was effectively wiped out overnight. The military authoritarians who would control the nation for the next 20 years gained complete political mastery, and one of the cornerstones of their rule was a bellicose anti-Americanism that would finally reach fruition in late 1941.

Moreover, the attitudes engendered in America by the 1912-24 campaign remained powerfully embedded in the public mindset in 1941-42, especially the belief in the innate treacherousness of the Issei. Indeed, it was still widely believed they were only mercenaries who intended to return to Japan eventually; and consequently, it would be surprising if they were loyal.

The truth, of course, was a great deal more complicated. The depiction of Japanese immigrants as essentially mercenary probably was true of the first wave of immigrants from Japan, who mostly arrived between 1896 and 1900. These men were largely mizonumi, or lower-class laborers and tradesmen with a very loose and often nonexistent familial structure. But the pattern of Japanese emigration to America proved identical to the internal migration patterns within Japan for the preceding centuries: After the mizonumi came honbyaksho, or middle-class and family-oriented emigrants, who became more settled and turned new commerce centers into actual communities. So in America after 1900, the majority of Issei were people who were far more inclined to see their new home as a permanent one.

Indeed, the reality was that by 1942, the large majority of long-term resident Issei who remained had been here since at least 1924, and likewise the vast majority of those emigrants were loyal to the United States, not Japan. The oral histories are full of stories told by Nisei of their Issei parents' silent hopes that one day their adopted home would finally accept them as citizens. (It finally did, by the way, in 1952, with the passage of the Walter-McCarron Act, which included a section allowing for naturalization of Japanese immigrants.) For an especially moving account of the complextiy of Issei attitudes about America, see Louis Fiset's excellent Imprisoned Apart: The World War II Correspondence of an Issei Couple.

'Divided loyalties'

Malkin gives the old mythology about the Issei a fresh life here, and her abbreviated description of the situation of the Issei of course serves a polemical purpose. It's all part of her theme of divided loyalties, which she believes were rampant among Japanese Americans -- including the Nisei.
The overwhelming majority if Nisei adults were citizens of both Japan and the United States (that is, dual citizens). Children born to Japanese fathers before 1924 were automatically given Japanese citizenship, no matter where they were born. Beginning in 1924, under the Japanese Nationality Law, children born in the United States retained Japanese citizenship only if their parents registered them at the Japanese consulate within two weeks of birth. This same law also made it easier for dual citizens to renounce their Japanese citizenship. By December 1941, few had done so, according to the ONI.

This paragraph is correct, insofar as it goes. However, it must be noted that by limiting her sample to "Nisei adults", Malkin elides the fact that only a quarter of all Nisei were dual citizens.

Now undoubtedly, some Nisei were fully aware of their dual citizenship and what it meant. But the vast majority of Nisei were so Americanized that they scarcely gave it a passing thought. Many remained utterly ignorant of their dual-citizenship status and were stunned to discover that it was something being held against them.

The reality is that most Nisei -- like Michelle Malkin herself -- gave the fact of their dual citizenship little or no thought, if they were even aware of it. Taking the effort to renounce it was unlikely, unless it became an issue under familial or other circumstances -- including, of course, war. (And when asked, later during the war, to renounce their Japanese citizenship, the vast majority of both Issei and Nisei in fact did so.)

I try to describe what daily life was like for the Nisei in Strawberry Days: The Rise and Fall of a Japanese American Community [due spring 2005 from Palgrave/Macmillan]. Here's a brief extract:
Children being the innocents they are, it was common for Japanese youngsters to play with their Caucasian neighbors. However, the amount that the children mixed tended to depend on how well their parents had acclimated to life in the United States. Those who spoke only Japanese in their homes tended to lead more insular lives, associating only with other Japanese, while those fluent in English or -- like the Matsuokas -- Nisei parents tended to be more comfortable with their neighbors, and their children were more likely to feel integrated.

It wasn't until later, when she was a teenager, that Rae Matsuoka realized that there was something setting her apart from her classmates. "See, I don't think I realized I was different. ... When we went to school, we just considered ourselves American. And, we didn't differentiate between myself and a Caucasian classmate. I guess I realized fairly soon that I wasn't exactly Caucasian, and of course, we found out for sure when the war broke out. But before that I am sure that someplace along the way you get exposed to attitudes and, of course, prejudices. And you learn from that. So we absorbed that, but on the whole, I was more friendly, more close, to some of the Caucasian kids."

Conversely, the youngsters whose parents spoke little or no English often remained cocooned in the Japanese community until they reached school age. Mitsuko Hashiguchi says that when first enrolled, she was acutely aware of her difference from other children: "Like when I first went to school at first grade, I couldn't talk English. I couldn't even write my own name, to tell you the truth. Of course, then, after that, I became an American.

"But we were Japanese until a certain age, and then after that, maybe about second grade, I began to Americanize right away. Because I had my American friends. Oh, there were Japanese girls to play with, but that would be your neighbor friends. As far as activities in schools, I was involved with American friends."

Barriers tended to fall away once the children picked up the language and acclimated to their schoolmates. In school at least, the Nisei in Bellevue felt they were largely accepted as equals.

"Oh, yeah, I was part of the school," says Hashiguchi. "And my neighbor was a German family, over the fence -- it went that way, north of me, were German people, and so we went over there and grew up with Mary all the time. Everything we did was with Mary there. So I think I became Americanized quicker than my other Japanese friends for some reason, I don't know. I really don't know. Our family was that way, I guess."

And in truth, many of their Caucasian neighbors thought highly of their Japanese neighbors. "I think most people admired them because they were so industrious, and they were so honest, and the children -- apparently the parents put a lot of value on education, so the children were very good students," says Pat Sandbo, who returned to Bellevue after she graduated from high school and taught in the Bellevue schools. "I think we admired them. ... They were just as American as the next kid."


... Despite being told at every turn—sometimes even inadvertently, amid acts of kindness -- that they could never hope to really fit in, the young Nisei children wanted desperately to be considered normal Americans like everyone else. They worshipped Gary Cooper and Mary Pickford, Sonja Henie and Babe Ruth, just like their classmates, and wore clothes and hairstyles like them too. And secretly, they wished they weren't Japanese.

"I am very dark compared to most Japanese, and so I was teased about that," says Chizuko Norton. "Well, I have to admit that I did a lot of complaining about being different and also having that called to my attention by my Nisei friends as well. Because to be dark was ... I still think it's not all that much appreciated among the Japanese. And I remember sticking adhesive tape all over my hands. You know, when you tear off the tape, your skin is light. Well, I thought that that would keep light for longer than just a few seconds. And the other thing is ... praying to be white for just one day."

"To be white, that was my thinking," recalls Kiyo Yabuki, who was born in 1923 in Yarrow Point. "Ah, I wished I were white. I put the white on a pedestal. Even though I would criticize or condemn, maybe, I still had that mentality where I wished I were white. It may have been that I was ashamed of my own features."

A dinner at the home of a favorite teacher drove home the point to Michi Nishimura, the daughter of Asaichi Tsushima. When she sat down at the dinner table, she was confronted for the first time in her life with a steak -- and eating such a thing with a new kind of utensil.

"I had never had a steak before," she recalls. "And I had the hardest time cutting it. The kids -- they had children -- they would sit there and snicker at me. Mrs. Cash said something; I remember her talking to them, saying, 'That's not polite.'

"There were so many things like that which -- it's not things that we would think of now as what our children would go through. It was something foreign to us, to eat with knives and forks, because we ate with chopsticks all the time. Things that ordinarily you wouldn't think about, and yet they made us different from our Caucasian friends.

"I think a lot of us were ashamed of our parentage at times. There were times when I must have thought: I wish I weren't Japanese."

The Nisei "dual citizens" rarely thought of themselves as subjects of Japan. Many of them attended Japanese language schools, learned Japanese arts and generally cherished their heritage. However, the desire to Americanize was overwhelmingly part of the Nisei experience.

Along these lines, another "Yellow Peril"-related belief lingered in 1942: The notion that the language schools were centers for "indoctrination" where the young Nisei were disciplined in worship of the Emperor. This was a base canard supported by only the scantest evidence; the vast majority of these schools in fact were simply part of the immigrant communities' internal-support system.

Nonetheless, Malkin resurrects this old nugget:
Japan's Department of Education supplied Japanese-language schools with textbooks reminding ethnic Japanese youngsters of their citizenship ties to Japan. "The objective of Japanese education, no matter in what country it may be, is to teach the people never to be ashamed of their Japanese citizenship," said one junior high school textbook. "We must never forget -- not even for a moment -- that we are Japanese."

In contrast, I describe in Strawberry Days the real-life nature of these schools. Another extract:
The Issei were also concerned about the growing gap between them and their children. Since many of the immigrants themselves had little education and were nearly helpless when it came to learning English, their first solution was to educate their children in Japanese language and culture as a way of strengthening communication as well as ties to their heritage. A Japanese language school had been started in Bellevue in 1921, but was shut down amid the Alien Land Law agitation.

Though the main intent of the Issei was simply to close the language and cultural gap between themselves and their children, the schools consistently were a source of suspicion in Caucasian communities along the Pacific Coast, in no small part due to anti-Japanese propaganda claiming that the Nisei children were being indoctrinated into emperor worship and forced to swear loyalty to Japan. Those suspicions, at least in Bellevue, were utterly groundless; none of the Nisei can recall any lessons even remotely approaching such topics, other than geography and history lessons about Japan incidental to learning the language.

A second language school opened in 1925 and held at an Issei home in the Downey Hill area until 1929, when community leaders organized the first Japanese language school at a building in Medina, at 88th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 18th Street. Asaichi Tsushima was the first teacher.

Around the same time, leaders of the Japanese community began making plans to build their own center for gatherings. By 1930, they had built the Japanese Community Clubhouse at 101st Avenue Northeast and Northeast 11th Street and dedicated it in late July of 1930. It had 16-foot-high ceilings to accommodate the basketball court the builders installed as its main floor. Some 500 people, including the leading citizens of Bellevue, attended.

The language schools were consolidated at the clubhouse, which soon became the hub for the segregated community. The Seinenkai meetings were held there. And the language lessons at the schoolhouse, which initially were held only on Saturdays, were expanded to daily hour-long sessions after school.

The sessions weren't always popular with the young Nisei. Many of them, the boys especially, hated trudging the extra mile or so to the schoolhouse while all their classmates got to have the Saturdays or afternoons off. And they weren't really interested in learning Japanese. They, after all, wanted to be Americans. Most of them recall being good students at regular school, but poor students in Japanese.

"I used to pack my lunch, go over there, get in fights, learn how to throw a baseball," recalls Alan Yabuki, whose parents operated a greenhouse in the Yarrow Point area. "That’s what I used to do."

Mitsuko Hashiguchi, however, reveled in the cultural growth the school offered: "I loved the Japanese school. And I went 12 years, and I went to night classes."

Tom Matsuoka did not make his children attend the Japanese school. "He says, 'I want you guys to be able to learn English, speak it well, because this is where you are going to live. Don't want to get muddled up in this' -- a lot of these people speak in mixed idioms once in awhile," recalls Ty Matsuoka.

"Oh, but those kids just go for eating lunch, that's all," says Tom now. "They don't learn nothing. They talk the English all the time back and forth, you know."

Still, Matsuoka chipped in and helped drive the teachers for the school from the ferry dock to the school, since by 1932 he had a car, which was frequently pressed into service chauffering youngsters and their mentors to and from activities of all kinds. "Mrs. Tajitsu and Mrs. Takekawa, they used to come teach at the Bellevue School on Saturday," Tom recalls. "And so they come on the ferry, and somebody have to go on the ferry and pick them up, and take them back to the ferry after the school. [But] I never sent the kids, and had nothing to do with the Japanese school."

Now, I have to point out that my reportage here is hardly groundbreaking. Many hundreds of accounts of the Japanese American experience have been written. It isn't hard to find information that provides a much more complete picture by which to judge both the Nisei and the behavior of the government officials who placed them in concentration camps -- and not merely through hindsight.

But as I've already observed (as have both Muller and Robinson), that is the real flaw in Malkin's methodology. If information exists that might counter, for example, her imputations of "torn loyalties" to the majority of Nisei, or the overwhelming abundance of evidence of the highly significant and at times decisive role played by racism in the unfolding drama that culminated in the "relocation centers" -- well, Michelle simply doesn't even mention it. It's just left out altogether.

Now, this is a kind of meta-dishonesty, but Malkin is hoping to get away with it through a combination of chutzpah and propaganda technique. However, this dishonesty permeates nearly every corner of her text, even on the micro level. See, for instance, what she attempts to pull off in the next half-paragraph:
A 1941 ONI memo reports that Japan placed considerable pressure on Nisei dual citizens to serve in the Japanese military.

Gosh, doesn't that sound to you like Japan was pressuring all those Nisei kids in America?

Well, yes, unless you go back and check what the memo she cites actually says.

It's right there on p. 236, under the heading "Conscription":
Considerable evidence exists of such pressure being brought to bear on dual citizens and even expatriated citizens of Japanese ancestry who are in Japan as students or even workers.

That's right. The pressure was being brought to bear on Nisei who were in Japan at the time. In fact, the pressure was so great that many of these same students found themselves (just as the heading suggests) forcibly conscripted into the Japanese army. Under Japanese law, all male citizens -- dual or otherwise -- were subject to conscription in Japan.

The Encyclopedia of Japanese American History mentions this in its entry under "dual citizenship":
Even after the passage of the law [in 1924 liberalizing renunciation], a good percentage of the Nisei population kept their dual citizenship, many of them just never getting around to ridding themselves of their Japanese citizenship. For a few, this oversight had tragic consequences: some Nisei visiting Japan just prior to World War II were forced to stay and serve in the Japanese army because of their Japanese citizenship.

Indeed, in some cases, the students were virtually shanghaied into service, which in fact Malkin next describes:
According to the memo, Kazuichi Hashimoto of Terminal Island, California, took a group of forty young ethnic Japanese (presumably Nisei dual citizens) to Japan, supposedly to teach them fencing. "However," the memo states, "it is suspected that these young people were taken to Japan for military duty."

Though critics of the West Coast evacuation and relocation say dual citizenship was of no consequence, the presence of Nisei in Japan's military suggests otherwise. Estimates of how many Nisei ended up joining the Imperial Army and Navy ranges from 1,648 (the official figure given by the Japanese government) to as high as 7,000 -- not including those who assisted the Japanese military in other operations. ...

Forgoing the usual sourcing question about Malkin's upper-end figure regarding the number of conscriptees (7,000 is not terribly likely, and the official number is what is broadly accepted as accurate), it's more important, perhaps, to sit back and ask: What kind of moral reprobate would trivialize what was a real tragedy to many of the victims of this kind of forced conscription? Imputing that people forced into service of the enemy under these conditions are "disloyal" is possible only if you have no sense of fairness, not to mention intellectual integrity. (Malkin goes on to cite the notorious case of Tomoya Kawakita, a Nisei translator who tortured American prisoners during the war and attempted to settle in the States afterward; but she presents not a whit of evidence that the majority of the conscriptees went willingly, and there is considerable anecdotal evidence that they did not.)

So there you have it: The belief that both the Issei and the Nisei were largely disloyal was well grounded, so long as you overlook the fact that they really weren't.

The internment and profiling

This is Malkin's methodology in a nutshell: Find a handful of facts, selectively edit and compile them in a way that ignores countervailing evidence, and present them as representative of the bigger picture. That isn't history; it's propaganda.

Malkin may think of this all as an exercise in polemics, all in the pursuit of "debunking" critics of modern-day racial profiling in the "war on terror." But the truth is that, by defending the indefensible -- which, in the end, is what the Japanese American internment was -- she has replicated almost exactly the mistakes of her forebears in 1942, impugning the loyalty of nearly 80,000 citizens and another 40,000 longtime resident immigrants without a whit of solid evidence to support her.

Even Burl Burlingame -- the author of Advance Force Pearl Harbor, a text she cites, as do I -- had this to say, at the end of a post chastising the critics who have tried (wrongly, I have to fully agree) to shout Malkin down:
Let me be clear. Although Michelle based much of her "book" (it's actually more of a padded essay) on my original research and upon my book "Advance Force," I personally think relocation and internment was perhaps inevitable given the tenor of the time, but was still wrong and unjustified. No, it goes beyond wrong. It was stupid and counterproductive and continues to embarrass to this day. The ONLY good to come out of it was as an object lesson -- to be vigilant about protecting the Constitutional rights of all. Even that part about free speech.

[It should be noted that Malkin also cites a somewhat complimentary letter from Burlingame at her blog, the full text of which he posted at his site.]

As several of Malkin's critics have already pointed out: If what she wanted was to defend, as ultimately she does, racial profiling in 2004 America as part of the "war on terror," she could not have chosen a more inappropriate example than the internment of Japanese Americans.

Of course, I've said much the same thing on repeated occasions: No matter how you reckon the internment, it was simply an unfathomable waste. It achieved nothing in terms of enhancing national security, it worsened the wartime food supply, and it was extraordinarily costly, both for the taxpayers and the Japanese American evacuees. It almost certainly wreaked harm on the Constitution. And for what?

Moreover, in defending the internment as an instance of an appropriate homeland-security measure in its time and context, Malkin is offering up the very model of why seemingly "temperate" measures such as those she proposes in her final chapter can metastacize wildly into phenomena well beyond the scope of what anyone might originally have envisioned. Internment planners, remember, wanted first to just put the Issei and Kibei into camps; then they decided to simply "evacuate" the Coast of Japanese and help the Nisei to "voluntarily" relocate. But then complications arose, and the next thing everyone knew, there were 122,000 people behing held indefinitely behind barbed wire.

Now, Malkin commends such limited measures as profiling travelers from "Muslim-dominated countries" deemed to be of "elevated concern."

As it happens, one of the "Muslim-dominated countries" currently on that list is the Philippines, which has had more than its share of terrorist activity in the past several decades, and a known Al Qaeda presence as well.

Now, under Michelle's own criteria, her status as a dual citizen of the Philippines might render her a person of high interest were she to travel much. In fact, if dual citizenship is a sign of "divided loyalties," it might be time hold her in serious suspicion of covert terrorist activity. And then, once detained, she might be held under "special rules" and become subject to the same "special courts" she recommends on p. 159 -- you know, the ones that "would allow certain evidence that is not admissible in a conventional civilian court, and for national security reasions, the defendant and his or her lawyer would not be allowed to view certain evidence."

I don't know about Malkin, but that sounds like an Orwellian nightmare to me, and I shudder at the very thought of even creating that kind of machinery, let alone being caught up in it.

Empathy is hardly Malkin's strong suit. But a little reflection on her own rather fragile position, especially when it comes to racial profiling, might lead her to stand back and reconsider exactly what the hell it is she is arguing.

And then, perhaps, she can try applying the same principle to the Nikkei internment. Once again, a little empathy could go a long way.

[Note: Be sure to catch Eric Muller debating Malkin at a Philly public-radio station today from 10-11 EDT.]

Monday, August 23, 2004

AWOL Guardsmen for the Truth

Editor's note: Someone slipped this under the Orcinus newsroom door the other day, if ya know what I mean. Sounds kinda hinky, but hey. If this kind of fact-gathering is good enough for Matt Drudge, it's good enough for me.

Inspired by the nationally publicized exploits of another group of veterans, another secret, shadowy group is now poised to make its mark on the American election scene. Or so some people say.

Calling themselves "AWOL Guardsmen for the Truth," they are constituted of former National Guardsmen who were punished by the military for being absent without leave from their National Guard units during the early 1970s. And they're speaking out because they wonder why President George W. Bush -- who, they say, was guilty of similar or worse infractions than their own -- didn't receive the same treatment.

The group is planning a series of advertisements in which former AWOL Guardsmen speak out about Bush's military record. The ads feature testimony from other men who served in the Guard in the early 1970s along with Bush.

"I served with George W. Bush," says Joe Schlabotnik, a former Washington Air National Guard member. "Well, sort of, anyway. We were both in Air Guard units at the same time, even though mine was up Spokane. For missing four monthly drills, I was booted out of the Guard, drafted and sent to Vietnam. Why wasn't Bush?"

"I served with George W. Bush," chimes in Herman P. Grunt. "Well, OK, I was just in the Texas National Guard. I had a six-year commitment. But around fall of '71, just as I was about to finish up, I decided I had 'other priorities' and stopped showing up for drills for five months. Next thing I knew, I was ordered into active duty for another 24 months. I wonder why Bush wasn't."

"I don't think George W. Bush is telling the truth about his time in the Texas Air Guard," say Klem Kadiddlehopper, a former California Air Guardsman. "I mean, I took off from the Guard in the spring of '73 to pursue business opportunities and skipped out on my physical, just like Bush. Pretty soon I was ordered back to active duty and got reassigned to a paper job as a reserve officer, but I skipped out on that, too. Then they gave me the option of a dishonorable discharge or a court-martial. I took the dishonorable.

"So how did Bush get an honorable discharge? What kind of strings did he pull?"

The AWOL Guardsmen for the Truth were unable to find any other Guardsmen who remember serving with Bush after May 1972, when he first began missing drills. (This is probably not surprising, since no one ever stepped forward to claim Garry Trudeau's $10,000 reward for anyone who could prove they served with Bush in Alabama.) They were, however, able to locate a Guardsman who remembers Bush from a more relaxed setting -- in Chihuahua, Mexico.

"Hey, man, I can't be sure of anything from those days," says Hedley Stonecipher, a former Texas Guardsman. "But I remember like it was yesterday hanging out with W at a cheap little titty bar in Chihuahua, 'cuz that was where we went to get the cheap hookers. Gee, maybe it was yesterday. Wait, no, it was June 21, 1972. Yep. I remember W cuz he was The Man when it came to making it snow there, if you know what I mean."

White House spokesmen denounced the AWOL Guardsmen for the Truth campaign. Press Secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly referred reporters to Bush's autobiography, A Charge to Keep, in which the president stated: "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years."

Religious wrong

David Domke, a professor at University of Washington's communications school, had an interesting piece of research published Sunday in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Bush weds religion, politics to form world view

The headline is somewhat incomplete, because while the piece provides some important insight into the nature of Bush's political-religious nexus, it also has significant information about how these beliefs were transmitted through the media and became implanted in the public perception of world events.
That the president -- any president -- is a person of religious faith is generally viewed by the U.S. public in favorable terms, the better to be grounded when facing momentous decisions. I share this view because I know how central the Christian faith is to my life and to many others I know and respect. Invocations of a higher power, when emphasizing inclusive and transcendent principles, seem to me to be legitimate and adroit rhetoric for a leader of 290 million people, the overwhelming majority of whom believe in God in some form. What is deeply troubling about Bush's religiosity, however, is that he consistently evinces a certainty that he knows God's will -- and he then acts upon this certainty in ways that affect billions of humans.

For example, in his address before Congress and a national television audience nine days after the terrorist attacks, Bush declared: "The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them." Similarly, in the 2003 State of the Union address, with the conflict in Iraq imminent, he declared: "Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity." These are not requests for divine favor; they are declarations of divine wishes.

From this position, only short theological and rhetorical steps are required to justify U.S. actions. For instance, at a December 2003 news conference, Bush said: "I believe, firmly believe -- and you've heard me say this a lot, and I say it a lot because I truly believe it -- that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every person, every man and woman who lives in this world. That's what I believe. And the arrest of Saddam Hussein changed the equation in Iraq. Justice was being delivered to a man who defied that gift from the Almighty to the people of Iraq."

Further, this view of divinely ordained policy infuses the public discourse of several administration leaders, irrespective of their particular religious outlook. I systematically examined hundreds of administration public communications -- by the president, John Ashcroft, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld -- about the "war on terrorism" in the 20 months between Sept. 11, 2001, and the end of "major combat" in Iraq in spring 2003. This research showed that the administration's public communications contained four characteristics simultaneously rooted in religious fundamentalism while offering political capital:

-- Simplistic, black-and-white conceptions of the political landscape, most notably good vs. evil and security vs. peril.

-- Calls for immediate action on administration policies as a necessary part of the nation's "calling" and "mission" against terrorism.

-- Declarations about the will of God for America and for the spread of U.S. conceptions of freedom and liberty.

-- Claims that dissent from the administration is unpatriotic and a threat to the nation and globe.

In combination, these characteristics have transformed Bush's "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" policy to "Either you are with us, or you are against God." To the great misfortune of American democracy and the global public, such a view looks, sounds and feels remarkably similar to that of the terrorists it is fighting.

Domke is not necessarily the first to cover this territory. The role of Bush's religious beliefs in determining the direction of his policy has also been well covered in Mark Crispin Miller's new book, Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order, which confronts the problem through a largely psychological analysis combined with politics. Another outstanding study along these lines (this time from a psychiatric point of view) is Robert Jay Lifton's Superpower Syndrome: America's Apocalyptic Confrontation With the World. [For a condensed version of Lifton's thesis, see his article in The Nation.]

What distinguishes Domke's work here is his analysis of how these beliefs were transmitted through the media:
The ascendancy of the administration's political fundamentalism after Sept. 11 was facilitated by mainstream U.S. news coverage, which substantially echoed the administration's views. That became apparent when I analyzed how 20 leading and geographically diverse newspapers and the evening newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC covered each of Bush's national addresses (15 in 20 months, a remarkable pace) and the administration's push for key "war on terrorism" policies and goals in 2001 and 2002, including passage of the USA Patriot Act, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and congressional and U.N. resolutions regarding Iraq.

This analysis revealed that news media consistently amplified the words and ideas of the president and other administration leaders. They did that by echoing throughout their coverage similar claims made by multiple administration members, thereby having the administration's perspectives establish the terms of public discourse. For example, only two of more than 300 editorials that I analyzed in response to the president's national addresses criticized the administration's description of the campaign against terrorism as an epic struggle of good vs. evil. None questioned his explicit declarations of God's will. With so many around the globe expressing a different view during these 20 months, by echoing these fundamentalist messages within these editorials, the press failed its readers.

To be clear, the U.S. news media did not emphasize the administration's messages to the same extent as the White House did during this time. Such an equation would imply that the commercial, independent news media merely served as mouthpieces, and that is not the case. Disagreement with the administration sometimes appeared in news stories -- either as a presentation of different factual information or of divergent observations by other sources -- and in newspaper editorials. Coverage also included occasional strong criticisms of government policy, in particular in regard to the administration's diplomatic difficulties in early 2003.

The chief failure of members of the mainstream media, though, is that they did not adequately cover the deeply religious motivations to the administration's actions and, as a result, too rarely questioned the administration's religious-cum-political discourses. Once these fundamentalist discourses became consistently amplified -- but not analyzed -- in leading media outlets, the administration gained the rhetorical high ground, and that went far in determining policy decisions.

Sometimes, the road to hell is paved with smug self-certainty.

Vindictive bastards

One of the immediate obstacles facing any effort to reform the nation's media will be the fact that the Foxcists who are now driving our national discourse have no intention of surrendering control.

Just as they stopped at nothing to achieve their current position, they clearly will have no compunction about being every bit as ruthless to maintain it. If anyone fails to toe their line, they'll be threatened with exile from the halls of power. In other words -- and this is especially the case for those working inside the Beltway -- they will be rendered incapable of doing their jobs.

This was made abundantly clear awhile back when Republicans threatened to "boycott" CNN's Crossfire. The boycott never really materialized, but the show decidedly toned down its act in the meantime.

Now they're turning the same guns on Chris Matthews now that he has begun showing signs of departing from the preferred script. According to an item in U.S. News and World Report titled "Blackball", Republicans are putting the clamps down:
You might notice something missing from Hardball With Chris Matthews soon: Republicans. "Hardball may seem more like badminton during the Republican National Convention," threatens a GOP insider. What's up? The GOP thinks Matthews has gone over to Sen. John Kerry's side and is too critical of the Bush campaign's editing of a Hardball interview with Kerry posted on the party's negative site, www.kerryoniraq.com. As payback, they've stopped urging Republicans to appear on the show. Hardball executive producer Tammy Haddad dismisses charges Matthews is biased: "We beat everybody up." So far, nobody from the White House has told her of the show's being blackballed.

Of course not. They never work that way. They just send out the word through backchannels like this.

This, of course, is only occurring at MSNBC, which despite its obvious predilection over the past few years to attempting a "Fox Lite" approach to programming remains outside the circle of Conservative Media Insiders. That status in the cable biz is largely relegated to Fox News.

And heaven help anyone inside Fox who decides his journalistic integrity is more important than the Agenda.

Take, for instance, the case of Jon Du Pre, the Fox News reporter who made the mistake of appearing in the MoveOn documentary Outfoxed and telling its audience exactly how the "fair and balanced" channel operates.

According to Arizona Republic columnist Richard Ruelas, Fox has been getting even ever since:
On its Web site, Fox News released a statement about the documentary, saying that any news organizations that run stories on the film "is opening itself to having its copyrighted material taken out of context for partisan reasons." The statement does not say the documentary is in error nor deny the authenticity of the internal memos.

The network, on its Web site, also tries to discredit its former employees, including Du Pre. It says Du Pre left Fox News because "as his personnel file states, he was a weak field correspondent and could not do live shots." Du Pre said that claim is false.

Du Pre, who left Channel 5 this year, has twice been denied anchor jobs at Fox affiliates in other cities because of his appearance in the documentary.

"Even if I don't get another job in this business, it will have been worth it," Du Pre said of the Outfoxed interview. He got into this business to tell the truth, after all.

I was especially interested in Du Pre's description of how Fox operates even beyond what's portrayed in Outfoxed:
Du Pre hit pause. "This is presented in here as some sort of nefarious or hidden agenda," he said. "It wasn't so subtle." In reality, his bureau chief, who would have been a recipient of the daily memos, would relay the messages to him in much more colorful and blatant language. Reporters knew who the enemies were. They were ordered to deliver stories that made Democrats look bad and Republicans look good.

Du Pre said most Fox News Channel employees figured the bias was so obvious that audience would be able to see it as well. "Nobody thought that what we were doing was 'fair and balanced,' " he said, quoting the network's slogan. It was more "an attempt to balance out what everybody else was doing." He also said such rationalization was "survival."

"Their point of view is their point of view, and they have every right to it," Du Pre said. "But to hold themselves out as a fair and balanced source of news and information, let alone the truth, is abhorrent."

The truth, unfortunately, means nothing to the people currently in power.

Anyone who has been watching is already well aware of this, as well as the depths of their vindictiveness, which extends to anyone -- even former administration members and allies -- who fails to toe the line. Just ask Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Is it Astroturf?

One of the more annoying tendencies of the mainstream press in recent years is the way it tries to "balance" news by posing a kind of equivalency between the right and the left. You know the thought process: "Sure, the right may be a bunch of lying power-mongers, but the left is just as bad."

Of course, the right and left are qualitatively quite different in many respects, and each is problematic in its own way, but for entirely different and unrelated reasons. The thinking that adopts this sort of equivalency is not just lazy, it badly distorts the truth -- which is what journalists are supposed to be aiming for in the first place.

One of the ways this shows up is in news reports that present an equivalency between reasonable and fact-based remarks (e.g., Richard Clarke's critique of the Bush administration's war on terror) and outrageous smears (Republican operatives' counter that Clarke was only interested in promoting his book) and falsehoods.

Another recent case revolves around the emergence of "Astroturf" -- the phony letters to the editor actually created by campaign operatives and spammed out to newspapers across the country by locals who copy the letters whole and send them in as their own. Paul Farhi in the Washington Post recently offered this report:
Thanks to some nifty Internet technology, the campaigns of President Bush and John F. Kerry are making it easy for their supporters to pass off the campaigns' talking points as just another concerned citizen's opinion. Pro-Bush or pro-Kerry letters bearing identical language are flooding letters-to-the-editor columns.

The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., for example, ran a letter last month from a local reader that stated, "New-job figures and other recent economic data show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger, and that the president's jobs and growth plan is working."

The exact same phrasing also appeared in letters printed in about 20 other daily newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Idaho Statesman and the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.

It wasn't a remarkable coincidence. The letters -- known as "AstroTurf" for their ersatz quality -- were generated by a special cut-and-paste form on Bush's campaign Web site. In addition to providing helpful, ready-to-plagiarize phrases about the president's economic policies, the site also offers faux-letter fodder about such topics as homeland security, the environment, health care and "compassion" ("The President's compassion agenda is touching lives across the globe. . . .").

Kerry's campaign has a similar feature that entreats his supporters to "write" letters as part of his campaign's "MediaCorps." Both campaigns offer tips, such as the Bush campaign's advice to "keep your letters brief and to the point."

The problem, though, is that there is a substantive difference between the Bush and Kerry operations, as different as their campaign appearances.

Over at Salon's Table Talk, my friend Maia Cowan posted the following rejoinder, which she sent to the Post:
In his August 22 column, Paul Farhi states, "[T]he campaigns of President Bush and John F. Kerry are making it easy for their supporters to pass off the campaigns' talking points as just another concerned citizen's opinion. Pro-Bush or pro-Kerry letters bearing identical language are flooding letters-to-the-editor columns." This statement gives the impression that both campaigns are equally guilty of encouraging supporters to send letters provided by the campaign instead of writing their own letters.

The Bush campaign does provide letters that supporters can cut-and-paste; the "America's economy is strong and getting stronger" letter that Mr. Farhi cited is one example.

Mr. Farhi asserts, "Kerry's campaign has a similar feature that entreats his supporters to 'write' letters as part of his campaign's 'MediaCorps'." The two campaigns, however, have a crucial distinction. Unlike the Bush campaign, the Kerry campaign does not provide entire letters that the supporters can copy instead of writing their own. It provides one-sentence talking points and guidelines for how to write the letters. The site also provides a blank form for composing and sending the letters. Even if letter-writers repeat the talking-point sentence verbatim in their letters, they still have to write the rest of the letter themselves. The MediaCorps discourages sending the same letter to different newspapers by limiting use of the email form to one newspaper per day.

To verify my assumption that Kerry supporters don't churn out Astroturf, I searched the Internet for the MediaCorps talking points. I found exactly one letter that quoted them. Searches for the Bush campaign's form letters, by contrast, turn up dozens of instances.

There's a defining difference between encouraging people to write letters on specific issues and providing entire letters for them to send. It's the difference between respecting the rules and encouraging cheating. It's the difference between encouraging people to do their own thinking, and telling them what to think.

That about sums it up.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Our friends at Citizens United

It really shouldn't surprise anyone that the right-wing attacks on John Kerry -- notably including the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- have all so far proven to be brazen falsehoods and crudely nasty smears. One of the main players in perpetrating the smears, as it turns out, is none other than Citizens United, the Floyd Brown/David Bossie dirty-tricks operation.

These are guys whose ethos makes Dick Nixon look like a choirboy.

Again, this isn't a surprise, if you happen to know a little about their history. Not only were these characters central actors in the misbegotten attempt to impeach Bill Clinton; not only does their involvement in dirty smears date back to the first Bush presidential campaign and the "Willie Horton" ads; but they have also been, over the years, significant players in the transmission of far-right extremist ideas and agendas into the mainstream and the concomitant bridging and coalition-building between the mainstream and extremist right.

Their most recent project, as Joe Conason reports in Salon, is releasing a pro-Bush counter to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 to be titled The Big Picture. But it's only half an enconium to Bush; it also features an extended attack on Kerry:
An outline of the "The Big Picture" obtained by Salon suggests that the Citizens United documentary will offer not only a staunch defense of Bush but also an aggressive attack on Kerry, including a recitation of various smears having to do with his medal-winning military history put forward lately by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The outline portrays the Democratic nominee as the preferred candidate of such "foreign leaders" as Osama bin Laden, Kim Jong Il and the Nicaraguan Sandinista Party, and as an "appeaser" of European powers deemed corrupt and hostile to U.S. interests -- especially France. Virtually all the world's other nations are solidly behind Bush and the war in Iraq, according to the outline, which labors to disprove allegations that Bush "lied" about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida.

Note the hostility to international cooperation? Note the eagerness to pull out the lowest of cheap shots, namely, the insinuation that Kerry is "the favored candidate" of the nation's enemies? Note the allergy to factuality or fairness, and the eagerness to distort, twist and lie?

Well, these are all perfectly in character for Citizens United.

Salon previously examined Bossie, who seems to have taken up residency among the "respectable" pundit class, including semi-regular appearances on Lou Dobbs' CNN talk program.

Just as significant, though, is the background of Floyd G. Brown, the group's founder and chairman. Brown's current bio (at the Young America's Foundation)neglects to mention it, but his old bio at Citizens United (no longer available) used to read proudly:
In 1988 and 1992, Mr. Brown's independent expenditure campaigns supporting President Bush produced effective and memorable ads including the now-famous "Willie Horton ad."

Now, most people would run from any association with the Horton ad, which stands today as an icon of Republicans' dalliances with racism. But not Brown, who understood that the damage inflicted by such an ad would easily overcome any outrage that might follow. The important thing was to get the meme out there -- regardless of its noxious nature.

This was discussed in detail in a report by Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates on the reach of the "Clinton conspiracy" industry into the extremist right, in which Citizens United played a starring role:
Brown remains proud of the 1988 Willie Horton ad, widely denounced as racist pandering. In 1992, he attempted to place ads for a $4.99 paid phone call that would play tapes of Gennifer Flowers in a telephone conversation with then-governor Clinton. The hook was a promise that the conversation probed sexual matters. The incident was so tasteless that the Bush/Quayle campaign was again forced to condemn Brown and his tactics. Brown also arranged a screening for a reporter of Militia leader Linda Thompson's video, "Waco: The Big Lie," a potage of conspiracy theories linking Clinton to premeditated murder.

Two of Brown's senior staff are veterans of the ultra-conservative subculture with its conspiracist worldview of communism as a vast left wing conspiracy-a worldview that originated in the Old Right. Cliff Kincaid is director of Citizens United Foundation's American Sovereignty Action Project. He the author of two conspiracist books on the United Nations, Global Bondage: The U.N. Plan to Rule the World and Global Taxes for World Government, both published by Huntington House. Kincaid's claims about the UN are promoted within the patriot movement. Kincaid also works for Accuracy in Media, and writes columns for Human Events and the American Legion Magazine, with a circulation of 3 million. In a 1991 article for Human Events, Kincaid red-baited groups protesting the Gulf War and quoted right-wing undercover operative Sheila Louise Rees, claiming antiwar demonstrations were concocted "by the traditional hard-line peace activist organizations that have always worked with the Communist Party U.S.A." Human Events is now published by Eagle/Phillips Publishing. Regnery Publishing is primarily owned by Phillips Publishing and the Regnery family.

[Regnery (and Eagle/Phillips Publishing) may ring a familiar bell: This is the house that published both Michelle Malkin's dismal pro-internment screed and the Not So Swift Liars' book.]

As Berlet notes, though, Brown moved from "Willie Horton"-style dirty tricks in the 1990s to specializing in promoting far-right "Patriot" movement beliefs, notably theories about Bill Clinton's evil conspiracy to enslave America by instituting a United Nations-led "New World Order."

As recently as 1999 at the Citizens United Web site -- in addition, naturally, to a bevy of Monica-related impeachment demands -- one could find screaming exposes of the Clintons' alleged involvement in the United Nations one-world-government plot. A streaming banner on the site shouted: "Secret United Nations Agenda Exposed In Explosive New Video!" A little further down, the site explained: "This timely new video reveals how the liberal regime of Bill Clinton is actively conspiring to aid and abet the United Nations in its drive for global supremacy." For those who follow the militia movement, these tales have more than a familiar ring.

Indeed, it used to be a common sight at militia meetings in the mid-1990s to see stacks of Brown and Bossie's tome Slick Willie: Why America Cannot Trust Bill Clinton for sale in stacks, right alongside The Clinton Chronicles (both book and video). Later, of course, Bossie began achieving a certain level of notoriety for his anti-Clinton activities, notably distributing doctored audio tapes to the press under the auspices of his position as an investigator for Rep. Dan Burton, R-Melon Shooters, from which he was summarily fired.

In recent years, as they're striven for media respectability -- which has apparently been granted -- Citizens United has toned down the overt appeals to the far right. But you don't have to look far to see it simmering just beneath the surface, and in revealing fashion.

Nowadays at their Web site, for instance, you can find this description of the activities of the Citizens United Foundation:
American Sovereignty Project

American Sovereignty Project ("ASP") is the grass-roots lobbying arm of Citizens United that works to protect American sovereignty and security. ASP's major objectives include complete U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, defeat of the treaty to establish a permanent U.N.-controlled International Criminal Court, and rejection of one-world government.

Citizens United for the Bush Agenda

Citizens United for the Bush Agenda is the project through which Citizens United members work to enact key elements of President Bush's conservative legislative and policy agenda, including across the board tax cuts, complete elimination of the death tax, a strong national defense, deployment of a missile defense system, educational choice, and a reduction in government regulation and red tape.

This is an interesting one-two punch, planning-wise. The first project appears directed at what we can expect from the far-right/mainstream conservative nexus if John Kerry is elected; the second project looks forward to a Bush election.

The latter is disturbing enough (can anyone explain to me why pushing a missile defense system is even on the list of Bush priorities?). But the former is a chilling harbinger of what awaits us if Kerry wins the presidency:

McCarthyite railing against "communist" influences. Patriot-oriented conspiracy theories about a "New World Order" global government (with the Swift Boats Veterans material -- replete with its theories about Kerry's "long-term" plans to become president -- playing a starring role). Bizarre and divisive claims about the "homosexual agenda" and gun-control plots and "Green Nazis." Most of all, incessant attacks, both on Kerry's character along with otherworldly distortions of his actual political agenda, combined with larger attacks on "liberalism" as a disease in need of eradication.

If it sounds a lot like what Bill Clinton faced upon his election 12 years ago, you're right. But there's a difference, and it's significant: Bossie and Brown are no longer consigned to obscurity. Nowadays, they're players among the pundit class.

The promulgation of the "New World Order" hysteria, in particular, threatens to be a real problem for Kerry, because his plans for dealing with the mess in Iraq, as well as for dealing with the "war on terror," revolve around building international coalitions. [Remember, if you will, the response at Free Republic to news stories about international monitors at American elections.) And he'll be contending against a mainstream right that, contaminated by growing extremism, is certain to become not only bellicose, but irrational and perhaps even radical in opposing him. Certainly, they will stop at nothing to paint him as betraying America in the process.

What really is surprising, ultimately, is the fact that not only do Bossie & Co. have even a shred of credibility, but they're given a national platform on mainstream media. As Atrios put it, it's astonishing -- and telling -- that people like the smear artists at Citizens United and Swift Boat Liars are given any media time whatsoever, instead of being shoved to the sidelines along with Lyndon LaRouche, Militia of Montana and the rest of the nation's immensely destructive far-right lunatic contingent.

That is, after all, exactly where they belong.