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Alec Baldwin, Meet Pat Buchanan - plus "Clint & Muhammed" and Other Short Takes

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Quick - what lefty terrorist-loving intellectual wrote, ""Terrorism is the war of the poor. War is the terrorism of the rich." Answer: Pat Buchanan. Buchanan was quite rationally pointing out that both war and terrorism are means to a greater end and not ends in themselves. Whatever you may think of Buchanan (and my Ukrainian Jewish relatives aren't impressed with his advocacy for ultra-rightist refugees from that part of the world), he has a point.

Buchanan also said, "The neocons say we were attacked because of who we are. My view is we were attacked because of what we do." Simple, clear, obvious.

Yet Tom Friedman and other neocon defenders have suggested that any examination of the historical roots of terrorism (especially one that looks at how are policies in that region might have created a backlash) is prima facie evidence that you're an "excuse maker" - in other words, that you're defending terrorists.

Friedman threatened to expose any such offenders in the New York Times, a move I called "The New McCarthyism."

How different is Buchanan's statement from Alec Baldwin's recent assertion that "Dick Cheney is a terrorist" - i.e., one who uses violent means to a defined but unjustified end? After all, John Paul II and the National Council of Churches considered the Iraq War unjust, and so did the head of George Bush's Christian denomination. Baldwin's "terrorist" comment implies the unethical use of violence - a moral position that has been endorsed by mainstream theologians worldwide.

Baldwin drew a scalding response from the Right, as Arianna learned. That raises the question: Is there a wider permissible range of discourse for conservatives like Buchanan than there is for progressives like Baldwin?

A Baldwin/Buchanan summit could be interesting. More broadly, perhaps the liberal anti-Iraq-war left should reach out more to its potential allies in the conservative movement.

My own exposure to the Buchanan camp came through a friendly email correspondence with Buchanan ally John Zmirak, who sent me a note of thanks after I defended him from an unfounded charge of anti-semitism cast by the increasingly irrational Christopher Hitchens (in a piece on Hitchens as a marketing brand).

Hey, fellas - have my people call your people.


Short takes:

Read This Book and the Terrorists Win:
A Muslim-baiting novel imagines a future US after the terrorists have "won" (thanks to mass conversions to Islam by Hollywood celebrities!) In the Muslim States of America the government spies on its citizens, dissident scholarship is suppressed, religious fanatics control public policy, the news is manipulated, and students are taught a distorted version of history. You can guess my punchline: In other words, nothing's changed.

Clint Eastwood Hearts Muhammed? Yahoo is banning any email name that includes the letter string "Allah" - although Jesus, God, Buddha, Satan, and Yahweh all work just fine. The policy surfaced when a woman named "Callahan" found that her last name wouldn't go through - which means that "Dirty Harry" Callahan wouldn't make it through their ban either.

Hot Enough For You? The global warming narrative went from "it doesn't exist" to "it's too late to change it" overnight. Laurie David says it just ain't so - so let's do something.

How Bush's Blundering Is Helping US's Enemies, Chapter 978 - We know what a great recruitment tool the Iraq war's been for Al Qaeda. Now we see that Bush's clumsily handled enmity for Hugo Chavez is working to the Venezuelan leader's advantage. Chavez is using the US threat to justify trying to push through a vote to extend his Presidency, maybe indefinitely.

Bush and Condi Rice have pumped his popularity up so high by their inept communications that (as with the hard-liners in Iran) they may help hand him the electoral victory he wants. There's a reason why "statesmanship" and "diplomacy" were once broadly recognized as important and worthwhile skills - even (especially) with opponents.

And is it just me, or was Chavez channeling Li'l Kim with that "Don't mess with me girl" line? Was he being racist or was it accidental?

The cartoon story won't die: I was one of those who, while defending free speech, understood that the cartoons were intended to offend, and were in fact offensive. Many of my opponents pointed to the rioters and said, in effect, "There's the company you keep." To which I say: And here's yours.

Free at last, free at last, thank God we're free of conservative whining about the King funeral at last: Rev. Lowery got a chance to respond to critics who said the comments he made about the Iraq War with President Bush in attendance were sullying Dr. King's memory - as if a President whose running mate was one of only six Congressmen to vote against the King Holiday is the keeper of Dr. King's flame. I love these lectures about "Dr. King's legacy" from people who have always opposed everything he stood for.

Any storm in a port: Learsy and Sirota get the Dubai story right - It's not about "Arabs" in our ports. The story's broader: It's the incompetence and greed, stupid!

It's about the influence of oil money, and an administration that allows corporate interests to override even our national security - with a good dose of managerial incompetence thrown in. As I've been saying, the GOP national security story should be, "It's Katrina with terrorists instead of hurricanes." (See "Will the next Katrina be a nuclear attack?" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Rumsfeld.")

Speaking of which, FEMA's not doing any better in Louisiana these days - now there's no place for the first responders to stay, says Harry Shearer ...

What, you again? Jane Wells stays on the Darfur story ... and on it, and on it, and on it, to the point of being completely irritating. To which I say God bless her! Don't quit, Jane ... we need to keep this tragedy visible. Everybody's fiddling while it burns.

Arrest that victim! Republicans have turned the issue of voting fraud - like easy-to-rig Diebold machines and minority voters forced to stand in line for 10 hours - into vot-er fraud, as if election outcomes are being altered by a couple of nuts who register as comic book heroes. Requiring picture ID for poor people who don't drive has only one effect: to drive down their voter participation.

It's the return of the poll tax in a different form. But then, isn't that the point?

I and I want extra foam with that cappuccino: Field Mahoney comments on the post-mortem domestication of firebrand revolutionary Bob Marley by white, latté-sipping hippies. You'd never guess this was the same man who sang, "I feel like bombing a church now that I know that the preacher is lying" - and whose erstwhile partner Peter Tosh wrote "Everybody's talking about peace, nobody's talking about justice/There will be no peace without equal rights and justice." These were not mellow guys - they were real-life gunslingers, as Tim White made clear in his seminal Marley biography.

A Night Light