Mister Manners Takes Umbrage at Jim Webb’s War Rage

“Mister Manners,” George Will (pictured above in the second grade) asks:
“Can’t We Wage Aggressive War, Kill Thousands of Innocent People,
Destroy American Liberty And Still Be Civil?

By now everyone has heard all about the “Teapot Tempest” surrounding Senator-Elect James Webb’s alleged rude treatment of the President of the United States at their recent meeting.

Webb, who was awarded the Navy Cross for valor under fire and two Purple Hearts for wounds received in Vietnam has a son serving in Iraq. When President Chicken-Hawk asked Webb how his son was doing, Webb replied that he wished that the troops would soon be leaving Iraq. When the president responded with the comment “that’s not what I asked you,” “how’s your boy?” Webb replied, “that’s between me and my boy Mr. President.”

George Will, our “Mr. Manners,” remarked on this event in the Washington Post a couple of days ago, writing:

“Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb’s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.”

The nearly always erudite, often boring and constantly pompous Mr. Manners, who has been described as a “wax figure” and who, I suspect, carried a briefcase to school in the second grade, seems to have gotten his shorts in more of a wad than usual over this incident.

“A boor?”

I don’t remember having heard heard that expression since Myrna Loy used it in describing someone to William Powell in an old “Thin Man” movie from the ’40s.

Not having been born into a life of protected privilege, I will probably never understand the arrogance which seems to come so naturally to many of those who were so blessed.

George Will was born to such a life, the son of a professor of philosophy, he comes by his special penchant for being ponderously boring quite honestly. While a generation of his peers fought and died in Vietnam, George was studying or teaching political philosophy and preparing for a career often spent encouraging the powerful to send the sons and daughters of the powerless into harms away in defense of every indefensible, hare brained notion of empire dreamed up by his patrician elite.

Likewise the President for whom he professes such respect, during the same period was using his family connections to twist every arm that could keep him out of the jungles of Southeast Asia and preparing for a career of failing at every business endeavor he undertook and being bailed out at every turn by his wealthy and powerful parents and their even wealthier friends.

Now, President Chicken Hawk has found his true calling as a professional pompous ass politician in the employ of the same people who did so much to help him during his disastrous business career.

The accomplishments of his political career may be out shone by his prior, not so stellar, business achievements.

Here we have a twice UN-elected president who is directly responsible for the deaths of nearly 3000 of America’s most valiant children and the wounding, maiming, and traumatizing of more than 20,000 others, as well as the deaths of perhaps 100,000 Iraqis who got in the way of his quest for Empire or revenge, or insane lust to prove that he is a tougher guy than his Yale cheerleader uniform would indicate.

George Will expects civility toward this S.O.B.?

Mister Manners is upset over Sen. Webb’s “patent disrespect for the presidency.” I would submit that no American in history has done more to cover the Presidency of the United States with disrepute than George Walker Bush and his merry band of criminals, incompetents, and downright psychopaths.

I firmly believe that Jim Webb has so much respect for the office of the president that he finds it difficult to treat the current occupant with what might pass for the proper fawning, sycophantic, bowing and scraping which George Will seems to expect.

Nora Ephron took a nice swat at our two Georges in a piece titled “Bad Manners”at Huffington Post the other day. She concluded:

“So finally someone said to George Bush, Don’t think that what you stand for is beside the point. Don’t think that because you’re President you’re entitled to my good opinion. Don’t think that asking about my boy means that I believe for even one second that you care. If you did, you’d be doing something about bringing the troops home.

George Will thinks this is bad manners.

I don’t.

I think it’s too bad it doesn’t happen more often.”

Nora Ephron

I have to agree with that sentiment, it seems to me that when the Office of the President of my United States is being held by a criminal as well as an abject boob a proper respect for the office demands that we stand up and spit in his eye.

Senator Webb, My hat’s off to you.

Bob Higgins

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About BobHiggins

Lifelong liberal of the Tom Paine wing. Marine Vietnam vet. Have worked as a photographer, cab driver, bartender, carpenter and cabinetmaker. Now retired on a Veterans Disability program I spend my time writing and editing and complaining. Ahh the Golden Years.
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26 Responses to Mister Manners Takes Umbrage at Jim Webb’s War Rage

  1. Bob, great post, especially the caption “pictured above in the 2nd grade.” LOL.

  2. Marjorie G says:

    The kabuke staged, and what can’t be said, would it be asking too much for Bush to be civil, and nimbly say, “I hope we can bring him back soon.” Instead we get Boy King uppity by a real moment, of challenge.

    OT, just saw the NY1 announcement of Hillary, with Bill in tow. The press is eager for the gamesmanship they’ll get from this entertainment, and there may have been behind the scenes talk. Don’t know, but Bill works the room, and the back room. Remember the talks with Rupert.

    I think the Dems have an unreal idea of just how savvy, with his contests not as hard, and the Rove war room, I’d say, more slimey and effective than even Carville.

    People could vote for Hillary not knowing which Clinton, but the days of better economics.

    She can be effective in her own right, but do not underestimate the need for the GOP to get prez power, with the back channels to do it.

  3. Indie Liberal says:

    Unfortunately, I know a lot of people that would vote for Hillary, mainly because they want to see Bill back in the WH. A Hillary/Obama ticket looks good to them, not just cause of a female president, and seeing Bill again, but having an AA on the ticket would bring out a diverse group of voters and think inspire them.

    There has to be a reason why she is polling high (right now), and people don’t care about Bubba’s indiscretions (everybody makes mistakes), cozying up to the Bushes or Hillary hanging with Murdoch, or her helping Bushco and the GOP by saying that what Kerry did was “inappropriate” or the corruption factor.

    They still think the Clintons are the best thing that happened to the Democratic party and can’t wait for them to take it over again. 🙁

  4. Javelin says:

    It won’t be long; I suspect the GOP powers-that-be will forget JK being a “threat” and start hitting Hil and Barack; from the stuff that comes out of Hil’s mouth alone they should be able to do something any day that’ll cut so deep it’ll make JK’s “missing pronoun” look like kiddie scissor class……….

  5. Marine One says:

    Webb exhibited a complete lack of class, behavior not indicative of a former Marine. And Marjorie, this wasn’t the time and the place for a “challenge”, as you put it. It was a “goodwill” gesture to invite him to the White House. If he felt he could not comport himself appropriately, he should have declined the invite. Webb tried to capitalize politically at an inappropriate moment, pure and simple. Doesn’t bode well for a spirit of “bi-partisanship”, does it?

    It just confirms what many senior military officials already know; Webb is a power-hungry, opportunistic, egocentric jackass.

    As a former Marine officer, I am embarassed to have him amongst our ranks. Many of my brethren agree.

  6. Marine One

    Civility goes both ways, even for the president.

  7. Marine One Says:
    December 5th, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    “As a former Marine officer, I am embarassed to have him amongst our ranks. Many of my brethren agree.”

    Well I guess you can count me as one of the brethren that does support Webb whole heartedly. Bush saw the response and still pushed the issue. But he feels he is above all others. He is the one that showed complete lack of class! I just thank GOD that I served before that pitiful excuse for a commander in chief came around. To do that after the man’s son almost got killed in Iraq and to push the issue shows how black hearted Bush really is.


  8. Ginny Cotts says:

    My sincere dispute with Bob on an otherwise excellent post is that the John’s Hopkins Public Health survey of the number of Iraqi dead is far more believable to me than anything less. Those numbers, on top of our own killed and maimed, cannot leave many of us with any level of respect for W while we do understand and respect Webb’s rebuff.

    There are some people who do not suffer fools, period. Too bad more of the active duty generals did not have less concern for propriety and more for their troops.

  9. Marine One says:

    Pam: If Webb felt the need to voice his opinion, he should have saved it for the floor of the senate.

    Don: Asking someone “How’s your boy” is expressing genuine interest. Apparently, Mr. Webb was incapable of genuine civility in his response. And if you are so disgusted with President Bush, I am glad you are no longer serving, either. The job is difficult enough, and the negative sentiment undermines and trivializes their service.

    Ginny: Should I have less respect for Wilson for the loss of Turks, Germans, English and Americans from WW1? Less respect for Roosevelt for the millions of lives lost in Europe? The Japanese “re-education” camps? Even less for Truman for the hundreds of thousands of deaths from Nagasaki and Hiroshima? The Tokyo Fire bombings? Eisenhower and Korean conflict? How about Kennedy embroiling us in Vietnam? Johnson escalating the conflict?

    Your comments illustrate a disturbing premise: As Americans, we show little resolve. We have no toleration of or patience to participate in and resolve global conflict. We know nothing of sacrifice. The vast majority of Americans are simpletons, inhaling the regurgitated pablum of the liberal media like a chick from her mother. Webb saw the opportunity to capitalize on the “anti-war” sentiment, and the VA voting public ate it up hook, line and sinker.

    And by the way, you do not know our senior military leadership, so I don’t believe you are in the position to question their concern for our Marines, soldiers and sailors.

  10. Marine One

    Thank you for sharing your sexist (chick from her mother), right wing talking points here.

    Bush pushed the issue with Webb, it’s common knowledge so do us all a favor and stand down. You are barking up the wrong tree here.

  11. marine one says:


    “Chick” refers to a baby bird, not a woman. Don’t be reactionary.

    These aren’t “talking points”, either. They were observations and questions. Ones which you ignored and dismissed, rather than addressed.

  12. Marine One

    While you may have taken offense of Webb’s response to Bush after Bush pushed the issue:

    asked Webb how his son was doing, Webb replied that he wished that the troops would soon be leaving Iraq. When the president responded with the comment “that’s not what I asked you,” “how’s your boy?” Webb replied, “that’s between me and my boy Mr. President.”

    … folks around here don’t take issue with it. Bush is a tactless fool, who has displayed his insensitivity to others and lack of diplomacy over and over again.

    Webb did respond to Bush’s question, and Bush knows full well that Webb answered as father and former Marine, stating the obvious.

    Plenty of former members of the armed forces have spoken candidly, both publicly and privately with Bush and expressed the same sentiment that Webb did.

    A man who is serving our country as president, should have enough class and understanding of the concept of compassion, to not push for private family information when a person declines to respond directly to personal question.

  13. Marine One Says:
    December 6th, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Oh Gawd, where do I even begin? First, It is Donnie and not Don. LCpl McDaniel if you will. Donnie would do just fine. You can feel free to call me “The Katrinacrat” too! You know, one of the ones that take a different oath than the Officers? Do you really think that Bush has been doing the right thing with Iraq? Do you believe that he is a good POTUS?

    The Katrinacrat came about because of Bush. I was a Former Marine and a Republican. He changed all that. What Ronald Reagan made, Dubya destroyed in short order. The first initial response from Webb should have given insight to Bush. But nothing ever gets through the first time with him. His own father does not agree with him and the way the war is being taken care of.

    This is one hard headed man, and he does not care for an opinion that is not inline with his own. I wish for something better for our brethren, and I don’t see that going on in Dubya’s world. For that, I despise him. Our troops deserve better than what has been dished out to them.

  14. marine one says:


    Lack of diplomacy? With Webb, that is the pot calling the kettle black. “That’s between me and my boy” is a tactless response. Period.

    If Webb feels the way he does, so be it. The issue that many have is when and how he chose to express that opinion. Say what you will about Bush, but Webb has shown his true colors and sincerely lacks diplomacy to an equal, or even greater degree. History will uncover Webb’s true character. Stay tuned.

    Donnie: Do I think he is a good president? I am reserving judgment. Do I think he looks awkward? Yes. Do I think he has issues with the English language? Certainly. But I don’t judge presidencies by impression alone, I judge it by the impact of policy. And in order to effectively judge policy, time has to run its course. The American public was quick to judge Ford for his pardon of Nixon. He lost the ’76 election b/c of it. Yet decades later, it is commonly recognized to have been the proper decision for our country.

    I’m not sure where you have developed the premise that Bush Sr. disagrees with W. That not withstanding, we won’t truly know the impact of Bush’s policies in Iraq at least for another 15 years, and they will continue to play out for another century.

    I won’t be so quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  15. Marine One

    It’s hardly calling the kettle black. Bush pushed – plain and simple and given that, he got what he deserved. Webb, a former Marine, spoke like a Marine in my book. And I know plenty of former Marine’s who applauded Webb’s candor in his reply to Bush’s tactless questioning.

    You must read the news too often because it’s common knowledge that Pappy is not pleased with the way Jr has handled Iraq.

    Try this: Bush Reaction to Report Worries Father’s Aides

  16. Ginny Cotts says:

    Marine One,

    First and foremost, there is no such thing as the ‘liberal media’ or a ‘liberal bias’ to the media. That whole idea was started by Nixon in ’68 and has been foisted on America by right wing think tanks (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and the deep pockets of Richard Mellon Scaife, Rupert Murdoch and others. There are over a half dozen well written and supported books on this fallacy, as opposed to two or three that have been thoroughly refuted. Be glad to give you those titles if you are sincerely interested.

    One of the things those books and the studies they cite establish is that Democrats get their news from different sources than Republicans and they are better informed and don’t have the same misunderstandings and believe the same misinformation as the Republicans (or Dems)who listen without questioning to the lies of the right wing hacks in media. Just for starters: the % of people who believed two years ago that Saddam was connected to al Qaeda and had anything to do with 9/11.

    I was raised by an R&D scientist (whose brother was a rocket scientist that helped develop the Polaris, Poseiden and Trident nuc sub missiles). You learned not to believe anything you heard or read and certainly not to spout anything you couldn’t back up scientifically or rationally. The ridicule was tame but it stung big time.

    I have a hard time believing you would seriously compare Iraq to WWI or II and the lives lost in those wars. I do think McNamara was correct in the lessons he learned from war: proportionality should be used and he specifically cited the firebombings of Japan as being over the top.

    Eisenhower at least got us out of Korea in a shorter period of time. He got us into Vietnam and although Kennedy made errors there, Johnson’s whole management is one of the true major Constitutional errors in policy deception lies to the American citizens. As was Watergate and Iran/Contra; the Gulf of Tonkin deception and the rest of the Vietnam tragedy severely diminishes Johnson’s other accomplishments in Medicare/Medicaid and Civil Rights.

    I think the American public is too easily swayed to support conflicts that are not appropriate to begin with, but they have plenty of sense to change their minds when it becomes apparent the mission is misguided or unattainable. This has been true of most countries through out the history of war and as a marine you should know it. Recently, Russia gave up in Afghanistan and the Iraq/Iran war stopped because the cost of lives and dollars had become unacceptable to a majority of citzens. Getting out is highly preferable to troops fragging their own officers.

    Americans are becoming more and more aware that war is not the way to deal with many issues. It takes a long time for diplomacy, wars can take a long time too – and they cost a lot more in lives, treasure and cultural disruption.

    In his excellent speech on the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) made this point:

    “At the end of the Second World War, there were 15 nations on earth that could be counted as democracies that you and I would recognize. Today there are 150 nations on earth that are democratic and free. That would not have happened had the United States been insular and returned to our isolationist roots, had we laid down the mantle of world leadership, had we not seen the importance of propounding and encouraging the spread of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and the values of our Bill of Rights.”

    How many of those were created by war and how many by diplomacy and leadership? There are many other things the US could have done and NOT DONE that would have created an even safer world. Deposing the democratically elected government of Iran in ’53 and restoring the Shah has to be the worst of them all. We are still paying for that in Iran’s leadership and in other middle eastern countries.

    Americans were not asked to sacrifice for the WOT, we were told to go shopping. By G.W.Bush.

    “And by the way, you do not know our senior military leadership, so I don’t believe you are in the position to question their concern for our Marines, soldiers and sailors.”

    Now there’s an interesting conclusion – based on an assumption you present as fact. What makes you think I don’t know our senior military leadership? Do note I said “more of” our military leadership.

    Regardless of who I know or don’t know. I am an American citizen, wars are conducted in my name and with my tax money. I damn well have the right to question whether senior military leadership is properly voicing concerns for our troops. Aside from that, I am an RN. In 30 years in nursing, the standout group of underserved, and uncompensated in health care and disability are the veterans. I have worked with them and for them to get the politicians to pay the debt we owe them when it is due – not when they get around to it. I have pushed for more research, outreach and treatment in PTSD and TBI. That’s only the beginning for now. We have yet to clarify the causes and effects of multiple environmental exposures to the Gulf and Iraq war vets. DU would be on the top of that long list.

    Frankly, the whole situation was blown out of proportion – like some other comments I can think of. However, I will point out that my experience with the military and the brass is that there are two types who go there: the truly dedicated to DEFENSE, and the ones that are addicted to the rush and power of war. Too many of the latter end up in the higher brass. I have pointed out that the really brilliant ones – who made it up there – are often out manuevered by their more aggressive peers. Like all humans, they are a mixture of better and not better, some are more consistent than others.

    So, you didn’t know about Pappy and Jr disagreeing. Did you just get back from Adak? Are there trees there yet? I moved out of AK in ’94 but my family tells me the terrain is really changing.

  17. marine one says:


    1. Mr. Webb certainly did NOT conduct himself like a Marine. He acted like a career politician. There’s a BIG difference.
    I can see why you would defend Mr. Webb so vehemently. After all, you were quick to pull the trigger and accuse me of being a “sexist”, all the while missing point being made.
    No apology necessary. We’ll agree to disagree.

    2. On your second point, the first sentence of the article you linked is as follows:

    “Former White House advisers to George H.W. Bush are keenly disappointed and concerned about the current President Bush’s initial reaction to the report by the Iraq Study Group.”

    Former aides. Nowhere in the article you linked did it mention GHW Bush.

    Try this one on for size:


    Specifically, GHW Bush has sought to decline comment.

    One audience member asked Mr. Bush what advice he gives his son on Iraq.

    Mr. Bush said the presence of reporters in the audience prevented him from disclosing his advice. He also declined to comment on his expectations for the findings of the Iraq Study Group, an advisory commission led by a former secretary of state, James Baker III, a Bush family friend, and a former congressman, Lee Hamilton. The group is expected to issue its report soon.

    “I have strong opinions on a lot of these things. But the reason I can’t voice them is, if I did what you ask me to do — tell you what advice I give my son — that would then be flashed all over the world,” Mr. Bush said.

    “If it happened to deviate one iota, one little inch, from what the president’s doing or thinks he ought to be doing, it would be terrible. It’d bring great anxiety not only to him but to his supporters,” he added.

    Mr. Bush said he’d spoken with Mr. Baker recently — the two are neighbors in Houston — but preferred to reminisce about old times than discuss what America ought to do in Iraq.

    “In the early 1960s, Jim Baker and I were the men’s doubles champions in tennis in the city of Houston,” Mr. Bush said with a grin. “If I were to suggest what they ought to do, it just would not be constructive and certainly would not be helpful to the president. It would cause grief to him.”

    Mr. Bush said he was surprised by the audience’s criticism of his son.

    “He is working hard for peace. It takes a lot of guts to get up and tell a father about his son in those terms when I just told you the thing that matters in my heart is my family,” he said. “How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?”

    It’s scary what and how things become “common knowledge” in the US…

  18. Marine One

    The fact that Bush Sr. won’t speak out against his son, is common knowledge and the reasons speak for themself. He does not agree with his son, it’s easy to read between the lines, and again it’s common knowledge.

    Perhaps if people used more common sense and common knowledge in this country we would not be in such a mess.

    Regardless, I’m a firm believer in agreeing to disagree and if I have not said it here as of yet, thank you for your service.

  19. marine one says:


    Nice propaganda push. No liberal media?

    Let’s start with this blog:

    Drowning out the Noise Machine, with a liberal dose of news, national and local politics, progressive commentary and opinions, and commonsense conversation, because “Truth is the American bottom line.”

    Ted Turner? The Washington Post? The NY Times? MSNBC? CNN? No liberal bias? Give me a break…

    Keith Olbermann admits himself to two things, if you care to listen to him…he is a NYY apolgist and a Clinton apologist. He is a liberal through and through, and he admits to the entertainment role he plays in poking at Pres. Bush.

    Chris Matthews? Tim Russert? Katie Couric? Die-hard democrats. The Hollywood set? All democrats.

    Now, there are conservative networks as well. Fox News, CBN…right wing through and through. These networks are just as guilty.

    I can find books to support either side of an argument that UFO’s exist or don’t exist. It doesn’t mean their correct. I’ll tell you what, let me know the titles of those you READ. If you are such a pragmatist, as you claim to be, I have a hard time believing that short of Lehrer news hour, you believe the major network news has no bias. In truth, there is bias on both sides, with the balance strongly in favor of the liberal flavor.

    “I think the American public is too easily swayed to support conflicts that are not appropriate to begin with, but they have plenty of sense to change their minds when it becomes apparent the mission is misguided or unattainable. This has been true of most countries through out the history of war and as a marine you should know it. Recently, Russia gave up in Afghanistan and the Iraq/Iran war stopped because the cost of lives and dollars had become unacceptable to a majority of citzens.”

    Look at what happened in Afghanistan when the former Soviet Union pulled out…terrorism flourished. We can expect the same if we pull out of Iraq in similar fashion. You quote Senator Gordon Smith in the role America played in spreading representative governments, yet you come to the assumption that war played little or no role in the proliferation of freedom. I would assert that war has played a crucial role in freedom. It has shown our resolve in defending freedom. Any reasonable person would agree it should be used sparingly. But do you really believe freedom would take root in the middle east spontaneously? How long has various terrorist factions tested our resolve in defending Israel? WTC bombing number one and the bombing of the USS Cole are perfect examples of the result of “diplomatic solutions” gone wrong. And it strengthened the terrorist resolve.

    During the proliferation of freedom that Senator Smith refers to, native peoples lost their lives in direct armed conflict. Whether Americans lost lives in direct participation in these conflicts is a separate issue. But dictators don’t hand over power without a fight. Is American involvement always required? No. But in some cases, it is necessary. In Iraq, given the complexities of the religious, economic and political landscapes, the only power capable of supporting the creation of a representative government would be the US.

    We can save some other points for future discussion. I will conclude, for now, on this. You have a right to question the political leadership in this country, and their decision to go to war. But making the judgment of our military leadership, “(t)oo bad more of the active duty generals did not have less concern for propriety and more for their troops” suggests that our military leadership cares more for the thirst of war than the genuine concern for our Marines, sailors and soldiers. That is patently false and unfair. I have served under and alongside many, and I don’t think their service should be sanctimoniously criticized in such fashion. Our military is tasked with following the direction of our leadership in Iraq. It is a difficult mission, to say the least. They do not deserve such an attack.

  20. Marine One

    A blog is not the media, and FYI no one who writes on this blog is a professional journalist. While blogs may be called the new media, most like this blog are privately owned and thus we speak our personal views.

    As the owner of this blog, I can state wholeheartedly I am a proud liberal.

    Ted Turner incase you missed it, no longer owns CNN, they are quite conservative these days. The Hollywood set includes quite a few conservatives, FYI, Clint Eastwood, Charlton Heston, Arnold, Ben Stein, David Horowitz come to mind.

    Sadly, Marine One, when BushCo was preparing to go to war in Iraq, he and his civilian Pentagon leadership failed to listen to military advice. That is part and parcel why we are in this mess.

    We all have a right to question the political leadership in this country, publically and privately. To folow it blindly is to be a sheep, instead of thinking person.

  21. marine one says:


    I am well aware about TT. Old news. Still exhibits his considerable influence in the media. And CNN may reflect less of the far left position of Turner since his departure, but it could hardly be labeled conservative. Unless, perhaps, you believe Carville has converted.

    Aside from Eastwood and Arnold, of course, you are REALLY reaching here. I think we both realize the numbers of Hollywood “elite” are FAR greater of the left persuasion than the right. And I don’t believe Heston even remebers he was the head honcho of the NRA, so to even bring his name up in the context of this discussion borders on ridiculousness.

    Just as you have the right to question our current leadership and express your opinion via this blog, I reserve the right to question “the other side” as well.

  22. Marine One

    Poor Charlton, he doesn’t remember much these days does he. There’s a few more conservatives in Hollywood, some in the exec level as well – I live in L.A. and have quite a few friends who work in the industry.

    As for Carville, he’s a Clintonista, which isn’t all that liberal in my book.

  23. Ginny Cotts says:

    Marine One,

    The books accusing the media of having a liberal bias: The News Twisters by Edith Effron, ’71.
    The Media Elite: America’s New Powerbrokers Robert and Linda Lichter, Stanley Rothman. 1981
    Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How The Media Distort the News by Bernard Goldberg, 2002

    I have not read those – the arguments against them are covered in some of these books and Columbia Journalism Review. I have read:

    Blinded By The Rightand The Republican Noise Machine David Brock ’02, ’04
    Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush Eric Boehlert 2006
    Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting Peter Brock (no relation to David) 2006

    I have not read Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Bias? 2003. It is referenced in Noise Machine.

    David Brock is the founder/owner of Media Matters for America which I follow (and the new Colorado Media Matters), also CJR, American Journalism Review, Editor & Publisher, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

    David B particularly breaks down how unliberal Mathews, Russert and WaPo are, as well as major glitches by NYT.
    Olbermann is clearly a liberal – but he actually admits he doesn’t vote because (somehow) he thinks that helps him stay more objective. His audience cannot be compared to O’Reilly, Hannity. Scarborough, just to name a few.

    What is really striking in the complaints about the media being biased towards liberals is that the people who evaluate the shows, basically construed anyone just to the right of center (moderates) as liberal. The liberals used on national talk shows are often some of the most moderate. That’s not that others don’t appear – it is the frequency and proportions that are out of balance. Often the conservatives are not identified by affiliations that would clue the listener to their employer being a Right Wing funded organization. For the problems with that, see Noise Machine. It has the best over all history. Blinded by the Right has an excellent review of the major players, organizations and events of the GOP media war from ’64 on.

    The “balance” that is now legitimate journalism means that you have any kind of extreme conservative voicing some unsubstantiated facts and opinions that the host or interviewer does not challenge or correct. “Liberal” opponent is up against the news show implication that the two sides are equal in weight. Like you say, you can find a book to support anything. The media does not use the standards they used to for guests. Ann Coulter is Prime example #1. Not to mention hosts, Glenn Beck, exhibit A.

    These books and other reports basically do what the media should and has done, sometimes still do. Objectively assess and report. How many hours of conservative shows – determined by hosts, acknowledged affiliation, etc. versus liberal. How many references to one GOP idea versus the Dem idea. Do the references have the same objectivity or are they slanted in the way it is written? Do the GOP candidates, representatives or spokesman have the same, more or fewer derogatory comments made by anchors, hosts, pundits as the Dems?

    The problem for the GOP is, as Stephen Colbert nailed it:
    “Reality has a well known liberal bias.”
    Decades before, Adlai Stevenson had quipped:
    “I’ll make a deal with the Rebulicans, I will stop telling the truth about them if they will stop telling lies about my record.” (Didn’t help much in ’88 when Bob Dole – who I supported- had to turn to Bush in NH and say “Stop lying about my record”)

    When the media focuses on reality and tries to put out the facts, anyone who is weak on those points should be exposed – Democrat or Republican. Democrats got exposed no more or less than the Republicans – but Richard Nixon took it more personally and others before him had started working on ways to change the media.
    The idea was outlined ’71 by a conservative Democrat, Supreme Court Justice, Lewis Powell shortly before he was nominated to the bench. The GOP picked it up and ran with it.

    Over the decades, due to deregulation and sheer overwhelm, they have moved the mainstream media to the right. And the MSM has simply given up on good journalism in favor of good stock prices. 10% of the US population has stock in the markets. It isn’t just the media has a pronounced conservative tilt, it is lousy journalism with the exception of a few individuals and some magazines. See Dan Gilmore We The Media

    As to the counter points. I was responding to your comment that Americans have no resolve to finish a war or make sacrifices. First, I think there will be plenty of sacrificing when it comes to paying the bills for Iraq. What happened in Afghanistan after the Russians left is off topic – it was the lack of civilian support and the cost to the country that caused them to abandon the war. Is is it similar to what could happen in Iraq? No S**t Sherlock. That’s why the Middle East experts, the military and even the Middle East governments argued against the invasion to begin with – it was still the situation GHWB faced in ’91 if he had tried to get Sadam. GWB didn’t even realize there were three distinct religious and political groups in Iraq- who had a LONG history of fighting each other. As I pointed out, the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran in ’53 was what killed democracy in the Middle East. Israel has not helped, again with proportionality. Our support for them and lack of help for other countries (Afghanistan after the soviets pulled out – we could have helped with economic assistance to keep the Taliban from taking over and harboring terrorists.) has created a negative impression amongst the Arab nations. I’m not sure how the ’93 WTC was a breakdown in Diplomacy. Even if it was, diplomacy is not perfect or fail safe. War sure as hell isn’t either. The difference in deaths and destruction are astronomically different when war fails. The Cole was a breakdown of communication. It was not supposed to be in that harbor. The Anti-Terrorist sections and heads of NSA, CIA , State and FBI were fully aware that the port was a hotbed of terrorists. The Navy didn’t bother to check with them when they decided to have the Cole go there for R&R. What was Beirut? What did we accomplish by sending the marines there? Was pulling them out not appropriate?

    My point about the increase in democratic nations after WWII was that the vast majority came about WITHOUT further wars by the US – as opposed to us going in with guns and regulations to be sure they did become democratic and did it OUR way. (See any book on the CPA and it’s sophomoric impositions. I personally read Kinzer’s “Overthrow” and “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” Chandrasekaran).Yes, our role in WWII established respect and trust – because we did the right thing, not just because we won it. When we have covertly used guns and took out governments, we put in dictators and tyrants. Those countries have not forgotten. (See Kinzer)

    I did not suggest that the generals were thirsting for war. Propriety has to do with “accepted conventions of behavior” – eg: the military reluctance to speak out against their superiors. The intended implication was that some generals did not put their jobs on the line to protect the lives of soldiers (not to mention the Constitution).

    Please, I’m an atheist. A born again secular humanist.
    Sanctimonious means making a pretense of holiness. I do agree with Ayn Rand “Judge and be prepared to be judged” sometimes and with Jesus at others. I do understand the difficulty of their position and the mission. It is one of the reasons I believe I owe it to the boots on the ground, the bodies in the line of fire and bomb explosions, to question why we sent them and why we keep sending them back. To expect the senior, top military to find some way to get through to McNamara’s, Rumsfeld’s, Johnson’s and Bush’s, that the civilian leadership is out of their league and/or their minds. I know these guys are not wimps.

    It’s exactly where the media fell down in the rush to war. Shishenski was clear, the cost analysis was true to begin with. Scott Ritter was certainly making himself heard. The number of people who had good, reasonable arguments for not invading were many. Much like William Randolph Hearst, the media saw excitement, prestige and dollar signs.

    For the rest of my professional career, I will see more veterans with PTSD, TBI, chronic pain, missing limbs, disfigured faces and more. For what? I sincerely respect and believe in those who serve. My Dad, Uncle, Father and brother in law served. My father in law was an Army Air Corps bomber navigator – shot down and a POW in Germany for 18 months. He went on to the new Air Force as a wing commander for NORAD. His son served and then became a civilian air craft mechanic, ultimately in charge of the Elmendorf AFB fighters electronic repair shop (all the computer stuff too). I worked with many military wives as well as nurses who had served. I don’t take the commitments of our service members (and families) or their lives with anything but the gravest responsibility: not to squander it. That is the utmost disrespect. I do not think I attacked anyone. I suggested the loss of lives and the twisted, diminished lives too many will have, could have been lessened.

    To be clear, one of the reasons I write for this blog and am politically active is to get more Americans paying enough attention to self governing. I blame their confusion and ignorance on not making enough effort as much as the media for distortion and failing to question those in power. Asking questions causes problems when the truth hurts. I’d rather hear the truth.

    “‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism. It’s an argument against foxholes.” ?– James Morrow

  24. marine one says:


    While I don’t conveniently fit into any political affililiation, my views fit mostly into a libertarian/centrist philosophy. I also share some commonality with conservatism, mainly in fiscal and defense issues. While I don’t consider myself “above the fray” of media hype, I am somewhat of a disengaged participant, capable of some objective analysis. That is why I find your assessment of the state of the media very perplexing. I see it truly polarized between liberalism and conservatismk, with the balance dramatically in favor of liberalism. The balance you claim to have a conservative bias I would staunchly argue has a liberal bias. I had to laugh a little when you quoted a comedian to summarize the GOP situation. He doesn’t exactly meet the rigor of political review. Even more telling was the quote. We can find many books to justify any position. And we can find even more quotes…

    Moving on. Citing the CIA overthrow in Iran as the “fall of democracy” in the middle east is a VAST overstatement.
    We supported the Shah b/c we KNEW he could rule and squelch the spread of communism. Democracy, support for the Prime Minister, and the nationalistic movement was splintering. Supporting the Shah, at this point, was supporting the lesser of many evils, as Eisenhower determined. A situation we have found ourselves in many times before, and since then.
    I could use this as a basis for rationalization of the current war. Hammer Bush all you want on the execution of the war. Time will tell the result. But what better opportunity is there than now to create a representative form of government, with the participation of all religious/politcal factions? No need to continue to shift alliances with dictators or tribal leaders. My position is that we need to see this situation to its conclusion, no matter how unpalatable it may be to the American public. Do we continue to support the tribal philosophy that pervades the middle east, and continue to throw our hands up each time a new fundamentalist regime pops up and poses a threat to the region, Israel, our country and the world? Or do we finally draw the line and take action?

    As a realist, and not a moralist, I would also question your conclusion that “in WWII (we) established respect and trust – because we did the right thing, not just because we won it.”

    In my travels, I have encountered a number of people who still believe we didn’t represent your notion of “doing the right thing” by dropping two atomic bombs and firebombing Japan. That point not withstanding, we won “hearts and minds” because “doing the right thing” was seeing WWII through, even during the years where we were losing many men. The American public, and our fighting men, had the resolve to sacrifice and see its way through the war despite a significant loss of life, and an uncertain conclusion. Something I think we have lost our stomach for in the present. We won “the hearts and minds” of our enemies, in part, simply because we won, and also because we stood by our allies. We saw the value of rebuilding our enemies and establishing representative government as a proactive measure to reduce the potential of future conflict via a despot like Hitler. So we rebuilt Japan and executed the Marshall Plan. We didn’t cut and run then, and I am not a proponent of doing it at this juncture yet.

    Much like you, I don’t want to see the sacrifice of our Marines, sailors and soldiers squandered. As well, I don’t want to see civilian lives lost on American soil. Ginny, I don’t question your motives, I question your conclusions.

  25. Ginny Cotts says:

    Marine One,

    You can be ‘above the fray’ all you want but can you do the same level of objective analysis that the studies cited in the books have done on thousands of hours of programming on the major channels – including PBS (which is more biased conservatively in overall programing than you probably suspect), newspaper articles in dozens of papers across the country and radio stations? Have you ever heard ‘counter-intuitive’? Statistics and numbers can be used to present a false conclusion. Having taken statistics and played with them a lot, I am usually right on track figuring out that the numbers don’t mean anything because they are answers to the wrong questions. Or the way the numbers were used can’t give the answer to the right question. Sometimes you can take the same numbers, break them down differenty and come up with the counter intuitive conclusion. The analyses of the conservative books breaks down the poor methodology, questions, assumptions, etc. The non-paritsan and liberal studies are pretty straight forward. You wanted the titles of the books I read. I have to say, unless you indicate what additional information or study you have done on the subject, I find your conclusions and arguments basically ignorant. You can have them, but your support is a whole lot weaker than an amusing quote to punctuate more serious information.

    By now I should have warned you I have 2 degrees in BS. One is sociology. I was also raised in a church that didn’t indoctrinate, it taught questioning. I had been a staunch Objectivist until I experienced recurring depression in Alaska due to SAD. I also had a job share partner who was a strong Catholic- with many concerns about her church- who practiced her beliefs more than she talked about them. I learned the value of Christ’s teachings (which the UU church does use) and actually use both Rand and Jesus: in my separation of the mind as left brain (Rand’s ethics) and the right as spirit (Jesus). To come to a conclusion I am satisfied with, the two have to reinforce each other. There are many other contributors to my personal bible (I think it was Emerson who said ‘write your own bible’). The quotes were part humor and part intuitive argument that sometimes allows other people to see a point or perspective that they are not considering.

    Another concept I use in determining right and wrong is:

    It can be right for the right reasons
    Right for the wrong reasons,
    Wrong for the right reasons.
    Wrong for the wrong reasons.

    The point of doing this is to avoid using a previous successful action that was right for the right reasons in that situation, but would be wrong in the current situation because it is different in ways we need to take into account. That concept I owe to Norton Juster from The Phantom Tollbooth– a little known classic that is far beyond Alice through the Looking Glass and others in that category.

    So, I don’t equate Iraq with WWII in how we should pursue the conflict. I mentioned that the firebombing of Japan was one of the wrong things we did. My sister and her husband lived in Japan from ’94 to 2000. I visited in ’97 and learned a lot about the culture and people. The Japanese war crimes in terms of citizens and POWs killed in Asia during that period was arguably worse than Hitler’s; and also against other countries, not within their own. In short, they had been attacking other countries and killing people in Asia long before they attacked us. We might have interfered earlier when they attacked the other countries. We also could have used our intel better. Iraq had not attacked anyone, certainly not us.

    The Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of those countries after WWII seems clearly the right thing to have done and brought a much better future to those countries. I totally endorse helping Iraq rebuild and fault the Bush administration, Bremer and the CPA for blowing that opportunity from the start. The horrible carnage that has occurred because of that is a tragedy of historic proportions. (See Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Kinzer, and I understand from Pamela, Woodward reports the same information in State of Denial).

    My reading of Kinzer’s “Overthrow” on top of other history, is that the government of Iran elected in ’51 was not sympathetic to Communism. They weren’t sympathetic to the British taking advantage of the agreement to reimburse Iran for the oil they were taking at an agreed percentage of profits. Since the oil company had not and would not allow the Iranian government to look at their books to verify that they were paying what they owed, the new leaders said, sorry you are violating the contract and we are taking back our rights to the oil. Not acceptable to the people who had geopolitical reasons for keeping covert control of the country and it’s oil.

    J.F. Dulles was primarily responsible in creating the communist threat myth and bringing in the new CIA (headed by his brother) to bring down the PM. When the Shah turned out to be a tyrant, at least as bad as Saddam, why didn’t we get rid of him? As Kinzer says, it’s hard to wrap your mind around how different the Middle East would be today if that fledgling democracy had been nurtured 50+ years ago instead of brought down. The whole course of that region would have been vastly different.

    Poor reasoning on fighting the spread of Communism was at the base of several foreign policy mistakes we made in the last half of the century. Vietnam, Iran/Contra, Afghanistan and others. Not at all unusual in the history of geopolitical conflicts. I am interested in truly getting better at understanding and using conflict resolution without war. I look at every solution to a problem to be developed with a focus on keeping the known and unintended consequences to a minimum.

    I think we are all committed to being involved in a solution for the problem. The question is whether and how much of a role the military should play. The main Dem position is first to withdraw troops to support bases in the region with the capacity for special strike forces to go into areas that need support – to decrease the violence that is being created by their presence. What kind of violence continues – sectarian, ethnic, political, whatever- can be assessed and countered with both diplomatic and force responses. The diplomatic course has been called for from early on, including the military saying the conflict did not have a military solution. Those are the military leaders who did speak plainly and to the public.

    The assessment I keep hearing from many sides is that the military is overstretched, the situation in Afghanistan is going backwards, and we simply cannot accomplish anything from keeping our present forces there, nor do we have any capacity to realistically increase them (eg to the level we could be effective). It is time to start serious diplomacy and maintain our resolve there. The other factors that play into the regional conflicts also need to be addressed. Israel has overreacted to some situations – doing more damage in response to their losses than could be justified. We left a really bad impression by funneling billions into Israel while giving little or nothing to the poorer countries – especially Afghanistan after the Soviets left. Some of those actions may seem right because there were reasons to do them. It comes under wrong action, right reasons.

    So, my conclusions on the sacrifice of our military is not just that too many could have been prevented already, by now we should be more aggressively getting them out. If I have not made it clear, I certainly don’t hold the military leaders who did not speak up enough totally responsible by any means. I just see it as an important piece of the effort and the whole situation has become a failure equal to the worst predictions. I want to prevent every unnecessary death, injury, etc that we can. That doesn’t mean we will do that today or next week. But I want to start today or next week, so that the decrease in those statistics comes as soon as humanly possible. I expect the final loss in Iraq will be around 4000. I don’t want it to be 1 more than necessary, and I will be really furious if it is 5000 or 6000 in the end.

    You bring up something else that troubles me.

    ” As well, I don’t want to see civilian lives lost on American soil.”

    The whole idea that we should fight terrorism over there rather than here is probably my biggest disagreement with the war in Iraq. There was no way, no how Iraq had any significant role in terrorism. We took the war to them. And now their country is in ruins, hundreds of thousands are dead, millions wounded or sick due to secondary consequences of war.

    I grew up with National Geographic showing me pictures of children in other countries with big bellies from malnutrition, their lives ruined by pests and diseases we did not face, no education or work to pursue if they were healthy. I had no delusions about being better – just incredibly lucky to be born in this country to the parents I had. I have never lost the sense that I at least will try to change those circumstances – not by imposing my religion or values, but finding solutions that work for those specific groups. That as a human being I could do no less.

    I am very proud of my country in many ways. I believe that the world should maintain it’s diversity of nationalism and have no wish to see any form of world government. That does not diminish my personal sense that I am first a human being and live with almost 7 billion other humans in a finite space that we need to share, and have respect and regard for each other. To help each other however we can so we all have a chance to reach our human potential and happiness. (A long distant possibility).

    So my conclusions are a complex synthesis of history, present, future, human nature, morality, pragmatism and hope. I have a basic premise to all of them – I am not likely to be completely correct (I could be wrong to some degree), but at 54 years I know that life has shown I am ususally close to the truth if not well within it. My life is always a work in progress. For a UU, the search for truth is never ending, never suspended. Just as my bible is continuously revised and addended, my opinions are always open to reconsideration and I appreciate the conversation to fine tune them.

  26. marine one says:


    I have taken note of the titles you mention. As a favour, I ask that you also forward those titles you have “rebuked”. As a pragmatist, I will defer judgment. However, as an RN, I am sure you see everyday the difference between physicians who strictly practice medicine based on “medically-based evidence” versus those who take a “clinically based” approach. Who’s right?

    I appreciate the disclosure regarding your degrees. I was also a double major: History and Geology.
    That being said, I find a degree worthless. A degree means little to nothing in my book. It is simply a required purchase to allow easier access to higher-paying jobs. Intellectual pursuit is just that: a pursuit. Success in that endeavor is contingent upon the desire to pursue. I don’t find the media portrayal and presentation of US Foreign Policy measures to be very satisfying in that regard. Moreover, an disappointingly so, I see no public outcry for better analysis. America seems to be quite content with opinionated, misleading 30 second sound bites. But I digress…

    I could argue with you regarding your assessment of Japan, and the role the US could have played. I would encourage you to read “The Second WW in Asia” by Akira Iriye. A very balanced work.

    One comment I found interesting was:

    “In short, they (Japan) had been attacking other countries and killing people in Asia long before they attacked us. We might have interfered earlier when they attacked the other countries. We also could have used our intel better. Iraq had not attacked anyone, certainly not us.”

    Not only has Iraq (and specifically Saddam) attacked other countries (Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait), but it killed, attacked and subjugated much of its own citizenry. So, in your mind, it was okay to attack Japan (on the premise of its gains in Manchuria) but not Iraq? Should the justifiable break-point for war only be aggression against the US? Do we really want to revert to that isolationist philosophy?
    I am glad Juster’s framework provides such a clear-cut basis for determining right and wrong for you. The fault I would find in that model is that right and wrong is still left to available information, and the INTERPRETATION of facts. There is no universal truth, only perception of truth. Truth is like an onion. You keep peeling it back, until you find nothing. By the way, that isn’t my idea either. Probably a farmer with a HS diploma provided us with that little intellectual nugget.

    To clarify:

    I don’t believe historians would say that at the time, the elected government was sympathetic to communism. The coalition that initially supported Mosaddeq was splintering, and the Iranian Communist Party, the Tudeh, had become active. So Mosaddeq wasn’t sympathetic to communism, but his government was vulnerable. Given the “fever pitch” against communism of the US at the time, and the breakdown of diplomacy (initiated by Mosaddeq) between England and Iran over nationalizing oil revenues in ’52, it sealed the fate of Iran.

    Your assessment of JFD – I think very simplistic and harsh. You more or less “blame” him for reinstituting the monarchy in Iraq, and the spread of the communist “myth”. By the time Eisenhower was inaugurated, the CIA had already begun destabilization efforts in Iran. “John Foster Dulles and the Diplomacy of the Cold War” by Richard Immerman, a good factual read, with minimal op-ed. You can make your own decisions about the man with this read.

    The Shah vs. Saddam – Whether the Shah was as “bad” as Saddam is debatable. However, we tolerated Saddam for the same reason we tolerated the Shah – he was willing to work with us. It wasn’t until Sadam marched into Kuwait did we have SERIOUS issues with him. We overlooked the atrocities he committed. Since that time, he has proven himself to be vehemently anti-American: even bedding down with Islamist fundamentalists, something he would have most likely never considered before GW1.

    How would it all have turned out if Eisenhower had gone forward with his initial desire to support Mosaddeq? Who knows, we could have seen a complete breakdown, followed by the spread of communism in Iran, followed by proliferation throughout the region. What I am saying is that it could have turned out WORSE.

    I’ll stop there for now, and respond to the rest a little later.

    By the way, if you are such a Stephen Kinzer fan, try “Bitter Fruit”.