Thursday, February 15, 2007

Uh, we got a little problem here. Yeah (Updated)

Seems you totally fabricated that Lincoln quote. Yeah.

Glenn Greenwald: (subscription required)

Frank Gaffney, one of the country's most influential and well-connected neoconservatives, has a column in today's Washington Times in which he argues that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason. Gaffney specifically argues that the condemnations of Douglas Feith from Levin "really should be a hanging offense."

Gaffney begins his column by purporting to quote Abraham Lincoln. Gaffney claims that Lincoln said:

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.

This quote has become a favorite weapon for those who want to criminalize criticism of the Leader and the War. Jack Murtha's opponent in the last election, Diana Irey, cited this quote while discussing Murtha's opposition to the war.

But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This "quote" was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits, the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to (h/t William Wolfrum):

The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.

It was Waller, in The Washington Times' Insight Magazine, urging that anti-war Congressmen be hanged -- not Abraham Lincoln. But to justify their plainly un-American assault on our most basic constitutional liberties, neoconservatives like Gaffney simply invent quotes, attribute them to Abraham Lincoln, and continue to use them long after they have been debunked.


UPDATE III: It is notable that the Gaffney Op-Ed still remains unchanged, with no retraction or acknowledgment of error. It seems highly likely (though admittedly not definite) that The Washington Times is now aware of the fictitious nature of the Lincoln quote. Multiple readers here have indicated that they sent e-mails to the Times. I also called the Times and left a voice mail message (a couple of hours ago) for Commentary Page Editor Mary Lou Forbes, detailing the error and directing her to this post as well other sources for finding the proof that the quote is fake. And yet, the quote remains.

UPDATE IV: I spoke with Mary Lou Forbes, the Commentary Page Editor of the Times, who said that she contacted Gaffney about the e-mails she received and that he has now confirmed that the quote is fictitious. Forbes said Gaffney intends to "run a correction at the bottom of his next column."

When I pointed out that this did not really seem to be a sufficient correction, and suggested that they ought at least to append a correction to the top of the online version, she said that she had not thought of that -- pointing out that she was "an old print journalist" -- but said that perhaps it was a good idea and that they might do that.


Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Yeah. We'll get right on that. Yeah, our columnist lied through his keyboard and we haven't corrected it. But there's really no problem. Yeah.


Update: the link to the inflammatory Gaffney "column" is now directing web surfers to an equally proposterous but older Gaffney column from February 6, but his most recent column leading with the bogus Abe Lincoln quote isn't showing up. Don't know if it has just been moved or if rather than correcting the record the paper's website has just decided to delete the stupid thing altogether.

"Weak is as weak does"

At TAPPED Tom Schaller says

One more, non-Post observation: Peter Beinart makes an interesting case that weakness (thought of in the sense of the most basic stereotypical gender norms) is, ironically, more of an asset today than it was back in 2002. Still, weakness is as weakness does. And the 2002 war vote, instead of making her look tough on defense, makes Hillary look like somebody too weak to stand up to a president and, thus, perhaps, too weak to be one. [emphasis mine-SJB)

I don't think the issue of "weakness" and the 2002 Iraq war vote was a matter of not being able to stand up to the president.

The issue was the member's voting calculation in light of media pressure and their own presidential ambitions amidst a time of fear and war-mongering. To the extent a Senate member's "yes" vote on the war was driven more by these calculations than their own independent judgment, then that member in my view demonstrated a profound "weakness" in their vote.

Tim "I Hate Gay People" Hardaway: Just Shut Up

Well, maybe he doesn't really 'hate' gay people. Maybe he meant to say he 'hates' the sin but not the sinner.

Listening to his remarks on ESPN's Mike and Mike this morning I first thought the person speaking was mimicking what a person who hates gays would say; It sounded like a caricature of someone speaking, not the real comments of a sane, humane person.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Our Media Stenographers

I was milling around on the Internets last night when a headline scrolled across the top of my screen that said something like "Ant-American Cleric Flees to Iran". When I clicked on the link, the story told me that the "anti-American cleric" in question was Al-Sadr, one of the most influential Shiite leaders in Iraq.

Wow, I thought, this has to be considered good news, right? Highly interested in this development, I surfed the liberal swamp of dirty, commie hippy web-blogs for further info but no one had anything to say yet, given how recent the story appeared to be. Even Juan Cole hadn't reported or analyzed this report yet.

Then this morning I see a headline that provides a twist to last night's original account. Now the headline was saying that the U.S. military was asserting that Al-Sadr had indeed fled to Iran even though there were now some counter-reports disputing this claim.


And then I turn to Juan Cole who had by this time gotten on the story.

And it seems that, with a little depth of investigating, things may be a little more complicated than they at first appeared:

This USG report about Muqtada broke after midnight Baghdad time, so there has not been time for the Arabic or Persian press to react. I'll know more Thursday morning.

Sadr aides denied to the LA Times that Muqtada is in Iran, saying he is in hiding in Iraq.

Some are taking exception to the word "fled."

The press record I assembled, below, does not support Muqtada's disappearance to Iran. It is possible but not likely that Muqtada would go to Iran. He and his family have endlessly made fun of the al-Hakim clerical leaders for fleeing to Iran to escape persecution by Saddam Hussein, when the al-Sadrs insisted on staying in Iraq. Muqtada's father was killed in 1999 by Saddam's agents because he stayed and gave defiant sermons. So it would be a lot of crow to eat for Muqtada to go to Iran to escape the Americans. Plus, there is nothing in the Iranian press about him showing up in Qom, and an Iranian diplomat denied the story. Without more and better evidence, this account strikes me as suspect, and I would guess that if Muqtada disappeared, it is inside Iraq.

It might be useful to construct a timeline for Muqtada's recent activities.

Read the whole thing.

Aren't you glad there are people besides the Very Serious People in our Media Elite to evaluate this kind of stuff?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Off to a Good Start

So Obama went live this weekend, with thousands of Illini and other fans and interested observers packing the Illinois state-house lawn in Springfield in single-digit weather to hear the first-term Senator launch his bid for the WH.

And to cap it all off, it appears Obama has signed on Australian PM John Howard to support his campaign. How else to explain this perfect set-up? (h/t Atrios)

Senator Obama, who is aiming to become the first black US president, has introduced a bill to remove US combat forces from Iraq by March 31 next year.

But the legislation has virtually no chance of becoming law while George W. Bush is president, and the presidential election is not until November 2008.

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard blasted Senator Obama's policy on the Iraq war and said al-Qaeda would "be praying as many times as possible for a victory for not only Obama but also for the Democrats".

And just so you don't think Obama's all bland platitudes and bipartisanship, he took the opportunity provided by Howard's challenge to layeth the smacketh down, the Chicago Way:

"If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home," [Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs] said. "It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

Damn. Wonder how much the Obama campaign paid Howard to serve up that softball.


Bring it on.