• Marccooper5_1

Back To Home Page

« Dumsfeld | Main | Take Jane and George (Please) »

Saturday, August 27, 2005


jim hitchcock

I had cause to dig out Gumbel's excellent work on the 2000 Florida vote the other day (trying to remember the name of the infamous Choice Point, dont'cha know), and I'm now reading the tail end of Michener's Texas, which as a subplot sheds a little light on the chicanery involved in statewide elections early last century, so having this interview pop up seems like one of those happy coincidences. Gumbel is a great interview.

Most interesting is the part about how the two parties really have no interest in increasing voter participation beyond what they now control, less they lose control. Gumbel does say that both parties are now dipping into the 100 million or so of eligible voters who do not vote, "though gingerly...".


Fascinating show, Marc. Listened to it last night. I’d been curious about Andrew’s book and the interview assuredly convinced me to buy it. He's such a smart, good guy. I hope it gets more play. Aside from the pre and post election “mischief,” as he puts it, that had a significant effect on 2000 and 2004 presidential elections (and many of us suspect, a deciding effect in the case of 2000 at the very least, and possibly 2004), reading statements like the one below by Gumbel should be giving all of us the vapors, Dem and Repub alike:

“…. The mess that is Florida nevertheless came as a profound shock to a group of international election monitors who toured the state [in September 2004]. Dr Brigalia Bam, who chairs South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission, was stunned by the patchwork of jurisdictions, rules and anomalies. ‘Absolutely everything is a violation,’ she said. ‘All these different systems in different counties with no accountability... It's like the poorest village in Africa.’…”


Totally OT, but lowly comedian Jon Stewart gave Internationalist Literary-Political Genius and Fearless Freedom Fighter Christopher Hitchens a drubbing the other night, leaving the Great Man sputtering and (nearly) speechless. It was as beautiful demonstration of elegant disdain borne of ideological certitude getting trounced by, with all respect to Stewart, the more plebian virtue of common sense derived from actually paying attention to what the hell's been going on. Stewart was especially dead-on in response to CH's glib bullshit about war critics believing that "It's all our fault" and wanting to capitulate to terrorists.

A taste of the finale, but ya gotta watch the whole thing:

Stewart: The people who say we shouldn't fight in Iraq aren't saying (terrorism's) our fault. . . That is the conflation that is the most disturbing. . .

Hitchens: Don't you hear people saying. . .

Stewart: You hear people saying a lot of stupid [bleep]. . . But there are reasonable disagreements in this country about the way this war has been conducted, that has nothing to do with people believing we should cut and run from the terrorists, or we should show weakness in the face of terrorism, or that we believe that we have in some way brought this upon ourselves. . .

(Hitchens fumbles for words, momentarily forgetting that when argument fails adversaries can often be disarmed by thrusting the Kurdish flag lapel pin in their face !!!)

Stewart continues: They believe that this war is being conducted without transparency, without credibility, and without competence...

Hitchens: I'm sorry, sunshine... I just watched you ridicule the president for saying he wouldn't give. . .

Stewart: No, you misunderstood why. . . . That's not why I ridiculed the president. He refuses to answer questions from adults as though we were adults and falls back upon platitudes and phrases and talking points that does a disservice to the goals that he himself shares with the very people needs to convince.

(Wild applause, to Hitchen's consternation.)

Hitchens: You want me to believe you're really secretly on the side of the Bush administration. . .

Stewart: I secretly need to believe he's on my side. He's too important and powerful a man not to be.

Last word. The Great Man had no response to this. Nada. A few pleasantries about Hitchens' Latest Literary Product and Stewart generously prompted a round of mercy applause for Freedom's Friend as he wandered off the set (no doubt resolving to add a "Support The Troops" refrigerator magnet to his aresenal of hawkish talismans just in case - you know - he runs up against any others like Stewart who are not intimidated by his Legendary Acerbic Wit and Combative Intelligence.)

The video is up at The Daily Show site and there's a QT version at Crooks & Liars (scroll down).


Saw it too. Thought it was great television.

I was glad to see, however, that Hitchens looked better---meaning physically healthier than when I last glimpsed him doing the talking head thang.

(Favorite peculiar moment: "I'm sorry sunshine...." Wait a minute. Did Christopher Hitchens just call Jon Stewart "sunshine???" Oh, no he di'n't!)

richard lo cicero

The Left Blogisphere has been abuzz over "Comrade" Hitchens getting a new one cut by Jon Stewart the other night. But why is the host of a comedy show doing the best political commentary on the tube?

And would any of you out there care to guess how last fall's election would come out today? I thought "buyer's remorse" would set in but never this quickly.

jim hitchcock

A little light reading while waiting for the Cooperator jawing 'bout the Governator...

When Dinosaurs Roamed The Earth:


jim hitchcock

Good interview. Marc covered the questions well, and hardly looked nervous at all!

(Well, except for the rocking back and forth...:) )

Michael Turner

"But why is the host of a comedy show doing the best political commentary on the tube?"

If Iraq is some kind of Vietnam Redux, it must be remembered that history repeats itself, first time as a tragedy, second time as a farce. So of COURSE a comedian is doing the best political commentary this time around. It really takes a Jon Stewart, exquisitely attuned to the ironies that make for such great political humor, to comment with the required gravity, but without the false gravitas.

I can hardly claim ownership of this meme -- I googled on "first tragedy second farce" to try to find the exact quote, then after giving up, added the word "Iraq." The first search yielded 172,000 hits. The second revealed that nearly a fifth of these referenced the war.

Here's a good one from the first page of results:


"Why farce? Consider the devil-may-care insouciance of Donald Rumsfeld, who has never been anywhere near a war, but nevertheless overruled the military professionals on the force requirements for the war. Consider the idiotic reliance of the babe-in-the-woods neocons on world-class hustler Ahmed Chalabi. Consider the daft aircraft-carrier landing of the flight-suited National Guard deserter George Bush to announce "Mission Accomplished". Consider the clueless twenty-something Heritage Foundation interns put in charge of running the Coalition Provisional Authority. Consider CPA boss Paul Bremer handing over "sovereignty" and skedaddling out of Baghdad two days early. Consider Halliburton, Bechtel, et al getting billions to perform a reconstruction that has yet to begin after a year and a half."

It's so true. Try to imagine Robert Macnamara saying something like "Heavens to Betsy, did I think it was going to be easy? No! Did I think we could do it? Yes!"

Vietnam gave us some pretty bizarre figures, but I wonder who its Ahmed Chalabi was? It would have to have been someone with a PhD in abstract math or quantum physics from a major American university, who turned his quant-jock skills to tanking the currency of some small nation, despite being hobbled in such endeavors by a "tell" about when he was lying that amounted to determining little more than whether he was conscious and breathing.

Henry Cabot Lodge hastily exiting Saigon with a "bye, you're a free country now, thanks for all the great spring rolls"? Can't picture it.

Nixon, LBJ, even JFK doing a carrier landing and posing in a flight suit? Admit it: You just can't picture it, can you? (Somehow, though, you CAN picture George Sr.'s handlers pitching an idea like that, after Gulf War I, and him responding, "But that's ... puerile and inane!") How inured to idiocy we've become.

And for all I know, American companies building infrastructure in Vietnam left a whole bunch of sturdy structures built practically overnight that Vietnamese are still using today.

(The tragedy/farce thing is from Marx, it turns out.)


"Vietnam gave us some pretty bizarre figures, but I wonder who its Ahmed Chalabi was? It would have to have been someone with a PhD in abstract math or quantum physics from a major American university..."

Here's the seminal article on that question: http://www.cia-on-campus.org/msu.edu/msu.html

Jeremy A. Verdusco

Mr. Cooper,

I recently found discovered your writing through "Roll Over Che Guevara." Great book. That led me to your Web site, which also contains good, clever prose. My one criticism: Please do your readers a favor and redesign your site to exclude the frame at the top. It makes navigation more difficult than it ever needs to be.

Other than that, keep it up.

The comments to this entry are closed.