You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

October 25, 2007

More Things To Do

• Many thanks to Nell for pointing out MoveOn sent out an alert yesterday saying they indeed ARE organizing against war with Iran. The entire email is below the fold, but here's what they're talking about:

We're proposing a major campaign to prevent another war. We'll put retired generals on tour to convince political leaders and editorial boards that this war would be a disaster. We'll run ads challenging the Administration. And we'll press Congress to stand up to Bush.

You can donate money for the campaign here. (And don't forget to send money to Just Foreign Policy.)

• Write and call your senators to tell them to sustain Dodd's possible filibuster against telecom immunity on FISA violations. The ACLU has set up a page here.

Then, sign the Open Left letter to Harry Reid.

COMING UP: I tell you what kind of toothpaste to buy. Then, shoelaces. Soon you will need to make no decisions of any kind, and we will all move together en masse to Guyana.

• • •


Dear MoveOn member,

To be honest, I don't even like to think about the possibility of war with Iran. But here's the unfortunate truth—plans for an aerial attack have been drawn up.1 There's nothing stopping Bush from launching that attack any day. And right now the progressive movement's main strategy for preventing it is simply to hope that it doesn't happen.

To paraphrase my ninth-grade sex-ed teacher, "Hope is not a method." We need to do something. There are increasing indications that war with Iran may be imminent. And experts agree it would be a catastrophe.

So today we're proposing a major campaign to expose the danger of a new war with Iran (see below for details). It'll cost about $200,000, and if we can raise the money, we'll start today. Can you chip in $50?

Donate here

War would be a disaster. Military officials who've gamed-out a war with Iran say it's a very, very bad idea. "Iran would hit back against US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and activate terrorist allies in the Middle East, further destabilizing a region already struggling with two major wars."2 US troops in the region, Israelis and American civilians abroad and at home would all be at risk.

And it's a real possibility. For months, there's been a stream of leaks and revelations by former Bush administration officials that paint a scary picture: Vice President Cheney and the neocons are quietly maneuvering us toward war with Iran—just as they did with Iraq.3,4

Now, the New York Times reports that Freedom's Watch, a $200 million propaganda machine headed by former White House insiders, has started to press for an attack.5,6 And this past week, Bush and Cheney upped the ante with aggressive statements, even invoking the specter of "World War III."7

Observers across the political spectrum, from Senator John McCain to former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, say the threat is closer than it appears.8,9 And it's never a good idea to underestimate this president's capacity for recklessness.

We can't run the risk that they're crazy enough to do it. That's why it's so important that we make sure policymakers understand the cost of war, and we pressure Congress not to roll over on Iran. If we can raise the money today, here's what we'll do:

A number of top retired generals and military experts are willing to say publicly that attacking Iran would be a strategic disaster. We'll put them on tour to speak to political leaders, editorial boards and big audiences.

We'll run ads challenging the Bush administration and key presidential candidates—and remind people that the last time we heard many of these phony arguments was in the lead-up to war with Iraq.
We'll commission polling to show wavering politicians that if they stand up against war with Iran, the public will stand with them.

We'll run a major grassroots campaign urging Congress to confront the administration on Iran.
None of us know how likely a strike against Iran really is. But I'm going to do more than just hope it doesn't happen. The signs and signals have become too glaring. We have to act.

Please join in launching this campaign:

Donate here

There have been a few leaders and organizations within the progressive movement who've consistently sounded the alarm on this issue. Now it's time for the rest of us to join them.

Thanks for all you do,

–Ilyse, Justin, Marika, Matt, and the Political Action Team
Wednesday, October 24th, 2007


1. "Shifting Targets: The Administration's plan for Iran," The New Yorker, October 8, 2007.

2. "Cheney Targets Iran," Rolling Stone, October 18, 2007.

3. "The Redirection," The New Yorker, March 5, 2007.

4. "The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know," Esquire, October 18, 2007.

5. "Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group," New York Times, September 30, 2007.

6. "Freedom's Watch targeting Iran," Media Transparency, October 17, 2007.

7. "Nuclear-Armed Iran Risks World War, Bush Says," New York Times, October 18, 2007.

8. "Cheney Targets Iran," Rolling Stone, October 18, 2007.

9. Video clip of Sen. McCain in Republican Debate. October 9, 2007.

Posted at October 25, 2007 04:43 PM | TrackBack

Knotts Shoelaces.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 25, 2007 05:04 PM

A guy on YouTube telling students that voting won't do any good? That could be me. I tell people, including students, all the time that voting won't do any good. I didn't know I was being videotaped. Do I get royalties?

Posted by: SteveB at October 25, 2007 10:50 PM

Which toothpaste makes freedom taste great?

Posted by: patience at October 25, 2007 11:00 PM

If it's in shoelaces, it's in Knotts. Knotts Shoelaces, Folks.
(1-202-225-0100 DEMAND IMPEACHMENT)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 26, 2007 12:10 AM

patience: I'm guessing Sensodyne.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 26, 2007 12:13 AM

Well, hunters use Aim toothpaste and censors drink Yuban coffee but I can’t begin to guess which toothpaste makes freedom taste great. Perhaps Euthymol?

Posted by: rob payne at October 26, 2007 02:29 AM

Ok, what good does voting do?

I mean, if you're not from Iowa or New Hampshire, why does voting matter? I remember wanting to vote in early March of 2004 in the (super Tuesday)Texas primary, which is traditionally one of the earlier primaries-- but even then it was apparent that Kerry was rolling all over everybody else in one primary after another.

He wasn't my choice, not even my second or third choice, but what was the point in voting? Just to prevent him winning the Texas primary by over 60 percent? We appear to have a similar situation rapidly gelling for 2008, with the single Democratic aspirant whose ideologically the most like Nixon having it wrapped up.

And no, I don't find it inspiring that she's a broad. Apparently feminism means you can be a woman and an oligarch at the same time.

Posted by: jonathan versen at October 26, 2007 02:32 AM

Retired generals. Advertisements. Pressure on Congress.

OK, I made it to the wastebasket in time so the carpet isn't soiled.

When is someone going to call for actual public-participation direct action? You could get fifty million people on the streets against this, after what happened in Iraq. What exactly are the Democrats playing at? Or are they, as I hear increasingly on the Web, just sock-puppets for Bush's backers, pretending that there is still an elected political opposition?

Posted by: MFB at October 26, 2007 02:59 AM

Viva la Insurgency!!

Posted by: desaparecido at October 26, 2007 08:34 AM


Posted by: hapa at October 26, 2007 09:27 AM

it turns out that the most economical toothpaste brand available in the stores i shop in is one that was advertised during my childhood (and that was way back there in the 20th century) with the jingle

you'll wonder where the yellow went
when you brush your teeth with _________

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at October 26, 2007 09:54 AM

MFB: As one of the public, TAKE DIRECT ACTION. Use YOUR personal phone( or any other) and call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT. PARTICIPATE DIRECTLY IN YOUR GOVERNMENT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 26, 2007 12:51 PM

You could get fifty million people on the streets against this...

Please remind me: why do people go out in the streets to protest? Is it merely to express their anger, or is it because they actually think protest might make a difference?

The "protest as a form of self expression" crowd has been pretty much tapped out, so if you want to reach the rest of us, it might be good to present some evidence, or at least some kind of logical argument, that protest is effective.

Posted by: SteveB at October 26, 2007 01:34 PM

seriously? you'd throw out an argument because its advocates' strategy was ineffective? are we all supposed to hide from the cameras, forever and ever, because telegenic = correct?

last time there was a big march, i brought with me a handful of copies of an important new document about global warming planning in washington — a leaked pentagon study — very strong evidence that our militaristic energy plan was made of horse manure — gave them to a media person and other folk. did it make a difference? probably not. but when else do you have contact with people, that you can talk about things like that without endangering your economic life?

it's not the fault of people who march that elections are locked in, or that media's locked in, or that your great idea is only as good as the polls say it is. or that anti-militarism is a headless body. those are features of a destroyed political landscape. physical involvement in politics is how you fix that.

Posted by: hapa at October 26, 2007 03:19 PM

If you go back and reread my comment, you might notice that I wasn't arguing against marching; I was arguing against the notion that merely because people oppose what the government is doing, they will march.

Some people, of course, will come out in the streets in protest if the US attacks Iran (me included). Many more people will stay home. Don't you think it's useful to think about why all those people stay home?

Here's my theory: the antiwar movement is not able to offer any evidence, or even a plausible argument, that protest makes a difference. Until we can, most folks will choose to sit it out.

Maybe if you can flesh out "physical involvement in politics is how you fix that", you might have the beginnings of a persuasive argument for marching. I honestly wish you luck with that.

Posted by: SteveB at October 26, 2007 04:24 PM

hapa said,

it's not the fault of people who march that elections are locked in, or that media's locked in, or that your great idea is only as good as the polls say it is. or that anti-militarism is a headless body. those are features of a destroyed political landscape.

steveb said,

Some people, of course, will come out in the streets in protest if the US attacks Iran (me included). Many more people will stay home. Don't you think it's useful to think about why all those people stay home?

which looks like a feeback loop.

Posted by: hapa at October 26, 2007 05:49 PM

sb: i have a longer answer in mind but no time right now. in terms of haven't these functions been accomplished, though, would you say that everybody who watched the first two world series games this week, watched them together? did everyone "watching at home" get the same sense of time and place and focus as people in the stands?

Posted by: hapa at October 26, 2007 08:38 PM

This insultingly symbolic and transparently pandering gesture by Dick Durbin is a response to MoveOn's stirrings on the issue (and to the non-Clinton presidential candidates' shredding of her Kyl-Lieberman vote):

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin introduced legislation Thursday that would require Bush to seek Congress' blessing before taking any military action in Iran.
Standing behind him are liberal anti-war groups, which have expanded their focus on Iraq to include a drumbeat of protests against a potential war with neighboring Iran.


"Standing behind him," my ass. Durbin attaches a nonbinding amendment to an Amtrak bill*, with no notice to anyone, while Jim Webb's much stronger bill hasn't had hearings or a vote in the six months since it was introduced? Durbin didn't do this in coordination with any antiwar groups, he did it to cover his rear end for having voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment.

*S.AMDT.3462 to S.294 (A bill to reauthorize Amtrak):
The Senate hereby affirms that—
(1) Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution
of the United States vests in Congress all
power to declare war; and
(2) any offensive military action taken by
the United States against Iran must be explicitly
approved by Congress before such action may be initiated.

Posted by: Nell at October 28, 2007 04:29 PM