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Friday, April 02, 2004


From today's Best of the Web Today column by James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal Online, regarding Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, a/k/a "kos":

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who runs the Angry Left Daily Kos blog, had this to say in a post yesterday about the murders of four American contractors who were helping to deliver food in Fallujah, Iraq:

Every death should be on the front page.

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

Zuniga has taken down the original post, but in a new post he acknowledges it and offers a partial retraction, which essentially amounts to saying he didn't actually "feel nothing"; in fact, he was angry at the victims. Blogger Michael Friedman has a screen shot of the original post.

My email today to Mr. Zuniga:

If you were firebombed, if your charred corpse were dragged from your flaming vehicle, if what was left of you were dragged through the streets by a chanting mob, if the hulk that was left were dangled from a bridge and made the object of world media scrutiny ....

I'd still mourn your death.

That having been said, I have no illusion that you are capable of being properly shamed for, or ashamed of, your post -- since not only deleted, but supplanted by a different one at its original URL (sleazy blogging ethics!) -- regarding the four American civilians slain this week in Iraq.

I write an obscure blog that reflects my own conservative leanings.  I am proud to have regular readers whose views are consistently more liberal than mine.  I enjoy the debate with them, and respect them and their opinions.  I work as a lawyer in an small office where to the best of my knowledge, I'm the only Republican, but my discussions with co-workers about the political subjects on which we disagree are filled with mutual respect and goodwill.  Certainly we influence each other, challenge each other, broaden each others' horizons.  Smirk if you will at the cliche, but most of my best friends are liberals.

So I do not condemn you for your politics.  You're entitled, of course, to hold and publish your views about them, about the War on Terror, about the whole variety of subjects on which you write.

But I condemn you for your lack of basic human decency.

"So I struck back," you wrote in your not-quite-an-apology post.  Who were you possibly "striking back" against when you wrote of those dead Americans, "Screw them"?

Rationalizations and spin aren't appropriate for what you wrote, sir.  An expression of shame, an acceptance of guilt, a sincere statement of repentance, a promise not to sink to such a vile level in the future — these would be good places to start.

But while I might hope to see that in your postings, I frankly don't expect to see it.  You didn't "strike back," sir, you struck out.  I cannot imagine that any decent, thoughtful human being — of whatever political persuasion — could still have any respect for you.  I certainly do not.

It will be interesting to see which of the left-of-center bloggers who regularly read and link to Kos express agreement or disagreement with his position, and which just ignore it.


Update (Sat Apr 3 @ 8:40am):   Bravo to Rick Klau of TINS, a self-described "average-traffic left-of-center blog who was infuriated by kos's post":

Indifference to human life is the very thing that Kos and others have accused the Bush Administration of. Demonstrating that same indifference when fellow Americans die while doing their job is inexcusable.

Kos has established himself as a young up-and-coming voice in the Democratic party, with the ear of Terry McAuliffe and frequent interactions with the party elite. With that role comes responsibility, and in insulting the men who died doing what they were trained to do he abused that responsibility. Kos seems to resent that these men were well paid, though it’s questionable whether even $150,000 to $200,000 is enough for what they were asked to do. (Do our soldiers deserve better pay? Undoubtedly. But why conflate the issue of low combat pay with these contractors doing their job?)

Kos owes his readers and the party an apology. A real apology, not the relativist rant that tried to attach proportional value to certain people’s deaths.


Bingo.  Exactly right, and from the honorable Left.

Still waiting to hear from, oh, say Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, and my good friends at Off-the-Kuff and Burnt Orange Report, among many others.

Update (Sat Apr 3 @ 11:30am):   Mr. Zuniga's considered response to the controversy, in a new post entitled, "I took their best shot, and... that was it?":

So I said something pretty stupid last week. I served up the wingnuts a big, juicy softball. They went into a tizzy, led by Instapundit.

And for a while, I was actually pretty worried.

But the final tally was -- about 30 hate-filled emails, about 15,000 hate-filled visitors, and the pulling of three advertising spots that are going to be replaced in less than a week. (I had two emails today about people wanting to advertise despite the controversy.)

That was it. Oh, they're doing their best to turn me into the devil, and they're making racist comments about my heritage and family and threatening to kick my ass -- you know, typical right-wing s**t.

But if that's the best they can throw at me, I'll simply echo Kerry.

Bring it on.

For a while he was actually "pretty worried."  Not "pretty ashamed" or "pretty regretful."  He describes his remarks as "pretty stupid" because they were "a big, juicy softball" for "the wingnuts."  I suppose mine, reprinted above, was one of the "30 hate-filled emails."  But no worries!  His lost advertisers are soon to be replaced!

This is borderline sociopathy, friends and neighbors.  It's very, very disgusting, but ultimately very, very sad.

Update (Wed Apr 7 @ 7:30pm):  Kuff's eloquent statement, which is here, is very good.  Reading it, I'm reminded of a passage about defending friends in Lone Star Nation, the book I'm currently reading:

After a brawl in San Antonio, [James Bowie] complained that a friend had witnessed the fight without coming to his aid.  "Why, Jim," the friend said (according to the recollection of a third party), "you were in the wrong."  Bowie replied, "Don't you suppose I know that as well as you do?  That's just why I needed a friend.  If I had been in the right, I would have had plenty of them."

Mr. Zuniga is lucky to have some friends like Charles Kuffner.  I hope that when and if I ever say something as stupid as Mr. Zuniga did, and am as stubborn about it afterwards as he has been, I have a friend or two like that to speak rationally on my behalf.

Posted by Beldar at 05:05 PM in Current Affairs, Politics (2006 & earlier), Weblogs | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to "kos" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


Tracked on Apr 2, 2004 9:13:17 PM

» Will Leftists Denounce Kos? from Patterico's Pontifications

Tracked on Apr 3, 2004 12:03:21 AM


(1) Patterico made the following comment | Apr 3, 2004 2:09:36 PM | Permalink

Kevin Drum has denounced Kos. I figured he would. I disagree with him, but he is generally less wildly and blindly partisan than many of his colleagues.

(2) Kevin Whited made the following comment | Apr 4, 2004 2:24:48 PM | Permalink

Since Miss Mitakides has not pulled her ads from Kos's site, I can only assume she's in agreement. I can't seem to find a campaign site for her opponent (the incumbent Republican Congressman), but I've emailed him to ask where I might donate to his campaign. I don't think he was going to have much trouble beating her, but I still think a modest donation from me is in order. That, and Miss Mitakides lists Ann Richards as a supporter. Two cases of very bad judgment. :)

(3) nova silverpill made the following comment | Apr 5, 2004 12:35:06 AM | Permalink

what about little green footballs?

and does this really make me think that the wall street journal implicitly endorses killing 20-something peace activists from washington?

see how specious your argument is, mr. whited?

probably not. but if blinders don't work, you can always count on faith in the blind themselves to pull you through.

(4) kevin whited made the following comment | Apr 5, 2004 7:50:40 AM | Permalink

Apparently, the political candidates who HAVE pulled their ads don't find that line of thought (it's not an argument) specious at all. Maybe you should ask Martin Frost if he thinks it's specious -- he's an endangered Dem in Texas, and realizes that ill-advised associations with fringe leftists isn't going to win a tough race for him.

Mitakides advertises on Kos and proudly accepts his endorsement. Great. Her opponent ought to put that to good use. There was little chance of her unseating an incumbent Republican in that seat anyway. This hurts those chances.

You're wearing the blinders, silverpill, if you can't see that NO sensible political candidate running in a swing district would want to be associated with Kos's comment. Perhaps you're too emotionally close to the topic to be objective? Sometimes, it's hard for partisan extremists on both sides to accept when majorities don't find their partisan fringe rants compelling (or, in cases like this, find them to be beyond the pale).

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 5, 2004 8:41:31 AM | Permalink

I believe that in addition to the Kerry campaign pulling the link to dKos off their website, four-for-four of the Democratic candidates who'd advertised on dKos have pulled their ads now. From an email I received late yesterday afternoon from Jane Mitakides' campaign, in reply to the email I'd sent Friday:

Thank you to all who have contacted us to alert us to the unfortunate statements made on The Daily Kos regarding the deaths of the American contractors in Iraq.

Many of you know that I come from a family with deep military roots, and I have been dedicated to supporting our troops and our veterans my entire life. I also believe that whenever a life is lost to violence… American or Bosnian, Somalian or Hutu, Palestinian, Israeli or Iraqi… mankind is diminished.

We have made the decision to remove our advertising from that website, to assure that there is no confusion about my position on this matter. But I want to be clear on one point: this decision is not because of any "pressure" I have received. It is a personal decision, and one I have not made lightly.

In the past, Kos has provided a valuable forum for Democrats, for the sharing of issues and information, and I believe "blogs" such as these will continue become a real force in political communications.

Again, thank you for your e-mail, and for your interest in this very important race.


Jane Mitakides

(6) Kevin Whited made the following comment | Apr 5, 2004 10:21:50 AM | Permalink

Yep, I see the Mitakides ad has been pulled -- she has that same statement on her website now.

Her opponent is probably still worth supporting. :)

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