Friday, May 20, 2005

Dahr Jamail, Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Alexander Cockburn

Dahr Jamail has another article up at Iraq Dispatches:

Living with her aunt and cousin, she had to work since she was the sole supporter.
"We needed many things, so I wanted the job," she says softly, "Many people were working with the Americans so I felt it would be ok."
But the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had long since warned Iraqis of collaborating with the occupiers, and said they would not allow anyone to do so. The situation in her area degraded enough for her bosses to tell her to stay home for two weeks.
"After this, I went back to work because my bosses told me the security was better," she adds, "But after I'd been back to work one week, at 7:30am I was waiting for a taxi as I always did to go to my job, and I felt as if I was thrown to the ground but I felt nothing else. My bosses had told me it was secure now."
After a short time someone came up and held her hand.
"I asked him why he did this to me, and he told me he didn't do it and he would take me to the hospital."
She asked him if she was going to die. Two bullets passed through her head, taking her eyesight before exiting.
"He took me to the hospital in Hilla," she explains softly, "And when I was there I told people I worked for KBR. Someone at KBR told the people at the hospital they would come to visit me."
But they never came.
After being transferred to two more hospitals in Baghdad, there was still no word from them.
"But then Mr. Jeff called by his translator after I was in Baghdad for 45 days, and Mr. Jeff told the hospital worker that I was in a hospital inside the Green Zone," she tells me before holding out her hands as if to ask why. She raises her voice for the first time, "But I was not in the Green Zone!"

The article is entitled "Many people were working with the Americans, so I felt it would be ok."

Moving to Bob Somerby's Daily Howler today, he's addressing the "p"s and "q"s proposal offered by a self-styled Miss Manners:

BLOGGER PANGLOSS: As we have often noted, we read Kevin Drum every day, and we do so for a very good reason-- we visit his site expecting to learn things, and we’re rarely disappointed. But we do think Drum has an odd perspective on the functioning of the mainstream press. Yesterday, he penned a piece you ought to read, in which he cautions lefty bloggers against bashing the New York Times too hard. The right wing is trying to destroy the mainstream media, he warns. And then, he offers his nuggets:
DRUM (5/19/05): Given all this, liberals should think very hard before joining the media bashing crusade too eagerly. Sure, the New York Times employs Judith Miller, and the pressure of daily deadlines promotes too much lazy he-said/she-said reporting on their pages, but guess what? It's still the best newspaper in the world, bar none. If you really believe the Times is a piece of crap, your problem is not with the Times, it's with the current state of the art in human perfectibility.
None of this means newspapers shouldn't be criticized. But endless broad brush howling does nothing except enable the right wing's agenda, regardless of what the howling is aimed at. If liberal bloggers were wiser, we'd spend a little more time praising our big national newspapers and a little less time shaking our fists over the fact that sometimes they aren't on our side. Our real opposition is the right wing press destruction machine, not the press itself.
Yes, we agree-- it's nice to be nice. But as a general view of the state of the media, this strikes us as screaming nonsense. Indeed, we think this view is so odd, it's hard to know where to begin.
Let’s personalize this as much as possible. If Drum really means what he says, we at THE HOWLER have only been "enabling the right wing’s agenda" by our foolish "broad brush howling" over the past seven years. The years of time we devoted to detailing the coverage of Clinton and Gore? Crazy! In fact, when we developed the detailed information about what we've called The War Against Gore, we were actually "doing nothing except enabling the right wing's agenda!" And presumably, others have made the same dumb mistake; for example, when Gene Lyons wrote Fools for Scandal, he was surely doing the work of the right-wing destruction machine as well. Yep! When Lyons presented the startling details about the way the New York Times invented the Whitewater hoax, he was making a big mistake. Instead, he should have "spent a little more time praising the Times" for its marvelous work-- perhaps for spelling the word "Whitewater" right, or for failing to run with the claim that Clinton was behind all those murders. When Lyons showed Whitewater was a big hoax, he was doing the right wing’s work for it.

No offense to Drum (or at least none personally) but, at this site, we've stated repeatedly that people need to speak in their own voices. That includes phrases and ways of speaking (and we touched on that again last night in the interview with Ruth). If Drum's advice speaks to you, by all means follow it. We've also (members and myself) dealt with how damaging the "mind your manners" nonsense can be.

There are two Howlers today. There was a Daily Howler intended for Thursday that's now up (and I have no idea when it went up -- it says Thursday but Dallas e-mailed me and he checked this morning). He's addressing the Newsweek controversy and he finds some use for David Brooks but has some criticism of Katrina vanden Heuvel (see note after excerpt):

And, yes, Brooks is also right about his conservative colleagues. "Many of my friends on the right have decided that the Newsweek episode exposes the rotten core of the liberal media," he writes. "Excuse me, guys, but this is craziness." What a shame it took a conservative pundit to state a couple of obvious facts: "The people who run Newsweek are not a bunch of Noam Chomskys with laptops. Not even close. Whatever might have been the cause of their mistakes, liberalism had nothing to do with it." We don't necessarily agree with every particle of that last statement. But no--the perfumed poodles running Newsweek are not a bunch of crazy liberals. They proved this, over and over again, in their wars against Clinton, then Gore. But it's amazing how hard it is to get our fiery "liberal spokesmen" to say this. They have decided to "get over" those recent wars--wars which their fiery "liberal" publications all agreed to ignore in real time.
And sadly, yes, one more thing is true--Brooks is also reasonably accurate in his comments about big progressives. Yes, there's a bit of hyperbole mixed in with the irony. But sadly, not all that much:
BROOKS (5/19/05): Meanwhile, the left side of the blogosphere has erupted with fury over the possibility that American interrogators might not have flushed a Koran down the toilet. The Nation and leftish Web sites are in a frenzy to prove that the story is probably true even if Newsweek is retracting it.
Yes, there's a bit of hyperbole there. But we watched the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel
as she played some Hardball Monday night. And yes, we saw precisely what Brooks describes. To our eye and ear, vanden Heuvel did seem to be insisting that the toilet tale was "probably true." Vanden Heuvel has no earthly way of knowing whether the incident happened. But so what? "The allegations have been out there in terms of reporting," she pleadingly said:
VANDEN HEUVEL (5/16/05): I think Newsweek made an error. But the debate, it seems to me, has been very narrow in its fixation on this issue of single sourcing, of anonymous sourcing, because, you know, the allegations of the desecration of the Koran have been out there in terms of reporting, whether in The New York Times, in The Washington Post, in the BBC, detainees who come out of Guantanamo or Bagram in Afghanistan--
MATTHEWS: Right. But the story says--this is very important that I get this straight on my television--
VANDEN HEUVEL: But these are sources--
MATTHEWS: No. I want to make this very clear, what you just said, and I want to clarify it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, but these are--

Please note, we support Katrina vanden Heuvel as a community. We also support Bob Somerby. We highlight The Daily Howler pretty much daily and will continue to do so.
If the criticism speaks to you, note it, if it doesn't, let it go.

At Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel is addressing the CPC:

If you don't know much about the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), you should. With 50-plus members, it's the single largest caucus in the House, and according to a study by Chris Bowers of MyDD, by far the most loyal to core Democratic values.
At a time in which too many Dems have lost their way (read: spine), CPC members--from co-chairs Barbara Lee (CA) and Lynn Woolsey (CA) to outspoken figures like founder (and Senate hopeful) Bernie Sanders (VT), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Jan Schakowsky (IL), John Conyers (MI), Maurice Hinchey (NY) and Barney Frank (MA)--continue to fight for working Americans,
stand against the war, and discuss honorable ways out of Iraq. This week, Lee and Woolsey took a significant step towards strengthening the CPC, hiring grassroots organizer, former AFL-CIO staffer, and Capitol Hill veteran Bill Goold as its first full-time staffer. "There are a growing number of people who are getting involved with politics because they are drawn to the basic principles of fairness and justice that the Progressive Caucus has long represented in Congress," said Lee. "Adding a staff member of Bill's experience will allow the Progressive Caucus to more effectively continue our commitment to these principles."

We'll also note Alexendar Cockburn's latest column both because it's on the New York Times and because he comes up in the Thursday-intended Daily Howler:

Sign here to become a member of the 14 Per Cent Club. Twenty bucks plus shipping and handling gets you the t-shirt. Credentials for membership derive from a recent study from the Pew Research Center disclosing, in the words of Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on May 9, that a recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Americans believe little or nothing of what they read in their daily newspapers.
When specific newspapers were mentioned, The Times fared about average, with 21 percent of readers believing all or most of what they read in The Times and 14 percent believing almost nothing. Chalk up another victory for the left. We're been at it for thirty years at least, saying that most things in the Times are distortions of reality or outright lies and here is a robust slice of the American people agreeing with us. Of course the faint hearts who believe that the left can never win anything will say that the credit should go to moles at the New York Times, boring from within, hollowing out the mighty edifice with year upon year of willful falsehoods until at last the whole ponderous structure is crumbling into dust crushing all within.
True to a point.
Heroic moles, entombed in the rubble of your own making, Judith Miller and all the others, back through to the suzerain of sappers, A.M. Rosenthal, we salute you all! As with any empire on the brink of collapse, frantic commands are issuing from the command bunker. Seelye divulges the program of proposed "reform" devised by the editors. "Encourage reporters to confirm the accuracy of articles with sources before publication and to solicit feedback from sources after publication. Set up an error-tracking system to detect patterns and trends. Encourage the development of software to detect plagiarism when accusations arise. Increase coverage of middle America, rural areas and religion. Establish a system for evaluating public attacks on The Times's work and determining whether and how to respond."

Three voices members value, Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Alexander Cockburn. (Four counting Dahr Jamail.)

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