Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Democracy Now: Doug Ireland, Joe Shirley, Early Tully; Bob Somerby, Ruth Conniff, Matthew Rothschild

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")

Headlines for May 31, 2005
- 8 U.S. & Italian Soldiers Killed In Aircraft Crashes
- Gen. Myers: Guantanamo Bay is a "Model Facility"
- Cheney "Offended" By Criticism of Guantanamo
- Demonstrators Interrupt Rice Speech in San Francisco
- CIA Creates Front Groups to Fly Suspects Around the World
- U.S. General Demoted For Warning of Overstretched Military
- Israel's Mr. TV Criticizes Occupation of West Bank & Gaza
- U.S. Refuses To Extradie Luis Posada Carriles
- Wages Fall But Number of Millionaire Homes Soars

NEW FEATURE: Democracy Now! is now offering the program's daily news summary translated into Spanish. Los Titulares de Hoy

De Villepin the Wiretapper: Chirac Names New Prime Minister Following Defeat Over EU Constitution
French President Jacques Chirac has named Dominique de Villepin as prime minister following the government defeat in Sunday's vote on the European Union Constitution. We speak with journalist Doug Ireland who says, "[Villepin] is a very traditional defender of French national interests and indeed prerogatives in its former colonial empire." [includes rush transcript]

Gay Marriage in Native America
We look at gay marriage legislation in Native America and issues of of tribal sovereignty, cultural tradition, and legal rights. We speak with the president of the Navajo nation and a Cherokee woman who is fighting for legal recognition in the tribal courts. [includes rush transcript]

Energy Exploitation and the Ban on Uranium Mining in Navajo Country
The president of the Navajo Nation approved legislation last month banning uranium mining and processing on Navajo territory. We host a debate on energy exploitation with Navajo President Joe Shirley and Earl Tully of Dine Care, a Navajo environmental organization.

When I posted yesterday, I did check The Daily Howler and I didn't see a new entry up but there was a Daily Howler for Monday. From the entry* (click here), Bob Somerby's critique of Okrent:

THE BOTTOM OF THE PILE: Amazing--absolutely amazing. In yesterday's New York Times, Paul Krugman was allowed to reply to Daniel Okrent’s disgraceful parting cheap shot (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/05, 5/24/05 and 5/26/05). Here’s his letter, just as it appeared, at the bottom of a tall, stupid pile:
KRUGMAN (5/29/05):
In Daniel Okrent's parting shot as public editor of The New York Times, he levied a harsh charge against me: he said that I have "a disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."
He offered no examples of my "disturbing habit," and maybe I should stop there: surely it's inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper's writers without providing any supporting evidence. He responded to my request for examples with criticisms of specific columns. Those criticisms were simply wrong: in each of those columns I played entirely fair with my readers, using the standard data in the standard way.
That should be the end of the story.
I want to go back to doing what I have been doing all along: using economic data to inform my readers.

Princeton, N.J.,
May 24, 2005
Gee, really? Do you think? Do you think "it's inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper's writers without providing any supporting evidence?" Krugman's statement is true, but it's much too limiting; surely it's inappropriate for any writer to offer nasty condemnation of the kind Okrent penned without offering any examples or evidence. In fact, it's the sort of thing a public editor should criticize, from any member of a newspaper's staff. But Daniel Okrent is king of the pimps. So he typed his cheap shot. Then he ran.
But how big a fraud is the great Daniel Okrent? Try to believe what you see
if you actually dare to click here; try to believe the pile of letters at the bottom of which Krugman's letter appears. That's right, rubes! Before the mighty New York Times let readers see what Krugman had written, they presented a fair-and-balanced set of twelve different letters, all of which praise Darling Okrent for the brilliant way he conducted his mission. The sheer stupidity of these writers is matched by the balls-out pandering of the paper itself. Stalin himself wouldn't play it so bold. But this insulting pile of propaganda perfectly captures the essence of Okrent. And it tells you things about the people who run the Times--things we all need to understand.
Be sure to click and gaze on the praise the Times heaps on its great Ozymandias. But before you do, let's enjoy the promise which appears in the ID line from Krugman’s letter:
The writer is an Op-Ed columnist for The Times. He and Daniel Okrent will be addressing this matter further on the Public Editor's Web Journal early in the week.

Omigod! Entertainment for days! Anyone who has read both Krugman and Okrent will emit low, mordant chuckles--in advance--at the thought of that promised exchange. Okrent is going to debate Paul Krugman? Good God! From his hapless "liberal newspaper" column right to the end, Okrent repeatedly wrote like an idiot--like a man too lazy and too self-consumed to waste his time with the simplest research. Repeatedly, he performed like the man he seems to be--like a foppish clown prince of Manhattan society, the great inventor of rotisserie baseball. He repeated fever dreams from kooky-con swamps, failing to check them in any way. And then, in parting, he let the world know that Krugman has been gaming the evidence!

Before we move on today's Daily Howler, we're going to note an e-mail that Dallas forwarded.
He's written the Times to complain about the above issue. Why?

He's very angry that Okrent never addressed issues, real issues, during his tenure. Okrent is supposed to be gone from the public editor's space. Online or in print, why is he being allowed to respond? Dallas feels that Krugman had a right to respond in that space because he was attacked there. He also feels that Dowd (or Safire) can respond there as well. But, as Bob Somerby notes in the above excerpt, this was Okrent's parting shot.

Dallas feels if Okrent has something to say, he needs to write a letter to the editor and Gail Collins can run it, in the letters section, or not. But Dallas points out this is not Okrent's space anymore. He abused readers (as Somerby has noted) when it was his space. He refused to address serious issues. In his "parting shot," he still didn't dig deep. It was always about Okrent. Dallas' e-mail makes it very clear that this could be the breaking point for him and the Times. Okrent had eighteen months to do something with the space but instead he wasted column after column. Now, when he's supposed to be gone, he's still taking up space.

Okrent embarrassed himself and, as Krugman notes, it's time to move on. Okrent needs to accept that the space is not his anymore. There will be no more essays on his summer vactions, no more self-interviews, no more calling the Tonys a "racket," no more outing readers or trashing them in other forms.

Dallas gave permission to summarzie the e-mail he sent and I think it makes some valid points.
Okrent issued a kiss off in his last column. Krugman defended himself. Anything Okrent has to say at this point should be said in a letter to the editor. He's not the public editor any longer.

Now let's move to today's Daily Howler which is dealing with many issues, but we'll focus on Bob Somerby's comments regarding "fops" and the film Interiors:

PART 1--GOTHAM'S TOP FOPS: On Friday, Kevin Drum asked an interesting question: Why do conservatives outshine liberals in our nation's spin wars? For Drum, the question goes all the way back to the days of "Jane, you ignorant slut"--the days when James J. Kilpatrick battled Shana Alexander on 60 Minutes:
DRUM (5/27/05):
I remember at the time being annoyed at the fact that I thought Kilpatrick was wrong, but also that he was much the better debater. What's more, an additional 30 years of watching liberals and conservatives on TV hasn't changed my mind: conservatives usually do better.

Drum is puzzled by this phenomenon. For ourselves, we're puzzled by some of what he says, but it's all worth quoting:
DRUM (continuing directly):
Why? It's not that liberals don't get a chance (as on talk radio, which was taken over by conservatives very early) and it's not that network news honchos are unsympathetic to liberals. I don't think it has anything to do with the quality of the people or the quality of the thoughts. Liberals do fine on op-ed pages. Nor am I under the misimpression that liberals are unable to be nasty enough. And yet, in show after show, they're typically overmatched.
This is genuinely perplexing, and I think it's a big part of the reason that political talk shows have such heavy conservative representation: they're just livelier and more interesting on TV than liberals are. I don't have a clue why this is so, but since it goes directly to the core of recent liberal weakness at shaping public debate, it might be worth someone's time to give this some dispassionate study.

Some of that reasoning strikes us as strange. For example, are liberals "unable to be nasty enough?" The famous "Jane, you ignorant slut"--the SNL parody of Kilpatrick-Alexander-- was a comic statement of the obvious fact that Kilpatrick, the conservative, was more aggressive than his liberal non-antagonist. But Drum asks the question of the age. And since he doesn't have a clue, he makes an open cry for help. "How about it, Media Matters?" he asks, seeking assistance from a site which almost surely won't attack him as it answers his question. Luckily, though, we at THE HOWLER have been explaining this matter over the course of the past several years. Given the light we’ve incomparably shone on this problem, we're surprised that Drum is still in the dark. But let's make his important question the starting point for a week-long rumination.
Why do liberals fail in our nation's spin wars? Over the weekend, we thought about that problem as we watched Woody Allen's Interiors, a 1978 film--the director's first "serious" film--which we hadn't seen since, oh, 1978. As we watched, we were mainly struck by the self-involved foppishness of all the central characters. As it turns out, others had the same reaction, even in real time.

Now we'll note Ruth Conniff's latest at her Monday blog (which Natalie e-mailed to highlight) entitled "Memorial Day for Team Empire:"

The American flags, parades, and tributes on Memorial Day seem nostalgic in years when the focus is on wars gone by. But this year, as we endure the deepening crisis in Iraq, with no clear end in sight, it is a holiday full of mixed feelings.
For Democrats and progressives who oppose the war, defensiveness about appearing not to support the troops makes patriotic holidays especially sticky.
But as more and more Americans--and more and more military families--are critical of this war, supporting the troops and opposing their mission seem less in conflict.
Air America's lead story on Memorial Day was a tribute with the names, pictures, and circumstances of the 1,831 coalition soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. It calls to mind the Bush Administration's suppression of coverage of returning caskets and outrage at Nightline last year for airing the names and pictures of dead American soldiers.

And we'll note two by Matthew Rothschild (who was really great on The Laura Flanders Show this weekend -- previous link takes you to the Air America archived broadcast if you'd like to listen). Wally e-mailed to note the first one, "Bush at Arlington:"

When Bush went to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, he uttered an amazing lie: "America," he said, "has always been a reluctant warrior."
Was America a reluctant warrior in the Spanish-American war?
Was America a reluctant warrior when it invaded Haiti and Nicaragua repeatedly in the twentieth century?
Was America a reluctant warrior when it went to war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia?
Was America a reluctant warrior when it invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965?
Was America a reluctant warrior in Gulf War I?
Is America a reluctant warrior in the current Iraq War?
After the Downing Street memo and the mountain of other evidence that Bush, far from being reluctant, was overeager to go to war against Iraq, it takes a certain degree of chutzpah for him to stand before the nation and warble that lie.

And I'll note Matthew Rotschild's "Cheney Offended:"

Dick Cheney says he's "offended."
Not by torture at Guantanamo.
But by Amnesty International's criticism of it.
Said Cheney on Larry King: "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously."
He doesn't have to.
He's one of the most powerful men in the world.
And when he says white is black and up is down, he doesn't expect to be contradicted. On the rare occasions that he is, he takes offense.
Cheney insisted that detainees at Guantanamo "have been well treated, treated humanely and decently."
But while he was saying that, more reports were coming out from U.S. tribunals at Guantanamo that echoed the torture that Amnesty International was describing.
"Americans hit me and beat me up so badly I believe I'm sexually dysfunctional," one detainee told the tribunal, according to AP. Another described how an American interrogator "threatened me with a gun to my mouth, to try to make me say something," the AP story by Paisley Dodds said.
And these aren't, by any means, the first such reports.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[* Once again, for some unknown reason, a paragraph is running into an excerpt and data is being lost. I've tried correcting it and have put the link to Monday's Daily Howler in parenthis to attempt to avoid another "merger."]