Wednesday, June 29, 2005

NYT: Jennifer 8. Lee reports, Bumiller fluffs

Last week, Corporal [Ramona M.] Valdez was one of three women killed in an ambush by suicide bombers in Falluja, Iraq. She died last Thursday; she would have turned 21 on Sunday.
In 2002, when she was still 17, Ms. Valdez went to the Marine recruiting station on Fordham Road and signed up. Her mother did not want to sign the parental permission papers, but Ms. Valdez insisted.
"She wanted to be in the Marines, so we supported her and let her go," said her father, Louis Valdez.
She gave up shopping for Pepe Jeans and Nikes on Fordham Road to wear stiff, scratchy uniforms, said her sister, Fiorela Valdez, 19.

[. . .]
Corporal Valdez was deployed to Iraq in March. When she was killed, she was working as a communication specialist, assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Second Marine Division.
She was eight months from the end of her four-year tour. She had filled out application forms to become a highway patrol officer in Pennsylvania, her sister said.

The above is from Jennifer 8. Lee's "Out of the Bronx, to Iraq, and Never to Come Home" in this morning's New York Times.

Rachel e-mails to note Salman Masood's "Pakistan's High Court Suspends Acquittals in Village Gang Rape:"

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a lower court's acquittal of 13 men at the start of a hearing on the case of Mukhtar Mai, whose gang rape in 2002 on the orders of a village council stirred an international outcry.
The court ordered all 13 men rearrested and placed them under judicial custody. Another man accused in the case is already in custody.
"This means that the Supreme Court will now hear the case, and one truly hopes that it will act on merit," said Asma Jehangir, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.

Rachel also wants to remind everyone of Democracy Now!'s "'I Will Go On Until I Have Even the Slightest Hope of Justice' - Rare Broadcast Interview With Pakistani Rape Survivor Mukhtar Mai." (Remember, it's watch, listen or read.)

We'll note that Ian Fisher has a what-if story entitled "Milan Mystery: Did Italy Have Role in Kidnapping Case?" and we'll note Marcia's comments on it.

Marcia: Not withstanding the Oriana Fallaci in drag gentleman, I guess the biggest puzzle in this "you solve it" story would have to be, where are the women? Four individuals are directly quoted in this story but Fisher can't find any elected official, professor or think tank wonk in Italy who's not male? Did he conduct the research in a steam room or a bath house? Or is their a plague in Italy that has rendered all women speechless?

I'll note David E. Sanger's "Bush Declares Sacrifice in Iraq to Be 'Worth It:'"

Mr. Bush sidestepped arguments about whether his rationale for entering the war was flawed, or based on faulty evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and he made no reference to recently disclosed British government memorandums that show his major ally in the war harbored deep doubts about whether the White House had thought through the risks of the post-invasion period.
"The past is the past," the president's communications director, Dan Bartlett, said in an interview here before the speech. "The president is addressing the question of what we are doing now, and we can all agree that we must finish the job."

The past is the past. And reality is reality. And dogs are dogs. And the galaxy is the galaxy.
And when you need more bromides that are meaningless, you can now go to Baby Cries a Lot or Dan Bartlett apparently.

Trina e-mailed wondering about the "speech" and if Ava and I had ever considered reviewing one for our TV review? We actually had that idea and taped it. I was feeling sick enough already last night without having to look at Bully Boy's face. But yes, it is a possibility. This would also depend on whether The Third Estate Sunday Review will have a theme for the upcoming edition. If there is a theme, we usually attempt to review something that fits with the theme.

Our final note on this morning's Times is on Elisabeth Bumiller who leaves the "White House Letter" to write what she (and apparently the Times) considers a news article, a hard news one worthy of the main section even if drips with the excess of feature writing at its worst.

Possibly emboldened by her recent award (strange that the Times mentions awards won by other staff but leaves out the fact that Bumiller just picked up the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week award), Bumiller was feeling all "reportish" and needed to weigh in on a pressing issue of our time: Homeland Security. This being Bumiller, she can't grasp concepts so she focuses on a person: Frances Fragos Townsend. Bumiller's piece is called "Homeland Security Adviser Gets High Marks in a Tough Job" which lets fans and foes know right away that even though it's not a "White House Letter," Bumiller's still capable of a full body butt smooch.

Reading along you may wonder why it's near the end of the article that you find out this " model of decorum with coiffed hair, well-cut suits and toned-down public demeanor" is also married to Bully Boy's old classmate from Andover and Yale. Kind of an important detail to anyone attempting to pen more than "I Just Love Covering D.C.! Everyone Is So Darn Nice!" stories. Bumiller seems enthralled by the "model of decorum with coiffed hair, well-cut suits and toned-down public demeanor " whom is found "salty"

Bumiller notes Louis J. Freeh's "analysis": "The [FBI] agents loved her." Though it must have been hard for Bumiller not to add an exclamation point to that statement -- a line over a little heart, no doubt. We also learn that she was very comfortable in close quarters with criminals and that she now works in the basement of the White House's West Wing, two apparently unrelated items.

Laugh with Bumiller as she wastes space to tell the tale of Condi Rice calling to pass on good news from Bully Boy (the offer of Fragos Townsend's current job). See, "Dr. Rice" was on the written message and Fragos Townsend was angry because she thought her husband, oh you're sides will be splitting!, she thought when she read the message that "her husband [was] making medical appointments for her." It's all so funny! To Bumiller anyway. And so little to do with the announcements re: Homeland Security that Frances Fragos Townsend is expected to make Wednesday.

"Friends say" pops up a lot in the article. A further testament to the fact that Bumiller is not now able to do anything remotely resembling hard news. But she is the squad leader of The Elite Fluff Patrol so nothing will prevent her from fluffing! Not the fact that Fragos Townsend refused to speak to her (a possible sign of taste not cited as such in Bumiller's article), not the fact that Bumiller apparently knows less about the report forthcoming tomorrow than she does about writing on the topic of Homeland Security.

How did that assignment come down?

Editor: There's a report on Homeland Security due to be released Wednesday! We need someone on it! Who we got?
Bumiller: (looking up from the In Style she's been leafing through for the last hour) Me! Me! Send me in coach!
Editor: (skeptical) Well, I don't know Elisabeth, you seem . . . sort of busy.
Bumiller: Please! If I have to read this profile on Nick Lachey one more time to try to figure out whether or not he and Jessica Simpson are going to make it, my head will explode! Why does In Style have to do such in depth reporting! Why!

Regardless of how she came to the piece, once she had her hands on it, it was going to be Fluff City because that's the signature approach of The Elite Fluff Patrol's squad leader. Her constant dedication to all things fluffy may be the only thing one can count on from Bumiller.

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