Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Democracy Now: Seymour Hersh, Bob Dreyfuss; Bob Somerby, Matthew Rothschild, "It's Only a Summer Scandal," Carly Simon

Bloodshed Continues in Iraq
In Iraq, gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying Iraqi workers to a U.S. airbase in the central resistance stronghold of Baquba, killing more than a dozen people. The deaths came after assailants in two cars attacked the bus. This came a day after gunmen killed at least 24 police, soldiers and government workers on Monday. The latest violence follows a weekend in which more than 150 Iraqis died from suicide bombings.

Bush Backs Off Pledge to Fire Anyone 'Involved' in CIA Leak
Back in this country, President Bush on Monday appeared to backtrack on his pledge to fire anyone involved in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Amid clear evidence that two senior administration officials were involved--namely his senior advisor Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby--Bush now says he will fire anyone who "committed a crime." Earlier statements by the president and the White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan, had promised that anyone "involved" in the leak would be fired. The distinction is an important one given there is little debate that Rove is involved. But there is debate over whether he committed a crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which has significant loopholes. For example, prosecutors would have to prove that Rove knew Plame was operating undercover.

The two items above are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today and were chosen by Heather and WestDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 19, 2005

- Bloodshed Continues in Iraq
- Bush Backs Off Pledge to Fire Anyone 'Involved' in CIA Leak
- CIA Leak Investigation Focuses on Ari Fleischer
- London Lowered Security Threat Level Just Before Bombings
- The Hill: Alberto Gonzales Not a Candidate for Court
- Rudolph Sentenced to Life in Prison
- Bush Says Yes to India Nukes
Seymour Hersh: Bush Authorized Covert Plan to Manipulate Iraqi Elections

Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports that President Bush authorized covert plans last year to support the election campaigns of Iraqi candidates and political parties with close ties to the White House. Hersh cites unidentified former military and intelligence officials who said the administration went ahead with the plan over congressional opposition. [includes rush transcript - partial]
The NOC Program: A Look at Valerie Plame's "Nonofficial Cover" as a CIA Operative

As pressure mounts for President Bush to fire senior adviser Karl Rove for his role in the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, we take a look at her reported work as a "NOC" - "nonofficial cover". We speak with investigative journalist Bob Dreyfuss, the first American reporter to cover the CIA's Non-Official Cover program.
Survivors of 1979 Greensboro Massacre Testify Before Truth and Reconciliation Commission

We look back at the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, when forty Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis opened fire on an anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina. Five people were killed. No one was convicted. We speak with Paul Bermanzohn, a survivor of the massacre who testified before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission almost 26 years after the massacre.
On to Bob Somerby.  Dallas e-mails about this morning's Daily Howler with a problem: what to excerpt?  I've read Dallas' copy and paste and I'm having the same problem.  There's a strong discussion regarding Joey Scars' MSNBC show, there's Ifill asleep at the wheel on The NewsHour (what, you thought only viewers dozed during that?) and then there's Maude.  Or, if you prefer, Imus.  You've got partisans as guests on the first two so I'm going to go with Imus because the guest is a journalist, Newsweek's managing editor Jon Meacham.  As Somerby documents, Meachman doesn't appear to know anything about the Plame outing.  Here's an excerpt:

No, Meachman didn't even know the basic chronology of Wilson’s trip! He didn't even understand the simplest facts of this major case! But before we savor that world-class howler, let’s look in on more of the ignorance he displayed in this inexcusable outing--in the type of inept performance that gets you fired almost anywhere else.

One hardly knows where to begin, but let's go ten minutes into the segment. Imus, frustrated, tried to get Meacham to answer a basic question--a question he delivered in rambling form, consistent with his own screaming ignorance:

IMUS (7/18/05): So my other question is--well then, who sent Joe Wilson? If Cheney's office said they didn't send him to Niger; and George Tenet and the CIA says they didn't send him; and the information is that his wife, who was a covert agent having something to do with WMDs, authorized the trip--well, she isn't operating in a vacuum! I mean, who, who--somebody had the idea to send him there and, and called over to the CIA, I guess, or someplace, and said, "Let’s get somebody down to Niger and find out what’s going on." Well, who was that? Who did that?
The question is perfectly easy to answer, since there's almost no dispute about it. No, there is no "information" which says that Plame "authorized" Wilson's trip to Niger, although Imus, dumbly, didn't know this. But the general question--Who sent Wilson?--has never really been in dispute. As Wilson explained in his original New York Times column, Cheney's office had asked the CIA about an alleged uranium transaction in Niger; in response, the CIA's Counterprofileration Division--the office in which Wilson’s wife worked--decided to commission a fact-finding trip to investigate the matter. Wilson explained that in his original column (although he didn't mention his wife); last year's Senate Intelligence report described the same chain of events. Except for fringe questions about Plame's role, this matter has never been in dispute.
Note, this is the managing editor of Newsweek.  Read the full entry and you'll discover that the Plame outing is a "summer scandal" according to Gwen Ifill. 
Maybe she and pal Condi Rice, after one of Ifill's home cooked dinners Condi's spoken of, move the couch around and break into song?
Say, it's only a summer scandal
Bully Boy will soon have the handle
He's the king of the make-believe
Do you believe in me?
Yes, it's only a scandal de sum
Reporters move on if we play mum
King George of the make believe
Do you believe in me?
. . .
It's a Bully and Cheney world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me
"It's Only a Summer Scandal" is obviously (hopefully obviously) cribbed from the classic song "It's Only a Paper Moon" by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. 
Then again, possibly Gwen and Condi just sing another Arlen and Koehler classic -- "Get Happy."  Who knows?  With Bully Boy's announcement tonight (re: O'Connor's replacement), I guess we'll see how quickly the mainstream press can be distracted.
Now, let's do a personal note.  Micah, I will forgive you.  Micah e-mails a copy and paste book review and notes that he knows I prefer to read print versions but he enjoys the review so much he can't pick a pull quote.  It's Matthew Rothschild as book reviewer.  What's the book?  It really doesn't matter.  I read Micah's preface and think, "I'll just read the first few paragraphs and quote that" but like an addict with something waved before my eyes, I couldn't resist.  I read the whole thing.  If you like a writer who knows how to review, check out Rothschild.  Any review.  He doesn't do book reports for teacher, he writes reviews, critiques.  People who prefer to read The Progressive in print, don't use the link.  Don't read the excerpt and say,  "Oh, I'll click the link and just read one more paragraph."  Unless you're will is stronger than mine, you'll read all the way through
Rothschild's reviewing Victor Navasky's A Matter Of Opinion.  Here's an excerpt of the first three paragraphs:
There are editors. And there are editors. And then there's Victor Navasky, who's been at the helm of The Nation, our flagship for the past three decades. (And cut it out already, Dissent, you are not, as you claim to be, with your puny readership and low profile, "The Leading Magazine of the American Left." That distinction belongs to The Nation.) Navasky has taken The Nation from 23,000 subscribers to about 184,000. He's lifted the profile of the magazine by grabbing some of the most talented writers in the land and by pushing those who are telegenic (or egotistic or masochistic) onto the TV screens. And he's raised scads of money to stabilize the publication.

Oddly, it's the latter that he's most proud of. Odd because the business of running a magazine, to me anyway, is not where the joy lies. Oh, I get as excited as the next editor (maybe even a little more so) about the success of a direct mail package. And my pulse quickens when I see an unexpected big donation roll in. Lord knows, we need it.

But the joys of editing, for me, are in the editing: finding the ideal writer for a story, breaking a big investigative piece, overhauling an important but unwieldy story until it is wieldy, glazing the copy of the best writers, and then trying to present a whole issue that leavens urgency and truth with beauty and humor.

Sarah e-mails to note Norman Solomon's "George W. Strangelove and the Triumph of Nuclear Faith" (CounterPunch):

The silver-spooned cowboy in the Oval Office just presented a fine new saddle to the nuclear horseman of the apocalypse.

It was a gift worthy of hell. "President Bush agreed yesterday to share civilian nuclear technology with India, reversing decades of U.S. policies designed to discourage countries from developing nuclear weapons," the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The lead was more understated in the New York Times: "President Bush, bringing India a step closer to acceptance in the club of nuclear-weapons states, reached an agreement on Monday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to let India secure international help for its civilian nuclear reactors while retaining its nuclear arms."

No matter how the story was spun, it could only be read in the world's capitals as further proof that U.S. nuclear policies are grimly laughable -- thanks to policymakers in Washington who simultaneously decry and promote nuclear proliferation. And nowhere will the hypocrisy-laced ironies be more appreciated than in Tehran.

Sarah notes she picked up War Made Easy at her local bookstore and says,  "Tell everyone to read this!"  Everyone, Sarah says read Norman Solomon's latest book.

Susan e-mails to note Stephen Holden's "A Sex Symbol of the 1970's Does Lawrence Welk for Hip Seniors" (New York Times).
Susan:  Carly.  I know she's doing standards and there's nothing here that she wrote, but it's Carly.  Can we note the article?  It is Carly.
Who?  Joking!  I love Carly Simon. Album's called Moonlight Serenade.  It's in stores today.  From Holden's review in this morning's Times:
In the most seductive cut on "Moonlight Serenade," Carly Simon's likable new collection of popular standards, the album's brisk foxtrot rhythms are briefly interrupted by a silky pop-samba arrangement of the Howard Dietz-Arthur Schwartz ballad "Alone Together." Crooning against a luminescent backdrop of strings and electric keyboard, Ms. Simon, whose voice has deepened into a weathered contralto, invests this Depression-era vision of lovers clinging to each other in the darkness with the forthright openheartedness that has always been her calling card.

Ms. Simon still possesses one of pop music's friendliest and most intelligent voices, one that expresses a lot more feeling than the bratty tough-girl shout that dominates female pop singing today. By turns impassioned, sisterly and maternal, she conveys her feelings in blunt, sometimes ungainly phrases. When emotional storms boil up, her voice heaves with anxious tremors. But her underlying tone remains welcoming.

And for Susan, we'll note Carly's upcoming TV appearances one more time (some have already passed).
7-20-05  ABC's Good Morning Amercia, CBS's The Early Show
7-22-05  ABC's The View
7-27-05  CBS's The Early Show
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