As the blood of US soldiers continues to drain into the hot sands of Iraq over the last several days with at least 27 US soldiers killed and the approval rating for his handling of the debacle in Iraq dropping to an all-time low of 38%, Mr. Bush commented from the comforts of his ranch in Crawford, Texas today, "We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq."
Just a two hour drive away in Dallas, at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Dallas, I'm sitting with a roomful of veterans from the current quagmire.
When asked what he would say to Mr. Bush if he had the chance to speak to him, Abdul Henderson, a corporal in the Marines who served in Iraq from March until May, 2003, took a deep breath and said, "It would be two hits-me hitting him and him hitting the floor. I see this guy in the most prestigious office in the world, and this guy says 'bring it on.' A guy who ain't never been shot at, never seen anyone suffering, saying 'bring it on?' He gets to act like a cowboy in a western movie…it’s sickening to me."
The other vets with him nod in agreement as he speaks somberly…his anger seething.
The above is from Dahr Jamail's latest, "What Have We Done?" -- and apologies to Billie, Dallas, In Dallas, Ted and other members in the DFW area, I didn't realize Jamail was coming to your area or I would've given a heads up. (Hopefully some of you knew about it in spite of my lack of heads up.)
While we're mentioning Billie, let's note that she's mentioned in Elaine's "Amy Goodman and David Goodman on the lies of the Times as well as Billie on the attacks from The Dallas Morning News" at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude:
But if anyone doesn't get why it's important, Billie wrote a lengthy e-mail after hearing Democracy Now! today. In her area, Filkin's "award winning" reporting, even after smarter minds should know better, still appears to carry weight.
Which is why Steve Blow (I'm not making that name up nor is Billie, I checked) can rave over Falluja last month and reveal himself to be a "bigger dope" (Billie's term) "than when he accused peace activists at a local gathering of being treasonous." Billie notes that Blow later did another column where he wondered if maybe treason wasn't a bit harsh.
The paper of record has a lot to answer for. I've not weighed in Judith Miller here and don't intend to because I think it's a complex issue that goes beyond my area and scope (of course if Miller had testified, we might know what happened). But as reports from the unit attest, Miller bullied those guys over in Iraq. She wasn't hiding out in the Green Zone. She was basically overriding the squad she was stationed with and bound and determined to find WMD. Of course she didn't. It didn't exist. But when you read remarks on her actions (a mild term) when she was commandeering the unit, it suggests to me that she honestly believed the "facts" that the administration was feeding her. Dexter Filkins was in Falluja. He actually left the Green Zone to be there. With his own eyes, he saw what was going on. But it didn't make his article. His much delayed article, as C.I. has noted, which would suggest that either his obsession with nailing down every "fact" was so great that it took him days and days to write up his report or it suggests that before it made it into the paper, it had been cleared and approved by the military.
Billie has a hilarious e-mail. The reality is sad but she's got a great sense of humor. She explains how Blow and the other "local columnists" (who are supposed to cover the DFW area) never missed an opportunity to beat up on Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks and assorted others. Billie says it's hard to believe the whole thing wasn't handed down by management (the paper is the Dallas Morning News) so "on message" was everyone. Including trashing Sheryl Crow in what was supposed to be a discussion of the Grammys. But it even infected the sports pages of the paper. Tim Cowlinshaw (again, I'm not making these names up) wrote a "sports" column in March of 2003 that Billie steered me to. I ended up reading several columns. It was interested to see Cowlinshaw condemn, among others, Steve Nash for speaking out against the war and using Thomas Friedman (of all people, no offense to Betty) who isn't, according to Cowlinshaw, "exactly" a tool of the right. (Cowlinshaw may be correct, but Friedman is certainly a tool.)
As for Nash and the other athletes who were voicing their opposition to the war, Cowlinshaw didn't feel they had that right since there wasn't a draft.
It's amazing how on target, from the "local" columnists (covering Michael Moore) to the sports page, how "on message" the Dallas Morning News was. I really want to thank Billie for bringing the coverage to my attention because, a point C.I.'s made, one person didn't push this war in the press. There are a lot of guilty parties.
As for Jaqueline Floyd, I agree with you Billie, to have a hair style one must have some sense of style. I'm not sure if she suffers from dandruff, but I agree with you that it's a hideous photo.
Perhaps her attack on Moore and the Oscars was her way of saying she's not a "glamor gal." (Her hair conveys that message.) Obviously she's not a "freedom of speech gal" either.
And in the Democracy Now! story today, one thing to remember is that the reporter lying for the Times didn't just do that by himself. His Pulitzer should be stripped. But people chose to follow his reporting and echo it. He's far from the only guilty party.
With one paper in her area, Billie is able to pinpoint all the war cheerleaders who attacked people who spoke out against the war. I'm pretty sure many of you would find that in your own papers.
That's been the point C.I.'s made repeatedly about Judith Miller. She didn't anchor the news on a network (which has a larger audience than the New York Times). Hold her accountable, but don't do so in a way that lets others off the hook.
Floyd, Blow, Cowlinshaw and others should be held accountable by the readers of the Dallas Morning News. You can be sure that when lies about Hiroshima were being printed in the Times, all over the country fools elected to run with them. I hope the people Billie wrote about were fools. It seems like there's a pattern and that suggests that the topics and stances didn't "just happen." But I'll leave the second guessing to others. (Except with regard to Floyd's hair "style." It's hair. It's not style. And don't they get any sun in Texas?)
Now we go to Kara reporting at the aftermath of the BuzzFlash Gop Hypocrite of the Week Award. Kara?
Kara: C.I., the only word to describe last night's event is "riot." Police are still questioning witneses and attempting to determine all the details but riot is the word authorities are now using.
C.I.: It's been reported, Kara, that things got so out of hand that Katherine Harris ended up with a black eye.
Kara: Yes, that has been reported. I belive it was by Dexter Filkins in the New York Times. That report is, in fact, false. One of the dangers of reporting from the Green Zone. Katherine Harris did not receive a black eye. What happened is when the winner was announced and her name wasn't called, she burst into tears. Within three minutes, her heavy mascara had run to the point that it appeared she had two black eyes. Dexter Filkins' reporting was based on faulty information.
C.I.: Shocking. Thanks for clarifying that point, Kara, now was anyone hurt?
Kara: A lot of people's pride. Not just Katherine Harris'. Karen Hughes, apparently drunk on wine coolers, wandered around screaming, "Doesn't anyone love me! Doesn't anyone love me!" over and over. She had flown in from Texas to be at the event. She was part of a song and dance organized and choreographed by PBS' Gwen Ifill. She and Donald Rumsfeld did a lively opening number of "It's Only a Summer Scandal." Hughes was apparently convinced that they wouldn't fly her in just to perform a song and, considering her singing and dancing abilities, I'd say that was sound assumption on her part. So she was expecting that she would be the winner of the GOP Hypocrite of the Week, notching up her third win. As you know this a highly competitive award and as a three time winner Hughes would have accomplished something few can ever do. So when the envelope was opened and the winner was someone else, she hit the wine coolers while cursing at John Ashcroft for drinking all the Zimas.
C.I.: J-Ass was there?
Kara: Yes, hoping to be part of the ceremonies, J-Ass emerged from his semi-retirement. Attending with "just friends" Ken Starr, J-Ass was accompanied by a posse of twenty cleverly costumed in all white.
C.I.: Well Labor Day's not passed.
Kara: Yes, but white sheets over the heads may have sent a message J-Ass didn't intend. Then again, it may have been just the message he wanted to send. The winner tonight, if we can call it that, was Robert Novak. Though he refused to come on camera with me, he did agree to speak with me prior to the ceremonies on double chocolate brownie, Cherry Garcia background. I can report that Novak seemed giddy and apparently knew he was a shoe-in. He had prepared a lengthy list -- not a thank you list, but an enemies list.
C.I.: That sounds in keeping with Novak. What happened when he delivered the list?
Kara: He never did. This is where it got ugly. Former GOP Hypocrite of the Week award winner Bill Keller was supposed to present the award to Novak but at the last minute Karl Rove was brought in as a surprise. When Novak saw Rove walk across the stage, he sunk into his chair and took deep sips on his Sex On the Beach which he had insisted be served in a sippy cup.
When Karl Rove, looking dashing in only tuxedo pants and a bow tie, announced Robert Novak's name, Bob Novak exploded. The sippy cup he threw flew into William Pryor's mouth and ended up chipping one of Pryor's teeth. But the rampage didn't end there. Novak began overturning tables and screaming he wasn't putting up with this "bull [bleep]" as Davey Brooks and Tucker Carlson rushed over to restrain him.
C.I.: Were they able to?
Kara: From all reports, they didn't try to. Davey launched into a discussion over what the Bobos would do and Tucker was too busy checking his hair in a serving spoon. So the rampage continued and before the police arrived, William Safire would be down on the floor screaming in pain that Novak had "capped" him, a bruised and battered Ann Coulter would be in a boxing stance screaming, "Bring it back on, Nova-hack! I'm ready for you now!", Armstrong Williams, nursing a broken arm, would be heard to say, "No one pays me enough money for this!" and NPR's Mara Liasson would be giggling as she surveyed the damage. Reports that she was the one who set the drapes on fire while cackling, "Burn, baby, burn" are as yet uncomfirmed.
C.I.: What do the police know?
Kara: Last night, not much. Eye witness Scooter Libby refused to talk and, even though he had a busted lip, he kept insisting he'd speak only to a grand jury. Paul Bremer insisted to the police that he had seen no violence and that, in fact, the ceremonies had moved along peacefully. The investigation was being stone walled and most thought it had reached a dead end. This morning, however, a witness came forward, Linda Tripp. Tripp not only attended the ceremonies, she taped them. Indictments will be forth coming as a result -- although Alberto Gonzales has assured everyone there will be presidential pardons. When Novak's attorney, Ted Olson, asked Tripp why she had come forward she replied that she just missed the limelight and being the butt of jokes.
C.I.: It sounds incredibly violent. What has the reaction been?
Kara: Well CNN has stated that they are putting the ceremonies "on vacation" but no one assumes that they will cancel them because, frankly, CNN's lack of backbone since merging with AOL Time Warner is a widely known fact. However, C-Murder did issue a call for peace and Lil' Kim did hold a press conference to ask, "Who are the real gangsters?"
C.I.: Shocking. Thank you for that report Kara.
[As always, Kara's on the scene reporting from the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week awards is a parody and not fact based -- as far as we know.]
We'll close by noting Betty's latest on "her husband" Thomas Friedman:
"Too Much Pork and Too Little Sugar" is my husband Thomas Friedman's latest. He wants to be "with it" and "happening," he told me. He wants to be "in the mix." He wants to be "relevant, you know, like Jess."
See the thing is that our upstairs neighbors Jess and Ty are having another Friday night bash. Thomas Friedman's been dropping hints all week that he wants to go. Yesterday, he cornered Ty in the elevator practically begging for an invite. Ty looked at Thomas Friedman, then over at me.
"Bettina's always welcome," Ty said nodding to me, "but you really stink the joint up."
"'Stink the joint up?'" Thomas Friedman quoted back. "Is that good?"
The doors opened to our floor. I rolled my eyes at Ty and grabbed Thomas Friedman by the elbow to prod him on out of the elevator. Still trying desperately to be cool, Thomas Friedman was tossing out anything that popped into his mind, not unlike one of his op-eds actually.
"Catch you on the flipper, fro," Thomas Friedman offered trying desperately to be cool.
"Fro!" Ty hollered as the elevator doors started to close, "What the f-"
As the doors closed and the hum told us that the elevator was moving upwards, Thomas Friedman kept punching the button repeatedly.
"Wait!" he screamed.
Finally giving up, Thomas Friedman looked near tears.
"We were connecting, Bettina," Thomas Friedman whined. "Me and the housey were connecting!"
"Homey," I corrected as I unlocked the front door.
Thomas Friedman hates to be corrected because, of course, Thomas Friedman is never wrong.
"Fine," he huffed. "Me and my perps were connecting."
"Peeps," I corrected and then thought maybe "perps" was the correct term for guys who choose to hang out with Thomas Friedman.
All through dinner, Thomas Friedman kept bragging about how he "stinks up the joint." He was sure that we'd be attending the party tonight. I finally had to set him straight. I could've let him continue to be confused but, to be honest, some days my only joy comes from popping his inflated ego and watching the gas fly out of the old bag.
Thomas Friedman refused to believe me.
"Bettina, I know you think that because it's 'your people' that you know everything, but you don't. 'Stink the joint up' is like when a Fro tells another 'Dude, you are b-b-a-a-a-a-d-d!'"
"First thing," I informed Thomas Friedman, "it's 'bro,' not 'fro' which could be seen as racist. Second of all, bros are not generally surfers and don't tend to refer to one another as 'dude.' Third, 'stink the joint up' means just what it says."
Thomas Friedman pushed the peas around on his plate for a few minutes then complained that he was tired of 'soul food.' They were green peas. We ate them with broiled halibut and arugula salad. This was hardly salt pork and molasses, as I informed Thomas Friedman.
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