Monday, August 22, 2005

Other items

Pru writes "Alan Cowell is a prat." If you're unclear why, you can waste your time by reading
"Chief Tells of Delay in Learning Facts of London Shooting" in this morning's New York Times.
There's a story but Cowell can't find it. Will most readers grasp that he hasn't spoken to Ian Blair? Probably not. Cowell's correct that Blair "said," he just fails to inform readers that he said to another reporter at another paper. Cowell's offering you a summary of various headlines and lead paragraphs, nothing more. Why is he even in London? As Pru pointed out, Ava did a better job summarizing the facts on Sunday (actually Saturday night). (And Mike, Jim, Dona and Betty were doing research and helping with all stories, to give credit to them.)

And, as Pru notes, Cowell or an editor is very selective about what makes it into print. Pru, who lives in London, can give you a rundown on the story in half the space Cowell does and include twice the facts. If Cowell's merely summarizing reports from various London papers (and not giving them credit), exactly why is he stationed in England?

Pru also recommends that we highlight this paragraph from Jonathan Allen's "A War Resister Outshouts a Law Meant to Quiet Him" because, as she notes, it's a rare mention of depleted uranium used in Iraq despite the reporter's qualifiers:

That the lawmakers missed their target gives little pleasure to Mr. Haw. "It's not about the messenger, it's about the message," he said in an interview, pointing to a display of weather-bleached photographs showing Iraqi children born with deformities, which his exhibit contends is a result of depleted uranium munitions used by the United States and British forces during the Persian Gulf war.
"Doesn't that move you?" he said.
He is baffled that his photographs have not attracted more permanent supporters onto the sidewalk. "I can't kiss my own child each night, but I'm doing this for all the children," he said. "Isn't my neighbor's child as precious as mine? Isn't it sad that it's exceptional to value someone else's kid as much as mine?"

As Pru notes, depleted uranium used in Iraq is a story in other countries, just not here and just not in the New York Times.

Zach e-mails to note the Associated Press story entitled "G.O.P. Senator Says Iraq Looking Like Vietnam:"

A leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate said Sunday that the war in Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and is looking more like the Vietnam conflict from a generation ago.
Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who received two Purple Hearts and other military honors for his service in Vietnam, reiterated his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to leave Iraq. Hagel scoffed at the idea that U.S. troops could be in Iraq four years from now at levels above 100,000, a contingency for which the Pentagon is preparing.
''We should start figuring out how we get out of there,'' Hagel said on ''This Week'' on ABC. ''But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur.''
Hagel said ''stay the course'' is not a policy. ''By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning,'' he said.

David D. Kirkpatrick's "Democrats Split on Tactics for Confirmation Hearings" offers:

Several Democratic senators said the hearings on Judge Roberts were shaping up as a risky balancing act. Failing to press him could look weak to their liberal base. But attacking too hard could draw Democrats into a losing battle on the treacherous turf of abortion, race and religion at a time when Republicans appear vulnerable on other fronts.

For strategy on the fight, check out Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis who's been offering strong guidance on this issue for some time, advice Senate Dems should consider. But, speaking of Senate Dems, exactly whom did John Breaux sleep with, blackmail, whatever? Why is he still quoted in the Times? It happens today. It happens all the time. Here's his "wisdom" today:

Former Senator John Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat, said the hearings were a test of his party's independence. "The interest groups are going to be out there, and this is their issue, and they are going to fight it until the dead warm over, but gas prices, health care costs and Iraq are the things that motivate most people," he said. In a Supreme Court fight, "we are not expanding the base, and even if we get 100 percent of the base, we do not win a national election."

Anyone want to take the advice of Idiot Breaux? Anyone want to praise him? Before you do, if you're foolish enough to, you might want to go back and review his comments on Clarence Thomas. You might want to read those statements from the Senate floor that read like a valentine. (A valentine to Thomas. . . I'm biting my tongue. Read them for yourself and wonder at one aside that circles back on itself and seems to imply that a "true" detail is, in fact, being made up on the spot.) He was ineffective in the Senate and now he's out of it, for several years now. Why anyone feels the need to cite him as an expert on anything other than how to walk without a spine is beyond me. But the Times needs to stop citing him. Why they cite him goes to the problem with the Times' (and Adam Nagourney's) reporting and is part of the bias (yes, I used that word) at the paper. It also goes to the history of the paper.

But before we get bogged down in all of that (and I end up with a worse headache), let's instead turn to Matthew Rothschild's latest "Distortions of the Times" (The Progressive):

Seymour Hersh reportedly once said that you'll never know where you'll find a front-page story in The New York Times.
I'd like to amend that: You'll never know where you’ll find the "lede"--the opening paragraph with the most important information.
Here are a couple of recent examples, all from Iraq, and they show how the Times is distorting what's going on there by burying crucial facts,
a trend I reported on earlier.
August 17, a front-page story by Richard A. Oppel Jr., entitled "A New Police Force Emerges from Mosul’s Chaos."
Not until paragraph 44, deep on page 10, does Oppel let on that American troops are "in the position of using information beaten out of detainees by the policemen they mentor." In paragraph 46, he writes: "A detainee said he was strung to the ceiling while an iron pole was knocked into his rectum."
Seems like that information should have been just a tad higher up in the story.
August 19, a page 8 story by Craig S. Smith, entitled, "4 U.S. Soldiers Killed by Roadside Bomb as Deadlock Persists on Draft of Iraqi Constitution."
Not until paragraph 19 does Smith go into a whole separate but newsworthy story: the U.S. killing of civilians in Iraq. He did not flag this information in his opening, nor did the headline convey that this information would be in the story.
In paragraph 21, he writes: "Charges of indiscriminate killing by American and Iraqi forces have eroded good will toward coalition forces." That's a story unto itself, not one to be tucked in the back somewhere.

Rothschild offers other examples so read the article (and I'll try to remember to pull quote from it again).

From BuzzFlash, we'll note Amy Branham's "Open Letter to GWB from a Gold Star Mom:"

I want to take a few minutes and tell you about Jeremy and how his loss has affected my family.
First of all, Jeremy was my first-born child and only son. When he died, Jeremy was only 22 years old. He left behind two younger sisters, Danielle and Jaime, who loved their brother with all their hearts and who, to this day, are heartbroken with the knowledge they will never see their big brother again. This past week Jaime gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy that she named after her big brother to honor him. My grandson, Aiden, will never know his Uncle Jeremy, who would have been thrilled to be an Uncle. My son loved his family and was very protective of his sisters and me.
Jeremy had big, dark eyes and a strange sense of humor. He was quick to laugh, but hid his smile in a shy kind of way that was endearing to all who loved him. Before being called to active duty, Jeremy was a good student at ITT in Houston, TX, where he was studying computer science. He left behind two computers he had built at home by himself that he used to run an internet server. He had techie friends from all across the globe who still mourn his loss.
Jeremy will never marry and he will never have children of his own that I can bounce on me knee, a proud Grandma. I will never again hear his laugh, caress his face or hug him. Day after day I imagine Jeremy walking through my back door, calling out "Mother, I'm home!" as I awaken from a terrible nightmare that never ends. I have spent the last eighteen months pacing the floor, sleepless, night after night wondering why this war had to happen and why you were so driven to do it. I have been in the deepest, darkest pit of hell where depression grips you to your soul.

[. . .]

Sir, we do not go to war with the military we have, we go to war with the military we have built up. If you are going to take a country to war, to pull America's sons and daughters away from their homes, their families and their lives, you had better make darn sure you have properly equipped them and that it's for a damn good reason. In your zeal to get into Iraq, you didn't care about these things and neither did the people who orchestrated this whole thing for you. You, as their leader, should have protected these men and women, but you didn't. You didn't care and couldn't take the time out of your busy vacation schedule to make sure these needs were met. As a result, many thousands of soldiers have been wounded or are dead.
How does it feel to have their blood on your hands? Do you dream of this at night?
Your callousness and distasteful jokes about the war are offensive to me. One instance that instantly comes to mind is when you were jokingly looking under your desk and other places for WMD's when they weren't found in Iraq. The day you stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared Victory and that the war in Iraq was over was another offensive moment. It was only a few short weeks after the invasion began and our soldiers were still being killed. How could you declare victory in an invasion that was still going on? You were a fool that day and you are a fool today.

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