Saturday, November 05, 2005

NYT trips back on the front page

We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fred hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together
Come on all you people standing around
Our life's too fine to let it die and
We can be together
All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is

I'm not sure whether it's the times that are trippin' back to the sixties this morning, or it's just the New York Times trippin' back. But as you grab the paper, light the incense. You'll need it (maybe more?) as you note Che Guevara on the front page of the Times. (There actually should be an exclamation point at the end of that since, during his life, the Times played down Che.)

Like the truth refusing to be hidden and come back to haunt the paper of record, Che's face prominently displayed on banners in Mar Del Plata suggests things are far less "grey" than the Grey Lady would like them to be.

Larry Rohter and Elisabeth Bumiller explain the photo in "Protesters Riot As Bush Attends 34-Nation Talks: Hundreds Battle Police: Venezuelan Chief Leads Peaceful Rally Against Bush in Argentina" which seems to cover all the bases for our two Dolly Maes.

Come on Dolly Mae, there's no time to stall
But now you're telling me...
I think we better wait till tomorrow
Hey, yeah, hey (I think we better wait till tomorrow)
Girl, what 'chu talkin' 'bout ?
(I think we better wait till tomorrow)
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Got to make sure it's right, so until tomorrow, goodnight.
Oh, what a drag.

Dolly Mae Rohter and Dolly Mae Bumiller tell us that Bully Boy's "troubles trailed him" like ugly skid marks (okay, I added that part) "to an international summit meeting here on Friday as . . . protesters turned violent just blocks from the gathering site, and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's fiery populist leader, rallied a soccer stadium filled with at least 25,000 people against the" Bully Boy.
(The Dolly Maes need to inflame the average cautious Times reader so they say "the United States." They are wrong. And you can be damn sure neither Dolly Mae interviewed any protester.)

Bully Boy works in a joke and the Dolly Maes jot it down -- Bully Boy on the prospect of meeting Hugo Chavez by chance: "I will, of course, be polite. That's what the American people expect their president to do, is to be a polite person." Big Babs must have taught the children that flipping the bird was just a quicker, non-verbal way of saying "Thank you."

If, as your eyes adjust to the front page, you're searching for your stash, pray that you don't share a home with a headline writer for the Times -- the one responsible for "Iraq's Lethal Traffic: Warning! Anarchy Ahead" has already smoked your stash. The author of the article (though not the headline), Sabrina Tavernise, attempts to write something, anything, on the topic of road rage . . . in Iraq. (Well, in Baghdad.) (Well, in the Green Zone.) Speaking to anyone not intimidated by the bodyguards sporting the black t-shirts that read "NEW YORK TIMES," Tavernise finds Riyad Hadi Hassan who says, coming off like anyone forced to venture once too often down Van Nuys Blvd., "If someone tries to speak to me, maybe I'll kill him."

But as you're reading along singing "Nathan Le Frameer:"

The cars and buses bustled thru the bedlam of the day
I looked thru window-glass at streets and Nathan grumbled at the grey
I saw an aging cripple selling Superman balloons
The city grated thru chrome-plate
The clock struck slowly half-past-noon
Thru the tunnel tiled and turning
Into daylight once again I am escaping
Once again goodbye
To symphonies and dirty trees
With parks and plastic clothes
The ghostly garden grows

you suddenly stop as Tavernise attempts pith: "And while in other capitals a traffic jam may cause you to miss a meeting, in Baghdad it may get you kidnapped or even killed." Tavernise follows that with a few statistic (body count for Iraqis, low estimate 26,797, and fatality count for American troops, 2046, aren't among Tavernise's statistics). But ugly realities, even mild ones, can't intrude for too long in the Times' press releases from the Green Zone so, before you know it (ninth paragraph), Tavernise is slapping a happy face sticker on it all:

But for all the frustration they cause, the seas of idling cars are also a sign of progress [C.I. note: at the barrel of a gun]. Salaries have jumped from a few dollars a month under Saddam Hussein to a few hundred now [C.I. note: the cost of living has also jumped], turning Iraqis into consumers overnight [C.I. question: And they were what exactly before?], buying up air-conditioners, jewelry and, of course, cars. [C.I. note: Apparently Brina doesn't think any purchases were made under Saddam].

You quickly realize that the song to sing to Tavernise is "Cactus Tree:"

There's a man who sends her medals
He is bleeding from the war
There's a jouster and a jester and a man who owns a store
There's a drummer and a dreamer
And you know there may be more
She will love them when she sees them
They will lose her if they follow
And she only means to please them
And her heart is full and hollow
Like a cactus tree

Stephan Labaton's singing "The Fool on the Hill" in "Spending Inquiry For Top Official On Broadcasting" which charts the continued downfall of cycle hog Kenny Y. Tomlinson. E-mails have been seized by the State Dept. during this investigation. Before you start thinking, "Condi is actually trying to help" . . . don't. The e-mails include ones exchanged between Kenny and Karl Rove. Weirdness, like rust, never sleeps -- is anyone not getting "Threats for the Day" from Karl? Maybe those in his e-mail circle could just use the button to report him for "spam" and Yahoo could do what Fitzgerald seems afraid to, shut Karl down. So the inspector general is attempting to figure out how much Kenny disgraced himself and what laws, if any, were broken.
Of the seized e-mails, State Department investigators . . . have shared some material with the inspector general at the corporation . . ." Why some? And why is the State Dept. interfering with an ongoing investigation? Does Bully Boy know? He's still parroting that he can't even make a statement in an ongoing investigation.

Labaton, noting Voice of America, gets off a howler:

The board [Broadcasting Board of Governors] has been troubled lately over deep internal divisions and criticism of its Middle East broadcasts. Members of the Arab news media have said its broadcasts are American propaganda.

Now why is Labaton playing the he-said/she-said card there? Why is Voice of America not allowed to broadcast in this country? Because it is propaganda. "Members of the Arab news media" are correct. This isn't a claim, it's a fact.

Day after day alone on the hill
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he's just a fool
And he never gives an answer
But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Labaton's singing that song to Kenny but, considering Labaton's own howlers, he's also serenading himself.

The US government has been eye balling Iraq while singing:

Money, it's a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I'll buy me a football team.
Money, get back.
I'm all right jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it's a hit.
Don't give me that do goody good bullsh*t

But James Glanz tells us the good times may be coming to an end in "U.S. Should Repay Millions to Iraq, A U.N. Audit Finds." How much are we talking? "An auditing board sponsored by the United Nations recommended Friday that the United States repay as much as $208 million to the Iraqi government for contracting work in 2003 and 2004 assigned to Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary."

Which brings us to the story with a smaller photo on the front page (a car on fire), Craig S. Smith's "Rioting by Immigrants Embroils Paris Suburbs." As numerous e-mails continue to note, Ty addresses this last Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review. The Times has only recently discovered the story. Was Craig S. Smith free-manning-in-Paris-ing it? Or did the Times just not realize that this was a story (for days and days and days)? It is a story and Smith's a bit more even handed then in earlier accounts (or in yesterday's editorial which demonstrated that the editorial board has apparently never visisted the Paris suburbs or cared much about them). Smith's more even handed than his past reporting on this, call it an improvement but don't call it good reporting. Does any reporter at the Times ever think to ask non-elected officials what they think or do the orders for that need to come from up above?

The reliance on "official sources" comes from above so the reporters may just be playing it safe when they build whole articles around statements from them without ever actually exploring an area or speaking to people from the area. But it makes for bad reporting. (This may be, Smither's report, the best that the Times can do on a topic like this.)

The Times has never been an investigative paper. It's always relied far too much on what unnamed sources wanted passed on. Smith's article may be the best one can hope for from the paper of record which's print stance can best be summed up as:

And the rain beats on my roof
Look through my window to the street below
See the people hurryin' by
With someone to meet, some place to go
And I know I should let go

Two final points on the Times. First, Elisabeth Bumiller's "" should have been front paged. (Apparently traffic reports are more important than indictments -- guess the Times thinks it's casual Saturday?) Second, I'm going by the print edition and dictating this entry over the phone (thank you to ___ for taking this down) and I'm told that the Times has a report online by Douglas Jehl. It's not in the international section of the print edition before me. (And we're going by print headlines if you see a different headline online.) From Douglas Jehl's "Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Suspicions:"

A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda's work with illicit weapons.
The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President
Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.
Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."

This is probably an article that will run in Sunday's print edition. Lastly, we're going to note Gareth Porter's "Witnesses Describe Ballot Fraud in Nineveh" (IPS):

The accounts collected by the U.S. military in reports dated Oct. 15-19 were made available to IPS on condition that they would not be quoted directly and that the U.S. military unit forwarding them would not be identified.
The first-person accounts gathered by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Nineveh were obtained and translated by Michael Youash, executive director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project in Washington. The names of the NGOs were not provided in the document given to IPS because of fears of reprisals.
None of the accounts reported by the military are from Sunnis. All of the sources quoted in those reports are either Kurds or trusted Assyrian Christians who have been advisors to the U.S. military on local developments and are generally favourable to the constitution. Thus they represent the view from those in the province least likely to have a political motive for depicting the referendum as rigged.
The reports compiled by the U.S. military include an account of the voting in Mosul by an Assyrian Christian source which observes that Kurds voted for the constitution but represent only a small percentage of the estimated 1.7 million people in the capital -- which holds roughly two-thirds the population of the province. That account contradicts both widely reported explanations for the alleged failure of the Sunnis to achieve a two-thirds majority against the constitution in Nineveh -- that the Sunnis in Mosul were divided over the constitution, and that Kurds represent a very large proportion of the population of the city.
The final official vote total for Nineveh was 395,000 "no" and 323,000 "yes". However the IECI in Nineveh had told the media on Oct. 16 and again on Oct. 17 that 327,000 people had voted for the constitution and only 90,000 against, with only 25 out of the 300 polling stations in the province remaining to be counted. Thus, between the two counts, 5,000 yes votes had apparently disappeared and 295,000 no votes had mysteriously materialised -- all from only 25 polling places.
No explanation has ever been provided by election authorities for those contradictory data. The U.S. military's informant supports the view that Kurdish and Sunni vote totals in Mosul were significantly altered.

The Times has yet to note Porter's article. (Probably won't.) So make sure you're aware of it.
I am on the road speaking this weekend so a) members use the private e-mail address which I will be checking regularly and b) entries will be delayed today but they will go up. (The usual Saturday ones.) The e-mail address for this site (public) is

[Songs, from the top, Jefferson Airplane's "We Can Be Together" (Volunteers); Jimi Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" (Axis Bold As Love); Joni Mitchell's "Nathan La Franeer" and "Cactus Tree" (Song to a Seagull); the Beatles "Fool on the Hill" (Magical Mystery Tour); Pink Floyd's "Money" (Dark Side of the Moon); the Mamas and the Papas "Look Through My Window" (Deliver).]