Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday Howler; BuzzFlash interview with James Carroll

I'm helping out with The Third Estate Sunday Review and this is the first break we've taken tonight (in answer to Jodi's question). This is a quick entry and probably a link fest.

We're going to start off with Bob Somerby because there are a number of e-mails on his entry Thursday. I was hoping that unless someone had something he or she wanted to share, we'd find other things to address. But due to the number of e-mails on this topic asking for me to weigh in, I'll weigh in. These are my opinions and I'm not attempting to speak for the community. (Nor do I intend to compile an entry of community responses.)

Bob Somerby questioned Katrina vanden Heuvel's stance re: the Newsweek story. He offered his critique as a media watcher. He has a set of principles/guidelines he uses to determine his critiques. By those principles/guidelines he had a problem with KvH's remarks. His opinion, he's entitled.

Katrina vanden Heuvel did not rely on the traditional idea of the public record. KvH relied on statements made by people who were held there. That's perfectly in keeping with her committment to social justice.

Somerby's critique is valid on his terms, KvH's remarks are valid on her's. Both do fine work, but they do approach from different angles. I didn't see the episode. (Nor did I read the transcript.) From previous viewings (some time ago, back when Donahue was on MSNBC), I know it can be hard for any guest to get a word in with Chris Matthews. Whether that came in to play or not, I don't know.

I do know that KvH was going to where the silence is. I also know that Somerby's going by the public record. For those who missed it, that's his entire point re: Newsweek. He feels that people are making statements that there's no backing for. He feels other things as well -- he may be one of the people who rightly pointed out that Newsweek is far from a liberal publication -- but that's one of his main points regarding the Newsweek controversy.

To attempt to nutshell Somerby's view (and I'm sure I will screw it up), they relied on a single source. Their source burned them. The problem with the press today is relying on single sourcing. Or one of the problems. A large number of people came to Newsweek defense. Somerby feels that Newsweek should have done basic journalism prior to the article appearing in print. I don't think anyone's questioning that among the community.

With regards to KvH, she spoke, as she always will and it's why members respond to her, on subjects that our mainstream media has not covered or has covered slightly. She took a social justice position based on information that hasn't gotten a great deal of traction. Somerby questioned the use of such material. Both positions are perfectly in keeping with both people.

Another reason for addressing it now is that Troy e-mails that "now Bob Somerby is going after Bill [Scher]. Are you going to say something?"

Now refers to a Saturday Daily Howler. Which I'd hoped to highlight earlier tonight but time slipped away on the last thing we were working on at Third Estate Sunday Review. Troy's seeing something in the entry that I'm not. Here's the section Troy's bothered by:

We can all feel especially lucky. We're lucky because, as it turns out, our big newspapers aren't "pieces of crap" after all; in fact, they represent "the current state of the art in human perfectibility." (Well, at least the New York Times does. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/20/05.) And if they weren't the next best thing to perfection, think how bad their coverage would be--of Priscilla Owen, for example.
With that in mind, be sure to read
this report in Liberal Oasis--a report critiquing Thursday's profile of Owen in the Los Angeles Times. We chuckled to think that the folks at Oasis didn’t realize what Blogger Pangloss explained--that they're only "enabling the right-wing agenda" when they pen such thoughtless critiques.

That is not an attack on Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis. You might need to read the Friday Howler to understand what Somerby's getting at, but there was a mind-your-manners critique that Somerby addressed on Friday. Somerby is mocking that mind-your-manners critique. He is not "attacking" Scher. He's saying that Scher's entry is worth reading. (And Lynne thinks so to and e-mailed on that late Friday night, but I only read it as I was going through the e-mails for this entry, sorry Lynne.)

I've got about three minutes left (which includes publishing and indexing time). So I'm not going to be able to highlight with excerpts on the next items. My apologies.

But I have no idea when the next break will come so I'll post them now as a head's up.

Working For Change has an article about BuzzFlash by Bill Berkowitz. A number of you have highlighted it this week. Beginning on Thursday, I believe. Ken e-mailed tonight to ask if I was ignoring it? I'm not ignoring it, I just haven't had time to read it. (When it first read an e-mail on it, it was right before Ruth and I did the interview. After the interview, I focused only on typing it up and getting it onto this site.)

On the subject of BuzzFlash, there are three e-mails about an interview they have with James Carroll who's written the new book Crusade (which I believe is a BuzzFlash premium) and is also a columnist for the Boston Globe.

I also am seeing seven e-mails on Dahr Jamails' "Coming Home." We've already linked to that. Perhaps the confusion is that we linked to it via Dahr's site and not Tomgram. So to read it at Tomgram, click the link.

If there's another break in the next few hours, we'll highlight the interview at BuzzFlash and the article on BuzzFlash. (I'm looking forward to reading both.) But it is shaping up to be a longer night/morning than expected so in case there's not time, check out the links for yourselves.

I'm already late so let me add, in case this is it for awhile, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, will be part of the roundtable on Sunday's ABC's This Week. Check your local listings. For most areas, if not all, it's a morning show.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[Note: This post has been corrected to fix the links to Dahr Jamail's article at Tomgram.]

The Laura Flanders Show: Sat.: Lou Dubose, Susan Lerner, Maria Blanca and Chocolate Genius; Sun.: Barbara Olshansky, Yanar Mohammed, Isabel Allende...

Here's the lineup for Laura Flanders' shows Saturday and Sunday on Air America Radio this weekend:

Saturday 7-10pm est
Politics are boiling over in Washington, but where are the people in the this picture? What's at stake as Republicans target the press, the courts and Iraqi civilians? Then what could appointing Patricia Owen and Janice Rogers Brown to the federal bench mean for you? Ace Texas journalist Lou Dubose on one victim of Texas Supreme Court Associate Justice Priscilla Owen. Susan Lerner, founder of the Los Angeles based Committee on Judicial Independence and Maria Blanca, executive director of Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area on California Supreme Court Associate Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Finally, alt-pop music pioneer Chocolate Genius joins Laura in the studio to talk about his next album, Real Music, which will be released later this year, amongst other things.

Sunday 7-10pm est
What are the next unintended consequences of W's war in Iraq? What are the implications at home and abroad? Yanar Mohammed, founder of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq on the latest news from the region. Then, abuses in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay don't stop with soldiers desecrating the Koran, but start there. An update on the news beyond Newsweek's
apology with Barbara Olshansky Deputy Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and others. Finally, author Isabel Allende on her remarkable works tying the past, present and future together and new book, "Zorro: A Novel." Also, an update from Ruth Robertson on plans by the ‘Raging Grannies’ to stop Wal Mart running military recruitment videos in stores on Memorial Day Weekend.

Remember, you can listen via satellite radio, a local station in some areas (they're now broadcast on fifty-six stations nationwide) or online via Real Player or Windows Media Player (if you don't have a player, links are provided for you to download a player).

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Weekend schedule for Air America (guests include Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Bell, Judi Shils, Mark Jacobson)

From Air America's home page, here's "This Weekend On Air America Radio:"

Saturday:

So What Else is News?
Marty Kaplan takes the pulse of Dr. Dean's First 100 Days as DNC chair in a special edition of So What Else Is News. Guests include Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, 2006 democratichopefuls Chris Bell, Nick Lampson and Christine Cegelis, plus a handful of behind-the-scenes power brokers.

Ring of Fire
McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King must now comply with audits that benefit both the animals and the workers. Why? The work of autisic scientist and animal lover Temple Grandin. Bobby Kennedy goes to the source for more info.Justice, justice shalt thou pursue. Should progressives be so worried about preserving "judicial independence"? Mike Papantonio talks with Nathan Newman, director of Agenda for Justice, who argues that the federal courts aren't worth fighting for, because they have consistently ruled against social justice and democratic change. Plus, some "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man."

The Laura Flanders Show
Laura delivers her latest insights and interviews as she breaks news throughout the weekend.

Kyle Jason
This Sunday, Kyle will be covering the rat pack’≥ influence on music and racial equality. Australian actress Lenore Zann will be performing songs from her woman show,"The Marilyn Tapes," a Broadway-style tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

Sunday:

EcoTalk
Betsy looks at the ugly side of the beauty industry with Judi Shils, one of the leaders in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Just as we once assumed that all ingredients in processed and fast food "must" be healthy or they wouldn't be allowed to sell it to us, we are know learning that some chemicals found in personal care products from make-up to shampoo to deodorant can be carcinogenic or harmful to reproductive health. Betsy continues to "face" facts with Kat James, author of "The Truth About Beauty".

Polically Direct
David Bender interviews Whoopi Goldberg.

So What Else Is News? and Ring of Fire repeat their Saturday episodes on Sunday. The Laura Flanders Show follows them with a new episode.

The Revolution Starts Now
Last week Judy Collins was on the show. Coming up this Sunday, Mark Jacobson, a writer for New York Magazine.

I've rearranged the listings so that they reflect the order the shows air in. Click on the links to find information. Remember that if you do not have satellite radio or if there's not a radio station in your area that carries Air America over the airwaves, you can listen to the programs online via Real Player or Windows Media. (And, to answer Tina's question, you can listen for free. There is no charge.)

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Somini Sengupta, the New York Times in house poet

Earlier this week, community member P.J. asked that we note Somini Sengupta, a "reporter" for the Times. (Sengupta was the reporter Usha alluded to when she noted that a Westernized view was being imposed on India coverage via pop-cultural refs and a Westernize lens.) As noted before at this site, P.J. has disclosed working for the Washington Post. So anyone who wants to defend Sengupta can feel free to dismiss the criticism as being invalid since it comes from someone working at a competing paper.

On Tuesday the Times ran "Dispute Tears at Mumbai: House the Rich, or the Poor?" -- an article by Sengupta. P.J. e-mailed that there was laughter at the Washington Post over Sengupta's latest "tone poem."

Consider it prose poetry when it runs in the paper, and it certainly is "stylish" -- one might even feel it's "ornate." But since the byline doesn't read "Doris Lessing" and since it's supposed to be reporting, hard news reporting, perhaps it's time that someone reigned in Sengupta's flourishes?

Here's the first paragraph (in poetry form):

In the belly of this island city,
The textile mills are overrun by weeds
And their chimneys point at the sky
Like so many sooty elephant snoots.
A glassy new high-rise
Glistens incongrously nearby.
A construction crane
Peers over a giant crater
Where a mill has been demolished
To make way
For four
Luxury apartment towers.

That's only the first paragraph. We'll note another section:

Will it
Remain a magnent
For strivers from the countryside?
Will it
Be able to draw
Foreign investment?
Will it
Stand out
As India's global city?

What logically follows that? "Here's what she said to me/ Que Sera Sera . . ." (Note: The song "Que Sera Sera" was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.)

Does Sengupta's writing not resemble the half-baked poetry of Diane Keaton's Luna in Sleeper?

Or should that read:

Does Sengupta's writing
Not resemble
The half-baked poetry
Of Diane Keaton's Luna
In Sleeper?

Today, Somini Sengupat has a co-poet assisting, Slaman Masood. Together they create the tone poem that is "Guantanamo Comes to Define U.S. to Muslims." From the tone poem:

In one of Pakistan's
Most exclusive private schools for boys,
The annual play
This year
Was "Guantanamo,"
A docu-drama
Based on testimonies of prisoners
In Gunatnamo Bay,
The United States naval base
In Cuba.

The cast was made up
Of students between
16 and 18 years old,
Each playing the role
Of a prisoner
Being held on
Suspicion of terrorism.
To deepen their understanding
Of their characters,
The boys pored
Through articles in Pakistani newspapers,
Studied the international press
And surfed Web sites,
Including one
That described itself
As a nonsecretarian
Islamic
Human rights portal
And is called
cageprisoners.com.

We touched on Segumpta's fondness for tone poems in "Clubbing With The New York Times:"


Moving on. You realize you've hit the frou-frou, chi-chi, upscale club scene as you hear Somini Sengupta work in the word "ennui" while doing a poor job of concealing a self-satisfied smirk. (The headline writer merely apes her lead with "Fear, Ennui and Doubt Underlie Calm in Nepal's Capital").
Sengupta, baby, stick to the art galleries when trying to score with impressive vocab, okay? Striving for tome poem, but coming off like fourth rate Cole Porter ["Come to the Supermarket (In Old Peking)"], Sengupta offers such passages as:
On a recent Sunday afternoon,
as the market women
sat on their haunches hawking cabbages,
and the riot police
milled about
with eyes darting this way and that,
Nepalis revolting
against their king's emergency rule decree
straggled up the narrow alleys
in ones and twos.
Walk on. Walk on.org.

As an essayist, she might (or might not) have talent. As someone that's supposed to delivering the hard news, her stylistic flourishes are detracting from the subject of the supposed report.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Stories to note inside the paper and why does anyone view Laura Bush as a credible source of information?

In this morning's first entry, we noted the lack of news on the front page. But this is the Saturday New York Times. Surely, there's some real news inside the paper since Saturday's the day that Scott Shane's handed the mop and has to do clean up on stories that were incomplete, one-sided or flat out wrong? Wrong. No clean up on aisle sixteen, er, page sixteen, by Shane (who, as noted earlier, is absent along with other dependables Douglas Jehl and Raymond Bonner).

"Hussein Photos in Tabloids Prompt U.S. Call to Investigate" by David E. Sanger and Alan Cowell was a front page news story. It's treated like one on page A3 where it's given the space the topic deserves. Too bad it couldn't penetrate the lifestyle haze to make it onto the front page. From the article:

The publication on Friday of photographs of Saddam Hussein wearing only underwear in his cell in Iraq led the Bush administration on Friday to open an investigation into how the pictures made their way into tabloid newspapers in London and New York, apparently supplied by someone in the American military.
[. . .]
Even if the pictures were taken after Mr. Hussein lost prisoner of war status, guidelines governing his treatment would still have prohibited taking and disseminating such pictures, Mr.
[Bryan] Whitman ["senior Pentagon spokesman"] added. The International Committee of the Red Cross condemned the pbulications of the photographs. "Taking and using photographs of him is clearly forbidden," said the International Committee's Middle East spokeswoman, Dorothea Krimitsas.

On the same page, Felicia R. Lee has "Prison Images Raise Issues for World Media:"

A front-page photograph of Saddam Hussein in his underwear in an Iraqi prison greeted readers of The New York Post and The Sun in London yesterday, coming to The Sun from an American military source seeking to weaken the Iraqi insurgency, The Post reported.

Krista: That statement demonstrates all the reasons that we have been able to accomplish nothing in Iraq. The photographs will humiliate and enrage Iraqis, not weaken the resistance.

Trevor wonders if the Timid was shy about front page these deserving stories because they are "scared of The New York Post?"

I have no idea. But Lynda notes in an e-mail that the "increaingly and strangely more youthful looking Gerald Posner has a book reviewed. For whatever reason, the hand holding photo of Bully Boy and Crown Prince Abdullah that made the news everywhere is credited, in the opening paragraph no less!, to The New York Post. Why is the Times giving advertising to The Post? They ran the photo on the front page as well. It reminds me of the panel and The Daily Howler."

Lynda's referring to one of the concerns when the panel was being reported on. Bill Keller (executive-editor of the Times) wondered if the paper might ought to be stronger in their response to critics. Before Operation Keller goes into effect, Keller might want to consider that if the Times did it's job within the paper, there might not be such a problem.

Now Keller might see that as a broadside at the paper and the usual "carping" he so enjoys going on about while staring into space picturing some vast-circle-jerk conspiracy. But before Keller's eyes goes misty, let me be clear that I'm not even touching on what doesn't make it into the paper (Naomi Klein's news re: James Baker, the Downing memo that the paper took a pass on for so long, protests, et al.). I'm speaking of Keller's topics -- attacks against the Times.

Before the Times launches a p.r. campaign (one they would lose) on comments outside the paper, he might want to address very real problems with the lack of ability to defend itself on the printed page. Janet Maslin's hideous book review (granted, they're all hideous, uniformly) of Ann Coulter's Slander predates Keller becoming executive-editor of the paper; however, it's far more of a problem than any critiques coming from outside the paper.

For those who missed it, Maslin praised Coulter's "footnotes." (Does anyone know the difference between "footnotes" and "endnotes?" Did everyone else just zone out when this was gone over in school? Coulter can call them "footnotes" all she wants. But a footnote appeares at the bottom of the page. She gave endnotes and her education is apparently so poor that she's dubbed them "footnotes.") You can read about the review at The Daily Howler and, as Bob Somerby points out, Maslin rushes to praise Coulter's slams of the Times without ever checking them out. Had she checked them out, Maslin might have felt the need to defend the paper from this baseless attack. Before Keller wastes time and energy on a p.r. offensive, he might want to first implement a policy that book reviews are required to be fact checked. Far more damaging than anything someone could say elsewhere in print, at a microphone or on a web site was Maslin praising Coulter's attacks on the paper. That ran in the New York Times and did far more damage to the paper than any commentary coming from elsewhere.

Since the paper has now instituted "For the Record" corrections (or whatever they're calling their most serious corrections), it's past time for Maslin's review to be noted by the paper.

From Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler:

As we've seen, Slander's "mistakes" about the Times are legion--and they drip with contempt. The book begins with a silly claim about the paper's treatment of Tom DeLay. On page two, we get an absurd description of the Times letters page--a description any New York Times reader would recognize as laughably bogus. (Most Coulter fans don’t read the Times; they had no way to know they were being deceived.) And yes, the book ends with another "mistake" about the Times--the "mistake" which set up that closing screed, which Coulter changed in paperback form to yet another "error." But surely, Coulter's contempt is best exposed by that startling passage from Slander's page 12. Before we see how the Times reviewed Slander, let's recall the nasty claim Coulter presents on that page:
COULTER (page 12): After Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion contrary to the clearly expressed position of the New York Times editorial page, the Times responded with an editorial on Thomas titled "The Youngest, Cruelest Justice." That was actually the headline on a lead editorial in the Newspaper of Record. Thomas is not engaged on the substance of his judicial philosophy. He is called "a colored lawn jockey for conservative white interests," "race traitor," "black snake," "chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom," "house Negro" and "handkerchief head," "Benedict Arnold" and "Judas Iscariot."

How bizarre is Coulter's best-selling book? The claims in this passage are remarkably nasty, and as we’ve seen, they're utterly false; no, the Times didn't call Thomas that long string of names, although Coulter's reader had no way to know that. Indeed, Coulter cut-and-pasted that list of names from a totally different source; having done so, she simply pretended that the New York Times had said them.
Of course, Coulter engages in blatant dissembling throughout her book, but this passage helps us see the depth of her grinding pathology. Coulter wanted to say that the liberal Times had engaged in the nastiest possible conduct. So of course! Unable to make such a claim in good faith, she plagiarized. She simply made the claim up.
Yes, there’s a word for the attitude driving this conduct--Coulter is filled with contempt for our values. But average Americans have no way to know that--in part, because of the odd review that appeared in the New York Times.
Do citizens have a right to know the truth about a person like Coulter? Do they have the right to know when a big best-seller is full of "mistakes?" For the most part, average citizens can't learn the truth until somebody decides to tell them--and that, the New York Times wouldn't do. As we’ve seen, Coulter lies about the Times all through this disturbed, crackpot book. And what did Gotham's paper do when it reviewed this contemptuous book? Janet Maslin handled the task. Incredibly, here’s part of her treatment:
MASLIN (7/18/02): A great deal of research supports Ms. Coulter's wisecracks. And some of it is used to persuasive effect (even if one bit of proof that Phyllis Schlafly is treated dismissively by the left comes from a People magazine review of "The Muppets Take Manhattan"). In the extended game of "Gotcha!" that is "Slander," she uncovers more than enough egregious loose talk (for example, Peter Jennings's televised, off-the-cuff comments about the state of brain surgery in Cuba) to have a field day.

In her review, Maslin criticized Coulter's nasty tone--her "insult slinging," which stemmed from "a bottomless source of bile." Indeed, this was Maslin's principal reaction to Slander. But though Maslin complained about Slander's tone, she never told readers that the book is full of blatant misstatements.

Somerby's covered this at length at The Daily Howler, use the search engine and type in "Ann Coulter Janet Maslin" and you'll come across a number of strong articles. But if Keller wants to defend his paper than perhaps he could start by correcting the Maslin review and follow up by asking that The New York Post not get "shout outs" in the paper unless they're solely responsible for something (notable or appalling -- more likely the latter).

The Times front paged the same photo (as did many papers) but to read William Grimes' first paragraph (from "Why Exactly Do We Want to Hold the Saudis' Hand?"), you may not grasp that, you may think The Post covered something everyone else ignored:

The uneasy nature of the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia was neatly captured on the front page of The New York Post in late April. A large photograph showed President Bush, at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., hodling hands with Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's ruler. The headline read, "High Price of Oil."

Oh that brave Post! And how wonderful that they, and they alone judging by Grimes' citation, were the only ones to comment on the people-let-me-tell-you-'bout-my-best-friend-he's-a-one-boy-cuddly-toy-my-up-my-down-my-pride-and-joy nature of the photograph. (Theme to The Courtship of Eddie's Father written by Harry Nilsson )

Why is that in the paper? Is Grimes an advance man for The Post? Did an editor not point out to Grimes that the photo ran everywhere and ask why it was being treated by Grimes as a Post exclusive? And what kind of message that was sending to Times' readers? "Good God, the Times didn't run the photo!" is a reader supposed to exclaim, slapping the forehead? Are they attempting to steer business away from the Times and to the Post?

Had it been a Post exclusive, by all means give credit. But this is akin to reviewing a book on the weather and stating in the opening paragraph, "As most know, it rained this week, as The New York Post predicted." If Keller wants to defend the paper in any way, he should start with what makes it onto the Times' printed page.

Though there's little to get excited in today's "lifestyle" edition, there are a few, very few, news articles worth reading. Besides articles previously noted, David D. Kirkpatrick's "Senate Republicans Move to Cut Off Debate on Nomination to Appeals Court" is news based:

Republican senators moved Friday to end debate and call for a vote on the nomination of Justice Priscilla R. Owen to a federal appeals court [. . .]
Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, said in a statement that if "no reasonable arrangement" about the nomination of Justice Owen, and other judicial appointees is reached, he will call for a majority vote on Tuesday that would end the requirement for 60 votes to close debate on nominations to appeals courts and the Supreme Court.

Billie e-mailed to note that article.

Billie: And notice the photos with it too. Look, don't blame me, I didn't vote for him, but John Cornyn, part of Ory Hatch's boy-toy brigade that's always there to do Hatch's bidding, appears to not only lose the little common sense he went to D.C. with each day he serves in Congress, he also appears to be losing signficant portions of his hair.

Eric Lipton has an article that purports to tell us about somethings learned in the fall of 2001. That's four years ago. Don't misunderstand, news is news whenver it comes out. But the reality is Lipton's writing about what the Pentagon released recently. Were we in danger, the public should have known long before this. The article strikes Brad as "a distraction and attempt to racket up fears without resorting the laughable color-code warning system."

Eli notes Eric Lichtblau's "Plan Would Let F.B.I. Track Mail in Terrorism Inquiries:"

The F.B.I. would gain broad authority to track the mail of people in terror investigations under a Bush adminsitration proposal, officials said Friday, but the Postal Service is already raising concerns.
[. . .]
A debate over the government's terrorism powers is to begin in earnest at a session on the Intelligence Committee on Thursday, in what is shaping up as a heated battle over the balance between fighting terrorism and protecting civil rights in the post-Sept. 11 era.

Okay, are Eli and I the only ones wondering why, at this point or any other, Licthblau's not making the point that Bully Boy has refused to appoint the panel that's supposed to be overseeing civil liberties, the one the 9-11 commission recommended? Yes, the Times has reported on his failure in this regard. But a "battle" is shaping up and where is the panel the 9-11 Commission believed we needed to protect our civil liberties? Six months later, no panel but a battle, "a heated battle," is about to ensue.

Elisabeth Bumiller has an article, not a "White House Letter," today entitled "First Lady Questions Delay in Telling President of Plane." It's your basic, account of public remarks. Other than that, we won't bother to critique Bumiller (she doesn't embarrass herself, I'll note that).
But there's another issue.

Who the hell cares?

Laura Bush appears to be getting out of the White House more. Well good for her. We'd previously fantasized that her days were passed with a gin bottle in one hand, a cheesy romance paperback in another, propped up in bed with a carton of Lucky Strikes at the ready on the end table.

But who cares what she says?

Statements from her have no credibility at all. Not because of whom she's married to. But because who can believe her? She reads a poem about a lump in the bed that her husband supposedly wrote. She gets some nice press and a few chuckles. Then it turns out he never a wrote a poem. She builds a comedy routine out of her, Condi Rice and grim face Cheney (no, not Dick, the other one) watching Desperate Housewives. She gets laughs. She's seen as a good sport and open. Turns out, it's all lies.

Let's be really clear here, it's not surprsing that her material is written by someone else. It is suprising that the press doesn't seem to care that it's not reality based. It's as though she stood up in a talent show and got laughs from stealing Henny Youngman's "Take my wife" jokes. The material should have been crafted around her. The fact that she's never watched Desperate Housewives but wants to pretend (over and over) in her "routine" that she has is not just bad stand up, it's lying.

Yes, she was trying to get laughs. But there was no reality base for her remarks. "I am a desperate housewife!" No, you're just desperate towin approval.

She's an ineffectual First Lady (and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that this results not from her own desires -- pin the blame on the Bully Boy). With regards to the last attempt at making her life appear just-like-all-the-other-gals, I was dismayed but not planning to comment because goodness knows she's earned the right to a few laughs. But when she's quoted on Newsweek and now on the "delay" this week, I think it needs to be noted that her public remarks aren't based in reality. She has demonstrated that she will say whatever she thinks the people will respond to. (Permanent record should state, "Works too hard to be likeable.")

When material is crafted to you, it needs to reflect you. It's humor so you're building on reality, but it needs a reality foundation. The Desperate Housewives routine should have come with an advisory: Nothing I'm about to say is true.

Was it funny? That's not really the point. (And something I'll leave to others to evaluate.)
She got big laughs painting herself as being an avid viewer of the show (and Condie and Grim Face Cheney as well) and as being similar to the characters on the show -- a show she's never watched.

If a high schooler gets up at a talent show and steals from Henny Youngman, it may get a few chuckles but they aren't earned laughs, they're deceits. That's what her routine was, deceitful.
Just as it was when she earlier stood up and read a poem about a "lump in the bed" that she claimed, in front of an audience, that Bully Boy had penned for her.

Call them "tall tales" if "lies" makes you uncomfortable. But after eight years of every word Hillary Clinton uttered as First Lady being put under the microscope and examined for truthfulness, it's awfully strange that Laura Bush is handed a repeated pass and seen as credible in her public remarks.

"They're just jokes," someone might argue. They're not reflective of her, I'd argue. They were cheap, easy laughs that she garnered by pretending to be something she wasn't. That is a problem for someone who wants to go on the record.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

(Note: Jodi Wilgoren has a strong article in today's paper. I had planned to discuss it even though no member e-mailed about it. It's entitled "DNA Leads to New Suspect in Killing of Indiana Girl." However, I've now spent over five hours on the Times this morning and I'd really prefer to be done with it already. We do, however, have one more entry to go. But, for the record, Wilgoren has a strong article in today's paper.)

This morning's front page of the New York Times eschews news for "lifestyle"

Julia e-mails to ask, "Where is the news? Where IS the news?"

On the front page are six stories, three can be considered front page news.

Is the New York Times attempting to market irrelevance today? Is that the new "look" for the front page?

We'll ignore the article written by Somini Sengupta and Slaman Masood for this entry except to note: it's neither worthy of the front page nor worthy of being dubbed "news." (Sengupta will get her own entry shortly.)

Sheryl Gay Stolberg has "In Rare Threat Bush Vows Veto of Stem Cell Bill." Here's the first paragraph:

Setting up a showdown with the Republican-controlled Congress over the thorny issue of embryonic stem cell research, President Bush vowed Friday to veto a measure, now pending in the House, that would expand federal financing for the studies -- an extremely rare personal threat from a president who has never excercised his veto power.

Stolberg, Michael Wines and Benedict Carey have the only news items on the front page. From Wines' "Zimbabwe, Long Destitute, Teeters Towards Ruin:"

In the weeks before parliamentary elections in March, the leaders of the this treadbare nation threw open the national larder, wooing voters with stocks of normally scarce gasoline and corn and a flood of freshly printed money.
It may have helped: the ruling party, President Robert G. Mugabe's ZANU-PF, was installed for another five years. But Zimbabwe's Potemkin prosperity has evaporated since the elections, replacey by penury and mounting signs of collapse.
Here in the second largest city, lines of cars stretch a quarter mile and more at fuel-parched service stations, and drivers spend the night in their cars' back seats lest they lose their place in line. Milk, cooking oil and, most of all, corn, the national staple, are a distant memory at most stores. At one downtown grocery, tubes of much-prized American toothpaste are kept in a locked case.

(For Jody, "penury," according to Webster's, means "a cramping and oppressive lack of resources (as money); especially : severe poverty.")

We'll even note Benedict Carey's "Implant Device for Depression Nears Approval:"

The Food and Drug Administration may soon approve a medical device that would be the first new treatment option for the severely depressed patients in a generation, despite the misgivings of many experts who say there is little evidence that it works.
. . .
[I]n the only rigorously controlled trial so far in depressed patients, the stimulator was no more effective than sham surgery.
While some patients show signficantly improved moods after having the $15,000 device implanted, most do not, the study found.
And once the device is implanted, it is hard to remove entirely; surgeons say the wire leads are usually left inside the neck.

Daniel J. Wakin (or "Daniel J. Wakin" -- to note, as always, the byline does not indicate that others did not work on the piece or rework it and that the byline does not mean every word is as Wakin wanted it) might have a story in "A City Opera Conductor Joins Business Connections to Talent" if he were at The New York Daily News. But he writes for the Times and if there's one area that consistently puts the "Timid" in New York Timid (but the area is often overlooked) it's when the paper tries to circle around anything that might reflect poorly on the boards of certain arts organization. Can't very well be insulting certain unnamed names in print and dining with them later in the same week apparently. (Dining with them does not refer to the actions of the reporters but the higher ups, straight up to the ownership of the paper.)

So Wakin tries to circle the topic in a bland, maybe-or-maybe kind of way that is ineffective and puts you to sleep. The sixth paragraph of the article is actually the lead paragraph and were the Timid not so damn timid when it comes to the anything that might reflect poorly on "patrons of the art world" (my term, not Wakin's), they could have a story here. The paper's international coverage seems premised on the question "What's the State Department's policy on this country?" -- which is why they tilt and bend so often as they attempt to remake themselves with each incoming administration and every shift in mood at the State Department. The arts covereage, the "fine arts," seems built, always, around, "Did we offend wealthy patrons serving on the organization's board?" This had led them to kill big stories, to underplay other ones, to apologize for their own reporters' "mistakes" (many of which are later proven true).

For all I know, Wakin had no idea of the paper's inability to speak plainly on abuses in the world of the fine arts. He may have made the sixth paragraph his opening paragraph and gone on to build a strong case only to have his draft gutted and reworked by others. But what remains isn't worthy of the front page. (The fine arts articles rarely are until someone else has broken the news and it's garnered national attention.)

Danny Hakim's "A Love Affair With S.U.V.'s Begins to Cool" is a marketplace headline someone's attempting to tease out into a full blown story. Like Wakin's story (or Sengupta's) it suffers from "lifestyle reporting" as opposed to real reporting. Whether or not Hakim and Wakin are solely responsible for the stories carrying their byline is as pointless as the "news" that makes the front page today is.

Readers of the Saturday paper have come to expect it to be the one day of the week where some actual news can break out. Maybe it's in piece by Douglas Jehl, Scott Shane or Raymond Bonner? (All three are absent from today's edition.) Maybe it's buried inside or on the back page, but news can usually be found in the Saturday paper along with one article that has a reader grateful that some item got covered, regardless of where the paper tossed it. Not today.

Eli e-mails to wonder if part of the decline in readership might be the result of papers emphasizing lifestyle over news because, as Eli notes, regardless of what it is, "they still call them newspapers, not lifestyle papers."

The front page on Sundays are often overwhelmed with lifestyle reports, as opposed to actual news. Now it's begun to seep over into other days as well. That's especially distressing for the Saturday edition. But we saw it in their series on 'class in America.'

Tori: A serious topic was covered with all the depth one might expect from NBC's Dateline.

Roy: I expect this nonsense on Sunday and rarely bother to read the front page on Sunday anymore but, for God's sake, quit f**king up my Saturday paper.

Whether this is a severe lapse or a sign of what's to come on future Saturdays, I have no idea.

Carl e-mails to note "COUP: Today Show Seizes Control of the New York Times' front page,"
an entry on the Sunday front page that we did on December 5, 2004.

Carl: I said that morning that the front page was total s**t and I feel the exact same way about this morning's front page only more outrage because outside of the Saturday following the inaugruation, I can't remember a fluffier front page.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Joshua Green on DeLay: "The Hammer Falls" (Rolling Stone), Mark Danner on the Downing memo -- "The Secret Way to War" (The New York Review of Books)

After the revelations of the past few weeks, there is no longer any doubt that Rep. Tom DeLay is the most corrupt official in Washington -- which is saying a lot, given the ethical standards of Capitol Hill. The Republican majority leader, known as "The Hammer," has broken nearly every House ethics rule on the books in recent years, enjoying lavish trips paid for by corporate lobbyists and foreign agents. DeLay stayed at the luxurious Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Hawaii as a guest of the American Association of Airport Executives, who picked up the $52,000 tab for eight members of Congress. He went golfing in Scotland, Russia and South Korea with family members and aides, racking up $283,000 in expenses that were covered by a host of special interests, including Enron, AT&T and the Nuclear Energy Institute. His wife, Christine, and daughter Danni Ferro have received $500,000 from his campaign for their political work on his behalf -- including a late-night party for corporate donors at the Rio Hotel and Casino
in Las Vegas, where a lobbyist poured champagne over Danni's head while she was in a hot tub on the balcony of DeLay's suite. The majority leader -- a master at covering his tracks by laundering corporate gifts through seemingly innocuous groups like the National Center for Public Policy Research -- insists that his first-class jet-setting is undertaken solely for "educational" purposes.
The accusations against DeLay are hardly new. The congressman from Texas has been
openly flouting the law for years, receiving an unprecedented three rebukes in a single week from the House ethics committee after he bribed a fellow Republican to vote for a bill and sold his own vote on another in exchange for a corporate donation. What is new, however, is the momentum that is gathering to oust DeLay for his unethical conduct.
With more abuses coming to light each day, even members of his own party are calling for him to resign. DeLay is "an absolute embarrassment to me and to the Republican Party," Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican from Connecticut, said recently. The man who has long bullied supporters and opponents alike -- once going so far as to order the Department of Homeland Security to help hunt down and arrest Democrat legislators in Texas -- suddenly appears likely to face censure and even indictment.
"Tom DeLay is like a wounded gazelle on the plains of Africa with all the jackals around,"
says James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "I think it's going to be very hard for him to survive."
But while the sudden downturn in DeLay's fortunes dominates the headlines, the behind-
the-scenes campaign that helped bring about his downfall has gone almost unnoticed. During the past year, a small group of Democrats has been quietly working to call public attention to DeLay's wrongdoing -- and to mobilize public sentiment against him. For the first time since their defeat last November, the Democrats are proving that they too can play rough, demonstrating the kind of determined opposition that many political observers were beginning to doubt them capable of.

The above is from Joshua Green's "The Hammer Falls: Are the Democrats tough enough to bring down Tom DeLay?" from Rolling Stone.


Though the Downing memo wasn't addressed until Douglas Jehl's article today, Rolling Stone points out that the memo was mentioned as an aside previously in the New York Times:

But the U.S. media world has just so far simply shrugged. Where did the major dailies play the story? Washington Post: A-18. New York Times: A-9 (buried in a political analysis handicapping of Blair's electoral chances.) The LA Times: A-3.

Rolling Stone steers you to Mark Danner's "The Secret Way to War" from The New York Review of Books:


It was October 16, 2002, and the United States Congress had just voted to authorize the President to go to war against Iraq. When George W. Bush came before members of his Cabinet and Congress gathered in the East Room of the White House and addressed the American people, he was in a somber mood befitting a leader speaking frankly to free citizens about the gravest decision their country could make.
The 107th Congress, the President said, had just become "one of the few called by history to authorize military action to defend our country and the cause of peace." But, he hastened to add, no one should assume that war was inevitable. Though "Congress has now authorized the use of force," the President said emphatically, "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary." The President went on:
Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action. Yet, if Iraq is to avoid military action by the international community, it has the obligation to prove compliance with all the world's demands. It's the obligation of Iraq.
Iraq, the President said, still had the power to prevent war by "declaring and destroying all its weapons of mass destruction"--but if Iraq did not declare and destroy those weapons, the President warned, the United States would "go into battle, as a last resort."
It is safe to say that, at the time, it surprised almost no one when the Iraqis answered the President's demand by repeating their claim that in fact there were no weapons of mass destruction. As we now know, the Iraqis had in fact destroyed these weapons, probably years before George W. Bush's ultimatum: "the Iraqis"--in the words of chief US weapons inspector David Kay--"were telling the truth."
As Americans watch their young men and women fighting in the third year of a bloody counterinsurgency war in Iraq--a war that has now killed more than 1,600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis--they are left to ponder "the unanswered question" of what would have happened if the United Nations weapons inspectors had been allowed--as all the major powers except the United Kingdom had urged they should be--to complete their work. What would have happened if the UN weapons inspectors had been allowed to prove, before the US went "into battle," what David Kay and his colleagues finally proved afterward?

Thanks to a formerly secret memorandum published by the London Sunday Times on May 1, during the run-up to the British elections, we now have a partial answer to that question. The memo, which records the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair's senior foreign policy and security officials, shows that even as President Bush told Americans in October 2002 that he "hope[d] the use of force will not become necessary"--that such a decision depended on whether or not the Iraqis complied with his demands to rid themselves of their weapons of mass destruction—the President had in fact already definitively decided, at least three months before, to choose this "last resort" of going "into battle" with Iraq. Whatever the Iraqis chose to do or not do, the President's decision to go to war had long since been made.

Click the link to continue reading Danner's essay.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Sunday Chat & Chews

The Sunday Chat & Chews air Sundays, check your local listings.

ABC's This Week:

Guests:
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., ranking member, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Sen. George Allen, R-Va., former governor, Virginia
Anne Graham Lotz, evangelist and daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham


In our roundtable, the continuing fallout over Newsweek's Koran desecration retraction and the published pictures of Saddam in his underwear. Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, will join Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, and ABC's George Will. In The List, the growing debate over stem cell research. The president vowed on Friday to veto bipartisan legislation that would ease restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Two passionate voices on either side of the issue weigh in -- actor Christopher Reeve's widow, Dana, and the Rev. Billy Graham's daughter Anne Graham Lotz.

CBS' Face The Nation?

They currently have the guests listed for . . . May 15th. Who's on this Sunday? Who knows.

NBC's Meet the Press will have Howard Dean. For the full hour.

Not big on the chat & chews. If I were watching? No, not CBS' Face The Nation. I'd go with ABC's This Week to watch Katrina vanden Heuvel. Fortunately the round table comes in the second half hour so I could avoid Joe Lieberman.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Oliver and Lana highlight two interviews with Dahr Jamail

Oliver e-mails to highlight an interview with Dahr Jamail at UK Indymedia. Here's an excerpt from Paul O'Hanlon's interview with Jamail:

Paul: "Is the reality in Iraq very different from the way it is portrayed in the media?"
Dahr: "Exactly, take for example what just happened with this operation Matador (near the Syrian border) the media today in fact is reporting that it’s a success and they've called off the operation and killed I think 125 insurgents and detained however many more but the reality is what I've learned from the ground from NGOs operating and from making phone calls into that area the whole thing is like a mini Fallujah – they didn't let people leave the city, there’s probably hundreds of civilians casualties and many, many homes destroyed and many displaced people and of course none of this is being reported in the mainstream media. It typifies the whole situation in Iraq"
Paul: "something which surprised me was that the electricity is still not fixed some two years after the war. I was speaking to an Iraqi lady called Amal who was saying that at the moment the electricity is currently two hours on five hours off even in Baghdad and in the North of the country as in Irbil the situation is no better."
Dahr: "Yes, my interpreter from Baghdad said about a week ago that the electricity is anything from one to two hours on then four to five hours off. That's pretty typical all over the country"
Paul: "I've heard that ordinary Iraqis have offered to fix the electricity themselves free of charge but have been prevented from doing so by the occupation. The work has to be done by overcharging war profiteers like Bechtel and Halliburton."
Dahr: "Exactly. They won't hire Iraqis because they think they're a security threat. Only 2 per cent of the money allocated is for Iraqi companies."


Lana e-mailed to note an interview Dahr Jamail did with Eric Ruder that we highlighted last month. Lana excerpts this from the interview:

ER-WHEN THE U.S. announced its assault on Falluja, it claimed its goal was to root out the resistance. Can you talk about the strategic goal that the U.S. set for itself and also whether it succeeded?
DJ-I BASICALLY heard two reasons for going in and doing what they did to Falluja: what you mentioned, as well as another primary goal--providing “security and stability” for the January 30 elections.
What happened was that most of the fighters in the city left even before the siege began--even the military admitted to that. So of the roughly 3,000 people killed, the vast majority were civilians. Falluja was declared a "free-fire" zone for the military, meaning that they were not distinguishing between civilians and fighters, which is, of course, a violation of international law in a city where there might be civilians.
As far as accomplishing this goal of "rooting out fighters" and/or providing "security and stability" for the January 30 election, we can see that neither have been accomplished.
They have effectively spread the resistance further around the country. We have another sort of "mini-Falluja" situation in Ramadi, where rather than sectioning off the entire city and doing what they did to Falluja, they're doing it neighborhood by neighborhood. In essence, any fighters who are there are moving to a different neighborhood when one is being hit, and then moving back when the military goes to another neighborhood.
They're going to have to employ the same strategy in Samarra, in Baquba, in Bayji, in Mosul and even in parts of Baghdad. It's a strategy that the U.S. military has been using since almost the beginning of the occupation--using very heavy-handed tactics to fight the resistance. But by doing so, they're just spreading the resistance to other areas around the city or the country, and essentially creating more resistance.


Lana: I'm pretty sure that everybody already gets the criticism of the "award winning" NYT reporter Dexter Filkins. I got to hear Dhar speak. Falluja was more than NYT ever told you via Dexy's Midnight Blunder. I agree, history will not be kind to Filkins.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Katrina vanden Heuvel on ABC's This Week this Sunday

From an e-mail sent out to everyone who signs up for alerts and information at The Nation:

And you can watch vanden Heuvel live this Sunday morning, May 22, on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. She'll be joining a roundtable of journalists in a wide-ranging political discussion. The show airs at 9:00AM est in New York City, 8:00AM pst in Los Angeles and at various other times that morning coast to coast. Check local listings or click below to confirm air time in your area.

We'll spotlight the Sunday Chat & Chews in another entry but Katrina vanden Heuvel being on
This Week is pretty big news and worthy of its own item. As members know, Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor of The Nation and, online, writes at Editor's Cut.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Dahr Jamail, Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Alexander Cockburn

Dahr Jamail has another article up at Iraq Dispatches:

Living with her aunt and cousin, she had to work since she was the sole supporter.
"We needed many things, so I wanted the job," she says softly, "Many people were working with the Americans so I felt it would be ok."
But the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had long since warned Iraqis of collaborating with the occupiers, and said they would not allow anyone to do so. The situation in her area degraded enough for her bosses to tell her to stay home for two weeks.
"After this, I went back to work because my bosses told me the security was better," she adds, "But after I'd been back to work one week, at 7:30am I was waiting for a taxi as I always did to go to my job, and I felt as if I was thrown to the ground but I felt nothing else. My bosses had told me it was secure now."
After a short time someone came up and held her hand.
"I asked him why he did this to me, and he told me he didn't do it and he would take me to the hospital."
She asked him if she was going to die. Two bullets passed through her head, taking her eyesight before exiting.
"He took me to the hospital in Hilla," she explains softly, "And when I was there I told people I worked for KBR. Someone at KBR told the people at the hospital they would come to visit me."
But they never came.
After being transferred to two more hospitals in Baghdad, there was still no word from them.
"But then Mr. Jeff called by his translator after I was in Baghdad for 45 days, and Mr. Jeff told the hospital worker that I was in a hospital inside the Green Zone," she tells me before holding out her hands as if to ask why. She raises her voice for the first time, "But I was not in the Green Zone!"


The article is entitled "Many people were working with the Americans, so I felt it would be ok."

Moving to Bob Somerby's Daily Howler today, he's addressing the "p"s and "q"s proposal offered by a self-styled Miss Manners:

BLOGGER PANGLOSS: As we have often noted, we read Kevin Drum every day, and we do so for a very good reason-- we visit his site expecting to learn things, and we’re rarely disappointed. But we do think Drum has an odd perspective on the functioning of the mainstream press. Yesterday, he penned a piece you ought to read, in which he cautions lefty bloggers against bashing the New York Times too hard. The right wing is trying to destroy the mainstream media, he warns. And then, he offers his nuggets:
DRUM (5/19/05): Given all this, liberals should think very hard before joining the media bashing crusade too eagerly. Sure, the New York Times employs Judith Miller, and the pressure of daily deadlines promotes too much lazy he-said/she-said reporting on their pages, but guess what? It's still the best newspaper in the world, bar none. If you really believe the Times is a piece of crap, your problem is not with the Times, it's with the current state of the art in human perfectibility.
None of this means newspapers shouldn't be criticized. But endless broad brush howling does nothing except enable the right wing's agenda, regardless of what the howling is aimed at. If liberal bloggers were wiser, we'd spend a little more time praising our big national newspapers and a little less time shaking our fists over the fact that sometimes they aren't on our side. Our real opposition is the right wing press destruction machine, not the press itself.
Yes, we agree-- it's nice to be nice. But as a general view of the state of the media, this strikes us as screaming nonsense. Indeed, we think this view is so odd, it's hard to know where to begin.
Let’s personalize this as much as possible. If Drum really means what he says, we at THE HOWLER have only been "enabling the right wing’s agenda" by our foolish "broad brush howling" over the past seven years. The years of time we devoted to detailing the coverage of Clinton and Gore? Crazy! In fact, when we developed the detailed information about what we've called The War Against Gore, we were actually "doing nothing except enabling the right wing's agenda!" And presumably, others have made the same dumb mistake; for example, when Gene Lyons wrote Fools for Scandal, he was surely doing the work of the right-wing destruction machine as well. Yep! When Lyons presented the startling details about the way the New York Times invented the Whitewater hoax, he was making a big mistake. Instead, he should have "spent a little more time praising the Times" for its marvelous work-- perhaps for spelling the word "Whitewater" right, or for failing to run with the claim that Clinton was behind all those murders. When Lyons showed Whitewater was a big hoax, he was doing the right wing’s work for it.


No offense to Drum (or at least none personally) but, at this site, we've stated repeatedly that people need to speak in their own voices. That includes phrases and ways of speaking (and we touched on that again last night in the interview with Ruth). If Drum's advice speaks to you, by all means follow it. We've also (members and myself) dealt with how damaging the "mind your manners" nonsense can be.

There are two Howlers today. There was a Daily Howler intended for Thursday that's now up (and I have no idea when it went up -- it says Thursday but Dallas e-mailed me and he checked this morning). He's addressing the Newsweek controversy and he finds some use for David Brooks but has some criticism of Katrina vanden Heuvel (see note after excerpt):

And, yes, Brooks is also right about his conservative colleagues. "Many of my friends on the right have decided that the Newsweek episode exposes the rotten core of the liberal media," he writes. "Excuse me, guys, but this is craziness." What a shame it took a conservative pundit to state a couple of obvious facts: "The people who run Newsweek are not a bunch of Noam Chomskys with laptops. Not even close. Whatever might have been the cause of their mistakes, liberalism had nothing to do with it." We don't necessarily agree with every particle of that last statement. But no--the perfumed poodles running Newsweek are not a bunch of crazy liberals. They proved this, over and over again, in their wars against Clinton, then Gore. But it's amazing how hard it is to get our fiery "liberal spokesmen" to say this. They have decided to "get over" those recent wars--wars which their fiery "liberal" publications all agreed to ignore in real time.
And sadly, yes, one more thing is true--Brooks is also reasonably accurate in his comments about big progressives. Yes, there's a bit of hyperbole mixed in with the irony. But sadly, not all that much:
BROOKS (5/19/05): Meanwhile, the left side of the blogosphere has erupted with fury over the possibility that American interrogators might not have flushed a Koran down the toilet. The Nation and leftish Web sites are in a frenzy to prove that the story is probably true even if Newsweek is retracting it.
Yes, there's a bit of hyperbole there. But we watched the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel
as she played some Hardball Monday night. And yes, we saw precisely what Brooks describes. To our eye and ear, vanden Heuvel did seem to be insisting that the toilet tale was "probably true." Vanden Heuvel has no earthly way of knowing whether the incident happened. But so what? "The allegations have been out there in terms of reporting," she pleadingly said:
VANDEN HEUVEL (5/16/05): I think Newsweek made an error. But the debate, it seems to me, has been very narrow in its fixation on this issue of single sourcing, of anonymous sourcing, because, you know, the allegations of the desecration of the Koran have been out there in terms of reporting, whether in The New York Times, in The Washington Post, in the BBC, detainees who come out of Guantanamo or Bagram in Afghanistan--
MATTHEWS: Right. But the story says--this is very important that I get this straight on my television--
VANDEN HEUVEL: But these are sources--
MATTHEWS: No. I want to make this very clear, what you just said, and I want to clarify it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, but these are--

Please note, we support Katrina vanden Heuvel as a community. We also support Bob Somerby. We highlight The Daily Howler pretty much daily and will continue to do so.
If the criticism speaks to you, note it, if it doesn't, let it go.

At Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel is addressing the CPC:

If you don't know much about the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), you should. With 50-plus members, it's the single largest caucus in the House, and according to a study by Chris Bowers of MyDD, by far the most loyal to core Democratic values.
At a time in which too many Dems have lost their way (read: spine), CPC members--from co-chairs Barbara Lee (CA) and Lynn Woolsey (CA) to outspoken figures like founder (and Senate hopeful) Bernie Sanders (VT), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Jan Schakowsky (IL), John Conyers (MI), Maurice Hinchey (NY) and Barney Frank (MA)--continue to fight for working Americans,
stand against the war, and discuss honorable ways out of Iraq. This week, Lee and Woolsey took a significant step towards strengthening the CPC, hiring grassroots organizer, former AFL-CIO staffer, and Capitol Hill veteran Bill Goold as its first full-time staffer. "There are a growing number of people who are getting involved with politics because they are drawn to the basic principles of fairness and justice that the Progressive Caucus has long represented in Congress," said Lee. "Adding a staff member of Bill's experience will allow the Progressive Caucus to more effectively continue our commitment to these principles."

We'll also note Alexendar Cockburn's latest column both because it's on the New York Times and because he comes up in the Thursday-intended Daily Howler:

Sign here to become a member of the 14 Per Cent Club. Twenty bucks plus shipping and handling gets you the t-shirt. Credentials for membership derive from a recent study from the Pew Research Center disclosing, in the words of Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on May 9, that a recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Americans believe little or nothing of what they read in their daily newspapers.
When specific newspapers were mentioned, The Times fared about average, with 21 percent of readers believing all or most of what they read in The Times and 14 percent believing almost nothing. Chalk up another victory for the left. We're been at it for thirty years at least, saying that most things in the Times are distortions of reality or outright lies and here is a robust slice of the American people agreeing with us. Of course the faint hearts who believe that the left can never win anything will say that the credit should go to moles at the New York Times, boring from within, hollowing out the mighty edifice with year upon year of willful falsehoods until at last the whole ponderous structure is crumbling into dust crushing all within.
True to a point.
Heroic moles, entombed in the rubble of your own making, Judith Miller and all the others, back through to the suzerain of sappers, A.M. Rosenthal, we salute you all! As with any empire on the brink of collapse, frantic commands are issuing from the command bunker. Seelye divulges the program of proposed "reform" devised by the editors. "Encourage reporters to confirm the accuracy of articles with sources before publication and to solicit feedback from sources after publication. Set up an error-tracking system to detect patterns and trends. Encourage the development of software to detect plagiarism when accusations arise. Increase coverage of middle America, rural areas and religion. Establish a system for evaluating public attacks on The Times's work and determining whether and how to respond."

Three voices members value, Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Alexander Cockburn. (Four counting Dahr Jamail.)


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.
_______________________

Yahoo! Mail Mobile

Take Yahoo! Mail with you! Check email on your mobile phone.

Democracy Now: Christy Harvey, Jeffrey Johnson; BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week; Dan, Pamela Troy, Wes Owens, Barbara's Daily BuzzFlash Minute

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching"):
Headlines for May 20, 2005
- NYT: Army Abuse Report Details Widespread
- Carriles Charged
- Uzbekistan Rejects UN Request
- Haiti March for Aristide Return
- U.S. To Fly 100 Israelis to Testify Against Al-Arian
- Desecrated Koran Delivered by Amazon
- Pinochet Hospitalized
- Child Abuse In Military Families

Battle Over Judicial Nominees, Filibuster Heats Up in Senate
The battle over the filibuster continues to heat up in the U.S senate as the nomination of Texas Supreme Court justice Priscilla Owen comes under debate. Racial politics also entered the debate over the nomination of Janice Brown. We speak with Christy Harvey of the Center for American Progress and Jeffrey Johnson of People For The American Way.

Washington Retains Strong Ties With Uzbekistan Despite Notorious Human Rights Record
Uzbek President Islam Karimov has rejected calls for an international inquiry into a bloody crackdown on protesters in the town of Andijan last week that left up to 750 dead. Washington has close links with Uzbekistan despite the country's notorious human rights record. We speak with a researcher with Human Rights Watch, the editorial director of Antiwar.com and we go to Andijan to get a report from the ground.

Indigenous Community in Colombia Fears Start of "Dirty War"
A large indigenous community in Colombia is predicting that a so-called dirty war could break out in an area that has been at the forefront of non-violent resistance to the government of the pro-US regime of President Uribe. We speak with the former mayor of Toribio and a surgeon and human rights activist from Toribio.


Todd e-mails to inform us that BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week is . . .

Welcome back to the BuzzFlash.com GOP Hypocrite of the Week.
Some might call Neal Horsley the "Mule Whisperer" because of his history of mumbling sweet nothings in the hairy ears of a few equestrian hybrids.


To learn how Horsley earned his award, use link to continue reading.

And "let's just give it up to BuzzFlash today" (as Keesha suggested in her e-mail).
Keesha steers us to Dan in Dallas's BuzzFlash contribution "NY Times Hides Galloway in "International," and Leaves Out Damning Testimony." Here's an excerpt:

Today The New York Times hid its news article on the damaging and blistering anti-Bush anti-war testimony of MP Galloway before the US Senate in the NY Times "International" section ... guess that the US Senate is foreign territory now for NY Times editors.And guess who the NY Times had to 'write' its most pro-Bush spin ---- none other than the lying Judith Miller--the neo-cons' mouthpiece at the NY Times. Propagandist Judith Miller is Chalabi's best newswhore that the NY Times put front page for weeks on end in the Bush administration's push-to-war-damn-the-facts "reporter."And don't bother to re-read today's Judith Miller piece on Galloway's Senate testimony thinking you missed what Galloway actually said------because the NY Times did not publish ANY of the damaging testimony of Galloway----IT'S NOT THERE.

Eddie also e-mails to note a BuzzFlash exclusive, Pamela Troy's "Dangerous Clowns" which is the first of a four-part series. Here's an excerpt:

Look up the name "Julius Streicher" in the index of most recent books on the Third Reich and you’re likely to be referred to one or two brief mentions. He was a lout whose anti-Semitic newspaper, Der Sturmer, was so crude that he’s sometimes called “Hitler’s pornographer.” He is usually described as a squat thug with a paltry talent for harnessing the combined power of ignorance and malice, someone who intelligent people could safely ignore with a contemptuous laugh.
Many of those who watched the rise of the Third Reich as it happened weren’t that dismissive. In 1936 Time Magazine referred to him as "One of Nazi Germany’s Most Dangerous Clowns." Hitler himself considered Streicher’s ability to mobilize the masses to the cause of Nazism invaluable and Himmler was quoted in Streicher’s newspaper Der Sturmer, "In times to come when the story of the reawakening of the German people is written, and when the next generation will be unable to understand how the German people could ever have been friendly with the Jews, it will be said that Julius Streicher and his weekly newspaper were responsible for a good part of the education about the enemy of mankind." The tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945 agreed. Part of the indictment against Streicher read:
In the early days he was preaching persecution. As persecution took place he preached extermination and annihilation and, as millions of Jews were exterminated and annihilated, in the Ghettoes of the East, he cried out for more and more. The crime of Streicher is that he made these crimes possible, which they never would have been had it not been for him and for those like him.
For the past twenty years, Streicher's voice has been most faithfully echoed in the pronouncements of people like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and countless other less well-known "clowns" who frequent cable TV, talk radio and the Internet. Like Streicher, they are often dismissed as so obviously ridiculous that they’re barely worth the attention of well-informed citizens. And while they are not anti-Semites and their rhetoric is unlikely to lead to the mass murder of those they target, it has, like Streicher's, made mindless hatred not just acceptable in the minds of many people, but downright virtuous.


And another BuzzFlash exclusive is noted by Martha, Wes Owens "Constitutional Crisis 101:"

As I sit here watching the Senate on CSPAN, I see we have arrived at a constitutional crisis.
Because I have made my living working as either a contractor or on the direct payroll of the US Federal Government since 1974, the business of the US Govt has been an interest of mine.I never really appreciated the US Senate as an institution until about 1985 when I became friends with a staffer of ex-Senator Roth (R-Delaware, you remember the Roth IRA?) and was concurrently reading Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson. If I recall, some critics of Caro's work dismissed the 2nd volume of Caro's bio., "Master of the Senate," as a rehash of high school civics. Not so. You see, just today, I was led to re-read the Constitution of the United States (the internet is a wonderful thing).
This reading of our Constitution reminded me of the fact that in the original document, the founding fathers designed the Senate as a forum where tradition, stability and the rights of the minority have not only a voice, but the means to speak dissent to the power and passions of the current majority. This is fundamental, basic and necessary to our system of checks and balances in the governance of the United States.

I'll note Barbara's Daily BuzzFlash Minute. Here's the opening paragraph:

George Bush is a perfect example of why we don't want biased, partisan, faith-based judges appointed to the courts. Thanks to 5 overly biased, partisan, faith-based Supreme Court Judges who took it upon themselves to overrule the majority vote in the United States and appoint a moron to the presidency, we've had 5 long years of pure hell, with no end in sight! And he wants more of the same to insure our demise and his success in the future. I can see it now, the courts stacked with holier than thou judges who would agree with Bush in 2008 when he decides to become the Dictator he's aspired to be all along! No thank you, Frist, no thank you, Senators, we don't want any more of your biased, partisan, faith-based bull shit! KEEP THE FILIBUSTER IN THE SENATE!!!!


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.
_____________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Small Business - Try our new resources site!

3 items

Via BuzzFlash, Riverbend's latest at Baghdad Burning:


She stood in the crowded room as her drove of minions stood around her...…A huddling mass trying to draw closer to her aura of evil. The lights flashed against her fangs as her cruel lips curled into a grimace. It was meant to be a smile but it wouldn't reach her cold, lifeless eyes… It was a leer- the leer of the undead before a feeding...
The above was not a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer- it was just Condi Rice in Iraq a day ago. At home, we fondly refer to her as The Vampire. She's such a contrast to Bush- he simply looks stupid. She, on the other hand, looks utterly evil. The last two weeks have been violent. The number of explosions in Baghdad alone is frightening. There have also been several assassinations- bodies being found here and there. It's somewhat disturbing to know that corpses are turning up in the most unexpected places.
Many people will tell you it's not wise to eat river fish anymore because they have been nourished on the human remains being dumped into the river. That thought alone has given me more than one sleepless night. It is almost as if Baghdad has turned into a giant graveyard.


From Centcom:

SOLDIER KILLED IN VEHICLE ACCIDENT AFTER IED EXPLOSIONLSA ANACONDA, BALAD, Iraq – One 1st Corps Support Command Soldier was killed in a vehicular accident following an improvised explosive device attack during a combat logistic patrol north of Taji at approximately midnight May 20. The Soldier was evacuated to a nearby medical facility where he was pronounced dead.The name of the Soldier is being withheld pending next of kin notification.

From CounterPunch, Stan Goff's "An Open Letter to Democrats: Listen to Galloway and Learn Something:"


Dear Democratic Elected Officials of the United States (with damn few exceptions),
I am writing this open letter to call your attention to the remarks made day before yesterday, May 17, 2005, to the United States Senate, by British MP George Galloway of the independent Respect Party. I do this because he serves as an example of why your party should be abandoned by the U.S. working class, by U.S. women, by oppressed nationalities in the United States, and by anyone who professes to be a progressive or a leftist.
George Galloway did that for which you have proven incapable; he spoke as an opposition. Since there seems to be a great dark space in the middle of your heads where the notion of opposition should be ­ a void filled by parliamentary molasses and the pusillanimous inabilty to tell simple truths ­ I suggest you all review the recordings of Galloway's confrontation with Republican Senator Norm "Twit" Coleman to see exactly how effortless it is to stand up to these cheap political bullies (
watch the video). While you are at it, you can watch your colleague Carl Levin demonstrate exactly what I mean about most of you and your party, as he alternately hurls petulant cream-puff insults at Galloway and kisses Coleman's stunned, clueless ass to give that toothy dipshit some comfort in the wake of Galloway's verbal drubbing.
Galloway didn't have to walk up to the docket and slap the cowboy shit out of Coleman ­ though I admit I still struggle with my own secret urges to do just that with most of the air-brushed, combed-over, Stepford meat-puppets who now people the United States Congress. No, all Galloway had to do was tell the unvarnished truth, and it had exactly the same effect. If Democrats had half the spine that Galloway does if you would stop chasing your creepy little careers through the caviar and chicken-salad circuits of duck-and-cover American political double-speak, then not only would people like me not be calling for all to abandon the Democratic Party and take their fight to the streets like good Bolivians not only that, but you'd have won the last election.


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Via Douglas Jehl, NYT finally addresses the Downing Memo in a news article

With Douglas Jehl's "British Memo on U.S. Plans for Iraq War Fuels Critics," the memo the Sunday Times of London ran at the start of this month finally becomes the topic of a news story in the New York Times. (For the record, Monday, Paul Krugman discussed it in his column on the op-ed page. Though I don't focus on the op-eds in my comments, "for the record," it bears noting and linking to.)

More than two weeks after its publication in London, a previously secret British government memorandum that reported in July 2002 that President Bush had decided to "remove Saddam, through military action" is still creating a stir among administration critics. They are portraying it as evidence that Mr. Bush was intent on war with Iraq earlier than the White House has acknowledged.
[. . .]
It has long been known that American military planning for the Iraq war began as early as Nov. 21, 2001, after President Bush directed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to begin a review of what would be required to oust Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader. By July 2002, the war planning was sufficiently advanced that newspaper accounts that month reported details of some of what was being considered.

Jehl is correct that "[i]t has long been known." If the paragraph inspires anger among some (or possibly many), they will hopefully direct it at the paper and not Jehl. The New York Times elected to front page Judith Miller during the lead up to the invasion/occupation. To this day, Jehl's stories are likely to appear in the Saturday paper, in the paper as in "inside." His reporting loses out to various lifestyle stories that the Times trumpets. But on Saturdays and other days, his topics are usually news.

It's news today. And the article's not given much space, nor is it front paged. As various staff from the Times have noted in e-mails, reporters do not determine where the story lands or the headline for their articles.

As I type this, no one's yet to e-mail about it (placement does determine how much attention an article -- and the information it contains -- receives). But if members want to comment on it, we can do an entry on it. However, please remember that Douglas Jehl did not determine where his story was placed. There's also a good chance that he did not suddenly decide to write it. Yazz will grasp that this is an "in fairness" entry. While there are many things to blame the Times reporters for (and I'm sure Jehl hasn't "hit one out of the park everytime" -- to put in one of those sports analogies the Times so enjoys utilizing), with regards to news of the memo not appearing until now and being buried inside the paper, those are issues with the paper and not the reporter. Were Jehl a part of the Elite Fluff Patrol or not regularly buried inside the paper, I probably wouldn't take the time to make this point which is too bad because even the Fluffers deserve a defense. But they'll have to go elsewhere for that.

(Note that Jehl also has another article on an important topic in the paper today, "Intelligence Czar Is Focus of Legislation," and it too is buried inside the paper.)

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

NYT: Abuse in Afghanistan, Posada charged, Bully Boy loses a cheerleader, "Red Cross Reported Koran Abuses," Bully Boy's war on Fourth Amendment...

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.
The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.
"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"
At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.


The above excerpt is from Tim Golden's "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths" in this morning's New York Times.

Francisco e-mails to note Tim Golden's "Cuban Exile Is Charged With Illegal Entry:"

Homeland Security Department officials said Thursday that they had charged Luis Posada Carriles, the violent anti-Castro militant, with illegally entering the United States.
The charge could be the first step in the deportation of Mr. Posada, 77, who resurfaced outside Miami and was arrested on Tuesday after 45 years of shadowy combat against Fidel Castro.
It also represents a legal and political dilemma for the Bush administration.


Taylor draws our attention to David E. Rosenbaum and Edmund L. Andrews' "An Architect of Bush Plan on Retirement Urges Retreat:"

Robert C. Pozen, the business executive who developed the theory behind President Bush's plan to trim Social Security benefits in the future, urged the president on Thursday to drop his insistence on using part of workers' taxes to pay for individual investment accounts.
This was one of two blows during the day to Mr. Bush's policies on Social Security and retirement saving. In the House, Representative Bill Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, disregarded the methods favored by the president to encourage workers to save for retirement - mostly tax incentives for the affluent - and offered completely different proposals of his own.
The president's Social Security and retirement measures have faced trouble in Congress all year, and the developments on Thursday raised further doubt about their prospects.

Lori notes Katharine Q. Seelye's "Red Cross Reported Koran Abuses:"

The International Committee of the Red Cross said yesterday that it had given the Pentagon "multiple" reports from detainees in Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba, that American personnel had mishandled the Koran. The committee said the complaints from detainees then ceased.
The Pentagon confirmed that it had received these reports from the committee, but characterized the incidents as minor and rare and said that detainees themselves had also mishandled the Koran.


With regards to the Bully Boy's latest war (the war on the Fourth Amendment), Cedric e-mails
Eric Lichtblau's "Democrats Fault Plan for F.B.I.:"

Several Democrats voiced strong objections on Thursday to a plan by the Bush administration and Republican leaders for expanding the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterterrorism powers and said they would fight to have the issue fully debated in public rather than behind closed doors in the Senate.
"The F.B.I. already has the power to get what they need in investigations," Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said in an interview. "I'm unwilling to give the F.B.I. unfettered authority to conduct investigations and take away the last vestige of accountability, which is essentially what they are seeking here."
A proposal advocated by the Bush administration and Republican leaders on the Senate Intelligence Committee would allow the F.B.I. to demand records from businesses and other institutions in intelligence investigations without getting an order from a judge.

Bernado e-mails to highlight Clifford Krauss' "A Tie-Breaking Vote Saves Liberal Leader in Canada:"

Prime Minister Paul Martin and his Liberal government survived on Thursday evening by a single vote in the House of Commons after limping for months as a result of a party scandal.
While the victory in the deeply divided legislature will avert an immediate election, it probably will mean only a brief respite for Mr. Martin from the continuous political troubles that have shaken his ability to improve security and trade relations with the United States and infused new oxygen into the separatist movement in Quebec.



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.