Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Other Items

The American ambassador has told Shiite officials that President Bush does not want the Iraqi prime minister to remain the country's leader in the next government, senior Shiite politicians said Tuesday.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Bush Opposes Iraq's Premier, Shiites Report" in this morning's New York Times. We learn that the message was passed on that Bully Boy "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" and a little more. What's missing? What's always missing in coverage of Iraq? Iraqis. For instance, the response that the US just wants a puppet they can control (a remark that was made in response to the passed on message)? It's not in Wong's report.

It's a pretty strong remark and had it been made by Hugo Chavez, you can be sure Juan Forero would have had a ha-ha-he's-so-crazy report to go with it. But at a time when Bully Boy continues to insist that he went into an illegal war (reluctantly, if you believe his lie), the response that Bully Boy wants a puppet is pertinent to the exchange. Just not to Wong or the Times.

You get fluffing this morning. As Wally noted yesterday in "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY PULLS BOLTEN SWITCH!," Bully Boy's replaced Andrew Card (as White House chief-of-staff) with Joshua Bolton. Bumiller and Sanger fluff out the portrait this morning. The club newsletter that the Times aspires to be rarely allows for any kind of serious examination (remember the "love nest" story was broken not by the paper of record but by other NY dailies). You'd do well to skip the nonsense this morning. It does allow Bully Boy to switch topics which was one of the aims in changing staff.

Linda Greenhouse covers the case of the Guantanamo prisoner that the Court heard yesterday
(Hamdan v. Rumsfeld). Martha points to the coverage of the same case in the Washington Post by Charles Lane. Though both note Scalia, neither note the revelation Newsweek had. Greenhouse writes:

Of the other members of the court, Justice Antonin Scalia appeared most supportive of the administration.

And why do you suppose that was? From Democracy Now!:

Scalia: Guantanamo Detainees Have No Rights
Questions are now being raised as to whether Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia should recuse himself from an upcoming case about the U.S. military prison at Guantanano Bay. Newsweek is reporting Scalia recently gave a speech in Switzerland, where he dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions. During the speech Scalia said he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Guantanamo. Scalia said "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts." On Tuesday the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case that will decide whether the Bush administration can try Guantanamo detainees in special military tribunals. Two years ago Scalia recused himself from a case about the Pledge of Allegiance after he made public comments about the issue.

That's part of the story (part of the public record) but both journalists sidestep it this morning. It's a big elephant in the room and there were calls for Scalia to recuse himself . . . even if both papers pretend this morning that such wasn't the case.

Which makes this a good time to note Charlie's highlight, Danny Schechter's "The Fear Is In the Room: Inside Our Unbrave Media World" (

NEW YORK, March 27: There is a scene in the movie "Good Night and Good Luck" about an outbreak of insecurity that nearly ended the late CBS News legend’s broadcast challenge to red-hunting Senator Joe McCarthy before it aired.
A few hours before the historic moment that demonstrated that newscasters can take on demagogic politicians and deceptive policies, Edward R. Murrow’s colleagues were having second thoughts.
One pointed out that McCarthy would likely lash back. Another worried that the program would be seen as a mere gesture and would accomplish nothing. A third wondered if it was worth jeopardizing the show and CBS News by going after such a high-profile figure so forcefully.
Murrow listened with growing despair at timidity packaged as pragmatism.
Each of his colleagues were loyal to him and were key members of his team. He needed them, just as much as they wanted to assure his survival in a corporate environment easily pressured by government and sponsors.
When it was his turn to speak, Murrow spoke of the fear that McCarthyism had instilled in society. "That fear," he said," is now in this room."
At that given time, and in that environment, the Murrow team was brave enough to go forward, just as George Clooney and his team were brave enough to make a movie to remind us that a free press must be both independent and unafraid.
Look around and you will see how unbrave our media has become in this era of mega-media and paranoid politics when the dominant emotion in most newsrooms is one of anxiety driven by bottom line pressure.
Media executives and journalists are terrified of stepping out of line, being misunderstood, or having themselves thought to be too strident (i.e. opinionated).
As I discovered during eight years toiling inside ABC News, 20/20, most media professionals have an internal radar to guide them against stepping over real but unwritten rules of what you can or can not get away with.

Remember that Schechter speaks about the media and Iraq tonight:

If you are in New York City, please come out for a talk I will be giving on my new book WHEN NEWS LIES: Media Complicity and The Iraq War at Housing Works' handsome Used Book Café on Cosby Street just below Houston, one block east of Broadway at 7 PM March 29. CSPAN will be in the house broadcasting so it is especially important to have a crowd. Please tell your friends. It is free.

Erika asks that we note this e-mail CODEPINK has sent:

There is a shakeup in the White House with the resignation of Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Let's keep Washington shaking with your phone calls this week calling for the censure of George Bush.
Here is the next step in giving Bush his "pink slip." On March 13, 2006,
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a resolution to censure George W. Bush for illegally wiretapping U.S. citizens.
We already have a legal surveillance program with built-in oversight. It's called
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It was created to protect U.S. citizens from being spied upon. FISA provides extensive flexibility for monitoring suspicious persons. It is the law of the land. Bush violated that law (and lied about it). He must be held accountable.
This is precisely what Senator Feingold is doing. But so far, only Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Harkin (D-IA) have cosponsored his censure resolution. Where are the rest? Even Feingold is baffled by what he calls the "cowering Democrats". We need to help this one Senator who has the strength and courage to do the right thing.
Call your Senators and demand they join with Senator Feingold.
And if you are in Washington DC this Friday, March 31, join Senator Feingold and the Senate Judiciary Committee at the hearing on "An Examination of the Call to Censure the President" (9:30 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building). Wear pink!
Let's remind our Senators that they signed an oath to uphold the Constitution and that we are watching. Act NOW!
Alison, Dana, Farida, Gael, Jodie, Medea, Rae and Tiffany
P.S. If your making summer plans,
check out where we will be and join us.

Feingold and the motion got trashed in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. If you support the notion, you're already aware that only two senators have spoken out in favor of it (Barbara Boxer and Tom Harken, as noted above). If it's going to happen, it will come from the people applying pressure, not from the elected officials.

Zach passes on that KPFA's Against the Grain today (noon Pacific time) will have Jose Palafox discussing the immigration issues (Mexico and the United States) in something that goes beyond the hollow rhetoric that the Congress has too often resorted to.

Remeber to check out Democracy Now! today:

* We look at the continuing demonstrations and student walkouts over immigration reform.
* We go to Israel to get the latest on the country's national elections.

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