Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Other Items

The Miami Herald notes the Miami International Film Festival wich celebrates its 25th year and will exhibit "112 international and national feature and short films from 42 countries". Among the films is one that will be screened first on March 6th:

Dear Camilo, a portrait of Camilo Mejía who was the first soldier of the U.S. to declare himself a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq and the first to be convicted for his refusal to return to the Middle East. In English and Spanish with English subtitles; 9:15 p.m. COSFORD. Also 9:15 p.m. March 7 at REGAL.

War resister Camilo Mejia is the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The paper offers a full listing of the films the festival feature. We'll come back to film in a moment, but first, awards.

Leila Fadel, McClatchy's Baghdad bureau chief, won the George R. Polk Award for outstanding foreign reporting and The Charlotte Observer won the Polk Award for outstanding economic reporting, Long Island University announced Tuesday.
Fadel, 26, was cited for her “vivid depictions” of the military and political struggle in Iraq. "Her work provided a comprehensive array of disturbing, first-hand accounts of violence and conflict by juxtaposing the agonizing plight of families in ethnically torn neighborhoods with the braggadocio of a vengeful insurgent proud of his murderous exploits, and the carnage and sorrow among victims of Iraq’s most deadly car bombing in a remote region of the country where few reporters ventured," the jurors said.

That's from McClatchy's "McClatchy Baghdad chief wins Polk award for Iraq reporting" and the Polk Awards, despite Al Franken's efforts to turn them into a running comedic bit (out of his own ignorance and, heaven forbid, anyone on his center-left stop him to explain his bit was offensive), are a very big deal in the world of the press. Robert D. McFadden (New York Times) notes other winners including:

Jeremy Scahill won the Polk book award for “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army” (Nation Books), which described killings, human rights violations and other misconduct by the company that provides private security for American diplomats in Iraq. Mr. Scahill shared the 1998 Polk for radio reporting.

He shared the 1998 honor with Amy Goodman and he was nearly tossed out of the ceremonies (for asking questions -- supposedly a journalist's role). The Nation won as well, though not for the heavily promoted article that management just knew they'd win for. From the Times' article:

Joshua Kors, a freelance, won the magazine reporting award for articles in The Nation exposing misdiagnoses by military doctors that cheated wounded Iraq veterans of disability and medical benefits by claiming they had pre-existing "personality disorders." After an uproar, President Bush signed a law requiring investigations of all discharges based on such diagnoses.

That's not the article that got the full p.r. rollout from the magazine. The magazine instead pushed heavy for the bad article -- the one that offended all who participated in interviews for it. Kors wasn't invited on Democracy Now! and CounterSpin and FAIR issued no alerts or write ups on his article. The same can't be said for the really bad article that FAIR pushed so hard they claimed it told the story of Iraqis . . . apparently by not speaking to a single one.

Back to film, Vic notes "U.S. wars, media stoned by actor" (Winnipeg Sun) which is an article on Sharon Stone:

In Al Hayat, the actor also bemoaned what she called Americans' decision to ignore the deaths of so many Iraqis.
"I feel at great pain when the spotlight is on the death of 4,000 American soldiers, while 600,000 Iraqi deaths are ignored.
"War is not a movie," the Basic Instinct star told Al Hayat. "It is a tragedy of dead bodies, victims, the disabled, orphans, widows and the displaced."
Yesterday, rockets slammed into an Iraqi housing complex near the Baghdad international airport and a U.S. military base, killing at least five Iraqis and wounding 16, including two U.S. soldiers, officials said. The wounded included five children.

From the talented to the mediocre. Jonah, Brady, Melissa and Denise all note the following on Barack Obama's theft of other people's lines. Caught and cornered on stealing from a politician, he fesses up. However, it needs to be noted that he's stolen from June Jordan, Alice Walker and many others without owning up to that and "Yes We Can" is not just a rip-off, it's an insult and seen as such by many in the Latino community (see the editorial Maria, Miguel and Francisco did in Sunday's El Spirito on the insult). From Lynn Sweet's "Loan crisis hits Obama" (Chicago Sun-Times):

Obama and his team brushed aside the discovery of his borrowed rhetoric as a Clinton ginned-up contretemps in their Democratic presidential race. But in 1987, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) had his first presidential bid derailed when he was caught not attributing lines from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock (though he had in previous versions of the speech).
During a press conference in Ohio, Obama was asked about the copycat riff.
"Now hold on a second -- I have written two books, wrote most of my speeches, so I think putting aside the question that you just raised in terms of whether my words are my own, I think that would be carrying it too far," he said. Obama has three speechwriters on his campaign staff: Jon Favreau, Adam Frankel and Ben Rhodes.

When your being called on theft and it goes to a lack of authenticity, I'm not really sure trotting out your 'non-fiction' writing is the way to defend yourself. From Andrew Stephen's "Obama unmasked" (The New Statesman):

Even dedicated political operators such as the Clintons, for example, did not publish self-promoting memoirs at the age of 33 - but that is exactly what Obama did, revealing his use of cocaine ("a little blow") before anybody else could beat him to it, for example. In those memoirs, Dreams from My Father, he burnished a personal and political résumé that, in places, seemed almost unbelievable - so I was not surprised to read in his introduction to the reissued edition of "selective lapses of memory" and "the temptation to colour events in ways favourable to the writer".

Inauthentic, fraudulent. Elaine will be touching on this topic tonight. Lesser "borrowing" killed Joe Biden's presidential campaign in the 1980s. In addition, people better start grasping how this plays out when he's got an opponent that's not constrained by also being a Democrat. Obama gets the nomination and goes on to the October debates, fires off a phrase that's a winner and John McCain or Mike Hucakabee fires back, "Oh, who said that first, Barack?" -- and they get a huge laugh. This isn't minor and it wasn't minor when it took down Biden's campaign.

And Bambi's laughable attempt -- offered here in the Los Angeles Times -- to turn it around on Hillary Clinton is stupid beyond belief:

"I really don't think this is too big of a deal," Obama told reporters. "When Sen. Clinton says, 'It's time to turn the page' in one of her stump speeches or says she's 'fired up and ready to go,' I don't think that anybody sort of suggests that somehow she's not focused on the issues that she's focused on."

"Fired up and ready to go" is a long time cheer -- so old even I remember it from my high school days. It is not an "Obama phrase" and only a fool would think they could get away with claiming otherwise. We did that dopey cheer decades ago. As for "turn the page," that's as old as the hills as well. That's not what anyone's talking about. That's not what Elizabeth Edwards was talking about to The Progressive when her husband was in the race and she noted how his speeches were stealing from John Edwards. Even more laughable is the claim being made by Governor Who of Mass. that he and Bambi have some sort of agreement to borrow from one another. They can borrow each other socks all they want, but when a candidate stands up in front of an audience and using another's lines, he or she better credit them. This is not minor. Note the title of Jill Rosen's article in the Balitmore Sun, "Plagiarism accusation stirs up campaign" -- that's what it is, plagiarism. I realize his groupies in Little Media will rush forward to pooh-pah the significance of this but a one-time incident of it destroyed Joe Biden's first presidential run. From Rosen's article:

Joseph S. Tuman, a professor of political and legal communication at San Francisco State University, said yesterday that although the "pretty clear lifting" might not be stealing because Patrick doesn't mind - it's still fraught with ethical concerns because Obama made it seem as if the thought was his own.
And in such a close race, he thinks there could be potential consequences for Obama.
"It's misrepresentation," said Tuman, author of Political Communication in American Campaigns. "Would it diminish anything to say, 'Like Governor Patrick said?' It would be just as powerful, frankly."

This is not the first time it has happened nor does it just involve 'borrowing' from a friend. (As for excuses on that, I'd love to see Bambi explain what, as lecturer in Chicago, he would have done with plagiarism by a student who claimed, "I don't have to credit __'s paper, s/he's my best friend!") Elizabeth Edwards was raising the issue last year. He's stolen from June Jordan, John Edwards and a long, long list. Is he Senator Mix Tape? Is he unable to speak for himself? This isn't minor but Little Media will try to insist it is. This is the man that Professor Patti Williams proclaimed breathlessly was president of the Harvard Law Review. It's not acceptable and it will not be easily dismissed by the GOP.

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