Wednesday, June 17, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Nouri offers trash talk to Le Monde, house raids and arrests in Iraq, and Gordon Brown remains stuck in the trap of his own making.
Last night the Democratically controlled US House of Representatives passed the War Supplemental. 226 members (221 Democrats, 5 Republicans) voted for it, 202 members (32 Democrats, 170 Republicans) voted against it. (Six members did not vote, three Dems, three Republicans.) Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) notes that Anthony Weiner caved and broke down like a do-nothing piece of trash despite claiming he wouldn't vote for it. He is quoting saying it "sucks." Yes, and this week so does Tony. Bacon reports the strong arming efforts by "Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner" as well as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times) also notes the pressure, "Administration officials and Democratic leaders intensely lobbied holdouts among the Democratic ranks in advance of the House vote. The result was close because only five Republicans supported the bill and 32 antiwar Democrats opposed it." Hook quotes cowardly George Miller who voted for it after it opposing it last month. The coward insists, "I'm against the war." David Lightman (McClatchy's Miami Herald) quotes US House Reps Dennis Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey. Kucinich wonders, "How do we support the troops? We support them by bringing them home. That's what we should be appropriating money for, not to keep them there." Woolsey declares, "I don't vote to fund the troops in these situations, ever." Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) states, "I am not even remotely surprised that the new supplemental bill for war funding passed the House today." She notes the War Hawks Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Obama and Rahm Emmanuel would not have allowed a vote to be taken if they were sure it would be rammed through and that Nancy, Steny, Barack and Rahm -- as members of Congress -- "gave George Bush every damn penny for war he demanded so why wouldn't they also fill their own WAR chests?" Cindy explains how she left the Democratic Party in 2007 because of disgust over exactly these sort of actions and encourages Woolsey and Kucinich to follow her lead. It was not just Democrats who voted against the measure, obviously by the count. Paul West (Baltimore Sun) reports that his state's conservative, Roscoe Bartlett, and liberal, Donna Edwards, voted against it ("the only Marylanders to"). Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) stated this morning, "The Republicans opposed a part of the bill to increase funding for the International Monetary Fund." That's painting with a broad stroke. Ron Paul would have voted against the measure regardless of the IMF provision. And it doesn't really matter why they voted "no," what matters is they voted "no." If I'm on trial for murder and you vote me not guilty but because you like my shoes, I don't give a damn. I'm just happy you voted me not guilty. There's a purity play going on that's not helpful. And, most importantly, the House Republicans demolished the talking point that they and a lot of Democrats fell back on repeatedly: Not to vote for the war funding was to spit on the troops! No. Not voting for the war funding was not voting for the war funding and, thanks to the House vote, maybe we can avoid that loco talking point for a few years. Goodman played Kucinich stating:
We are destroying our nation's moral and fiscal integrity with the war supplemental. Instead of ending wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan now by appropriating only enough money to bring our troops home, Congress abdicates its constitutional authority, defers to the President, and asks for a report. That's right. All we're asking for is a report on when the President will end the war. [. . . .] There's money, too, for the IMF, presumably to bail out European banks, billions for the IMF, so they can force low- and middle-income nations to cut jobs, wages, healthcare and retirement security, just like corporate America does to our constitutents. And there's money to incentivize the purchase of more cars, but not necessarily from the US because a Buy America mandate was not allowed. Another $106 billion and all we get is a lousy war. Pretty soon that's going to be the only thing made in America: war.
At Kokesh for Congress, Adam Kokesh speaks with Ron Paul (video). We're getting ready to vote for the supplemental bill which is a total disaster and going exactly the opposite direction. So in time, we're going to see a change because we can't continue this, we just can't spending money, borrowing money, and then printing what you don't have. That just leads to a disaster." At Antiwar.com, Scott Horton's posted Ron Paul's remarks on the House floor regrding the War Supplemental and we'll note this section:
I wonder what happened to all of my colleagues who said they were opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder what happened to my colleagues who voted with me as I opposed every war supplemental request under the previous administration. It seems, with very few exceptions, they have changed their position on the war now that the White House has changed hands. I find this troubling. As I have said while opposing previous war funding requests, a vote to fund the war is a vote in favor of the war. Congress exercises its constitutional prerogatives through the power of the purse.
Jeremy Scahill (Rebel Reports) concludes, "This vote has revealed a sobering statistic for the anti-war movement in this country and brought to the surface a broader issue that should give die-hard partisan Democrats who purport to be anti-war reason for serious pause about the actual state of their party. Only 30 Democrats voted against the war funding when it mattered. And these 30 did so in the face of significant threats to their political future from the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That means that only 30 out of 256 Democrats are willing to stand up to the war and the current president presiding over it."
From sell out Dems to sell out New Labour Gordon Brown. BBC reports this afternoon that "Conservatives are to step up the pressure on the government to hold the Iraq war inquiry in public by staging a Commons debate on the issue. MPs will debate a Tory motion next week calling for the Iraq proceedings to be held in public 'whenever possible'." For those late to the party, Rebecca's been following Brown's problems for weeks now and she offered last night:
and, as i pointed out when he managed to skate by, his 'saved' job is not 'good news' for him. he now has to deliver.
right out of the gate, gordon's already demonstrated he can't deliver and that there's been no change. which means the next time they try to oust him, he won't have a card left to play.
he can't say, 'i'll be transparent this time!' he promised that before. he promised every thing to hold on to his job.
and he got to hold on to his job.
and he went back to doing exactly what he'd always done.
gordon doesn't grasp it but that 'saving' was actually the beginning of the end.
Gordon Brown came very close to losing his prime minister post. His first action after pinky swearing he was a changed politician was to announce (Monday) a closed door inquiry into the Iraq War staffed by his friends. Michael Evans (Times of London) reports General Lord Guthire of Craigiebank feels the inquiry Brown's proposing is insufficient and says a full inquiry would also "examine Mr Brown's role in the failure to supply the Armed Forces properly." David Pamment writes the Guardian to ask, "What has happened to his promises, made little more than a week ago, to being to listen to the people and would make parliament more transparent, open and accountable? Gordon is unable to change the way he does politics. We should stop colluding with a prime minister who is deep in denial, and clearly unable to deal with his addiction to secrecy and government by cabal."
In setting up an investigation into an alleged crime it would seem unwise to create an investigating panel composed of employees, ex-employees and friends of the alleged criminal. If the investigating panel is then told to work in secret and not find anyone guilty there is a chance that suspicions might be aroused with respect to the authenticity of the exercise. Groans of disbelief and despair echo round the country as Mr Brown's inquiry into the Iraq war is compared with his promise of more open government. As your columnist Adrian Hamilton says (16 June) this is an insult to the citizens and to Parliament.
The response must be for the citizens, against whom the alleged crime of entering into an illegal and unjust war was committed, to set up their own parallel inquiry.
Adrian Hamilton's column (mentioned in the letter above) concluded with this: "The invasion of Iraq did not have full public support, it has not ended in victory and it is impossible to deal with the questions it poses without apportioning blame. This inquiry is a classic establishment exercise in driving a thorny subject into the long grass -- par for the course, yes; predictable, no doubt; but nonetheless an insult to the public and to Parliament for all that." Chris Irvine (Telegraph of London) reports General Sir Mike Jackson is also calling out the behind-closed-doors nature Brown is proposing with Jackson saying it fees "the climate of suspicion and skepticism about government". Kim Sengupta and Michael Savage (Independent of London) note, "Senior military and intelligence officers have condemned Gordon Brown's decision to hold the Iraq war inquiry in secret, warning that it looks like a cover-up. Military leaders, who have lost 179 personnel in Iraq, want their actions judged by the public, and intelligence officials say the politicans' manipulation of intelligence should be thoroughly examined." Dubbing it "scandalous," Jonathan Steele (Guardian) wonders, "Does he [Brown] seriously imagine he can dictate its mandate and procedure on his own? At the very least, he should have discussed these issues with the leaders of other parties first. Better still, he should allow a day's debate in parliament on it." Binoy Kampmark (CounterPunch) observes, "The difficulty with this inquiry is that it already has an appearance of being toothless even before it begins in earnest. The procedure of this paper tiger will take place in camera. It has no powers of any consequence, lacking such important means as that of subpoena, relying on the goodwill of those it asks to attend. (Tony Blair will, in all probability attend to spite his long time rival, though he need not.) Evidence need not be given on oath. When ultimately published, sensitive material will be abriged for the public readership."
Joey Jones (SKY TV -- link has text and video) noted this morning that Brown's Children's Secretary Ed Balls ended up being put on the spot when he showed up for an interview on a different topic and he did say "he hoped the inquiry team would hold some hearings in public". Paul Waughn (This is London) reports Balls "threw No.10 into a panic when he suggested in a TV interview that his 'personal view' was that the Iraq inquiry should be accessible to the public." MP George Galloway of the Respect Party issued the following statement: "This was a war that has killed a million people, conceived in secrecy and justified with lies. Now we are to have an inquiry in secret presided over by figures who are thoroughly compromised. This is an insult and belies the commitment to 'transparency' that Gordon Brown made just days before. Not even the generals who carried out the orders to attack Iraq have any confidence with the terms under which the inquiry has been set up. It will not have the right to apportion blame and it will only report after the next election. This is an utterly cynical manoeuvre that will convince no-one. In the meantime, the war in Afghanistan is growing and getting worse."
From the British Parliament to the Iraq one, MP Harith al-Obeidi (also spelled Obaidi) was assassinated Friday outside his mosque. The day before he was assassinated, he had called for an independent investigation into reports of abuse and torture in Iraqi prisons. Amnesty International issues the following:
Iraq: Amnesty International calls for an independent investigation into the assassination of Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi
In a letter sent to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al-Maliki, Amnesty International has expressed grave concern at the killing of Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi, Vice-President of the Human Right Committee of the Iraqi parliament, and requested urgent clarification as to what steps the government has undertaken to investigate the murder. The organization has also called for an independent investigation into reports of torture of detainees in a prison in the city of al-Diwaniyah.
Dr al-'Ubaidi, who also headed the Sunni Accord Bloc in parliament, was shot dead at the end of Friday prayers on 12 June 2009 at al-Shawwaf Mosque in the Baghdad district of al-Yarmuk. After firing at Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi with a pistol the killer is reported to have thrown a hand grenade at other prayer attendees, killing five people and injuring 12 others, before he was shot and killed by police.
A number of Iraqi parliamentarians have since denounced the killing and attributed Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi's murder to his human rights work, especially his recent exposure of cases of torture, including rape, of detainees following a visit he undertook a few weeks ago to a women's prison in al-Kadhmiya in Baghdad. Dr al-'Ubaidi told the media that several women detained at the prison told him that they had been raped during interrogation.
Further evidence of torture of detainees is reported to have been brought to light by a human rights body affiliated to al-Diwaniyah Governorate, which has accused the security authorities of torturing detainees during interrogation in order to extract "confessions". Investigators from the Interior Ministry are reported to have identified bruising on 10 of the 170 prisoners in al-Diwaniyah Prison that may have been caused by torture or other ill-treatment.
In its letter, Amnesty International has requested prompt clarification of the steps being taken by the Iraqi authorities to investigate the attack on Dr al-'Ubaidi and other worshippers at al-Shawwaf Mosque, which it strongly condemns, and to establish whether it was perpetrated by a gunman acting alone or with the active assistance of others. Further, the organization has requested prompt clarification of the steps being taken by the Iraqi authorities to investigate the allegations of torture cited above and to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses. In accordance with Iraq's obligations under international human rights law, including the UN Torture Convention (CAT), such investigations should be independent, impartial and conducted and completed without delay. The outcome should be made public and anyone found responsible should be brought to justice through fair trial procedures and without recourse to the death penalty.
The organization has called on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that all detainees have access to regular medical care, families, lawyers of their own choosing and the right to challenge the legality of their detention. In addition, all persons in custody should either promptly charged with recognizable criminal offences and trial in accordance with international standards of fair trial, or released. Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK www.amnesty.org
al-Obeidi was assassinated Friday. Monday reports emerged of a Baghdad prison where prisoners were on a hunger strike to protest the conditions. Naturally the Ministry of the Interior runs it. And naturally no one notes that over two years ago the Ministry of the Interior was supposed to have STOPPED running prisons -- in fact, they were supposed to have only run detention centers (not prisons) and that was supposed to have een stopped with CPA Order No. 10. June 5, 2003, PDF format warning, the order in question read: "Full authority and control over all detention and prison facilities, currently exercised by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Interior, is hereby vested in the Ministry of Justice. The Directorate of Adult Prisons and Directorate of Juvenile Prisons in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, all facilities under their authority, and all employees thereof, are hereby transferred to the Ministry of Justice." AP reports Jawad al-Bolani, Interior Minister, assured the press that at least 40 'bad apples' employed at the prison would be fire. In other distractions, Middle East Online reports a raid today in Baghdad in which Ahmed Abed Oweiyed was arrested. Who? Exactly. Aljazeera magazine reports the claim is he's a member of al Qaeda in Iraq and he's responsible for the assassination of al-Obaidi. "Wait," you say, "a fifteen year-old . . . who turned out to be 25 or 27 depending upon reports, is supposed to have been responsible." The 'logic' goes that Ahmed Abed Oweiyed was the "mastermind" of the assassination. Al Qaeda in Iraq targeted al-Obaidi specifically because . . . Well no one's supposed to ask that. It's supposed to fall under the generic "Sunni MP too close to Shi'ite" 'logic.' Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports that while the convicted-let's-sentence-him claims were being made, "[o]ther officials were more cautious in their assessments. . . . Al Qaeda and Sunni hardliners accuse members of Ubaidi's Accordance Front of being traitors for taking part in the political process with a Shi'ite-led government. But Ubaidi was also a leading rights defender, in particular of Iraqi prisoners, and some fellow politicians have tried to point the finger at other potential culprits, such as Interior Ministry officials."
Kim Gamel (AP) covers the raid and also notes that Nouri al-Maliki was interviewed by Le Monde and that he states of the American troops, "We will not ask them to intervene in combat operations or in operations related to maintaing public order." Yeah, that's the feel good quote which is why we skipped it this morning -- any outlet that covers will note that and ignore all the rest. Le Monde offers a Q & A with Nouri al-Maliki entitled "Les Arabes doivent prendre Obama au sérieux." al-Maliki maintains US and Iraqi relations are "good" and must continue to have mutual respect and non-interference. (No, the US and Iraq relationship has never had either.) He claims Iraqi sovereignty is restored and, with it, civil order which allows his (puppet) government to now rule.
On the Iranian group of rebels or terrorists (considered terrorists by Iran), the ones Saddam welcomed in Iraq and the ones the US military has protected since 2003, Nouri declares that they killed Iranians (at least 12,000) in Iran and that they killed Kurds and Shi'ites once Saddam let them into Iraq. He states that no country will take them but they must leave Iraq. They have no place in Iraq, he insists, but Iraq will not turn them over to Iran.
Claims Iraq will have a national identity and not a Shi'ite one or Kurdish one or Sunni one. On the Sahwa ("Awakening" Councils, "Sons Of Iraq"), Nouri states he was lied to.
Nouri states the United States lied to him.
Nouri states that he asked the US how many Sahwa there were and he was told only 53,000. At which point, he says, he agreed to integrate them into Iraqi forces and asked only for lists. When the lists finally arrived (he says six weeks after being requested), there weren't 53,000 names there were 107,000. He gets a snide remark about the US military officers not being very selective. He compares it to the Iraqi police of 2003-2004 which he claims were actually members of al Qaeda in Iraq or militias and argues he had to fire 30,000 such people as a result (fire from the police).
He states only 20% of Sahwa will be integrated into Iraqi forces. He states many broke the laws and those who did are going to the courts. Everyone, he maintains, cannot be integrated. Nouri lies throughout and, on the point of Sahwa, he knew it was more than 50,000. The US Congress, in April of 2008, was making a very big deal about the huge number -- approximately 100,000 -- and Nouri was following those hearings (Petraeus and Crocker) and he was also given a briefing on them by then US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounding five people.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports armed clashes in Mosul with at least one civilian wounded and at least 1 civilian dead. Reuters note 1 man was shot dead last night in Iskandariya.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses discovered in Baquba.
The US military announced: "Multi-National Division – North CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq – A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died as a result of a non-combat related incident in the Ninewa province of northern Iraq June 16. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/. The announcements are made on the website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4314.
At a roundtable at the US Socialist Worker, Jeremy Scahill and Anthony Arnove discuss Barack's wars and occupations. Excerpt:
Jeremy: Let's step back and look at what we've seen happen over five months of the Obama administration when it comes to foreign policy.
We've seen a radical escalation of the war in Afghanistan. We've seen Obama continue to use a quarter-million U.S. contractors--50 percent of the force that's fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's increasing the number of mercenaries in Afghanistan by 29 percent and approximately 23 percent in Iraq.
He's continuing the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and maintaining the monstrous U.S. embassy that was built, in part, on the basis of slave labor. He's continuing to dole out contracts to KBR, the single greatest corporate beneficiary of the war, despite the fact that its work has electrocuted U.S. soldiers.
He's pumping up the National Endowment for Democracy, the leading organ to promote U.S. neoliberal economic policy and interfere in the elections and democratic processes of countries where the outcome might not be favorable to U.S. interests. He's continuing to use the rhetoric of the war on drugs in Latin America.
Overall, he's implementing a U.S. foreign policy that in some ways--or, I think, in many ways--advances the interest of the American empire in a way the Republicans could only have dreamed of doing.
What people, I think, misunderstand about Barack Obama is that this is a man who is a brilliant supporter of empire--who has figured out a way to essentially trick a lot of people into believing they're supporting radical change, when in effect what they're doing is supporting a radical expansion of the U.S. empire.
I think that it's a bit disingenuous for people to act as if though they were somehow hoodwinked by Barack Obama about this.
If people were playing close attention during the election--not just to the rhetoric of his canned speech that he gave repeatedly, and the commercials, and the perception of his supporters was that he somehow was this transformative figure in U.S. politics, but also to the documents being produced by the Obama campaign and the specific policies he outlined--you realized that Barack Obama was very much a part of the bipartisan war machine that has governed this country for many, many decades.
What we see with Obama's policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Arab and Muslim world, as well as his global economic policies, are a continuation of the most devastating and violent policies of the Bush administration--while placing a face on it that makes it easier to expand the iron fist of U.S. militarism and the hidden hand of the free market in a way that Republicans, I think, would have been unable to do at this point in history.
Anthony: I think the key word is perception. Whether or not people were paying enough attention, it's clear that Barack Obama was able to get elected by signaling, even if only rhetorically, a shift in U.S. foreign policy. But as Jeremy points out, the continuity is really disturbing on a number of fronts.
There are striking similarities to the policies of the Bush administration. Take, for example, habeas corpus rights. The Obama administration made a lot of noise about closing down Guantánamo. Yet in a series of briefs, the Justice Department has said that prisoners held in any base other than Guantánamo don't have habeas corpus rights--for example, prisoners being held in Bagram, Afghanistan.
The administration has also filed briefs saying people in Guantánamo shouldn't have the ability to challenge their detention in civilian courts, so it's preserved the military commissions policy of the Bush administration.
In Iraq, although Barack Obama promised he would have all troops out by 2012, the ground is being laid for troops to stay in Iraq for years and years to come. The army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, said that the Pentagon was making preparations to keep troops in Iraq until the year 2019.
Anthony thinks the key word is "perception." Fine, Anthony, let's talk perception. Let's talk about the very clear "perception" the Socialist Worker presented all through 2008 that Saint Barack, the Christ-child, was the answer to all of society's ills. And, staying with "perception," when you and Howard Zinn agree to host a Barack inaugural ball, it creates a "perception." And don't e-mail me with that excuse about how you and Howard wanted your names taken off. Had you asked, your names would have been taken off. That ball wasn't staged by strangers, it was staged by your friends. There was never, NEVER, any excuse for you or Howard to lend your names to that event.
"Perceptions"? Yeah, there are a ton of them and it's really time to own the ones that you are responsible for. It gives me no pleasure to point that out. But it needs to be said and we need to quit playing like we had bravery. We had nonsense. And it was especially disappointing to be calling out a Corporatist War Hawk in 2008 and grasp that the bulk of the Socialist Worker -- SOCIALIST! -- wouldn't even join in because they were too vested in Barry O's victory. You need to own your part in creating "perceptions." I'm not in the mood for revisionary history. You need to get honest, do a self-inventroy and take some accountability. It's not that easy, Anthony. Those of us who stood up when it mattered, who screamed loudly about the War Hawk aren't going to let those of you who promoted him suddenly pretend that they were also calling him out. Uh-uh. We put it on the line, you coasted. That's reality. You were an enabler for Barry, but you were not a liar for him. (Many others were and they get ripped apart by me here with glee. With glee!) You could have been much worse and many were and those people wouldn't get a link in any snapshot. But we're not playing that game. Too many of us stood up for the issues that mattered when they mattered and too many others coasted. There's not going to be any revisionary history. And, one other thing, Socialist Worker will never have any growth in readers in the US until it's political gas bags (I mean that gas bags, I don't mean writers-thinkers like Lance) grasp that insulting the working class doesn't make them want to read you. 2008 was a shameful period for the Socialist Worker and they either need to clean house or they need to implement a sensitivity training because the bulk of the writers demonstrated no ability to relate to the working class -- they did, however, demonstrate how much 'fun' it was for them to insult the working class. Repeatedly.
This morning I shared my thoughts re the media frenzy on Iran. Shirley and Martha say that's the big topic in the e-mails. Repeating, Kat has been covering this. Click here and here. And Jeremy Scahill weighed in this morning. And he highlights Sibel Edmonds take. It's not an Iraq subject and that was my excuse for not weighing in until this morning (also true, I've still got that stupid cold and this morning was the first morning this week I read the Times in full) but the opinion I expressed was neither novel nor unique. Kat was already on the terrain before me and you can read Jeremy and Sibel's opinions as well. All are common sense opinions and the fact that you're not getting them goes to the fact that media is trying to emote you into a war with Iran.
Iraq War veteran and conscientious objector Josh Stieber is on a cross-country trip in the US. Meghan Tierney (Maryland's Gazette) reports he's taking eight months to travel to California on foot and on bicycle. He states, "I hope to encourage people to live closer to the things they say they believe and demonstrate that violence isn't the only way to solve problems." Josh Steiber is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. More information on his journey can be found at Contagious Love Experiment.
Meanwhile, as Cedric and Wally noted last night, after the offensive DOMA brief (comparing same-sex relationships to incest and pedophilia) the "very least" Barack could do was to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, the very least. Kilian Melloy (Boston's The Edge) reports that "critics charge that the memorandum, which has limited scope and staying power, is an anemic gesture that will do little to redress the inequalities in federal benefits faced by gay families. Partly because of DOMA itself, full equality of family benefits for federal employees would be difficult to come by without comprehensive legislative action." USA Today adds, "Response from gay rights groups to President Obama's offer of some federal benefits to same-sex partners of government employees: The sound of one hand clapping." Holly Bailey (Newsweek) notes the offensive DOMA brief and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell cave while pointing out, "All the bad publicity prompted the White House to schedule Obama's announcement today, though an administration official insisted to Newsweek that the 'memo' had been in the works all along. Indeed, privately, White House aides have been giving the wink and nudge treatment to the gay community for weeks, saying that Obama still believes everything he said in the campaing but he's had to deal with other pressing issues. (Btw, that sounds a lot like what Obama has said about abortion.)" The Baltimore Sun observes, "Mr. Obama has been disappointingly tepid in his commitment to affirming civil rights for gays at a time when he should be not only using his powers as chief executive to extend those rights but also his powers of moral persuasion to get the country behind them."
Lastly, David Zurewik (Baltimore Sun) continually demonstrates that TV criticism need not be reduced to the Water Cooler nonsense served up by the Idiot Bellafante (who just makes up moments on TV shows she 'reviews,' click here for Ava and I noting that) and so many others but something that actually resembles thought because it is actual thought and an actual critique:
It really is a cozy game that the White House is playing with the TV news industry, and it will be too late for us as citizens when some enterprising journalist (are there any left?) chronicles it in a book that is published two years from now. But wait, she or he will have to have access to the White House to get a decent advance, which demands its own kind of getting into bed with the administration.
Perhaps, the best measure of how compliant the mainstream TV press has become is Obama's complaint Tuesday about having "one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking" his administration. Obama declined to name the "station" when asked by CNBC interviewer John Harwood -- what a childish, silly bit of gamemanship by a president. How could anyone not think it is Fox?
When Harwood said he assumed Obama was speaking of Fox, the president replied, ""That's a pretty big megaphone. You'd be hard pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front."
Given all the reckless and irresponsible words uttered by the likes Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, I hesitate to write these words, but good for Fox. It must be doing something right, if it has the president complaining about the tiny bit of scrutiny he gets on TV.
On the other hand, if Fox News is our last, best TV watchdog on the White House, then the TV press, as well as media critics like me, should be profoundly embarassed, and vow to start doing a better job -- immediately.