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Friday, February 29, 2008

Obama answers Hillary's scare ad

Clinton was running a new commercial in Texas showing kids tucked in bed in the middle of the night -- who would a parent want in the White House to protect them in a middle of the night crisis (see the video a little bit down the page)? Now Obama has answered:

New Obama music video: cool or...

a little....Orwellian?
.

White House aide is multiple plagiarist: Now he has quit

At various blogs you can catch up on the scandal involving a top White House aide, and former Karl Rove operative who also serves connection to the religious community (of course), who has been caught plagiarizing at three newspapers -- including The Washington Post -- with probably more to come. As some have pointed out, his name, Goeglein, is frighteningly close to googling. Late today he resigned. Here is a link to a full E&P treatment and excerpt from a New York Times profile by David Kirkpatrick on June 28, 2004. My favorite part is that Goeglein's favorite phrase -- here it comes -- is "I really do mean this." UPDATE: The Fort Wayne paper, where his columns appeared, reveals on Saturday that 20 of his 38 pieces contained plagiarism. This might be an all-time U.S. record. Enjoy:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003718053

Amazing new Hillary scare ad

On the theme of "who do you want minding the store when a crisis hits in the middle of the night" and threatens your beautiful sleeping children....UPDATE: Obama has responded by saying Hillary had her "red phone" moment on Iraq -- and blew it.

Bill Buckley vs. Gore Vidal, November 1968

They debate Nixon vs. Humphrey on ABC, with a Pepsi commercial thrown in...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

When Wolfowitz told us it would be easy

Today marks the fifth anniversary of that hallowed day when Paul Wolfowitz assured Congress that we'd need no more than 100,000 troops, and no more than $100 billion, to secure postwar Iraq and get the hell out. Rumsfeld endorsed that view and told reporters to quit asking. Here an E&P story on how it all went down before it all went awry:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003717763

"So Wrong" here at last

My new book on Iraq and the media, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundit --and the President -- Failed on Iraq, has just been published by Union Square Press and you can order it or find it in stores for a little more than $10. Bruce Springsteen wrote a preface and Joe Galloway wrote the foreword. See the links to Amazon and B&N under the book cover over on the left rail at this blog. It's the first five-year history of the war.

The initial reviews are arriving, with Kirkus Reviews saying that it is "worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date." Eason Jordan at his Iraqslogger site called it "must-reading." My previous books include two for Random House on famous U.S. political campaigns and two books with Robert Jay Lifton, including Hiroshima in America. Here are early comments on the new book:

"Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looks to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice."
— Bill Moyers

"With the tragic war in Iraq dragging on, and the drumbeat for new conflicts growing louder, this is more than a five-year history of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our times—it's a cautionary tale that is as relevant as this morning's headlines. Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
— Arianna Huffington

"Anyone who cares about the integrity of the American media should read this book. Greg Mitchell asks tough questions about the Iraq war that should have been asked long ago, in a poignant, patriotic, and thoughtful dissection of our war in Iraq. Mitchell names names and places blame on those who’ve blundered. Examining the most complex issue of our time, he connects the dots like no one else has."
— Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of Chasing Ghosts

“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation. Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.”
— Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com writer and author of A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act?


"In war truth is too often the first casualty, and it is not just a President or a Secretary of Defense or assorted official spokesmen who do the killing. Our brothers and sisters in the media also participate in the execution. Greg Mitchell has taken that as his lesson and in so doing has done a service to future generations in our business."
--Joseph L. Galloway, military reporter and co-author, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young

Bill Maher's favorite rightwinger makes fool of himself again

It's always been hard to figure out what each sees in the other, but for some reason Bill Maher keeps inviting Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia on his show and Kingston keeps coming back despite feigning outrage whenever Bill drops an "F-bomb." In his most recent appearancelast week he repeated the myth about Obama refusing to put his hand over his heart and pledge to the flag in some "infamous" photo. Last night he appeared on MSNBC with Dan Abrams and said that anyone who doesn't wear a flag pin all the time -- namely Obama -- should be considered unpatriotic. Abrams' eyes lit as he noticed the Kingston was not wearing one either! See it all here, courtesy TPM:

How not to strangle a cat....

According to a correction by Editor Kent Davy of the North County Times in suburban San Diego, that ran today, the paper published an AP story on Wednesday about a new law requiring most pet owners to spay or neuter their pets. But, somewhere along the line, a staffer changed a reference to a councilman's appearance at a related news conference where he "held" a kitten. The North County Times version said he "strangled" the kitten.

"We published a story Wednesday that contained a terrible mistake," Davy's correction began, then later added, "…two of our editors inserted an error into the account that fundamentally mischaracterized a press conference attended by Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, one of the law's co-authors....After conducting an internal investigation, I believe that our editors were not being malicious, furthering some political agenda, or expressing ill will toward Cardenas or anyone else," Davy noted. "Instead, I have concluded that our mistake flowed from a deeply misguided joke that made its way into print. Still, there is nothing more important than running a newspaper that our readers can trust. We have fired the editor who initiated the unfortunate 'joke.' And we have suspended a second editor who failed to keep the error out of print."

Shocker: Study finds 1 in 99 American adults in prison

Just up at NY Times site: "For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars. Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34."
www.nytimes.com

Coming tomorrow in 'Time' magazine: Obama cover -- and advice to Nader

The new issue of Time magazine coming on Friday features a cover on the Obama Experience question. It also has a column by Joel Stein in which he addresses the Nader Factor this way: “If Ralph Nader wants any votes in this election, he has to admit he screwed up the last one … Nader’s huge problem is that you can’t demand financial honesty from politicians when you can’t be honest with yourself. Nader just can’t admit that he’s at least a little responsible for Gore’s loss.”

Stein offers Nader this idea: "Apologize like crazy. I suggested that he adopt the slogan, ‘My bad!’ and produce campaign buttons with his head on Urkel’s body, saying DID I DO THAT?”

'New' Abu Ghraib photos posted

Wired.com has obtained what it calls "new" photos of Abu Ghraib abuses. Not sure how new they are, as I viewed at least some of them in the award-winning doc, Taxi to the Dark Side. But we have always been told that the-worst-is-yet-to-come. The back story and the new images (such as one I reprint here) are up at:
www.wired.com

He was a Friedman in Paris...

Atrios at his Eschaton blog today resurrects comments on coming U.S. pullout from Iraq by General Casey -- in August 2006: "(AP) The top U.S. commander in Iraq expressed optimism Wednesday that Iraqi forces are making enough progress to provide their own security within 18 months. But violence showed no sign of abating, with 66 people killed nationwide, including 24 in a Baghdad market bombing. Gen. George Casey said Iraqi troops were on course to take over security control from U.S.-led coalition forces, a move that would bring the foreign forces a step closer to withdrawal from the country. 'I don't have a date, but I can see over the next 12 to 18 months, the Iraqi security forces progressing to a point where they can take on the security responsibilities for the country, with very little coalition support,' he said."

Doubting Thomas

The man is an embarrassment, from AP: "Two years and 144 cases have passed since Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last spoke up at oral arguments. It is a period of unbroken silence that contrasts with the rest of the court's unceasing inquiries....
Leaning back in his leather chair, often looking up at the ceiling, Thomas takes it all in, but he never joins in."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Russert: Attack dog barking mad?

Via Talking Points memo:

Colbert on Obama photo

Proves he is terrorist...

I have returned

As I noted below, took day off for 25th anniversary with the beautiful wife in NYC: lunch overlooking Central Park, great new movie (The Band's Visit, about an Egyptian group stranded in Israel), and Alban Berg Quartet's final appearance ever in town -- featuring Beethoven's astounding Opus 132, with encore the unearthly "Cavatina," see/hear below:

No posting here until late tonight....

Sorry folks, but have a once-in-a-lifetime excuse: 25th wedding anniversary with the lovely B.B. Movie, dinner, and Beethoven's immortal "Heiliger Dankgesang" in NYC. See you later.

Bill Buckley, conservative icon, dies

He, not Barry Goldwater, was "Mr. Conservative." No matter what you think of his politics, he was a long way from the Bill Kristols of today. The guy could write and think and talk. And he had some fun debates on TV when I was still a callow youth.

To Zell and back

Crusty Sam Zell, new owner of the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune and other papers, has drawn a lot of laughs and fire the past couple of weeks with his various blunt or profane comments to staffers. Yesterday he added to this on CNBC by blaming the country's economic woes on "fear mongering" by Hillary and Obama who are personally halting a recovery, saying: "Obviously what we have going on is an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Zell. "We have two Democratic candidates who are vying with each other to describe the economic situation worse." Dave Horsey, the longtime editorial cartoonist, comments today with a slam at Zell's news values -- syndicated by Zell's own Tribune. He also provides a lengthy blast in a blog post, at his home Seattle Post-Intelligencer site, in which he writes: "Sam Zell is the most vulgar embodiment of a pervasive bean counter mentality that is threatening the best of American journalism."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The latest "nonhostile" death in Iraq

As some may know, I have chronicled "nonhostile" deaths in Iraq for years (illness, accidents, suicides) in my columns and now in my book So Wrong for So Long, and here is latest: Spc. Keisha Morgan, 25, died Feb. 22 in Baghdad of a non-combat related cause. The circumstances of her death are under investigation. "Every time people would see Keisha Morgan, they'd always see her with a smile," says her mom, back in Washington,D.C., Diana Morgan. Morgan was found by her best friend Ruby on the floor of their Baghdad barracks. "She had a seizure," her mother reports, and died. Autopsy results so far are inconclusive, a mystery that is now haunting Diana Morgan.

Final debate post (until October) (please)

Thank god the debates are over and the final one fell on the night BEFORE my 25th wedding anniversary....As bad as Russert may be, at least the MSNBC debates don't include audience cheering sections so a little substance seeps in and pundits afterward can't talk about certain statements getting (meaningless) cheers or boos.... Hillary's "why do I have to answer first?" whine and reference to SNL one of the most awkward moments of the entire campaign....Obama's "Massatusetts" was odd...and why did they show that picture of Louis Farrakkan in some kind of Muslim dress praising Israel? Or maybe I'm getting confused....out of gas...

The first reporter to really probe wounded in Iraq

I have a new column up at E&P about Mark Benjamin, now with Salon, who more than four years ago went where most reporters failed to go....
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/pressingissues_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003715679

Must be over 18 to read this...

Or 18 by November.....It's Fox News Porn, web site and video. Now you can cut right to "the good parts" without having to listen to John Gibson or Sean Hannity...

Handicapping the Pulitzer race...

Joe Strupp at E&P offers his annual preview of the leading candidates for Pulitzers (he has a good track record of picking 'em and, even better, revealing the finalists when they are still secret). The Washington Post's Walter Reed probe tops the list right now.
http://www.editorandpublisher.com

Now smear this!

The always reliable Will Bunch at his Attytood blog dissects the Obama in Muslim garb photo and how putting the shot on the front page is not exactly the proper way to debunk it. Here is link and below that a video from MSNBC of a Clintonite saying the photo merely showed Obama in "native dress."
http://www.attytood.com

The Dodd couple

Sen. Chris Dodd, who dropped out of the race it seems like a century ago, will endorse Obama today and campaign for him in Ohio, the Hartford Courant reports today. Obama won his home state of Connecticut primary.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pre-Oscar bashing

You may not know, if you caught the "Once" duo winning their Oscar for best song, that the guy, Glen Hansard is also lead singer of the fine and popular Irish rock band The Frames. Here's a video from a few years back, inspired by the Herzog movie "Fitzcarraldo." Fun fact: Glen was the redhaired ponytailed band member in The Commitments.

Congress throwing heat?

From Tuesday NYT: "Congressional committee has taken the first steps toward asking the Department of Justice to start a criminal investigation into whether Roger Clemens committed perjury during testimony about performance-enhancing drugs, according to three lawyers with knowledge of the matter."

Shocker: Two new national polls put Obama far ahead

While Obama has won most primaries and is even doing okay in Texas (about a tie) and Ohio (just trailing by a bit), he has never surged far ahead in the national polls. Until now. For some reason -- maybe Hillary saying she was so proud just be sitting next to him? -- Obama has grabbed a startling 54%-38% lead in the NYT/CBS poll released tonight, and a Gallup poll (where Hillary led last week) has him up by 12%.

Karl Rove denies his role in Alabama scandal

A little too much to go into here, but Karl Rove went on Fox to deny last night's bombshell "60 Minutes" report on the Siegelman affair. Rove now calls "60 Minutes" the new "National Enquirer." His accuser, Jill Simpson, is standing firm.

Ben Affleck is so gay

I know don't why I'm even doing this. I don't care for Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman (though I liked her The Aristocrats segment), Matt Damon, or Ben Affleck (until his George Reeves/Gone Baby Gone career saving). But I can't resist. If you somehow missed the Silverman banging Damon video, Kimmel has now scored with Affleck, as he revealed last night. Tough night for Ben. His little brother, and Amy Ryan, both lost at the Oscars.

Lawrence of Arabia (yes, that one) on British in Iraq

Andrew Sullivan at his blog resurrects quote from T.E. Lawrence following the easy British takeover of Baghdad and the area (the Brits would be stuck there for, oh, 40 years): "The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told ... It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster," - T.E. Lawrence, Sunday Times (London), August 2, 1920.

Thank god the strike is over and comedy writers have returned!

Bill Kristol's gag writers have obviously returned and helped him craft today's NYT column on Barack Obama's -- get this -- lapel flag, or lack of it. Here's the highlight: "Last October, a reporter asked Barack Obama why he had stopped wearing the American flag lapel pin that he, like many other public officials, had been sporting since soon after Sept. 11. Obama could have responded that his new-found fashion minimalism was no big deal. What matters, obviously, is what you believe and do, not what you wear.

"But Obama chose to present his flag-pin removal as a principled gesture. 'You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.' Leave aside the claim that 'speaking out on issues' constitutes true patriotism. What’s striking is that Obama couldn’t resist a grandiose explanation."

Lowest blow yet in campaign?

Who knows, but Drudge is featuring at top of his page (no siren) a photo of Obama in Muslim dress reportedly circulated by Clinton staffers with a week to go in the race. Of course, the picture comes from an official visit to Somalia in 2006, and is about as incriminating as George Bush holding hands with Saudi princes on his visits. Will Obama refer to "the silly season" again?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar winner 'Taxi to Dark Side'

I posted the trailer here twice recently after seeing the best doc winner, but here it is again. Director Alex Gibney gave the only "political" acceptance speech of the whole night. You'd never know a couple of wars were going on.

Oscar fun: 'Once' more for good luck

As I'd hoped and predicted, Once duo picked up best song Oscar for "Fallng Slowly.'" Very nice that Jon Stewart let Marketa come back on stage to offer her message for struggling young musicians and movie people. The song was edited in the middle and end and for the show, but here it is in the movie:

Springsteen and Colbert fans unite!

My new book on Iraq and the media, So Wrong for So Long, is now shipping (you can order via links over there in the left rail), it's too early for any reviews but getting some nice blog boosts. Here are two wide-ranging notices from popular Bruce Springsteen and Stephen Colbert fan sites. Bruce wrote the preface for the book and Stephen shows up in the opening quote, a key section in my introduction and as a full chapter for his in-his-face Bush-bashing at that White House Correspondents Dinner.
http://www.nofactzone.net/?p=3244#comment-256414
http://www.backstreets.com/news.html

McCain able -- to avoid special interest links?

John McCain, as part of his defense against charges raised this week that he is too close too lobbyists (they seem to be in charge of his campaign), has declared, as he has in the past, that he has never taken a dime from those hated "special interests." Here' a new video that examines this terrain:

My new piece on reporting in Iraq

Just posted a new article at E&P looking back precisely five years ago when "embedded" reporters signed on for the Iraq adventure. The story features some warnings issued at the time and the views of war reporter, famed for The Killing Fields, Sydney Schanberg.
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003714736

Nader or nadir? Ralph announces bid for president

As if giving the world eight years of George W. Bush wasn't enough, Nader just threw his hat in the ring for 2008. Before anyone gets too exercised about it, remember that although he got 2.7% of the vote in 2000, that dropped to 0.3% in 2004, and that was with Kerry running. Funny anti-Nader video we aired a couple of weeks ago:

Sunday transcendence

Continuing our tradition, here is the great Claudio Arrau playing the first movement of Beethoven's final piano sonata, No. 32, opus 111, what some consider the high point of piano music ever. YouTube has Arrau playing the second movement (in two parts) also.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Slate links Hillary to....Reese Witherspoon?

It's a funny take on how a certain monologue from the film Election fits the current mood in Clinton camp....

Vedder good: Antiwar soundtrack coming

Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Pearl Jam have contributed tunes to the antiwar soundtrack DC for a documentary about a U.S. soldier paralyzed in Iraq. The 30-song c album Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran will be released March 18 by the Sire Records label. All proceeds from will benefit Iraq Veterans Against the War. Body of War focuses on Tomas Young, an Army soldier paralyzed in Iraq. It will open on March 13. Phil Donahue directed the film with Elaine Spiro.

The album was put together by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, who composed the first single, "No War," for the film. Pearl Jam's live version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" is also on board. Springsteen contributed "Devils & Dust," and Neil Young "The Restless Consumer," in which he sings over and over, "don't need no more lies." Other tracks come from, among others, Tori Amos, Public Enemy, and Talib Kweli & Cornel West. Here's the Neil Young song:

Be kind....don't 'Rewind'

Love Mos Def, hate Jack Black, figured it would be disappointing but with son in film school, took a chance on Be Kind Rewind. Too clever by half? Or not clever enough? In any case, if you have seen trailer five times (and I know you have) you have seen quite enough, or so it says here....Some good wins at today's hip Independent Spirit Awards in its annual pre-Oscar show. Juno won for film, actress and writer, Julian Schnabel deservedly took best director for Diving Bell, and Once won for best foreign flick. I'm not so keen on Philip Seymour Hoffman for Savages and Cate Blanchett for I'm Not There, due to disliking the films....

'NYT' and McCain story: This ombud's for you

The Times' public editor, Clark Hoyt, is out with a review that ends with a hit on "sex" aspect of the story, which is proving to have legs, so to speak, beyond that angle.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/opinion/24pubed.html?hp

Will 'Once' be enough?

That fine little film Once is up for an Oscar for best song tomorrow and should win (but probably won't). It did win best foreign film at the hip Independent Spirit Awards today. I would also recommend that you check out male star Glen Hansard's popular rock band The Frames, not to mention his various Van Morrison covers . The New York Times has a piece tomorrow on Glen and female star of the film (I caught their concert in NYC a few months ago), up on Web now. Here is link and then the best non-nominated song from Once.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/fashion/24nite.html?_r=1&ex=1361509200&en=dd5966702b0c3ace&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin

In 'calm' Iraq: rockets hit Green Zone, top journo shot

From AP: "Rockets or mortars hit the U.S.-protected Green Zone early Saturday, just a day after powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army militia to extend its cease-fire by another six months. Nearly 10 blasts could be heard in the sprawling area along the Tigris River that houses the U.S. and British embassies, the Iraqi government headquarters and thousands of American troops. It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties....

"Separately, the head of the Iraqi Journalists Union was shot and wounded Saturday. Union chief Shihab al-Timimi was attacked by gunmen as he was being driven to an art gallery in Waziriya, near central Baghdad, police and union officials said. He had just left the nearby union headquarters." My man, Steve Earle, "Rich Man's War":

More on Obama and the 'phony soldier'

Josh Marshall at TPM reviews latest on allegations (from our old friend Bryan Whitman) that the soldier cited by Obama does not exist as such. See my link in a post below to Jake Tapper's ABC piece and here is Josh's:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/179784.php

Friday, February 22, 2008

The future of Iraq?

Important and "ominous" (as the headline has it) article by Solomon Moore in NYT for Saturday on conditions in "free" Basra.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/world/middleeast/23basra.html?hp

Straight Talker spoke with forked tongue?

As I suggested from the outset, don't judge what will come out of the much-derided New York Times McCain/lobbyist bombshell the first day. "Tip of the Iseman," I wrote. Now it's been a horrible second day for the senator, topped by this put up by The Washington Post tonight: "Broadcaster Lowell 'Bud' Paxson today contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson's behalf.

"Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson's quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station. Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, attended the meeting in McCain's office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting. 'Was Vicki there? Probably,' Paxson said in an interview with The Washington Post today. 'The woman was a professional. She was good. She could get us meetings.'

"The recollection of the now-retired Paxson conflicted with the account provided by McCain about two letters at the center of a controversy about the senator's ties to Iseman, a partner at the lobbying firm of Alcalde & Fay."

Now this is priceless: "McCain attorney Robert Bennett played down the contradiction between the campaign's written answer and Paxson's recollection. 'We understood that he [McCain] did not speak directly with him [Paxson]. Now it appears he did speak to him. What is the difference?' Bennett said."

Only Martin Short and Steve Martin are missing

It's an Obama campaign music video with a viva big difference:

Adam razed McCain?

Interesting Q & A up at Newsweek site about media coverage of McCain this week -- in context of past bowing down to him -- with Media Matters' Paul Waldman (link below). Mike Isikoff also at Newsweek today has a tough piece about an apparent outright lie by McCain in regard one aspect of the "lobbying" revelations this week. You might also seek out at ABC News, Jake Tapper's fact-checking probe into Obama's claim last night about what a military guy from Afghanistan told him, much disputed by conservative bloggers today (also linked below).
http://www.newsweek.com/id/114548
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/02/from-the-fact-3.html

Oscar picks -- and a Jon Stewart prediction

David Carr, at his always entertaining (if sometimes needy) Carpetbagger blog at www.nytimes.com, offers his guesses for Oscar night, along with some witty contextual observations. For one thing, he thinks Jon Stewart will do well. Most importantly, he agrees with my selection for best song, from "Once." A video of the actual best song from that movie follows the link to Carr piece.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/movies/awardsseason/22osca.html


Secret service halts gun checks at Obama rally in...Dallas

In the category of the kind of news that should be made public -- yet you almost wish it was not -- the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports today, "Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena. The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

"Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order -- apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on. 'Sure,' said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a 'friendly crowd.'"

And the 'hits' just keep on coming

I mentioned this last night, but now a video has surfaced of the remarkably similar -- we won't call it "plagiarism" -- debate statements by Bill and Hill about the "hits" they have taken being nothing compared to what others have been through. Not a big deal, except that the pundits have called Hillary's moment last night virtually the high point of her campaign so far....

David Brooks riffs on McCain 'rift'

In his column at www.nytimes.com he speculates on the anonymous sources for his paper's McCain bombshell and details the "rift" between a key present and former insider. He concludes, "At his press conference Thursday, McCain went all-in. He didn’t just say he didn’t remember a meeting about Iseman. He said there was no meeting. If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then his presidential hopes will be over. If no evidence surfaces, his campaign will go on and it will be clear that there were members of his old inner circle consumed by viciousness and mendaciousness."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yes surge, no surge, writes Michael Kinsley

His new Washington Post column argues that the "surge," despite gains, is a failure. It was supposed to be over by now and here we are with more troops there than we had a year ago. Bush has broken his contract with the American people on this. More:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/21/AR2008022101555.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

'NYT' suggests McCain going to 'war' with paper

The New York Times tonight on its Web site noted that well over 2000 comments had been left on its original McCain story -- so it is now soliciting questions from readers that will be put before those who reported and edited the story on Friday. You know what to do.

In addition to its main McCain response article on its site, it added tonight the following passages: "Later in the day, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers directed strong criticism at The Times in what appeared to be a deliberate campaign strategy to wage a war with the newspaper. Mr. McCain is deeply distrusted by conservatives on several issues, not least because of his rapport with the news media, but he could find common ground with them in attacking a newspaper that many conservatives revile as a left-wing publication. 'It was something that you would see in The National Enquirer, not in The New York Times,' said Steve Schmidt, a former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney who is now a top campaign adviser to Mr. McCain.

"Mr. Schmidt, in lengthy comments to reporters traveling on Mr. McCain’s campaign plane, said The Times had rushed the article into print so it could beat The New Republic in the publication of an article about the story behind The Times’s investigation of Mr. McCain." The author of that article told E&P today that this was mainly McCain "spin" - he had no idea if his article sparked the Times to do anything.

Do not plagiarize this debate wrapup!

The usual: Weak questions or moderators not willing to butt in when they ask candidates to explain what sets them apart -- and they refuse to do so. The idea that Hillary would go on attack to play catch up did not happen at all except for one little hit on the "plagiarism" charges. They differ a bit on Cuba and more strongly on a health plan -- but they have debated that one 17 times already. Hillary closes by saying she is "so honored" to be on the stage with the Hon. Barack Obama, esq. Then they shake hands right in the middle of her closing pitch. Not exactly the way some of her backers wanted her to go out. TV pundits suggest it was maybe her way of throwing in the towel with grace....or even angling for Veep slot....

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, in light of the "plagiarism" charges, had some fun comparing Hillary's widely-hailed moment near the end with words her husband used in a debate in 1992.

Bill, ' 92: "The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time." Hill, '08: "You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

If you really must watch the "change you can xerox" moment, here it is:



'NYT' editor on NPR: no 'gotcha' story

Appearing on "All Things Considered" tonight, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times said its John McCain/lobbyist bombshell was "not a gotcha story about some kind of quid pro quo.... We don’t know if there was a quid or a quo in this case. What we do know is that people very close to him, who watched him day after day, were worried enough by his behavior that they felt that he was endangering his career.” He also said, "He [McCain] came back from Vietnam a hero, entered into public life and then was felled by the Keating Five scandal, if you read his books, it was clearly a humiliating event for him. And he subsequently built his political life on themes of redemption, reform, you know, rectitude, if you will - and became the scourge of lobbyists, the champion of campaign finance reform, and so on, in Washington.

“Yet, according to some people who knew him best, he can be surprisingly careless about his reputation, and that’s what I think this, his relationship with this particular lobbyist illustrates, although I think there’s a lot of other illustrations as well in the piece.” There's a little more at The Page at time.com.

'T' for Texas -- Major poll finds Dems tied for lead

New ABC-Wash Post polls tonight finds Clinton and Obama essentially tied in Texas, with Hillary's lead in Ohio down to 7%. On the other hand, Gallup now finds that she has bounced back to tie him for the national lead -- he has kept fading, a little bit, ever since the "plagiarism" and "Michelle's pride" incidents.

Well, they said they wanted feedback...

If you have a few moments, or months, you ought to check out the comments at www.nytimes.com on that New York Times bombshell on McCain...now up to 2100 and counting....One sidelight: at his press conference, McCain at first denied speaking to the Times directly about the story in advance, then when reminded that the paper had said he talked to its top editor, Bill Keller, he apologized, confirmed that happened, but said he did not try to "dissuade" Keller, adding, "I know The New York Times."

Not sure if this means anything but on Wall Street, the Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) ended the day at $19.69, down $1.38 or 6.55%.

Dough! -- McCain making hay off 'NYT' attack

In the proud tradition of candidates in both parties making the most (money) out of allegedly unfair attacks, both the McCain campaign and the RNC already have letters out fundraising around The New York Times blast. David Kurtz at TalkingPointsMemo.com reprints the McCain one: "Well, here we go. We could expect attacks were coming; as soon as John McCain appeared to be locking up the Republican nomination, the liberal establishment and their allies at the New York Times have gone on the attack. Today's front-page New York Times story is particularly disgusting -- an un-sourced hit-and-run smear campaign designed to distract from the issues at stake in this election. With John McCain leading a number of general-election polls against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the New York Times knew the time to attack was now, and they did. We will not allow their scurrilous attack against a great American hero to stand."

A 'Bunch' of trouble for 'NYT'?

Contrary to what many might have expected, many of the top liberal bloggers are, if not defending John McCain, attacking the validity of The New York Times' bombshell story. One of them, Will Bunch, at the Attytood blog, writes: "If Karl Rove were brought out of retirement to help elect John McCain president, even he in all his evil genius could not have a schemed up a better way to breathe new life into his fellow Republican's campaign than the New York Times' inept effort to tie the Arizona senator to a comely young lobbyist.

"Simply put, as it's playing out right now, the story was -- probably unintentionally, although who knows -- timed perfectly to help out McCain. Its insinuations of an improper relationship between the powerful senator and Vicki Iseman came too late to hurt McCain with the 'values voters' in the GOP primaries, but at exactly the right time to rally right-wing talk radio against the Times, and thus for a candidate they can now support in November while holding their collective nose." Link:
http://www.attytood.com

'NYT' Editor Keller defends story -- and its timing

In the wake of denials by Sen. John McCain of certain claims in The New York Times' bombshell story on his links to a female lobbyist, the paper's Executive Editor Bill Keller released this statement today received by E&P: "On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready.

"'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats.

"This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it." Defenders of McCain have charged that the Times held the story and only released it once he had the GOP nod wrapped up. A McCain aide has claimed that the paper moved after it learned that the New Republic was about to release a story asserting that the paper was debating what to do with the story.

UPDATE: That Gabriel Sherman piece is now up at www.tnr.com. He concludes: "The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable."

Note: Any newcomers here who may be interested in my new book on Iraq and the media, "So Wrong for So Long," go here:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003711910

UPDATED: McCain denies 'NYT' claims, Weaver Confirms One Part

At 9 a.m, presser today, with Cindy at his side in Toledo, he refuted the Times story and said he was "disappointed" by it. He claimed that no one had come to him and tried to steer him away from the lobbyist. He called her just a friend. It still seems that he is hitting back harder on the suggestion that he did something wrong in office, flying on corporate jets etc., rather than never fooling around. But we'll see. "I intend to move on," McCain said. I bet he does.

Next move: New York Times. McCain's denial today that anyone came to him to warn him off the woman does not square with the Times' sources -- so someone is telling a big lie.

UDPATE Marc Ambinder at TheAtlantic.com reports email from McCain associate Weaver who was quoted in Times story: "The New York Times knew about my meeting with Ms. Iseman and asked me about it and why it occurred. I informed the Times, in a written reply, that Ms. Iseman's comments about having strong ties to John's committee staff, personal staff and to him I felt were harmful and not true. And so I informed her and asked to to stop and desist. The moment I answered the inquiry from the New York Times I sent that answer also to Mark, Steve and Charlie. All of this happened in December. I've wanted John McCain to be president since I first approached him in 1997. I do so today. I love John McCain and I believe the country badly needs him."

UPDATE #2 Who does Rush Limbaugh hate more? The NYT or McCain? He seemed to answer in an email to Politico just now: "The story is not the story. The story is the Drive By media turning on its favorite maverick and trying to take him out. The media picked the GOP's candidate, the NYT endorsed him while they sat on this story, and is now, with utter predictability, trying to destroy him.”

Did 'New Republic' force 'NYT' to go with McCain story?

The New Republic at its site revealed late last night: "The McCain campaign is apparently blaming TNR for forcing the Times' hand on this story. We can't yet confirm that. But we can say this: TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times' foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it. Gabe's story will be online tomorrow."

McCain senior aide Mark Salter told Time: "They did this because the The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there, the Judy Miller-type power struggles -- they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made the New York Times newsroom look bad."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shocker: 'NY Times' finally unleashes its bombshell McCain/female lobbyist story

It's been up on the Times site and all over MSNBC, if you haven't caught up with it yet. I had forgotten about the tale myself -- back around Christmas that brief flap over a rumored (via Drudge) story that the paper had linking McCain, perhaps romantically, to a female lobbyist much younger than himself who also presented some Congressional ethics problems. It was then reported that McCain and the unnamed woman had hired fixer Bob Bennett to strong arm the Times. Whatever went down, the story never ran. Until tonight. Maybe there is nothing to the Times story, but coincidentally, earlier today I posted (below) an old Times story about McCain cheating on his ailing first wife with his current wife Cindy.

UPDATE: McCain campaign calls story a "hit and run smear campaign" -- but while it says he has not violated the ethics of his job it does not specifically deny any romantic link....Also, it is amazing to see them claim, considering his steep involvement in the Keating scandal, that he has "never done favors for special interests or lobbyists."....Will be interesting to see how Rush Limbaugh et al play this tomorrow: Who do they hate more, McCain or the NYT?.... Mark Halperin at his "The Page" at Time.com says insiders are asking: "What, if anything, did the Times not publish that it had?" and "How much will other print organizations follow up?".... The Washington Post is out with its own much slimmer story on the same subject. It carried a Howie Kurtz story last December 21 that covered the original "spiking" of the story....Reportedly Politico and the L.A. Times were also on the story at some point.

Now hear this: rare offer to actually hear me talk -- about Iraq, the media, and new book

Over at E&P, we just put up a podcast I did this afternoon previewing my new book, So Wrong for So Long, on Iraq and the media. You can listen or download at:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003713424

Bill O'Reilly, lynching and a certain black woman

Media Matters reports a priceless comment by Bill O'Reilly on his radio show yesterday in discussing the now-famous Michelle Obama quote about pride and her country: "I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down." Also, via Fox, here is Michelle O's update today:

Cindy McCain: A 'formidable' liability?

Cindy McCain, the candidate's wife, generally satisfied to stand behind him silently, suddenly is in the headlines after slapping down Michelle Obama for her remark about pride in America. This caused Howard Fineman and Norah O'Donnell in MSNBC to rhapsodize last night about how this "formidable" (they agreed) woman will now be a tremendous asset to McCain. True? Well, for one thing, there is the matter of McCain cheating on his crippled first wife to fool around with wealthy Cindy, many years his junior. And he sure won't be able to go after Obama for his youthful drug use.

Here is an excerpt from a March 3, 2003, article in The New York Times by Melinda Henneberger: "[I]f the public had heard of her at all, it was probably as a result of the 1994 headlines about a federal investigation into her theft of painkillers from a medical charity she ran. Or because of the Keating Five savings and loan scandal a few years earlier, which she was drawn into as well. Today, drug-free since 1993, she looks back on that time in their lives as a moment that 'nearly destroyed both of us.'''....

"And she went through quite a bit. In 1991, her husband was mildly rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for exercising poor judgment in meeting with federal regulators who were investigating Charles Keating Jr., the owner of a failing savings and loan who was also a friend and donor. Mrs. McCain was involved in the matter because she had helped keep her husband's books and could not find receipts showing that they had reimbursed Mr. Keating for flying on his corporate jet to his vacation home in the Bahamas.

"It was under pressure of that scandal, and after back surgery, that she became addicted. And though her drug problem went on for a couple of years, her husband never noticed.

"In the end, it was Mrs. McCain's parents who became worried by her behavior and confronted her. More than a year later, when federal authorities began investigating reports that she had stolen drugs from the charity, the senator finally learned of his wife's addiction -- just before her troubles, too, hit the front page."

Ahoy! Swiftboating of Obama coming?

Ron Fournier, the AP's longtime campaign watcher, writes today that for the Clinton campaign "it's panic button time." So what's next? The idea supposedly didn't come from the Clintonistas, but the Swiftboating of Obama may be at hand. Here's a new post by Marc Ambinder at theatlantic.com: "Allies of Hillary Clinton plan an expensive, stealth campaign to buttress her standing in the must-win states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. They're canvassing Clinton donors for pledges of up to $100,000 in the hope of raising at least $10M by the end of next week. The money will be placed in the account of a political committee organized under section 527 of the tax code.

"By law, the 527 cannot coordinate its activities with the Clinton campaign, although at least one major Clinton donor with direct ties to the campaign said last night that the effort was an open secret among donors. (Update: Per ABC's Jake Tapper, the group is calling itself the "American Leadership Project" and is staffed by several veterans of the Clinton White House.)" The group's first ad in Ohio, however, has a more positive spin:

What happened in Haditha?

Unfortunately, I still don't know much more about the incident in Iraq than I did before watching the PBS 'Frontline' program last night. I will go into it more later, but I found it very sketchy, and unclear on many particulars of the various attacks -- on the car, in the three houses. The heralded new footage from the aerial drones shot during the attacks showed nothing really. Little or no mention was made of the fact that nailing down the evidence has proven difficult for prosecutors because of the unwillingness of Iraqis to talk and the rapid burial of bodies. The legal proceedings were very poorly explained. And as for the big picture: Yes, soldiers under unbearable stress will sometimes shoot first and ask questions later. We get it. Now, what really happened?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Springsteen beat Obama and Hillary to 'Youngstown'

With the Ohio primary now looming large, expect to hear about Youngstown (inevitably described as "gritty") almost every day. Hillary spoke from there tonight in primetime and Obama mentioned it in his speech. Here's Springsteen's take, with a little history, one of his great songs from the '90s.

Obama wins, McCain hits him -- preview of the fall?

Networks have called Wisconsin for Obama -- he leads 58% to 41% with 99% of vote in -- another landslide. Heavy independent vote once again proved the difference, with exit polls showing he barely carried Democrats. Big gender gap: He won white males by 2-1 while she easily carried white women. The worst news for Clinton: After tonight Obama might lead by 150 in elected delegates. It now looks like, at best, she will only make slight gains in Texas and Ohio -- meaning that while the super-delegates could save her, they won't, due to popular pressure. NBC's Chuck Todd projects she would have to win over 60% of delegates in remaining races to gain the edge, which is virtually impossible.

Obama came on stage in Texas, bumping Hillary off the air in her speech, showing advantage of being top dog. But the election night speeches are now made at rallies, and go on forever -- not the tidy 10 minute celebrations/concessions of the past. So you can't really blame him. McCain wons to wrap things up, blasted Obama, citesd his lack of experience in foreign affairs, and said, “Thank you, Wisconsin, for bringing us to the point when even a superstitious naval aviator can claim with confidence and humility that I will be our party’s nominee for President.” Anyone staying up for the Hawaii results? UPDATE: Obama won there too, by a narrow 76% to 24%, for his 10th in a row. Staggering stat of the night: Democratic turnout in Wisconsin topped GOP by nearly 3-1. Gore and Kerry had carried the state by very slim margins.

Gerth, 'NYT' investigative reporter, joins ProPublica

E&P's Joe Strupp learned tonight that Jeff Gerth, the New York Times reporter (and Hillary Clinton biographer/Whitewater prober) has joined the new investigative office of ProPublica, run by former Wall Street Journal editor Paul Steiger. Another well-known journo, Dafna Linzer of The Washington Post, also signed on.
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003712509

Update: Cheeseheads vote -- exits favor Obama?

Is the "plagiarism" charge against Obama sticking? Gallup notes today that he lost most of his 7% national lead almost overnight, with Hillary winning the Monday derby. Could be just coincidence, but I already predicted a much tighter finish in Wisconsin than others have claimed....on the frozen tundra....

Meanwhile, here's video of Mr. Bill in his debate with George the First in 1992 arguing that experience only counts for so much -- and making the right judgments is what really matters.

Survey finds most in military say U.S. weaker today

The U.S. military is weaker today than it was at the start of the Iraq war five years ago, according to the results of a new survey produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security. They call it one of the most comprehensive surveys to be conducted of the military community in the last 50 years. It's published in the March/April 2008 issue of the magazine and is available online today at the link below.

Of the more than 3,400 active and retired officers surveyed, 60 percent say the U.S. military is weaker today than it was five years ago. Asked the reason why, more than half cite the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the pace of troop deployments those conflicts require. Nearly 90 percent of the officers—all of whom hold the rank of major or lieutenant commander and above—say that the war in Iraq has “stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin.” Asked about officials in the U.S. government, 66 percent of the officers say they believe America’s elected leaders are either somewhat or very uninformed about the U.S. military.

Finally, in another troubling finding: When it comes to the use of torture, and what constitutes it, opinions were split. Asked if they agree or disagree with the statement “Torture is never acceptable,” 53 percent of the officers agree and 44 percent disagree.
www.ForeignPolicy.com

Too many pundits, or 'Hee-Haw' covers the campaign

A piece by Paul Farhi in today's Washington Post probes the explosion of punditry (real or faux) on cable news today, and includes this Keith Olbermann assessment of a typical primary night: "I am reminded of the way 'Hee Haw' opened. I am sorely tempted to finish [the list] with Joe Scarborough, Rachel Maddow, Gene Robinson and Pat Buchanan -- Grandpa Jones! . . . Junior Samples! . . . the Hager Twins!" Farhi adds: "Not to mention the rest of MSNBC's prime-time punditocracy -- the Buck Owenses and Minnie Pearls, as it were: Tucker Carlson! Chuck Todd! Howard Fineman! Richard Wolffe!"

PBS 'Haditha' program on tonight.

I posted about this a few days ago but thought I would do it again, as the "Frontline" show airs tonight. Probably the first full probe of the Haditha "incident" or "massacre" (depending on your view), it presents all sorts of new evidence, including footage of the actual attacks from drones flying overhead. Surprisingly, according to reports, it finds that villagers and GIs mainly agree on the chain of events and what happened -- meaning it is up to the viewer to decide how much of the killing was "understandable" and what was outright murder. Here is a trailer:

Resignation, defeat and suicide

Castro has resigned and Musharraf has been defeated but if you are of a certain age you may find an article in today's New York Times most eye-opening of all: The suicide rate in the U.S. for those 45 to 54 is up 20%, and for women in that group, up 31%: "Just why thousands of men and women have crossed the line between enduring life’s burdens and surrendering to them is a painful question for their loved ones. But for officials, it is a surprising and baffling public health mystery."
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/19/us/19suicide.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Monday, February 18, 2008

Talking Points Memo wins major journalism award

Let me be first (since the news is embargoed until now) to congratulate Josh Marshall and the gang over at the Talking Points Memo for winning one of the major journalism prizes, the George Polk Award. It's a rare, or maybe a first, blog win, where the prizes normally all go to major newspapers and TV shows and magazines. I'd also like to particularly congratulate Leila Fadel, the young Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy, profiled by E&P last December. McClatchy has continued the tough and frank reports from Baghdad carried over from its predecessor, Knight Ridder -- with a tip of the hat to its ridiculously brave Iraqi staffers. Herre is link to the full E&P writeup on the winners.
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003712141

Putting away some fine Kristol

Surely The New York Times thought it was hiring a rightwing "voice" and not a "laughingstock" when it took on Bill Kristol as a columnist. Surely it must be embarrassed by his performance so far, and particularly his Kipling/Orwell piece today. I don't want to ruin it for you so I will quote only one passage: "The Democrats won control of Congress in November 2006, thanks in large part to President Bush’s failures in Iraq. Then they spent the next year seeking to ensure that he couldn’t turn those failures around. Democrats were “against” the war and the surge. That was the sum and substance of their policy.... The 2007 Congressional Democrats showed what it means to be an opposition party that takes no responsibility for the consequences of the choices involved in governing."

Of course, the Democrats did have a policy, or several of them (Murtha's and others), all aimed at establishing real benchmarks and beginning a slow withdrawal. Every move was blocked by the president and the GOP, and now we have more troops in Iraq than we did when the Dems took over Congress. Yet Kristol hits them for not putting up or shutting up. But go to the Times site and read the rest. You will get a good chuckle out of it. Kristol is not the new Bill Safire -- he is the new Russell Baker.

The Obama 'plagiarism' kerfuffle

If you haven't caught up with the Clinton charge yet, below is the video where they compare a certain line of rhetoric used by Deval Patrick in his race for governor of Massachusetts with a passage in a recent Obama speech. Obama says he and Patrick -- a good friend -- share ideas all the time. Patrick says he is not upset at all, and the Obama team point to Hillary and McCain both using his "fired up and ready to go" line recently. Pressed on the matter, Obama said that Patrick "suggested that we use these lines…I thought they were good lines. I’m sure I should have [given him credit], I didn’t this time.” Here's the video:

Upset in Wisconsin?

Remember the media hype over an Obama runaway in Wisconsin and Hillary's promise of a winless February? Polls show a tightening in Wisconsin -- and one has her ahead. The Clinton camp must feel something in the wind, as it upped its TV ad buy there. It will be interesting -- I am not yet convinced that Obama can win a primary voting state (not a caucus) in a state without a large black population to balance the white female support for Clinton. Don't be surprised if she at least finishes a close second, and claims victory....On the other hand, a new CNN survey out today shows a big Obama gain in Texas, finding him trailing only 50% to 48% there.

Meanwhile, Rick Hertzberg in The New Yorker offers a scathing appraisal of something we raised last week: That New York Times' misplaced front page story on Obama's youthful drug use. Here's the link:
http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2008/02/25/080225taco_talk_hertzberg

Kosovo declares independenece -- with the Universal Anthem

As you may know, Kosovo declare independence yesterday, and perhaps you caught some of the very moving images of the celebrations in the streets. No video seems to exists of the reputed high point of the official celebration: the Kosovo Philharmonic playing the "Ode to Joy" section of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (which is also the unofficial anthem of the European Union and the unofficial anthem of much of the rest of the world). You may not be so familiar with how the Ninth Symphony concludes ("All men become brothers") so take a breath and consider Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philaharmonic:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

This should be the official Obama campaign song

Maybe I've missed it but it's beyond me why Allen Toussaint's great, not to mention funky -- not to mention politically apt -- "Yes We Can Can" has not been selected as the official campaign song for the Obama campaign, especially since it adds a "can" to his "Yes We Can." Here is the hit Pointers Sister version, there are others you may like more or less.

Yet another takeoff on the 'Yes We Can' video...

Best Film of the Year (so far)

If you don't live near a major city with an art house, you may have to wait awhile, but I'd recommend trying to catch up at some point with the acclaimed film Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days, which depicts two college students and an abortionist in police state Rumania of the 1980s. Here is a trailer:

Michelle, our belle?

Newsweek's cover girl next week is Michelle Obama. The story is already up online. She talks a bit about fears for his safety and the fact that she travels with a Secret Service detail herself. A sample: :She realizes not everyone finds her jokes funny, but doesn't seem all that interested in curbing her tongue. 'Somehow I've been caricatured as this emasculating wife,' she tells NEWSWEEK. 'Barack and I laugh about that. It's just sort of, like, do you think anyone could emasculate Barack Obama? Really now.'" Full story:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/112849/page/1

Sunday transcendence

Continuing our Sunday tradition, here's one of the greatest movements from Beethoven's early piano sonatas: the 2nd movement of Sonata No. 3. This afternoon I will be attending a performance of "Manny" Ax doing Sonata No. 2 and the "Appassionata." Lenin once explained (there's a key reference to this in my favorite film of 2007, The Lives of Others) that he could not listen to the "Appassionata" too often because it was so wonderful and profound it might make him falter in his task of smashing his enemies' heads without mercy. Perhaps this explains my own "appassion" for Beethoven, though -- I think -- I have fewer violent tendencies to overcome.

I will link here, in the same vein, to an article in London's The Guardian today, just the latest hailing Daniel Barenboim's performance of all 32 Beethoven sonatas in that city this month as the musical event of the decade. But as I have noted recently, Barenboim is so much more -- a famous Israeli fighting for compassion for the Palestinians. Here's the link and below that, Michelangeli and Sonata No. 2:
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/mark_braund/2008/02/the_artist_as_leader.html

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Putting the "ick" in Ickes

AP: "Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass. In a conference call Saturday, the longtime Democratic Party member contended the DNC should reconsider its tough sanctions on the two states, which held early contests in violation of party rules. He said millions of voters in Michigan and Florida would be otherwise disenfranchised — before acknowledging moments later that he had favored the sanctions."

Meanwhile, adding a new chapter in the long history of candidates pandering to voters on gun rights, did you know that Hillary Clinton is a hunter herself? Clinton told an audience in Wisconsin she supported gun rights, two days after a student opened fire on the campus of Northern Illinois University, killing five before turning the gun on himself. "I've gone hunting," she said, according to AP. "I know you may not believe it, but it's true. My father taught us to shoot." Clinton told reporters later she had once shot a duck in Arkansas, along with "a lot of tin cans, targets and some skeet."

The Dean's December

As several liberal bloggers have pointed out, today marks the first anniversary of the infamous David Broder column in which he opined: "It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case. Like President Bill Clinton after the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, Bush has gone through a period of wrenching adjustment to his reduced status. But just as Clinton did in the winter of 1995, Bush now shows signs of renewed energy and is regaining the initiative on several fronts.

"More important, he is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics have to acknowledge."

Music video of the day: 'Totally Gay for the USA'

What he suggests doing with the Washington Monument cannot be described in a family blog. (h/t Andrew Sullivan)

Happiness, warm gun, 2008 re-make

One of the many alarming things about the latest college shooting (especially for someone with a kid in college), is the way the media have treated the issue of the shooter and his guns. They describe it in terms of "move along, nothing to see here" by emphasizing that they were all purchased legally. It turns out that the heavily medicated young man -- who had been institutionalized less than 10 years ago -- had recently bought six (not the earlier reported four) weapons.

After high school, we now learn, Steve Kazmierczak's parents sent him to a psychiatric treatment center for teens, where he lived for a full year while getting therapy and medication for what was described as "unruly" behavior. Later he was booted out of the Army for an undisclosed reason. Welcome to America, where former mental patients, still on medication, can walk up to a gun dealers' shop (in a basement or garage) and legally assemble an arsenal.

Here's the latest from the ABC News site: "Law enforcement authorities told ABC News that Kazmierczak had likely planned the assault on the school for at least five days. All four guns involved in the NIU shooting were purchased legally from the same Champaign, Ill., gun dealer, ABC News has learned. The Remington shotgun and the Glock 9 mm were purchased Feb. 9, 2008. The Hi Point 380 was purchased Dec. 30, 2007 and the SIG Sauer 9 mm was purchased Aug. 6, 2007 from the same gun dealer. Authorities were still checking where he obtained two other pistols, a 9 mm Sig Sauer and a Hi Point 380.

"In a disturbing twist, authorities report Kazmierczak purchased ammunition from the same website as the Virginia Tech gunman."

Super, man: Best super-delegate coverage here

Key endorsement in Texas today by the moderate/conservative Houston Chronicle: "Obama is both the epitome of the American Dream and well-positioned to reach out to an international community alienated by recent U.S. go-it-alone policies. The passion and excitement that Obama has brought to the race can only stimulate more citizens to participate in the electoral process. The Chronicle urges Texas Democrats to cast what could be decisive ballots for his presidential nomination."

I often have some problems with Mark Halperin's views and tone, but his The Page at Time.com today has about a million links to various aspects of the fight for super-delegates in the Obama/Clinton race. If you are a fellow junkie, check it out here:
http://thepage.time.com/

'Gross mismanagement' killed these Marines

From the AP. I presume they weren't trying to be funny with the "driving factor" point: "Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes. The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of 'gross mismanagement' that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years. Cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down the request for the so-called MRAPs, according to the study. Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded."

Feeling bookish

In just a month, my new book comes out (pub date is March 19, the 5th anniversary of the start of the war). Bruce Springsteen wrote a preface and Joseph L. Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once, wrote the foreword. Did you see my man Paul Rieckhoff on Bill Maher's show last night? You can order it at http://www.amazon.com/So-Wrong-Long-Pundits-President-Failed/dp/1402756577/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194834498&sr=1-1 Here are some early blurbs for So Wrong for So Long:

"Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looks to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice."
— Bill Moyers

"With the tragic war in Iraq dragging on, and the drumbeat for new conflicts growing louder, this is more than a five-year history of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our times—it's a cautionary tale that is as relevant as this morning's headlines. Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
— Arianna Huffington

"In war truth is too often the first casualty, and it is not just a President or a Secretary of Defense or assorted official spokesmen who do the killing. Our brothers and sisters in the media also participate in the execution. Greg Mitchell has taken that as his lesson and in so doing has done a service to future generations in our business."
--Joseph L. Galloway, military reporter and co-author, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young

"Anyone who cares about the integrity of the American media should read this book. Greg Mitchell asks tough questions about the Iraq war that should have been asked long ago, in a poignant, patriotic, and thoughtful dissection of our war in Iraq. Mitchell names names and places blame on those who’ve blundered. Examining the most complex issue of our time, he connects the dots like no one else has."
— Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of Chasing Ghosts

“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation. Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.”
— Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com writer and author of A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act?