Thursday, February 03, 2005

Strange Journalism:Iraq the Model in the News Again

Strange Journalism:
Iraq the Model in the News Again

A couple of months ago, I passed along some information about some bloggers who were having doubts about the credibility of a couple of brothers (actually, there are three) by the name of Omar and Muhammad, and Ali. Blogger Jeff Jarvis has championed the brothers' blog, known as Iraq, the Model.

Jay Rosen is talking about the blogging brothers at Press Think. A NY Times article by Sarah Boxer, titled "Pro-American Iraqi Blog Provokes Intrigue and Vitriol, has reported about unsupported allegations that the brothers from Iraq are actually C.I.A. agents. It produces no proof whatsoever for such claims.

Whether they are CIA or propagandists, I am disturbed when I read that these brothers are being financed by ideologues. I don't make a single dime as a blogger. I speak my heart and I am politically obligated to no man or woman besides myself and my own conscience. One of these brothers, Ali, has quit. Poof. Cold turkey. He claims he just can't do this anymore. The other two brothers claim to have met with President Bush. I'm sorry, this is just too bizarre, people! Sarah Boxer writes:
As for financing, Ali said that Iraq the Model had received private donations from Americans, Australians, French, British and Iraqi citizens. In addition, the brothers were promised money from Spirit of America. But, he added, "We haven't got it yet."

What Sarah Boxer was trying to tell us in her report, as a mainstream journalist, seems just a litte fuzzy to many people. A theme that runs through many of the comments I see about the article is that the report seemed more like a blog entry than a professional journalist's NY Times report.

Jay says:
The finished report is supposed to reduce the "befuddling complexity" of the online world, not produce a more exquisite sense of it.

Jeff Sharlet of The Revealer (who is teaching a course at NYU this term on religion and journalism) has said that "good reporting is ordinarily the opposite of opaque, and that the situation should be more intelligible when the journalist's labors are completed."

Jay Rosen has concluded that:
Sarah Boxer's article about Iraq the Model was really about the Net and how you can't trust anyone or anything that originated on it. Leaving the situation opaque, at the level of a brouhaha, was part of the point. (And in that context, suggesting a CIA connection served quite well.) It remains, however, a strange assignment.
I have to wonder if Sarah Boxer wasn't trying to mock the blog world with her opaque article. Was she branding us, with crafty poison pen, a band of hooligans with our hands out for bribes; not to be trusted as you'd trust a NY Times journalist? I hope this was not the case. We honest, hard-working bloggers can be sensitive souls.

Here's what I really want to know. I'd love to know the facts, with which Sarah never bothered to satisfy us. The facts. Sarah ends her article by referring to a statement by one of the brothers, the last line reading "Now that seems genuine..", yet she never offers true investigative insight or a promise of investigative follow-up.

I could have written this piece, and I'm a blogger..not a NY Times journalist. If the NY Times would like a blogger who's a real deal, however, I am always willing and ready. ;)

I mean, are Muhammad, Omar, and Ali CIA agents or paid operatives of any kind? Are they simply propagandists? Have they been paid by DoD or any other governmental agency? Are they the Armstrong Williams of Iraq? Has anyone bothered to dig into this and give us a real investigative story? Are they too afraid they'll wind up suffering the fate of Dan Rather if they REALLY try to "dig in"? For Sarah, whose article I found entertaining, it seems as if it was easier just to muddy up the waters and make political bloggers look like most of them on the take.

I have to say that I deeply resent that soft accusation.

Bush Foreign Policy Devoid of Solid Moral Values

"Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honoured in Iraq."

--President GW Bush

Bush Foreign Policy Devoid of Solid Moral Values
His actions betray his words

I have a bone to pick with President Bush about his frothing rush to be Reaganesque.

The BBC has an excellent analysis of foreign policy-related statements made by President Bush in his SOTU speech. World Affairs Correspondent Paul Reynolds felt that Bush's use of language was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan and the Cold War.

He says:
where President Reagan called for liberty in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, so President Bush declares that he is trying to do the same for the Middle East.
While President Bush may intend to be the NeoReagan and saviour of the Middle East, there are some things he and many Americans are forgetting.

President Bush wants to lead the world to freedom, yet through his actions, most of the world sees him as a threat - especially the people who live in the very part of the world he wishes to change. The way he chooses to deliver freedom to the Middle East has been terribly unsuccessful, in reality.

The world sees directly through the broad and sweeping freedom-speak of George W. Bush and regularly glimpses, with horror, a little bitty mind with a big, big agenda. The most appalling thing about that agenda is the absence of real moral values and an ignorance about the culture and worldview of the part of the world he wishes to change.

Lenten Reflection #2

Lenten Reflection #2

Today's reflection is from a book by Carol Osborn titled "Nothing Left Unsaid". Carol's father, gravely ill, was about to be taken into surgery. She reveals how the language of love is spoken in the simple stories that we tell. Love can grow so large that it can break your heart. There's so much we wish to say when we are fully conscious of the fact that our time here on Earth is limited. There are times when we are not sure how to say what we want to say to a loved one when "the time" comes - and you know that one of you must part with this life. The simplest of words can carry loving messages we wish to relay in those unspeakable moments of sorrow and loss.

Listen to Carol's story.

"Despite his discomfort and the effort it obviously took, Dad wanted to share a story with me about something that had happened to him during World War II. Stationed in the Phillipines, far away from home, he had bonded deeply with his companions. Medics, sent to care for those injured and ailing on the front lines, he and his companions lived through dangerous times together.

Then, for no apparent reason, there was a lull in the fighting. Shortly after, a dispatch arrived, offering the medics much-needed R&R. The boys were free to take the day and go to swim in a lake nearby. Dad readied himself for the celebration, but soon a second dispatch arrived. This one contained orders that Dad, only, was to be shifted later that afternoon from his companions to a new battalion many miles away. He would have to say goodbye to his friends while he awaited transport to arrive to take him to his new assignment. His friends hugged Dad an emotional farewell then boarded the company’s Jeep. Dad stood there a good long time, listening to their laughter and singing fade into silence, feeling alone and abandoned. Every moment he waited for his transport to come felt like an eternity. And of course, the transport was hours late. When the driver finally arrived, he apologized, explaining that there had been an accident and the road had been closed. “A Jeep, carrying a group of medics, careened off the road and over the side of the cliff into the lake below. All had been instantly killed.” Dad paused to take a deep breath, then went on to finish his story quietly.

I would have been on that Jeep, having nothing more serious on my mind than going swimming with my buddies at the lake.” I know what Dad was saying to me. He did not explicitly use the words “Life is precious” or “Every day has been a gift.” But these words, and more, were in the squeeze of his hand before he drifted off into sleep.

As I stood there beside him, thinking about his story, my mind wandered back to the sunny afternoon over forty years ago when Dad had run beside my wobbly two-wheeler, teaching me to ride. As long as his hand made contact with my arm, the bike stayed upright and I felt like I was riding on my own. But the moment he withdrew his hand, the bike would suddenly careen and crash. Eventually, of course, I pedaled faster than even he could run. Until this moment, I had not remembered the last time I felt his hand on my shoulder; I had only remembered the first time I took off down the road holding strong and steady. I had taken so much for granted in my life. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for it all. There were no words to communicate my feelings, so we just kept on telling stories and sharing memories — until the very last moment they came to get Dad and roll him away to surgery.

The stories and memories we shared were simple and sweet, And yet, just being together — sometimes sharing our thoughts, sometimes sitting in silence, some kind of completion was taking place that went far beyond the words that were being spoken."

Bush tells the truth - Twice!

Bush tells the truth - Twice!

President Bush told the truth at least a couple of times last night during his SOTU speech.

At the beginning of the speech, he averred that it was a great privilege to have been placed in office by the votes of people he serves. That was no lie. He serves his supportive base very well. It's the other 50% of the nation he plans to screw with every ounce of political capital he's gained.

He said he will listen to anyone who has a "good idea" to offer when it comes to Social Security. That was no lie. We know what he thinks of Democrats' ideas. They're all bad. Therefore, he will not be listening to them.