Thursday, March 03, 2005

Say! Is that Rob Corddry?

Say! Is that Rob Corddry?

Or is it Dino Ironbody?

* Click on photo to see video at Crooks and Liars

*see the Daily Show last night? Jay Rosen made a guest appearance and was an extremely good sport.

Speaking of Jay, he's got another good analysis on the press de-certification issue. I agree with his view that Howard Kurtz is off-base in his insistence that the problems of the press are mostly self-driven scandals. Jay says:
".. [Kurtz quote] "Nothing the White House has done has damaged the media's credibility more than what the profession has done to itself." And he lists all the recent goings-on from Jayson Blair and Eason Jordan to declining ratings, in order to ask: are any of these Bush's fault? (He left out excessive credulity on the Weapons of Mass Destruction story, which is on most people's list of recent press failures. That, of course, was Bush's fault.)

In my view Kurt'z judgment on this is wrong-- very wrong for a beat reporter with his experience. His attempt to de-excite us about de-certification deserves to fail....
....Mike Allen of the Washington Post, Kurtz's colleague, did not forget what administrations do. On October 8 he wrote: "Although all presidents are kept somewhat removed from reality because of security concerns and their staffs' impulse for burnishing their image, Bush's campaign has taken unprecedented steps to shield him from dissenters and even from curious, undecided voters."

Kurtz says people forget what presidents do. But I didn't forget (and I'm people, Howard.)....
Jay is right on. He's "people", alright. I agree that Howard Kurtz should "understand the thesis he is rejecting, and not rely on the entirely superficial approach of picking out two or three things Bush is accused of that Clinton was also accused of." Howard should read Jay carefully and try to understand the democracy-destroying ramifications of the de-certification of the fourth estate.

A Poem by Said Akl

Mother Oh My Angel, my love that will remain forever
And your hands are still my swing, and I am still a child
A month winks at me, and a spring passes by
Mother , and you remain a rose in which scent I am lost
And when I say your name , I am charmed I am Healed
And above my worries flies a nightingale
You are my heart beats , I cry your name when I am in pain
You are my Kiss , my passion , Mother when I am in love
Your eyes , they are the most beautiful stars in the skies
Mother Oh My Angel, my love that will remain forever

- Said Akl, Lebanese poet

Gannon/Propagandagate Update

Gannon/Propagandagate Update

Raw Story has released a pdf file showing a House Resolution of Inquiry which will force a vote in the House Judiciary Committee with regards to an investigation into White House Press Corps reporter Jeff Gannon (aka JD Guckert).

The inquiry is directed to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and departing Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. It requests all documents on how Gannon was allowed access to the White House. The Judiciary Committee will be forced to decide whether or not to demand the records, and if they fail to vote after 14 legislative days, it will go to the House floor for a full vote. (And I'm sure the Republicans don't want THAT to happen. After all, they've been in total denial about the story..hoping it would just go away. Ask Vianna at Arlen Specter's office.).

Read Salon's latest Eric Boehlert article, where he examines the Bush administration's determination to manage the news and influence the media.

Bush and Syria / We don't want another war

Bush and Syria
Say It Now, Citizens: We Don't Want Another Endless War

With the GOP touting the Iraq elections as the one and only reason for an ideological paradigm shift in the Middle East, one has to sit back and watch, cheer for those who desire their own respective brand of freedom and democracy, yet with the clearest eye, understand they don't all want the same thing. Most of the time, a coup brings about a lot more civil division than the more ignorant among us would imagine. Hizbollah's presence and support would remain in Lebanon, even with Syria's dearture. Popular agitation against Syria’s grip on the country following the killing of Rafiq Hariri may plunge Lebanon into a new civil war. There will likely be an increase in terror, as we saw in Iraq. With a swift evacuation of Syrian presence will come more civil struggle for Lebanon. Who will be there to take Syria's place? Who will keep the peace? Will the world cooperate with us this time or will Bush be unsuccessful in gaining their trust? Do you trust Bush?

I heard President Bush say something irresponsible, overly idealistic, and bordering upon theological fervor in front of a Maryland crowd yesterday.
'You get your troops and your secret services out of Lebanon so that good democracy has a chance to flourish'...The world is speaking with one voice when it comes to making sure that democracy has a chance to flourish in Lebanon and throughout the greater Middle East... Freedom is on the march. It's a profound period of time. So I look forward to continuing to work with friends and allies to advance freedom -- not America's freedom, but universal freedom, the kind of freedom granted by a Higher Being."
We know the world has not spoken with one voice on the Iraq war. There's been a lack of cooperation and agreement due to a leader who has never respected the opinions of international leaders, and instead has only made the 'necessary' (empty) political gestures and then has run roughshod over world leaders. It has been a painful and embarrassing sight to see for millions of American citizens.

We have no idea what "good" democracy means. It could mean anything, depending on the person who is saying "good" at the time. "Good" is purely subjective and has no place in a political speech about democracy. If you asked 50 different Americans citizens if they thought we had "good" democracy in this country, some would say 'yes', some would say 'no', and some would stare at you with blank looks on their faces.

Invoking the name of any God is inappropriate when you are threatening a Muslim nation with whom you have a quarrel (Syria) regarding the nation they are occupying, which has a Christian majority (Lebanon). It's all about perception. Americans aren't the only ones listening to Bush's words. Those words sound far too close to the threat of Holy War.

I read an interesting blog today, where Lina Maria said:
Looking at the hordes of Iraqis going to the polls, risking death, to cast their votes, is an inspiring message, regardless of hard feelings for Bush and his endeavor.
I would imagine this is true, to some extent, although the people of Lebanon probably see what we see, which are hundreds of bloodied half-blown up bodies littering the streets of Iraq, even a month past the elections.

U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state David Satterfield, who just returned from three days in Beirut, has told legislators on Capitol Hill that "events were moving at a rapid pace". He also said "What is needed now is not rhetoric, whether private or public. What is needed is actions on the ground."

The Right-wing mouth machine spits out McCarthyite accusations about anyone who would question the fine details of our dissent about what we suspect about the true intentions of our own leaders. I suspect we're gearing up for war with Syria. I smell the stench of saliva dripping from the rabid mouths of Neocons and I realize that President Bush is their best representative, because every time I see an editorial by a Neocon, Bush is repeating their lines the very next day.

Max Boot is giddy.

Ex-CIA officer Michael Scheuer has a more sobering assessment, deducing that our post-9/11 choices "are not war and peace, but war and endless war."

Somewhere between lies a caution that we must use in our approach and with which we must measure our country's options for military involvement. The press is telling you that France is in solidarity with the US for Syria to leave Lebanon, but how far would France go? I would guess they would back away from war, and I'm hearing the sabres rattling in Washington D.C. It's "deja vu all over again", as John Fogerty has recently sung.

We need to speak out on this issue now, before it's too late. We should say it now, that we do not support a unilateral move (in our name) to start war with Syria over this issue.

Robert F Kennedy, in one of his campaign speeches at Weber State College in 1968, said that the spirit of the young does not accept the failures of today as a reason for the cruelties of tomorrow and that men of good will, working together, can grasp the future and mold it to that good will.

When did we forget that lesson?

RFK's words:
"How ironic it is..that at a time when our own example spreads the seeds of liberty abroad and at home, there are some who see danger in the exercise of that liberty here in America, where it all began. They decry the growth of dissent: they urge that "the time has come to support our leaders, our government." And they ask us, "Who's side are you on?" I think the time has come to answer that question...I am on the side of those who seek an end to this war, not by unilateral American withdrawl -
nor by further fruitless escalation..."


Juan Cole has an informative posting on Lebanon/Syria.

I don't think Bush had anything much to do with the current Lebanese national movement except at the margins. Walid Jumblatt, the embittered son of Kamal whom the Syrians defeated in 1976 at the American behest, said he was inspired by the fall of Saddam. But this sort of statement from a Druze warlord strikes me as just as manipulative as the news conferences of Ahmad Chalabi, who is also inspired by Saddam's fall. Jumblatt has a long history of anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment that makes his sudden conversion to neoconism likely a mirage. He has wanted the Syrians back out since 1976, so it is not plausible that anything changed for him in 2003.

The Lebanese are still not entirely united on a Syrian military withdrawal. Supporters of outgoing PM Omar Karami rioted in Tripoli on Monday. Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah still supports the Syrians and has expressed anxieties about the Hariri assassination and its aftermath leading to renewed civil war (an argument for continued Syrian military presence).

Much of the authoritarianism in the Middle East since 1945 had actually been supported (sometimes imposed) by Washington for Cold War purposes. The good thing about the democratization rhetoric coming out of Washington (which apparently does not apply to Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and other allies against al-Qaeda) is that it encourages the people to believe they have an ally if they take to the streets to end the legacy of authoritarianism.

But Washington will be sorely tested if Islamist crowds gather in Tunis to demand the ouster of Bin Ali. We'll see then how serious the rhetoric about people power really is.

See Mahablog for a related entry

Liberals: Jim Gibbons thinks YOU should be a human shield

Liberals: Jim Gibbons thinks YOU should be a human shield

Smiling through public and unrestrained hatred and disrespect for American citizens. Are you offended yet?

According to this Raw Story, this Congressman, Jim Gibbons, thinks that citizens like you and I should be used as targets for terror. He's unapologetic. He hates you for who you are. I remember what happened to government targets of hatred in Nazi Germany. Why don't Red-staters and Limbaugh lovers remember that?

John Edwards Named Visiting Fellow at Harvard

John Edwards Named Visiting Fellow at Harvard

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that former Senator John Edwards
"..has been named a visiting fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. On April 13 he'll speak to students and help teach a course on public policy."
The Harvard Crimson story is HERE.


Fried Corn

Fried Corn

Now for something completely different.
I laughed while reading Pam's experience with (and recipe for) Fried Corn.

Pam also provides a recipe for Fried green tomatoes.

Mmmm. I'm getting hungry.

Pam's site is called Southern Kitchen and if you love southern-style food, I think you'll want to pay her a visit.

Paul Krugman on Social Security

Paul Krugman on Social Security

If you hear or read nothing else on the Social Security issue, listen to THIS. (From NPR's Fresh Air)

Gunner Palace

Gunner Palace

A new film by Michael Tucker is due in theaters across America this weekend. Gunner Palace reveals the complex realities of the situation in Iraq not seen on the nightly news. It's told first-hand by our troops.
Michael Tucker lived with 2/3 Field Artillery, a.k.a. "The Gunners" for two months, and has captured the lives and humanity of these soldiers whose barracks are the bombed-out pleasure palace of Uday Hussein (nicknamed Gunner Palace) in Baghdad.

At the Gunner Palace website, you can see the "Baghdad Diaries", which
was compiled by Gunner Palace directors Mike Tucker and Petra Epperlein and consists of notes from the production of the film in 2003-2004 and emails sent from 2/3 FA soldiers during their 410 day deployment to Najaf and Baghdad.

A Reuters news item lays out one of the scenes from the film:
"The funniest moment of the Iraq war documentary "Gunner Palace" -- at least to the people who are in it -- just may be when a U.S. Army artilleryman shows off his Humvee's scrap-metal armor.

"This armor was made in Iraq. It's high-quality metal," the gunner says, looking into the camera's lens through tinted glasses. "And it will probably slow down the shrapnel so that it stays in your body instead of going straight through."

With an affectionate tap on the vehicle's roof, he turns to a group of fellow soldiers, who are literally rolling on the ground in helpless laughter. This is plainly the best joke they've heard in a long time."

The Rolling Stone story is here. (click on photo)

The Village Voice says that the documentary will "bring a deeper understanding of the experience of soldiers" in Iraq.

Frank Rich weighed in on the film in late January, in a must-read article in which he compared the Bush administration's 4-day inaugural "salute" to our troops to the Fifth-Avenue swells' use of "forgotten men" in the 1936 Hollywood classic film "My Man Godfrey". Rich said:
It says much about the distance between the homefront and these troops that the Motion Picture Association of America this month blithely awarded "Gunner Palace" an "R" rating - which means that it cannot be seen without parental supervision by 16-year-old high-school kids soon to be targeted by military recruiters.
Rich believes this film will raise the American public's awareness of what the troops are actually facing, and that it may be an impetus for citizens to take action to call upon their Representatives for the trooops to come home.
In Washington the gears are shifting to all Social Security all the time. A fast growing plurality of the country wants troops withdrawn from Iraq, but being so detached from the war they are unlikely to make a stink about it. The civilian leaders who conceived this adventure are clever at maintaining the false illusion that the end is just around the corner anyway.
Last June my colleague David Neiwert at the group blog American Street wrote:
Among the soldiers Tucker interviewed and spent time with was a young man from Kent, a middle-class suburb south of Seattle, named Ben Colgan. A few weeks later, Colgan — whose parents are antiwar activists — was killed.

Tucker sent me an e-mail describing the film and hoping my readers give it a look:
“As we are out of the major festival cycle, we decided to go ahead and post a few clips from the film — scenes that we think are definitive not only of what we have captured, but of the experience. In one scene a soldier does a freestyle rap; in another, a young soldier plays a very electric version of the Star Spangled Banner on the roof of Uday Hussein’s Palace.

After Abu Ghraib, after the massive amounts of attention paid to M. Moore’s F911, it is our hope that this film is at the center of an American conversation, about who we are and where we are going. We hope to find a middle ground, not division. That’s happening right now. On blogs ranging from to military sites, people are embracing the story and the reaction has been, more often than not, surprising.

That’s where this ties into the culture war. Over the last week, as people write me — I just received a letter from the mother of a soldier who died in the unit I filmed — I sense exhaustion. America has been at war for almost three years. Much soul searching is going on, but there is also much rabid commentary. Ann Coulter thinks Iraq is a raging success; Michael Moore thinks the insurgents are “the Minutemen”. To both, I suggest a soft-skinned HUMVEE ride through Baghdad. America is ailing, I hope there is a way to bring the war to the table of a constructive discussion free from stubborn rhetoric.