Friday, May 27, 2005

As they say, "Ouch"

Tim Golden, of The New York Times in an interview on the "timing" of his Bagram abuse piece is asked this question by Mariah Blake:
MB: A few conservative bloggers and pundits have questioned the timing of the series. Glen [sic] Reynolds (Instapundit) went as far as suggesting that The New York Times was trying to avert attention from the Newsweek ordeal by running it. What would you say to these critics?

TG: I am reluctant to respond to people who call themselves by names like “Instapundit.” I certainly support scrutiny of the press; the Times is a big, powerful institution and I think it should be accountable to the public. But a lot of our self-appointed critics don’t make much of an effort to base their opinions on facts. Nor do they seem to understand much about the way that newspapers work.

No, they certainly don't.

[Disclosure: I am a sometimes contributor to that selfsame daily based in New York]

UPDATE: Source material

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:19 PM

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Just really unbelievable

So the Pentagon just said there were 5 "mishandlings" of the Koran after all, but it was, you know, "inadvertent." Ah-ha. At the press conference, with Commander Hood and Pentagon flack Lawrence DiRita, this had to be the most telling moment:

Q: [thickly-accented] Are you going to apologize to the Muslim world for what's happened?

DiRita: For what?

Yeah, for what, you know? Newsweek lied and people died, and they sure as shootin' "need to be careful what they say" and "what they do." Oh and they also need to repair the damage they've done. But the U.S. military fucks with the Koran and has nothing to apologize for. I get it. That's a bit different from just last week now, isn't it, Larry?
DiRita: [on the newsweek source] "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said."

I guess that just doesn't apply to the U.S. military. After all, they don't have well-armed pens with which to kill and torture people.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 5:39 PM

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

This is getting embarrassing

Tom Friedman somehow managed to place another advertisment on the Op-Ed page today. It's unclear why the title wasn't the following:



Previously: BUY MY BOOK!

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 11:19 AM

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

US sends spies into Iraq posing as reporters?

A reporter from Pacifica Radio named Aaron Glantz, recent author of How America Lost Iraq, claimed yesterday that the US was sending spy-journalists into Iraq. It's the first time I'd heard something like that, and if it's true, I wouldn't say I was surprised. Here's the relevant quote: [28:00 timestamp]
The U.S. military sometimes sends in people claiming to be journalists who are actually spies. I tried to get myself into northern Iraq by getting across the border, illegally, before the war. Turkey and Iraq had their border closed and I was going to smuggle myself through. And I didn’t because I ended up meeting this kind of sleazy guy who claimed to be from a magazine in Southern California, named Rex Wempen. Little do I know, like, three months later I see him quoted in a story in some magazine as a trainer with Vinnell Group, which is training the new Iraqi army for the US military. So in this atmosphere… the Americans have people posing as journalists who are not…

That's a hell of a charge, and it's not clear what happened in this situation. Is it just one incident? Was this guy only misrepresenting himself to Glantz? I don't know. If true, it's pretty terrible.

SOURCE: WNYC's Leonard Lopate show.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 2:53 PM

Monday, May 23, 2005

What would Gen. Washington do?

What to do with our enemy...

George Washington: [1777]
Treat them with humanity…and let them have no reason for complaining of our copying the brutal example of the British army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren. Provide everything necessary for them on the road.

The wack-job Right: [2005]
There'll be some who say that toppling Saddam was meant to be an object lesson to the Arab world. If so, it has sent mixed messages because it was never prosecuted with the kind of frightening brutality that some have advocated. The image of the US after OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] is one of a giant afraid to hurt or even give offense to its enemies. Even in the battles of the First and Second Fallujah there were always extraordinary efforts to preserve mosques and similar places, probably to the glee and wonderment of the enemy

How far we've come.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 8:30 PM

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What he said.

Ah, young Matthew Yglesias, what can't this kid do? Just read it and chuckle.

UPDATE: For those who may be confused, here's the source material for Mr. Yglesias's piece.

And don't miss this nice post by Matt Welch.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 11:04 AM

On Howard Dean

There really is no defense for Dean's comments accusing Tom DeLay of being a criminal. And I agree with this post from Brendan Nyhan, who notes that it's kooky that Dean is not backing down from his claims. This man is the head of the DNC. Scary.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 8:58 AM

Why isn't this a bigger story?

After reading this piece in The New York Times, I have to wonder why the story about the crooked Hillary campaign finance director isn't bigger news? The paper buried this on B2, in the local section of the paper. The trial involves a major figure in the campaign of a sitting Senator, the former first lady. The most damaging testimony was from an event planner who said that she was told to hide thousands of dollars in expenses for a star-studded celebrity gala. Is Hillary responsible? Well, we don't know, and prosecutors are careful not to allege this, but you'd think this would be at least a national story.

And I agree with this Salon piece [watch annoying ad]. This really damages her presidential hopes, I think. Republicans will justifiably use this relentlessly in any campaign.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 8:31 AM

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sith blogging

As a recovering Star Wars fanatic, I was taken by the text in this official movie ad I just saw on TV:
Star Wars: Sith Happens.


And apparently there are T-shirts being made to reflect this sentiment.

Not sure what to make of this.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 7:39 PM

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

On "responsibility"

One last thing. Do we really need to hear lectures from Glenn Reynolds on responsibility and ethics in reporting? This is what the professor said yesterday:
Really, I don't want to hear another word about the superior "responsibility" of Big Media. Not one more word.

Of course, that comment was made immediately following a Reynolds reference to a third-hand unverified hearsay post from an Austin Bay commenter saying that his "friends" had told him that Newsweek’s article had “singlehandedly turned US triumph in the country to a total disaster.” Now, that’s responsible reporting!

This is a man who will post not once, not twice, but over half- a-dozen times on any number of untrue non-stories that drag into the mud the reputations of anyone he sees fit. But that’s OK, because, eventually, I suppose, the “self-correcting blogosphere” will be able to determine that it was full of shit. Sometimes. Or not at all. No correction or retraction necessary.

The ethical world that Reynolds inhabits is a frightening one. According to him, any scurrilous charge can be aired, any uninformed musing that aims to destroy someone's reputation can be made (see Alex Polier, Michael Kranish), anything can be talked about, as long as the blogger adds a supremely weak and slimy caveat like "Well, I'm not sure about this." I wonder if the professor would approve of a post like this?
IS GLENN REYNOLDS A PEDOPHILE NATIONAL SOCIALIST? The Daily Slime seems to think so, but I'm somewhat skeptical.

UPDATE: Well, it looks like from this New York Times article that he's probably not. Of course, this is the New York Times.

LATER UPDATE: Reader Bill Feeling is pretty sure he's seen Reynolds goose-stepping around day care centers.


Permalink posted by Jonathan : 5:56 PM

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hear no evil

Against my better judgement, I entered Scarborough Country tonight. And who was there but the venerable L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center. I know, I know, it's Brent Bozell. But something he said was extremely instructive in understanding the mindset of the wack-job Right.

On the show tonight, the already flogged-to-death Koran-flush story. A University of Texas professor noted, accurately, that the U.S. had reported that homicides had been committed against detainees in U.S. custody. Twenty-seven of them, in fact. See the full press release from the U.S. Army here.

Well, that was all that was needed to set of the hyper-informed Bozell.

Here's the video and exact transcript [starts at 8:56]. If anything, it makes Bozell look like an ignoramus and a bully. Two great tastes together.

JENSEN: In the context of the proved abuses by US officials in these bases – not just in Guantanamo but in others, Abu Ghraib, and of course in Bagram -- We have a repeated record of up to and including homicide in these prisons. So is it so hard to believe --

BOZELL: Oh, come on. Just stop that. Just stop that

JENSEN: No, the record is clear.

BOZELL: Just stop it.

[LATER, 9:36 timestamp]

BOZELL: Let me put you on the record right now. You cite me the evidence of American soldiers murdering people in prisons.

JENSEN: These are in reports that--

BOZELL: No, don’t give me reports. You give me the evidence.

JENSEN: No, the evidence is from the Army’s own reports. There have been homicides in these prisons. We have photographic evidence of the routine sexual
humiliation –

BOZELL: I didn’t say about routine sexual humiliation. I’m talking about murders. You’re accusing the American military of murder. If you don’t back it up, back off!

JENSEN: I’m not at my computer. I’ll send you the cites tomorrow, Brent. You might want to put them up on your website.

BOZELL: In other words, you can’t do it.

JENSEN: No I can. If you want to-- If you don’t believe the government’s own reports about homicides in these prisons--

BOZELL: I’m saying don’t make allegations you can’t back up on national television.

JENSEN: I’ll back them up tomorrow, Give me a call.

BOZELL. Send them tomorrow.

And so on. Bozell had no clue, none at all, even though the charges had been reported, extensively just a month or so previous. Isn't it clear to everyone by now that the such people have utterly expunged every bad story, every monkey-wrench to the "Freedom on the March" narrative that they can actually sit on a national television program and deny a plain fact that the Army has itself admitted. Business as usual.

Later on, they showed a clip of Bill Moyers speaking thusly:
"The one thing they loath more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth."


UPDATE: Thanks to Dan Kennedy for linking to this piece. Here's his terrific take on Newsweek's "gift" to the right.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:33 PM

Condoleeza Rice, Super Patriot

Ah, this really warms my heart
"I think it's perfectly plausible and even likely that there were those who used this event to stoke anti-American sentiment for their own purposes," she said.

Without directly criticizing Newsweek, she said, "I hope that everybody will step back and take a look at how they handled this. Everybody. It's just unfortunate because it became a very major problem."

Yes. Before we go ahead and report the latest abuse and murder and torture of prisoners done in the name of the United States, that drags us deeper into the frightening state we are becoming, we should stop and think what impact it might have. Well said.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 3:34 PM


After spending several posts lambasting the media for its irresponsibility, indeed, saying "people may be forgiven for doubting the patriotism of many folks in Big Media," suggesting that reporters are traitors that are "on the other side," Glenn Reynolds links to Michelle Malkin who posits the question "Who was Newsweek's source?" She then goes on to pen an unsubstantiated piece of non-reporting on a person that some "sharp-eyed bloggers" are "looking at" on the Koran-flush leak. And yes, she provides a name. Pathetic. I am not linking to these self-righteous hypocrites for obvious reasons.

UPDATE: Well, guess what? Michelle has an update saying the person she previously named is not, in fact the source. "So, who was it?" queries Ms. Malkin. Yes, who's reputation can we drag through the mud this time? Astonishing.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 11:39 AM

Wingnuts: LA Riots totally justified!

Hey everybody, remember the Rodney King police-beating video that led to rioting in L.A? It was completely understandable! Apparently, the Right has now discovered its inner bleeding heart. What else can we conclude from this opining on the Newsweek-Koran-flush-riot-death story?

I guess Muslims have no responsibility for their own actions. It's so sad to see that some people believe that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing and free.

And let's be serious and intelligent. Previous reporting in places like the Washington Post has noted the Koran flushing accusations had been made, though the goverment had not confirmed such reports. And yet no one rioted then. Anyone who's followed the recent story should know that the demonstrations last week were peaceful, but that extremists used the story as pretext to riot.

POSTSCRIPT: Let's be clear here. If Newsweek's story and the other stories about Koran-flushing prove to be false, then it is exceedingly bad reporting.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum and I share a brain. He makes some good points that I don't.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:07 AM

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Wacky quote of the week

I'd wondered about this all week. How is it that flushing a Koran is worse than raping a teenage prisoner in Abu Ghraib? Apparently, to many it is. Newsweek's analysis of the "Koran flushing" story includes this quote from a Pakistani:
"We can understand torturing prisoners, no matter how repulsive," says
computer teacher Muhammad Archad, interviewed last week by NEWSWEEK in Peshawar, Pakistan, where one of last week's protests took place. "But insulting the Qur'an is like deliberately torturing all Muslims. This we cannot tolerate."

Torture and rape? OK. Treating the Bible like a turd? No good.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:46 AM

Friday, May 13, 2005

Shorter Tom Friedman

Buy My Book!!!!!


Hey, has anyone else noticed that the cover image has changed? Interesting.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 8:28 AM

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Does an exploding bomb in Baghdad make a sound?

This John Tierney column is tearing up Blogville. Right on! Says Jeff Jarvis and NRO. Oy! Says Atrios and Tbogg. Money quote:
I'm not advocating official censorship, but there's no reason the news media can't reconsider their own fondness for covering suicide bombings. A little restraint would give the public a more realistic view of the world's dangers.


Terrorists know the numbers are against them and realize that daily bombings will not win the war. All along, their hope has been to inspire recruits and spread general fear with another tactic, the bombing as photo opportunity. For some reason, their media strategy still works.

This is a sentiment that comes up often, most especially among our most conservative. As a reporter who does not cover war, but has done his fair share of local shoot-em-up/disaster/fire stories in his life, I think there is something to be said regarding the coverage of attacks in Iraq.

And yet, despite relaying his own experience in Iraq, Tierney does little to offer a solution. If a bomb goes off and 9 people die, is that not a story? How about 15 dead? 50? 500? Is it a paragraph in a daily roundup?

I don't know the answer. Yes, covering attacks on troops and explosions that kill 10 absolutely help the insurgency. Read this excellent Mark Danner article on "information operations" and the propaganda war for a better understanding. And yet Sept. 11, 2001 also immensely helped global terrorism, did it not? No word on how Tierney would have covered that day's events.

And he may not have noticed his own paper's reporting on the attacks. When the bombings started up in earnest about two weeks ago, they led on the front page. But slowly, as the attacks have become the norm, they have, increasingly, been stuffed inside. Twenty dead? Eh. A16.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:44 AM

Friday, May 06, 2005

Goin' to war

Let's go back to that magical year of 2002. You all remember, Iraqi invasion plans leaked, "mushroom clouds," a "gathering" (not imminent!) threat, the "feckless" UN. Good times.

I'll never forget driving in my car, in December of that year, listening to Bob Woodward flog his Bush-hagiography of the moment. When he was asked by Terri Gross what chances he would give to an invasion, he hemmed and hawed, and finally said, "Oh, about 50 percent."

I nearly drove off the road. Fifty percent! Who had he been talking to? What had he been watching? Up to that point, I wasn't sure whether Woodward had become a hack blinded by his sources. Well, this was pretty much confirmation. This is further confirmation.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 4:39 PM

Who cares if we torture? Look at all those purple fingers!

I think it's instructive to see the reaction of the hawks when confronted with the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and extraordinary rendition. Point out that there appears to be a whitewash going on over a widespread problem and they -- surprise! -- completely change the subject.
Abu Ghraib and anger are all our Eugene Robinsons have. While they can see Lynndie England and her dog leash, they miss Saddam’s mass graves. Ink-stained Iraqi fingers and pro-democracy demonstrators in Beirut. Why? At some level our planet’s Robinsons know they’re on the wrong side of history. “The Robinsons” once thought they were the forefront of progress, the leading edge of ideas and engagement; now they are habituees of the rear areas as a New Greatest Generation confronts embedded tyrannies and changes bitter history for the better. While the rest of us have entered the new era of liberation, the Robinsons are trapped in a decayed and fossil liberalism, cranky voices delivering a predictably negative and myopic prattle.

In other words, "Was their torture? Was it widespread? Is it being covered up?" Eh. So what? Lebanon!!!! And I can't speak for Robinson, but does anyone really question the bravery and initiative of the overwhelimg majority of our troops? Of course not. The point is this: when confronted with the ugly truth of what appears to be a common, ugly practice that was at the very least tacitly approved by our highest levels of government, do we shrug and turn the channel? Or do we stop it and save ourselves. In fact, note how Austin Bay fails to say even one disapproving word (other than characterizing the torture as "mistreatment") that would indicate his revulsion for torture, abuse and extraordinary rendition. He certainly has a lot more room on his blog than Robinson had in his column. And yet he doesn't. Why not?

And, yes, I know this was a "how will history judge us" essay. So Bay has every right to bring up what he considers the relevant victories from this global campaign against terrorism. But Bay can't bring himself to address what I consider Robinson's thesis: If the cost for our safety is our soul, than was it all worth it?

It certainly is a "new era of liberation." A frightening one.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 6:58 AM

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Frauds are charming

Leave it to the professor:
RUSH LIMBAUGH is currently having an amusingly flustered discussion of anal sex in the context of marriage, gay and straight, with a female caller. One of Limbaugh's charms is his complete inability to pose as a convincing social conservative.

UPDATE: Got in the car right after posting this to go take the Insta-Daughter to the doctor and heard more. Limbaugh makes a poor defender of traditional marriage, but he gave it the old college try.

Ah, yes. See, when you vehemently defend a position that you yourself don't believe in whatsoever, well, that's not hacksterism. It's charming.

I heard the exchange Reynolds was referring to, by the way. Rush got his clock cleaned. He should be embarrassed. Especially delicious was hearing the thrice-divorced and childless Mr. Limbaugh trying to explain that the sine qua non of marriage was "procreation."

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 6:18 PM


I'm a little late to the table on this excellen E.J. Dionne article, but I think this is just another in what has become a clear, intentional pattern with the Bush administration: Cook up a half-baked idea, withhold all details, and then spring idea on an unsuspecting public. Clean up afterwards.
And so on...

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 1:54 PM

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

New York Pissed

You'd think that having Rupert Murdoch's bazillions behind it would make the New York Post a better operation. But have you ever seen their website? Good Lord -- it looks like something a 9-year-old in Wantagh slapped together. And so now comes along registration, and the noodleheads there can't even get that right. Hope the Daily News has a field day with this.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 9:45 AM

Monday, May 02, 2005

Somebody tell the Professor

In a New Yorker article this week, Doug Feith, The undersecretary of Defense. tries, like so many others have before, to trot out the newest revisionist rationale for the Iraq War: It's an exercise in spreading freedom and democracy everywhere! But he's not able to wriggle through that slime-hole. In the passage below, the writer notes that the Bush team had shifted its reasoning. Feith digs up an old New Yorker article by Nicholas Lemann prior to the war:
Feith was quoted as saying: “When you can think that if we do things right, and if we help the Iraqis, and if the Iraqis show an ability to create a humane representative government for themselves—will that have beneficial spillover effects on the politics of the whole region? The answer, I think, is yes.”

He read this to me and added, “I must say, I’m damn proud of that sentence. That was right on the nose.”

Feith, though, had left out part of what he told Lemann. “Would anybody be thinking about using military power in Iraq in order to do a political experiment in Iraq in the hope that it would have positive political spillover effects throughout the region?” he asked Lemann. “The answer is no.” He continued: “What we would be using military power for, if we have to, would be the goals the President has talked about, particularly the elimination of the chemical and biological weapons, and preventing Iraq from getting nuclear weapons.” [emphasis added]

Clearly, Feith was lying. Of course, everyone knows that this war was about democracy promotion!

UPDATE: Welcome, Washington Monthly readers. You can enjoy more Bloggy goodness here. And thanks again for the link, Kevin.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 3:31 PM

Rush on Soc. Security: It's doin' Okey-dokey

"People are happy with Social Security the way it is," Limbaugh just announced on his program today.

They've lost Limbaugh? Maybe this thing really is dead.

UPDATE: Well, my hearing ain't what it used to be. But the spirit is still there. Here transcript:
Rush: "I think one of the problems with Social Security reform is people are content. They're not demanding massive changes overnight because they don't see it falling apart no matter what they're told about it."

Wonder if that means a disinvite to the next Town Hall meet-up?

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 12:36 PM

Shorter Barone

Don’t the Democrats realize that they only way they’ll save themselves is if they acquiesce to every single thing the Republicans want? Then we’ll all be Republicans, and won’t that be a happy thing?

Oh, and Mike? You don't do yourself much credit when you cook up lines like this:
But during the 2004 campaign, several local anti-Daschle blogs took on Daschle and the paper, and circulated stories that put him in a less favorable light. Daschle had won seven elections in South Dakota. He lost in 2004.

Ah, yes, "local" anti-Daschle blogs. That also happened to be funded arms of the Republican machine.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:23 AM

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