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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Wednesday DAYBOOK: Airport Scanning Debate, Tina Fey Censored?, Palin Profiled, Springsteen on Fallon, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses  plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. Check out my new book on a wild left-wing campaign and the birth of "media politics" here.


Modern version of "destroying a village to save it,"  this time in Afghanistan... Hero Afghan dog soldier brought home was accidentally euthanized in homecoming...

Palin-mania continues in the media despite her low standing in polls—a NYT Magazine cover coming this Sunday by Robert Draper. And, of course, she has a new book. UPDATE: My take on full story, which has now been posted.

Don't touch Capt. Sully's junk, or his wife's, as controversy continues over TSA airport procedures—with right-wingers suddenly voicing concern for loss of rights under anti-terror regime. Lewis Black weighs in here, in his unique style.

Erin Brokovich (played by Julia Roberts in the movie) now goes to war as the original pollution is found to be spreading. 

Wild: Howard Fineman seriously looks at talk of an independent Bloomberg-Scarborough ticket in 2012. Or the other way around. Morning Joe now mocks it and takes shot at Howard. What next? Feingold-Maddow?

A full report and seveal videos re: Springsteen's visit to the Fallon show last night. He did the whole show with lengthychatting, performed two songs and even endured Jimmy's impersonation.

FORECLOSE BUT NO CIGAR  Econ blogger Ritholtz helps out Wash Post editors with syntax, and notes banks halted foreclosures not because of "mere questionable practices," but because forgery, fraud and criminal contempt fall under the noun "felony." 

SANDY's LITTLE EDEN  Robert Scheer on the "The Man Who Shattered Our Economy." Yes, it's Sandy Weill, although he has a nice new vineyard out in California anyway.

SCARED STRAIGHT  Dancing (not too close) With the Stars: Daily Show looks at Bristol Palin and The Situation starring in a safe sex ad.

HIDDEN IN PLAME SIGHT  What's missing from Bush's account in his book of the Valerie Plame scandal? It's a biggie, writes David Corn... Andy Borowitz:  "3 words that don't belong in the same sentence: Bush + Presidential + Library."

ODD COUPLES  Maureen Dowd on The Way They Were:  Redford and Streistand reunite—and so do Dubya and Cheney... Warren Buffett w/ NYT op-ed, thanking his Uncle Sam for averting full economic meltdown. 

MY  BACK PAGES  Yeah, everyone is excited about the Beatles finally coming to iTunes but: When Dylan went electric—I recall my first rock concert, forty-five years ago this week.

BITS & PIECES  Ted Koppel hits Olbermann for his news values. Now, three days later, Ted's old home, Nightline, schedules "Royal Wedding" special... Lisa Murkowski wraps up Alaska win almost certainly... Profile of Israeli novelist David Grossman, whose son was killed in final days of war in Lebanon in 2006...

HEY, BUSTER  A.O. Scott's NYT video pick this week: Buster Keaton's The General—truly great flick, but you need to see newer print with scenes in the right order.


Belle & Sebastian, live, declare, "I'm Waking Up to Us."



Tina Fey was awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize last night via PBS but the network snipped out some pointed references to Sarah Palin.  Here's the whole speech, with the Palin references about twelve minutes in.


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When Dylan Went Electric: My First Rock Concert, 45 Years Ago This Week

Once they were giants, now dinosaurs? It's been quite a month for the Big Three rock heroes of the 1960s.

The latest installment in Bob Dylan's neverending bootleg series emerged, unleashing dozens of acoustic demo recordings from the early part of that decade. Then Keith Richards's long-awaited memoir appeared—to prominent and favorable reviews, no less—complete with a Members Only critique of partner Mick Jagger. Now, today, with little warning, the "other" Apple has finally opened The Beatles catalog at iTunes, as fans twist and shout.

All of this only serves to remind me of a personal anniversary: Forty-five years ago this week, I attended my first rock concert. Many others naturally followed, from Blind Faith to Springsteen, Elvis Costello, the Clash, The Wailers, U2, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and the Swell Season, many while I served as an editor at the legendary Crawdaddy. But that first concert remains vivid, and historic, as it was one stop on what many consider the most significant (and craziest) tour ever—Bob Dylan's first full road trip after going electric.

In October '65, still in high school, I was a huge Dylan fan—I can honestly say that it was his "protest" phase that made me turn left. He had only recently picked up the electric guitar at Newport and hit the top with "Like a Rolling Stone." I took a really bold step: ordering a pair of tickets for a Dylan show on November 20 at Kleinhan's Music Hall in Buffalo. I still don't know how I managed to get tickets from my local music shop, but even more amazing: this would be my first rock concert.

That wasn't anything to be ashamed of back then. Only a few kids I knew had ever been to shows, usually girls who drove up to Toronto for the Beach Boys. Few bands came to Buffalo, only twenty miles away but another world, with a thick knot of highways and byways to navigate and a then-huge downtown. And until senior year, I didn't have a license that would allow me to drive after dark. Now I was all set, if I dared make the trek to Buffalo.

I didn't know what to expect from the concert. This was long before the "rock press" appeared, wire service tour reports were virtually unheard of, and the net, of course, did not exist. No sets lists posted online. All I'd heard was that the show opened acoustic and then went electric—and was causing disturbances everywhere. No idea who was in the backing band.

A Buffalo paper (I still have the clipping) ran a three-paragraph story, with the last two amounting to this: "He has performed at the Lincoln Center and Town Hall, and has made a series of personal appearances in England. Dylan's music has dropped most of its original overtones of the wandering troubadour. His beat is sharper and heavier and the words are more complex." This was the state of "rock journalism" back then.

Somehow we made it to the hall. Immediately I was thrown into the freakiest crowd I'd ever encountered, although "freaky" was not yet in the lingo. Most seemed to be from the University of Buffalo, at the time one of the most politically active campuses in the East. Numerous kids had long bushy hair, like Dylan, far scruffier and wilder looking than the British invasion band members. Many girls had devilishly long, straight hair. Some wore political buttons. A few antiwar protesters shouted slogans outside. It was exciting and, for me, exotic.

I still have a stub so I know that my girlfriend and I were in row J of the left-center balcony. Dylan came out alone, with just a stool next to him. It held a change of harmonica, a glass of water and, evidently, some pills that he dipped into from time to time. He'd already been associated with "drugs," whatever that meant, and I wondered if he was popping illegal substances or just fighting a cold.

The first set was all one could have wished, although I can't say for sure which songs he played, except that it was weighted toward the newer non-electric ones such as "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "Mr. Tambourine Man. " I specifically remember that he played "Desolation Row," which I loved and which went on forever—not a bad thing in this case. Okay, no controversy so far.

After intermission, spent largely staring at the odd menagerie of counter-culture precursors, I settled back in my seat, nervous, no doubt, about the coming reaction. And a large part of the crowd, it turned out, had brought their "A" game. A band came out with Bob—actually The Band, as it turned out, although they were then known as The Hawks—and immediately started playing "fucking loud," as Dylan famously ordered them when heckled in Great Britain on the same tour.

No idea what the first tune was, but I do know what happened between songs: heckling, pointed cries of "We want Dylan" (the folk one, that is) and "Put down the guitar!"—and the ringing of a cow bell somewhere down the balcony!

Dylan plunged ahead, with more noisy protest, and the cowbell, after the song's final note. And so it went, although I recall that the cowbell slackened after awhile. Beyond "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," I can't say for certainty what they played. Since I'd never been to a rock show before, I had no idea what other bands sounded like live, if the sound system was always this crappy, if performers rarely or always spoke to the audience, and how much of an encore, if any, could one expect.

But I had to start somewhere, and this was it.

Several months later, Dylan released Blonde on Blonde and then stopped touring—after his famous motorcycle accident, which some still suggest was faked to give him an excuse to give up the rigors, and controversy, of the road. In any case: no more ring-them-cowbells for Bob ever again. It may be only mildly surprising that I still attend the occasional rock show so many years later, but it's astounding that Bob is still on the road, playing dozens if not hundreds of dates a year—still a wheel on fire, rolling down the road.

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's award-winning book, The Campaign of the Century, on the birth of media politics has just been publiished.

Tuesday DAYBOOK: Obama's New Book, Olbermann Hits Koppel, Maddow & Stewart Rip McCain on DADT, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses  plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. Check out my new book on a wild leftwing campaign and the birth of "media politics" here.


Mike Allen: "Taking lessons from the Clinton years, when a Republican Congress prompted more focus on executive authority, the Center for American Progress today is releasing a report, 'Power of the President,; proposing 30 executive actions the president can take to advance progressive change in the areas of energy, the economy, health care, education, foreign policy, and national security.

Obama's latest book out today...for his daughters, a picture book on 13 great Americans. First printing: half a million. Acquired before Obama took office.

Ted Koppel's op-ed blast at cable news pundits was ripped last night  by two guys he hit, Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly. Olbermann with strong "comment" pointing out that the two men most often hailed as heroes of "objective" TV journalism—Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite—actually are most famous for when they took very strong stands. And Koppel himself came to fame via the bold birth of "Nightline" to cover the Iran hostage crisis. Here's Jack Shafer's take at Slate.

Jeffrey Goldberg on Colbert hit hard the new invasive TSA airport screening tactics, aka "Groping Grandma"...  Full-body digital x-ray machines to screen passengers at airports: Should be used 81 percent / Should not be 15 percent (CBS Poll).... I believe it was William Burroughs who probably first said, "Don't touch my junk." Or Charlie Parker.  Or Fred Sanford.  Or maybe an ancient Chinese boatman.

We can work it out: front-page NYT piece and no wonder, on iTunes finally offering The Beatles catalog...  Springsteen performs with The Roots tonite on Jimmy Fallon's show.... 

HOW BAD DO YOU HAVE TO BE?  George W. Bush: One of greatest presidents 4 percent / Good 24 percent / Average 33 percent / Poor 40 percent (CNN/ORC Poll) 

SEND IN THE ENVOY  Roger Cohen likes the idea of Hillary Clinton as new chief point person trying to coax or hammer Israel into moving on peace in Middle East.... 

DEMOCRATS:  CUTS & RUN   Greg Sargent: Dems keeps telegraphing weakness on Bush tax cuts.....  Eugene Robinson: Defense Cuts—Why Not?

PIMPING A TEACHER THIS TIME   Think Progress: James O’Keefe's video/audio smears teacher who jumped in front of van to save students, gets her suspended.

JON STEWART'S WAR CRIMES APOLOGY  As debate swirls over Jon Stewart's comment (to Maddow) about not calling Bush a "war criminal," my new piece on when Jon himself made that charge against Truman—then apologized the next day.

RAZING McCAIN  Maddow ripped McCain wonderfully—and two hours later arrived a great Daily Show smackdown of the McCain flipflop on DADT: 

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
It Gets Worse PSA
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity



HEY, BUSTER  A.O. Scott's NYT video pick this week: Buster Keaton's "The General"—truly great flick, but you need to see newer print with scenes in the right order.

BITS & PIECES   Not one, not two but three interactive calculators let you try to fix the federal budget... Ex-trooper pleads guilty—to misdemeanor—in 1965 Ala. civil rights slaying that inspired Selma marches....  Ombud urges NPR to release full report on Juan Williams' firing. (She hears parts will be withheld.) 


Former presidents advise Obama that things may work out okay, from Funny or Die.



Speaking of The Beatles, here's aashup for cover of The Beatles "Act Naturally" stars Palin, Bachmann, Rand Paul, that Nazi re-enactor guy


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Jon Stewart's 'War Criminal' Past, Presidents and Future

Jon Stewart's appearance last week with Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show has drawn days of commentary and critiques, often aimed at Stewart for continuing to defend what some see as "false equivalency" in blasting left and right alike for overheated rhetoric.

One angle has drawn particular attention on the left: Stewart's claim that liberals who suggest that George W. Bush, for misleading the country into war in Iraq, was a "war criminal" are way out of line. That's because, he charges,  it's a "conversation-stopper, not a conversation-starter"—even though it may be "technically true."

While the debate goes on about that, I'm reminded of a previous Stewart moment in this realm in the spring of 2009, when he bravely (if off-handedly) suggested that President Harry Truman was a "war criminal" for using the atomic bomb against Japan without any prior warning. He explained: "I think if you dropped an atomic bomb fifteen miles off short and you said, 'The next one's coming and hitting you,' then I would think it's okay. To drop it on a city, and kill a hundred thousand people. Yeah, I think that's criminal." (Actually, the United States used the bomb on two cities, killing 250,000.) 

After he got a good deal of flack overnight, he offered a rare on-air, and abject, apology. (He could have at least said, Yeah, war criminal for Nagasaki, not so much for Hiroshima.) Here's the transcript, with the video below:

"The other night we had on Cliff May. He was on, we were discussing torture, back and forth, very spirited discussion, very enjoyable. And I may have mentioned during the discussion we were having that Harry Truman was a war criminal. And right after saying it, I thought to myself,  that was dumb. And it was dumb. Stupid in fact.

"So I shouldn't have said that, and I did. So I say right now, no, I don't believe that to be the case. The atomic bomb, a very complicated decision in the context of a horrific war, and I walk that back because it was in my estimation a stupid thing to say. Which, by the way, as it was coming out of your mouth, you ever do that, where you're saying something, and as it's coming out you're like, 'What the f**k, nyah?' 

"And it just sat in there for a couple of days, just sitting going, 'No, no, he wasn't, and you should really say that out loud on the show.' So I am, right now, and, man, ew. Sorry."

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Harry Truman Was Not a War Criminal
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity


Greg Mitchell co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, the book Hiroshima in America. A new edition of his award-winning The Campaign of the Century, on the birth of media politics, has just been published.

Monday DAYBOOK: New War Plan, Kurtz on NBC vs. Olbermann, Tea Party Parody, Arcade Fire Rocks the U.N., More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses  plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. Check out my new book on a wild leftwing campaign and the birth of "media politics" here.


Powerful NYT piece on soldier  just awarded Medal of Honor—he sees futility of war, after place where friends died  is abandoned. Also on "60 Minutes" last night....  US and NATO allies late this week to announce "transition" strategy in Afghan war, over next four years, to reduce outside military.  Gen. Petreaus upset about Karazai's criticism of war effort.

Unintentionally comic Wash Post piece of the weekend: alleged or former Democrats Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell say Obama should announce now that he's not seeking re-election.... David Axelrod exiting White House soon to run Obama's 2012 campaign....

Krugman: Obama not prepared for real world when he took office—and still isn't.

Keith Olbermann promises a "special comment" tonight roasting Ted Koppel's "false equivalency" blast a few days ago at him and MSNBC and Fox.   And new Howie Kurtz piece on "infighting" at NBC over Olbermann—expect some return fire today (I was on Countdown w/ Kurtz last week).  UPDATE Keith O responds via Twitter this afternoon: "Wont waste everybody's time responding to Kurtz's hysteric source. But doesnt all anonymous bashing sound oddly familiar?"

This year: Sarah Palin's Alaska.  Next year, as her high unfavorable rating (little noted by media)  continues to climb,  a sequel (we predict): Sarah Palin's Waterloo.

Controversy raging over new airport scanning and invasive patdowns, as Janet Napolitano defends in USA Today. CBS travel editor predicts delays for Thanksgiving travelers due to new airport security checks.

Andy Borowitz: "Best Plagiarized Lines From Bush's Book."

RANGEL LAWYERS UP  Charles Rangel to serve as own lawyer as his congressional ethics trial begins today. But let's never forgive the classic auto-tuning of his speech.

KINDLE ON THE FIRE  New edition of my "classic" book on Upton SInclair's race fo governor and the birth of media politics now available on Kindle for first time (and in print).

DON'T LOOK, BECK   Conservative Commentary mag speaks out against Glenn Beck's anti-history of George Soros and the Holocaust. So does libertarian Reason.

BUSH EXECUTED POORLY  New DNA test suggests George W. Bush as governor allowed innocent man to be executed. Of course, Texas easily led the league in executions during Bush's years there.

FIERY PROTEST  My piece marking 45th anniv of Norman Morrison setting himself on fire under Pentagon chief Robert McNamara's window to protest Vietnam war. 

ISSA BAD THING  NYT predicts the 9 probes Rep. Darrell Issa will launch when gets committee subppoena power: Yes, Sestak, Acorn and New Black Panthers are on there. 

BITS & PIECES  A shocker from Eric Lichblau:  How US intelligence helped shelter some ex-Nazis after the war....   Keith Richards' book hits #1 on NYT list, and here's Liz Phair review.... Frank Rich's latest column was #1 in popularity at NYT site much of weekend:  A "wobbly" Obama needs to finally take on the "super-rich."


Last Friday we hailed the 30 Rock episode featuring John Slattery of Mad Men as a kind of Tea Party candidate.  Now it's up on Hulu, here's one bit:




For this week's digital short SNL brought back musical guests Arcade Fire to help storm the UN—with dancing.

When Antiwar Protest Turned Fatal: The Ballad of Norman Morrison

The wars in Iraq an Afghanistan were notably, and tragically,  absent as campaign issues this autumn.  Street demonstrations?  Very scattered.   Various forms of protest continue online but it's a long way from the heated Vietnam era.   This Monday, in fact, marks the 41st anniversary of the largest mass antiwar march ever, the November 15, 1969, demo in Washington, DC, which I attended as a college student.

But this month marks another notable anniversary in the annals of Vietnam protest: the day Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old Quaker from Baltimore handed his infant daughter off to a bystander, doused himself with kerosene and set himself ablaze under Pentagon chief Robert McNamara's window at the Pentagon.

One week later, on November 10, 1965, another antiwar protester, Roger LaPorte, did the same thing in front of the United Nations building in New York.

Morrison had been particularly saddened by the burning of villages and killing of civilians in Vietnam. A Catholic priest's account of a bombing in a Vietnamese village particularly distressed him. He had resisted taxes, demonstrated, and lobbied in Washington, but now said to his wife (she recalls), "It's not enough. What can be done to stop this war?"

In his final letter to Anne, his wife (they had three children), he wrote, "Know that I love thee, but I must go to help the children of the priest's village." It is believed that he carried his daughter to the Pentagon that day to remind him of the children he was trying to save in Vietnam.

McNamara would later describe Morrison's death as "a tragedy not only for his family but also for me and the country. It was an outcry against the killing that was destroying the lives of so many Vietnamese and American youth."

Morrison became a kind of folk hero in US antiwar circles, his name or face carried on antiwar posters for several years. North Vietnam named a street after him and issued a stamp in his honor—the possession of which was declared illegal in the US. Morrison's widow visited Vietnam in 1999 and met a poet who had written a tribute to her husband. On a visit to this country in 2007, Nguyen Minh Triet, the country's leader, read the poem near the site where Morrison set himself ablaze.

McNamara would devote two pages in his memoir, In Retrospect, to Morrison's death. Morrison's widow wrote to McNamara, thanking him for at least making a partial public apology about his role in the Vietnam War. He called her to thank her. In an interview, she said, "Norman's death is a wound that we've both carried. In an odd twist of fate, we have come into a kind of communion with each other. We are both victims of the war."

But others criticized McNamara for exploiting her letter and running part of it in an ad for his book.

Paul Hendrickson, the former Washington Post reporter and author, wrote at length about the Morrison self-immolation in his book, The Living and the Dead.  Here is what he told Brian Lamb on C-Span in a 1996 appearance:

"Anne Morrison Welsh—her full name now because she remarried—is a deeply forgiving woman, a deeply Christian woman and has taught me personally a lot about the nature of forgiveness. I end this book, and we can talk about that later, I end this book, literally, on the last page of the book, going back to Anne Morrison and her message to me is, 'Let vengeance be for the vengeful.' But to answer your question, directly, when Mr. McNamara, sitting in this chair, came out with his book a year ago, 'In Retrospect,' that book provoked an instant kind of outrage in America, Anne Morrison's response—Anne Morrison Welsh's response—was otherwise.

"Her response was to salute it in terms of, 'Well, this perhaps will help us in the healing process.' And she wrote a beautiful letter and released it as a statement. And, unfortunately, I have to sit here and tell you that I felt that that letter was exploited by Mr. McNamara. I know for a fact that Mr. McNamara, with her permission, said he would like to use the letter. Well, very shortly after it appeared in a full page ad for his book, he was handing it out to reporters in Washington."

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's award-winning book "The Campaign of the Century" has just been published. 

DAYBOOK for Friday: Jon & Rachel, Obama 2012, John Slattery as Tea Party Candidate, Much More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses  plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com.  Check out my new book on a wild leftwing campaign and the birth of "media politics" here.


New from Pew: Would you (as a Democrat) like other Democrats to challenge Obama for the nomination in 2012? Yes 34 percent ,  No 62 percent....  Ari Melber's new column at  Politico on Blue Dogs vs. Bold Progressives (w/ new data).

British Tory politician arrested for joking on Twitter this week that he wants a Muslim columnist "stoned to death."

Apparently Jon Stewart was ill but still sat for the lengthy Maddow interview yesterday. Some viewers felt it turned into the Daily Slow with Jon, obviously sick, losing coherence at times when pressed on why the left should partly disarm in facing aggressive right,  should not claim Bush "is a war criminal" and such. Rachel's blog has all kinds of stuff, uncut video, her reactions. Here's part:

My new piece on shocking tragedy of soldier and veterans suicides, with links. Catch re-run of HBO's "War Torn" if you can.

Great 30 Rock last night with Mad Men's John Slattery as a parody of a Tea Party candidate. His TV commercials wacky, yet true to life.

Julian Assange leading Time's online reader poll for annual Person of the Year. Stewart & Colbert next.... Stewart last night on the Bush book.... Newsweek - Daily Beast merger happens, Tina Brown to run. Call it NewsBeast? BeastWeek

Krugman on the "hijacked" deficit commission that Obama now has to deal with.... David Brooks, like Tom Friedman, raises notion of "third party" (and just as likely). 

BAD ERROR  NYT corrects botched main claim in story on The Nation—advertising only down 5 percent, not 30 percent. 

WILD WEST SHOOTOUT  That wacky, and dangerous, "ballots or bullets" radio host won't be joining newly elected Rep. West's staff after all. Must be somethin' she said.

BIBI,  LET ME FOLLOW YOU DOWN  Progress possibly (maybe) being made in talks between Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton. But mainly just a reading of tea leaves.

OUT  AT HOME  Matt Taibbi on foreclosures: "In America, it's far more shameful to owe money than to steal it." 

THROW THE BUMS OUT  Next time you hear or read a pundit gushing about the "anti-incumbent" roar this year consider this: 86 percent got re-elected.

TORTURE TAPE  The Guardian releases British torture tape from Iraq, no coverage here—amid suppression of our tapes.

NAKED LUNCH Media Matters CEO David Brock just won auction to have lunch with... Rupert Murdoch.  And money goes to charity.

MY DONATION TO KEITH  If you (somehow) missed me on Countdown Tuesday night, talking about Keith's donations and what other newspeople/pundits should do, you still watch here.

BITS & PIECES   Buzz ramps up that Jim Webb will not run again for VA-Sen... . It looks to some for certain now that White House will accept continuation of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest. Though Axelord with firm denial. ....Reuters' chief hails two staffers killed in famous WikiLeaks video but advises maybe journos today focused on gettting big stories need to take a pass more often....  Figure George Soros must have been behind Giants winning World Series. How else to explain it?...Time for Bush's book to be moved to True Crime or Fantasy sections of bookstores? Or maybe Horror.


Sick of some of your obnoxious Facebook friends and frustrated that you can't shed them?  The rock group War has helpfully re-recorded their classic hit with anew title, "Why Can't We Un-Friend?" 




Concluding our week of anti-Bush songs to mark the publication of his memoir, here's The Boss doing "Last to Die" in 2007.

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FOR VETERAN'S DAY: An HBO Special—And a Shocking Rate of Soldier Suicide

Tonight HBO will air Wartorn, a documentary focusing on PTSD and other mental trauma, and soldier suicides, starting with the Civil War but focusing on the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With James Gandolfini as a key helmsman, it's gotten extra publicity, plus great reviews.

From all accounts, a central part of it is the "war torn" post-Iraq struggles of Noah Pierce, and his eventual suicide, with haunting commentary by his parents. His name was familiar for me, as I had written about him briefly in one of my countless stories on this subject back in 2007.  

Today, despite renewed efforts by the military to combat the problem, the tragedy of soldier, and veteran, suicides has only escalated, with some calling it an epidemic. So I thought, on this special day, that I'd put together some new links to help bring attention to it.

Here's a great piece by the noted photographer Ashley Gilberston from VQR on the life and death of Noah Pierce.

Current, troubling statistics here. Plus a chart showing, by age group, how the suicide rate for veterans outpaces that for those who did not serve.

There's a new book Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home. Reviewed by The Atlantic here.   The author of that book has guest piece at The Washington Post today.

Another controversial suicide that I've written about, LaVena Johnson, also is the subject of a new film.

The Army has just assigned $17 million for a new study of why the suicide rate remains high and how to bring it down.

Disturbing new claim from soldiers in Washington State  that an Iraq vet colleague hung himself last March after being mocked by his peers for displaying PTSD symptons.

Parents of son who led a unit in Iraq that suffered two losses by suicide decide to start a faith-based effort to help others in Houston.

Op-ed about interesting innovation:  a separate justice system, called "veterans courts," to treat differently the troubled personnel who come back with PTSD and wind up in prison for one reason or another.


An NPR report on those left behind by suicides. And a CBS story on one tragic case and the need for "better leadership."

A vets group claims far too many soldiers already with severe problems are deployed or re-deployed.

A case that still haunts me is suicide of a young female medic in Iraq. Plus the case I wrote about here and elsewhere not long ago of the woman who killed herself in Iraq after refusing to take part in torture. My book on Iraq and the media, "So Wrong for So Long," is filled with such stories.

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DAYBOOK for Thursday: Afghan War Forever, Kanye & Bush, Rachel & Jon, Steve Martin, Neil Young, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses  plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com.  Check out my new book on the birth of "media politics" here.


Will there a be new Gene McCarthy? McClatchy: Obama already moving away from Afghan pullout promise......Joe Scarborough tweets:  "The United States spends $2.5 billion a WEEK in Afghanistan. We cannot afford to continue this endless, meandering war"  Even adds hashtag:  #bringthemhome. Went after it on Morning Joe today—Veterans Day.

Rachel Maddow w/ Jon Stewart tonight—a boxing match?  Who will do the rope-a-dope?  A little history of the pair in video.

If you (somehow) missed me on Countdown last night, talking about Keith's donations and what other newspeople/pundits should do, watch below.

Countdown also did a full segment on the report by the heads of the President's deficit commission panel and their call for cuts for working and middle-class people, and Social Security, unlikely to be backed by Democrats.  Here's NYT report and critique at Mother Jones.... Plus, it looks to some for certain now that White House will accept continuation of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest. Axelord with firm denial.

Reportedly terrific HBO doc War Torn on tonight, with James Gandolfini, on subject I have written about over and over since 2003—mental fallout for vets and suicide—but also with historical approach going back to Civil War.  Great piece by Ashley Gilbertson in VQR on soldier suicide featured in show (I wrote about it myself back in 2007).

Julian Assange leading Time's online reader poll for annual Person of the Year. Stewart & Colbert next.

Fun NYT piece about The Onion striking gold with Joe Biden spoofs.... America says "high": TIME magazine cover story today on marijuana going "mainstream." 

KANYE BELIEVE IT? Kanye Twitty? Now Kanye West disputes how Today handled his "Bush apology" interview. And here's video of Bush's "I am a decider but I am not a hater" response.... In all the coverage of Bush's "fetus conversion" to anti-abortion does anyone mention his mom (& dad) were pro-choice?

JONAH AND THE WAIL Jonah Goldberg, who wrote book titled Liberal Fascism, now bemoans the wider use of a certain word as a epithet. Yes, you guessed it, the word is "fascist." 

THROW THE BUMS OUT Next time you hear or read a pundit gushing about the "anti-incumbent" roar this year consider this: 86 percent got re-elected.

LONDON CALLING  PM David Cameron challenges George Bush claim over waterboarding.  Follow updates on London's student  protests, which turned violent yesterday at Tory headquarters, yesterday at The Guardian. Nick Clegg in hot water for promising not to okay big tuition hikes and then seemingly reversing. 

WELCOME IN THE MIDDLE?  E.J. Dionne: Political pundits claim Democrats need to "move to the middle" to recover but ignore the fact that GOP after giant 2006 and 2008 losses did not do that—yet made miracle comeback... Ari Melber's new column at  Politico on Blue Dogs v Bold Progressives (w/ new data).

FRANK TALK  I have first look at Thomas Frank's first "Easy Chair" column for Harper's—hitting the decline in journalism and Web "content mills," the imits of "techno optimism" and the Web.

BITS & PIECES  Ever wonder which TV shows Republicans like or Democrats favor?....  Counting in Alaska seems to be bode well for Lisa Murkowski and her write-in campaign, as probably sore loser Joe Miller rages....  Slate's John Dickerson posts comments on Palin's Facebook page—immediately deleted! ... NYT continuing its interesting series following the beginning of the Civil War—as it unfolded in the press. 

NO INSURANCE  The Centers for Disease Control reports that 59 million Americans went without health insurance at some point last year, many with illnesses that required serious treatment. That was up 4 million from two years before.


Steve Martin, currently on a bluegrass tour playing his beloved banjo, recently appeared on Austin City Limits and lamented that organized religion has all kinds of tremendous gospel songs, but there's nothing for atheists.  So they did this:




 Continuing top rock star "tributes" to George W. Bush to mark his new memoir, this time featuring Neil Young's notion, "Let's Impeach the President." (The video is actually better than the song.) How did that go?


Thomas Frank's First Column for 'Harper's': Content Mills, Gadget-Love and the Decline of Journalism

Thomas Frank settles into “The Easy Chair” at Harper’s magazine for the first time (since Lewis Lpaham’s departure) in its December issue—published at the end of the month and not yet online—with a shot at the decline of for-profit journalism and those who claim new technologies and the Web more than make up for that. 

Frank, who gave up his Wall Street Journal column when he took the Harper’s slot, portrays a “frantic race to the bottom,” citing a recent Columbia Journalism Review cover featuring a giant hamster’s wheel.     

After noting that, yes, bloggers have broken many important stories, Frank advises, “What you find as you explore the tweets and blog posts of the media industry’s leaders is that the failure of newspapers has brought with it a cognitive failure as well, in which a handful of superstitions have come to obscure what is actually happening in the world. So powerful is our desire to believe in the benevolent divinity of technology that it cancels out our caution, forces us to dismiss doubt as so much simple-minded Luddism. We have trouble grasping that the Internet might not bring only good; that an unparalleled toll for enlightenment and research and transparency might also bring unprecedented down-dumbing; that something that empowers the individual might also wreck the structures that have protected the individual for decades.”

Frank also bemoans “focus group” journalism and  the rise of  “content mills” such as Demand Media: “Let the hamsters compete to make the wheel spin, cranking out their $15 stories and tweeting little tweets while the Republic goes to hell.” He tweaks Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen for allegedly being conciliatory toward the content mills.

He declares that this “might be the worst time ever to attend journalism school” and compares one of them to a “hamster–training facility.” He bemoans the “gadget-love” and “techno-optimism” of one leading educator.

“Years from now,” he predicts, “only a handful of professional newsgathering organizations may remain, but you can rest assured that the leaders of the nation’s J-schools will still be talking about the need to ‘listen to the audience,’ trilling wondrously that we must ‘embrace change,’ and writing ecstatic little odes to ‘entrepreneurship.’”

Greg Mitchell, former editor of Editor & Publsiher, has written ten books, and there's a new edition of his award-winning "The Campaign of the Century" on the birth of media politics.

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