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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

DAYBOOK for Tuesday: Russ Feingold in Trouble, Glenn Beck Meets Mickey Mouse, Arcade Fire Visits 'Potemkin,' More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

TOPS FOR TUESDAY & AFTERNOON UPDATES 

Politico editor visits Wisconsin, finds last four polls all show Sen. Russ Feingold  trailing.... NYT starts to peel back layers on some of the anonymous money flowing to outside groups on right.

When is this considered an epidemic? Oklahoma teen commits suicide after "homophobic" meeting.

Peter Beinart: "Obama's War With the Pentagon."

George Soros shocker: He's "sitting out" this election cycle, claiming there's nothing he can do to stop GOP "avalanche." 

My appearance below on GRIT TV today talking about my book "The Campaign of the Century: Upton SInclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics." Dirtiest campaign ever, and one of the most influential.

Yes, this is one of the greatest corrections ever in print or online: "This blog post originally stated that one in three black men who have sex with me is HIV positive. In fact, the statistic applies to black men who have sex with men."

Helen Thomas on being called anti-Semitic: ‘Baloney!’ ... Ann Coulter defends Carl Paladino's anti-gay comments.  Also reveals, I AM a witch? 

Outrage:  Jon Meacham & Sally Quinn publish gay-hating Tony Perkins at Wash Post--in "faith" section, no less.

TOO MUCH CONDI BAD FOR YOU?    Warning: Condi Rice planning to strike tall New York buildings with...book promo. Will be on O'Reilly tonight, Daily Show tomorrow, much more. And it's not The Pet Goat. Remember:  Bush memoir coming in three weeks.

RELIGIOUS RIGHT RIGHT?  Andy Borowitz: Sarah Palin's Evolution into Christine O'Donnell Proves Darwin Wrong.

AIDING "SPICOLI" DEMOCRATS  Facebook co-founders make big donations to pro-marijuana measure.

WHAT's UP, DOC? I highly recommend Charles Ferguson's acclaimed new documentary, Inside Job, on the financial meltdown and who caused it and why. Narrated by Matt Damon, it hits hard  the bankers, their cronies, and non-regulators, plus Bush and Clinton and, in a strong finish, Obama for appointing some of those who caused the tragic mess—and failing to prosecute or control bonuses.

THE DAILY SHOWS Jon Stewart pokes fun at MSNBC's "Lean Forward" ad campaign:...Eric Cantor visits Jon tonight...  CNN sticking with Parker-Spitzer—but got rid of newspapers on the table....

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck tells alleged rape victim why he won't take her case Ari Berman & Karen Finney: Can Dems Regain Grassroots Support? GRIT TV segment.... Tea Pary's religious roots exposed

BOTCHED RESCUE? British aid worker Linda Norgrove may have been killed by US special forces in botched resue attempt.

BITS & PIECES  More from WSJ on threats to Web priavy: Latest on "scrapers".... Bob Herbert:  Mississippi Injustice—"So Utterly Inhumane"...  Report: Huf Post spending $250,000 for buses to take people to Jon Stewart rally—and 11,000 have signed up already.

TODAY's LAFF

Last week we brought you the now-classic "Glenn Beck Meets Donald Duck" mash-up which drew a strong response from Glenn himself. He called it some of greatest "propadanda" against him ever but also darkly suggested (with tongue in cheeck?) that such mash-ups may be funded by the federal government. Now someone has done a video of that response—and Mickey Mouse's reaction. 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

One of my all-time favorites, Arcade Fire's "Internvention," cut to Eisenstein's Potemkin.

 

Monday DAYBOOK: Soldier Suicides Up, Beck & Murder Plot, Christine O'Donnell Spoof, Solomon Burke Tribute, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

COLUMBUS DISCOVERS... MONDAY

Despite major efforts to combat, soldier suicides not declining, actually going up. Of course, the wars and multiple tours, and poor economy back home, have also gone on, and on. 

Media Matters out today with story and video on jailhouse interview with that man who was stopped as he planned to go to the Tides Foundation to kill people—inspired by his "teacher," Glenn Beck.

David Carr on Howie Kurtz leaving the Post and what this indicates about the digital/print media "divide," and more. Kurtz responds in tweet: "With my move to the Beast now likened to Dylan going electric, I feel like saying It Ain't Me, Babe. Plus, I play piano."

Report: Huf Post spending $250,000 for buses to take people to Jon Stewart rally—and 11,000 have signed up already.

Carl Paladino, GOP candidate for governor in NY, in anti-gay rant, calls them "dysfunctional," after three gay men beaten and tortured in the Bronx. Carl claims he is the "religious values" candidate. This is the man who sent emails of woman having sex with horse—and had kid out of wedlock without telling his wife for nearly a decade.... Anti-gay riot in Serbia.

Lou Dobbs misrepresents The Nation article, Isabel Macdonald's statements, during Virginia Tea Party speech. 

Bad timing for Mark Halperin: His new column hed is "Obama in Jaws of Political Death," even as poll numbers rise....  Eugene Robinson tweets: "Listening to the punditocracy, you'd think Obama's popularity was in a nosedive. Um, it's not."

AIDING "SPICOLI" DEMOCRATS Facebook co-founders make big donations to pro-marijuana measure.

ECONOMICS 101 Krugman: "Hey, Little Spender." How you can the government hasn't created enough jobs when it aimed so low to start with?.....Reagan & Bush adviser Bruce Bartlett urges Defense Dept. cuts to balance budget; notes neo-con hypocrisy. 

THE DAILY SHOWS Eric Cantor visits Jon Stewart on Tuesday with Condi Rice arriving on Wednesday.... CNN sticking with Parker-Spitzer—but got rid of newspapers on the table....

GRITTY SUBJECT I'll be on GRIT TV today (and see tape tomorrow) re: My book The Campaign of the Century. It probes one of most influential, and dirtiest, political campaigns ever—Upton Sinclair's incredible 1934 race for governor of California, leading one of the greatest mass movements ever.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Wash Post: Candidates now campaign via cable news shows, not so much on stump, so advantage goes to Fox and GOP.... You've probably read by now about the GOP candidate now in hot water for being an SS Nazi "re-enactor," with photo to prove it. Now someone's done one of those Hitler in Downfall parodies. Wild....  Pelosi says, "We're Not Losing," Vows Democrats Will Win Congress In November...  Shocked to see Nate Silver naming good guy, Rep. John "Orleans" Hall, likely loser to GOPer in New York.... Top 5 in a Tea Bag straw poll: Christie, Palin, Paul, Gingrich, DeMint. The New Jersey guv is giant Springsteen fan but is he born to run?

BITS & PIECES Alternet: How Did an Entire Political Party Decide to Reject Climate Change Science?.... AP: Karzai today says,  Yeah, we've been in talks with Taliban for quite some time.... Nobel laureate's wife visits him in Chinese jail, returns to house arrest: ...  Torture victim sues US over 'Kafkaesque nightmare': 

TODAY's LAFF

Witch end up? If you missed the SNL parody of the Christine O'Donnell "I am not a witch" ad.

 

TODAY's MUSIC

Soul on Ice: The great soul singer Solomon Burke has died at age 70. Here's one of his greats: 

Sunday DAYBOOK: 'SNL' Mocks O'Donnell, Frank Rich Hits Social Network Politics, John Lennon Tributes, Much More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

SUNDAY WITH CHERRY ON TOP

New one from Frank Rich will draw debate: the negatives of the Web and social networking for liberal politics. 

SNL mocks Christine O'Donnell "not a witch" ad.

Yesterday I noted upcoming NYT piece on "gay icon" Ann Coulter—it arrives w/ giant photo on front page of "style" section. NYT also puts on front page of the whole damn paper a photo of Islamaphobe hater Pamela Geller.

 Researchers create tool that tracks bogus info on Twitter, uncovers original misinformers.  h/t Barbara Bedway

SOUL ON ICE The great soul singer Solomon Burke has died at age 70.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Shocked to see Nate Silver naming good guy, Rep. John "Orleans" Hall, likely loser to GOPer. My earlier piece here ... Top 5 in a Tea Bag straw poll:  Christie, Palin, Paul, Gingrich,DeMint. The New Jersey guv is giant Springsteen fan but is he born to run?

DIRTY CAMPAIGN I'll be on GRIT TV tomorrow re:My book The Campaign of the Century,  winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, which  has just been published in a new edition. It probes one of most influential, and dirtiest,  political campaigns ever—Upton Sinclair's incredible 1934 race for governor of California, leading one of the greatest mass movements ever,  and the birth of modern electoral politics. Wild. In paper now, "e-editions" to come.

--SATURDAY IN THE PARK

AP: Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has ‘disappeared,' his lawyer says.

Via our own Jon Wiener, Lennon/FBI scholar, on John's 70th birthday: Bob Dylan's letter to the feds on why they shouldn't kick  Lennon out, includes slap at media. And links to more letters. See Lennon video clips below on this page.

Paul Krugman: The Mortgage Morass. 

 

Featured on Maher last nite: The saga of Rich Iott, GOP nominee and pretend Nazi, from Joshua Green. Also on Maher: The tragic thing is that the now seriously stupid and unfunny P.J. O'Rourke was probably NOT drunk. 

British aid worker Linda Norgrove killed by kidnappers in Afghanistan during failed rescue attempt. Plus, 4 more NATO troops killed today there. And: Gunmen in Pakistan set ablaze 2 dozen tankers carrying fuel for troops in Afghan.

Shocked to see Nate "The Great" Silver of 538.com and NYT today only give NY good guy Rep. John "Orleans" Hall only one in three chance of beating GOP challenger. See my piece this week. John needs another "Colbert bump." 

NYT piece for Sunday on Ann Coulter "re-making" her image (partly as a rightwing gay "icon"). Oddly, or not, it's in the "Style & Fashion" section.

MOORE PRAISE Michael Moore tweets that the new doc "Budrus" is "maybe the best film I've seen about Palestine." It involves a joint relief/protest effort with Israelis. 

HIATT AND LOW  Andrew Sullivan: The WaPo's New Low as Fred Hiatt publishes D'Souza's "Kenyan anti-colonialist" Obama poison. Hiatt defends.  

SHIRLEY A TRAGEDY Terrific L.A. Times probe, after getting emails, on how administration made "rash" decision in firing Shirley Sherrod.   

THE WHORE TRUTH  Also from L.A. Times, columnist Steve Lopez says that Meg Whitman may not be a "whore," as the Jerry Brown aide said, but she is certainly a "hypocrite." 

TODAY's MUSIC

Who else but John Lennon, on his 70th birthday? One of my prized possessions is a letter sent to me by John back in my Crawdaddy days, along with a photo of him at a urinal with his inscribed caption, "Just pissing about." Here he hits "pigheaded politicians" in "Gimme Some Truth."  


TODAY's LAFF

Some lighthearted Lennon moments from concerts, Beatles movies, videos, interviews.

 

Friday DAYBOOK: Dobbs vs. The Nation Videos, GOP vs. Colbert, Nobel Peace Prize, Springsteen in Sing Sing, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

FRIDAY ON MY MIND & AFTERNOON UPDATES

For anyone who missed Isabel Macdonald's demolition of Dobbs on MSNBC last night, here's a clip. And more on Good Morning America today.

It could only be from Politico: John Boehner as the new Don Draper, noting "Boehner’s individualistic, confident personality, even as he keeps the rest of his look classic.” Side-by-side pics. 

Republican candidates now running against...Colbert. See story and 2 new ads. Plus, Stephen mocks his own testimony on Letterman....Richard Dawkins on Bill Maher tonight on HBO, and on the other hand, P.J. O'Rourke.

Chinese activist wins Nobel Peace Prize. Here's great background from Human Rights Watch. Obama calls on China government to release fellow Nobel laureate—full statement: 

Today's numbers: Economy loses 95,000 jobs but unemployment rate steady at 9.6 percent.

Andrew Sullivan: The WaPo's New Low, as Fred Hiatt publishes D'Souza's "Kenyan anti-colonialist" Obama poison. 

Terrific L.A. Times probe, after getting emails, on how administration made "rash" decision in firing Shirley Sherrod.

Headline of week: "Virginia candidate Krystal Ball Angry Over Posting of Racy Photos." She had ex-husband on a leash, used sex toys, etc. And that's her real name.

My book The Campaign of the Century just went on sale, on one of most influential political campaigns ever—Upton Sinclair's incredible 1934 race for governor of California and the birth of modern electoral politics. In paper now, "e-editions" to come.

OUT AT HOME Good Daily Show bit last night on foreclosure crisis.

FOX IN THE HENHOUSE Fox 5 (NYC) "in-your-face" investigative reporter Charles Leaf arrested for sexual assault on a minor. http://journ.us/d1k6WZ

DAVID & GOLIATH I'm sure you've been withholding judgment on The Social Network until David Brooks' take.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Epic Rachel Maddow battle with GOP candidate last night.... Jane Hamsher: Top 10 Reasons the Democrats Might Do Better In 2010 Than You Think. I agree.... Good NYT animated video here explaining the news campaign finance landscape.... Christine O'Donnell blames "liberal media" for "character assassination."... Carl Paladino yesterday ran statewide ad that say campaign is NOT about sex and affairs—but notes opponent Andrew Cuomo's prowess." 

TRADE OFF? Andy Borowitz: "Hillary to Become VP—Biden Named President of Afghanistan—Karzai Traded to Vikings" 

WOODWARD & MITCHELL  Here's my intro to online chat with Bob Woodward that I hosting yesterday at FDL and the comments and questions and answers.

ART IN HEAVEN? Woman arrested after destroying art work depicting priestly sex abuse at gallery in Colorado.

TODAY's MUSIC

If you watched the HBO film on Springsteen last night, or didn't, here's a short video on how I met him...in Sing Sing Prison.

UPDATED: My Questions for Bob Woodward—And Transcript of Online Chat

This afternoon (Thursday) I hosted an hour-long online book salon chat with Bob Woodward over at Fire Lake Dog starting at 3 pm ET. 

Here is the link to read my lengthy intro and some questions I hoped to raise. Below that you will find attendees' questions and comments, and Woodward's responses. One excerpt from my piece:

Reviewing the book in the Washington Post this week, Neil Sheehan, the former reporter and author of fine books about Vietnam, wrote about the “Vietnamization” of the current war, and concluded: “The Taliban obviously cannot defeat the US Army in set-piece battles, but it does not have to do that to win the war. It can bleed us of men and treasure, year after year, until the American people have had enough.” 

Looking at polls today, however, one might conclude that the American people have already “had enough” but the war goes on. Andrew Bacevich asks: “Why fight a war that even the general in charge says can’t be won? What will the perpetuation of this conflict cost? Does the ostensibly most powerful nation in the world have no choice but to wage permanent war?” Does Woodward really get at those questions in his book?

NOTE: I'll be the guest at a chat in the same spot at Fire Dog Lake on December 11 related to my book, just published this week, "The Campaign of the Century: Upton SInclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics." 

DAYBOOK for Thursday: Tea Party & Birthers, Stewart & Colbert, Lennon & Springsteen, More

 WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

THURSDAY ON THE LINKS

Nick Kristof: The GOP's "Trifecta of Torment" and the economic crisis.... David Axelrod on Letterman last night explained why the presidential seal fell off podium this week: "Witchcraft." 

Big scoop today from The Nation and The Nation Institute: hypocrite Lou Dobbs' record of hiring undocumented workers. Already getting massive play. Video here.

Marks and Lennon: In a totally bizarre case, the FBI, which once tormented John Lennon, now seizes his fingerprints—before auction. With quotes from our own Jon Wiener.

PolitiFact on Rev. Franklin Graham claiming that Muslim countries ban construction of churches, synagogues: False.... Jon Stewart says his D.C. rally is far enough from Ground Zero, 260 miles, that Aasif Mandvi will be allowed on stage.

NOTE: I am hosting the FireDogLake chat with Woodward today at 3 pm ET.

Maddow talks to Richard Engel about deteriorating situation in Afghanistan... Todd Purdum profile in Vanity Fair questions John McCain's sincerity all allong.

Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize for Literature...

Andy Borowitz: "Hillary to Become VP—Biden Named President of Afghanistan—Karzai Traded to Vikings." I guess that means Randy Moss gets Elizabeth Warren's job. 

TV TONITE  HBO film tonight at 9 on Springsteen and the making of "Darkness on the Edge of Town."... Possibly a fun "30 Rock" tonight as Alec Baldwin testifies before Congress and versus Rep. Queen Latifah.

DEMS GO TO POT Headline from AOL: "Democrats Try To Fire Up the Stoner Vote." Should we call new grouping "Spicoli Democrats"?  

BP and OBAMA GET SOME MOJO The always swell Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones probes that commission report on BP and the oil leak.

MAD DOG PALADINO BITES BACK  Got an email from Michael Caputo, campaign manager  for New York Tea Party/GOP candidate for governor Carl Paladino, responding to the Nation piece: "You are clearly a douche bag."  

POLL DANCING  CBS poll: Opinion of the Tea Party movement: Favorable 22 percent / Not favorable 21 percent / Undecided 18 percent / Haven't heard enough 38 percent (CBS).... Pew survey: 31 percent of GOPers claim Obama is a Muslim and another 39 percent "don't know" his religion....  Andy Borowitz: "POLL: Democrats in Congress Unaware They Have a Majority."

CHIPS DOWN  Stephen Colbert tweets: "The loud Sun Chips bag is dead! Long live the original Sun Chips bag! Which it will, since it's not biodegradable!"

SPREADING POLLAN My long ago colleague MIchael Pollan's upcoming Sunday NYT Times Magazine piece on cooking and community is up, with recipes.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Rand Paul: No, really, let's add a 2,000 deductible to Medicare.... Friends, classmates dispute Carl Paladino's tale of helping end 1970 student takeover at Syracuse.... Delaware update: Democrats lead in Senate and House races by double digits. http://bit.ly/9cfvlE... As good as any: The Times Square "Naked Cowboy" throw his...hat in the ring for Tea Party nod for prez in 2012. Leaves questions dangling.

TODAY's LAFF

On Colbert, musical comedy guests Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy talk about their arranged "marriage" and deny they sing the devil's music. Tweedy wears his "dress plaid shirt."

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mavis Staples & Jeff Tweedy
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

 

TODAY's MUSIC 

As I note elsewhere in Media Fix, Rep. John Hall, the "Rocking Rep" in tough re-election fight in New York. Here he is on stage in previous role, backing up Bonnie Raitt at the famous MUSE concerts he helped organize.

Rep. John Hall in Tough Re-Election Fight: 'Still the One' When It's Over?

John Hall, the former songwriter and guitarist for hitmaking ("Still the One," "Dance With Me") group Orleans, won a surprise victory— after receiving one of the first "Colbert bumps"—in 2006 for Congress in the upstate New York region a little north from where I live along the Hudson River. 

After winning a fairly easy re-election bid in 2008 he's now in a tougher fight with a not-insane GOP candidate this fall. With his rock 'n roll background, however, he's always received fundraising help from the likes of Steve Earle and Bonnie Raitt, and has benefits coming up this Sunday with Pete Seeger and Peter Yarrow, and Oct. 16 with Jackson Browne. 

As it happens I have a rather unusual history with Hall, going back about 35 years. Because of that, I was probably the first to write about Hall for a national news outlet long before his first campaign took off in 2006.

It all started that summer when I noticed  that Hall was running for Congress as a longshot Democrat. I knew he had been politically active for years in the Woodstock/Saugerties area—I once had a summer house nearby—on environmental and education issues so it was not exactly a shock, at least to me. But he was given almost no chance of winning, going up against a longtime, well-funded GOP incumbent Sue Kelly.  He wasn't even favored in the Democratic primary at that point.

But I had a deeper connection to Hall. Back in the 1970s, I was senior editor of the legendary Crawdaddy magazine and Hall, with then-wife Johanna, wrote a couple of articles for us, including a cover story on Stevie Wonder. I met him several times then and once or twice later when he went on to help run the famous antinuclear concert/foundation MUSE in the late-1970s.

So, more than four years ago, I wrote a column about all this for my magazine, Editor & Publisher. As far as I could tell, no one else was paying any attention to this. I also posted it on our site.

Then Huff Post picked it up, and posted the link under a wonderfully atmospheric, if embarrassing,  old Orleans album cover showing the entire band standing bare-chested. That link, picked up elsewhere, drew massive traffic and finally got Hall national attention.

Hall won his primary. I interviewed him and wrote another piece for E&P, which also drew wide attention—and perhaps most importantly, some eyeballs from Democratic/liberal activists who started putting him on their candidates to watch.

And, in the immediate wake of this, Hall was suddenly invited on The Colbert Report. I'll always believe my bump helped get him that bump. He gained in the polls, Rolling Stone did a piece on him, and he was now backed by some liberal funding groups, in addition to his musician pals.

Well, the rest is history. Hall won a big victory in November. Soon he appeared on Colbert again to sing harmony with Stephen. And now he is an incumbent himself, with several strong accomplishments—especially measures to help vets.

But now he needs as many "bumps" as possible to secure another term in Congress. Go to his campaign site to learn more and make sure he's "Still the One" come January.  And for fun, you watch a classic video of Hall backing up Bonnie Raitt here (scroll to bottom).

Wednesday DAYBOOK: Carr Hits Tribune, Kurtz Exits 'Post,' Lewis Black, Hillary for Veep? Much More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

WEDNESDAY MORNING COFFEE

Great David Carr piece on sick "culture" at Sam Zell's Tribune Co.—including CEO who offers waitress $100 to show him and pals her breasts.   We warned about this years ago at E&P. Memo from Tribune chief responds.

Mistah Kurtz, he mad? Howie exits Wash Post for The Daily Beast. What's next, Bob Woodward to Yahoo? 

Neil Sheehan, the former NYT reporter and noted author on Vietnam, sees disturbing Viet/Afghan links in this review of Bob Woodward book. NOTE: I am hosting the FireDogLake chat with Woodward tomorrow at 3 pm ET. 

Woodward in interview  says his (as usual, unnamed) sources tell him the idea within the White House of Biden and Hillary swapping jobs for 2012 race is "on the table."  Not so farfetched, really, but David Axelord today called the rumors  "absolute fiction."

White House strategists "counting on Obama to shame the left into matching the Tea Party momentum.... The focus on the left underscores the White House conclusion that it will be harder to convince independents to turn out for Democrats this year."

Just got an email from Michael Caputo, spokesman for New York tea party/GOP candidate for governor Carl Paladino, responding to the Nation piece: "You are clearly a douche bag."  

Pew survey: 31 percent of GOPers claim Obama is a Muslim and another 39% "don't know" his religion....  Andy Borowitz: "POLL: Democrats in Congress Unaware They Have a Majority."

STONED AGAIN  Good job by our two Nation folk on Parker Spitzer last  night, and then there was this ex change:  Oliver Stone: Palin is a "moron." Parker: But interesting phenomenon!  Stone: No, there have been Know-Nothings throughout our history.

RE-ARRANGING  CONGRESS Bary Ritholtz divides up the Congress with new seating charts based on campaign contributions, via Mother Jones.   Revealing.

DAN THE MAN If you caught Daniel Ellsberg film last night on PBS, or if you didn't:  my piece on his remarkable warnings on Iraq and the media.

WHAT's GOING ON? Or should we say, "Beginning to See the Right": Former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker now a Tea Partyer who bashes Obama....

BUM RUSH Too Far? Rush Limbaugh refers to President Obama as 'You Jackass’ (video).

FOREIGN INTRIGUE CSM: Did Israeli militants torch a mosque in the West Bank?....  Democracy NowThe Dark History of Medical Experimentation From the Nazis to Tuskegee to Puerto Rico.

TODAY's LAFF

A little Black humor from last night, on the education crisis, Tony Danza, and new 'Superman" movie.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Education Crisis
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

 

TODAY's MUSIC

Bruce Cockburn has written some find poltiical songs over the years, and here's perhaps his most popular, "If I Had A Rocket Launcher."

As Daniel Ellsberg Film Comes to PBS: A Remarkable Warning on Iraq

Tonight PBS airs the Academy Award-nominated documentary on Daniel Ellsberg, The Most Dangerous Man in America, obviously focusing on his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers. I still vividly recall watching Dan on Channel 13 in New York blowing the whistle on Vietnam months before he became famous for leaking the Papers and wondering, who is that guy?

Daniel Ellsberg appears in a new PBS documentary, focusing on his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers.About a dozen years later, I finally met Dan. I was editor of Nuclear Times and he had become an antinuclear activist—he even got arrested several times at bomb sites. I actually managed the very rare feat of getting him to complete a magazine article and we have remained friends since, with Dan contributing important insights for the book I would write with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America, and much else. Once, attending a Lifton gathering on Cape Cod, I saw him strip to his shorts on a beach and dive into the frigid October waters without fear—it seemed to be some kind of metaphor.

So when, in Janaury 2003, it became clear that George Bush was hell-bent on invading Iraq, I naturally interviewed Dan for a special issue of Editor & Publisher (where I now served as editor), one of the few mainstream media outlets to early and often raise profound questions about the impending war. The Q&A would prove remarkably prescient about the media and Iraq, and the hazards of the war, nothing new for Dan. "This government, like in Vietnam, is lying us into a war," he charged. "Like Vietnam, it's a reckless, unnecessary war, where the risks greatly outweigh any possible benefits."

What do you think of press coverage of the run-up to the war?

People used to ask me, at the time of the Pentagon Papers, how the press was covering Vietnam, and I would respond that I could put it two ways: they were doing badly, but better than any other institution in society—or they were doing better than any other institution in society, but badly.

Back then, the press only looked good compared to the administration's account of itself, which was awful from beginning to end, and, compared to Congress, which only once held a real hearing on the war. Dissenters within the administration behaved badly, too. They understood the war was heading for disaster, and, without exception, including me, did not break ranks.

With Vietnam, the press accepted the government's view until very late in the game, [to a] large extent until the Pentagon Papers came out. The public felt, "Why are we learning this stuff only now?" Many of those documents were with officials, and they knew the story. The public wondered, "Why is the story of actual government decision-making still a secret?"

I'm not sure if the press learned from Vietnam how to do better. In any case, the press as a whole is not doing it better now.

What exactly do they need to do better?

They are not doing the job that should be done on informing themselves, Congress, and the public on the decision-making process, the dissenting positions within the government, and the real considerations in the decision. Without that, Congress and the public cannot bring pressure to bear, before the bombs drop. Still, they are getting more leaks. Many in the Pentagon, CIA, and State Department see this may be a reckless war and that many may die needlessly. We do know much more than we did at a comparable time with Vietnam. And, as in past, the foreign press is reporting much more adequately than the US press—and the US press, as before, is largely ignoring that.

Do editors and publishers feel, individually, that they understand the reasons we are going to war, and the consequences? And if they are basing their own understanding on what is being put out by the government, then they, and their readers, don't understand it very well at all. I suggest that, just as in Vietnam, when the bombs start dropping, the American public will be entering this war with a very limited understanding of why we are at war and what the consequences will be in both the short and long terms.

Thirty years later, Americans are still asking why we went to war in Vietnam and stayed at war. Of course, the American presidents gave answers at that time—and we are still looking for better answers.

What differences do you see between today's Iraqi crisis and Vietnam?

One difference with Vietnam in '64 is: We now know we are headed to a big war with a lot of troops. But, still, the public feels it will be short and cheap, like the Gulf War, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. They expect that model. Why? Has the press failed to pursue other scenarios? The administration has mainly conveyed what its top civilian leaders seem to believe—or want us to believe—that this war can be as quick and cheap as those examples. There seems to be no military leader who has that same confidence.

It could go like that, but, as I saw in Vietnam, in war the uncertainties are extreme. To be confident of any outcome is naive or foolish. The press could step into this breach by aggressively probing for, and reporting, the views of dissenters who clearly abound in the Pentagon, CIA, and State Department.

But aren't revealing stories now appearing? And how does the average editor take advantage of that?

Thanks to the Internet and links to skeptical or analytical pieces all over the US and world, it is possible, with some work, to actually get a pretty clear picture of the real reasons for the war and the deceptiveness of the official reasons and the costs and risks of the war. They are out there, but scattered.

Why has the press had such a hard time getting at the truth, as you see it?

There is as much lying going on as in Vietnam, as in Iran-Contra, as in the Catholic Church sex scandal, as in Enron—you can't have more lying than that, and that's how much we have. Are American officials peculiar in this? No, worldwide, all government officials lie, as I.F. Stone said, and everything needs to be checked from other sources of information. And anything they say may be a big lie. That was true in Vietnam, and the Pentagon Papers proved that, if nothing else.

So it is irresponsible for anyone in the press to take your understanding exclusively from government accounts, from the president or secretary of defense or lower-level officials. That definitely includes backgrounders that purport to be the "real" inside story. Just as press conferences are a vehicle for lying to the public, backgrounders are a vehicle for lying to the press, convincing the press they are getting the inside story when all they are getting is a story that is sellable to the press. That doesn't mean that everything they say is false, but that nothing is to be relied on as the actual or whole truth.

So what exactly are the lies you say the press should be examining more deeply?

The first lie is: Saddam represents the number-one danger to US security in the world. To allow the president and Rumsfeld to make that statement over and over is akin to them saying without challenge from the press that they accept the flat-earth theory. To say Saddam is the No. 1 danger is being made without real challenge from the press, with few exceptions. More dangerous than Al Qaeda? North Korea? Russian nukes loose in the world? An India-Pakistan nuclear war?

I'm impressed by the testimony of Gen. Anthony Zinni, Bush's mediator in the Middle East, who said he'd place Saddam sixth or seventh on any list of dangers we face. The question is, are we helping our cause against threats one through five by going after number six or seven?

Two: That we are reducing the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by attacking Iraq. This is one of the most dangerous assertions since all evidence is that we are increasing the threat of such terrorism by the attack, as CIA Director [George] Tenet said in his letter to Congress. Tenet said the danger is very low that Saddam will use weapons if not attacked and fairly high if he is attacked.

Three: The reason we are singling Saddam out is that he cannot be contained or deterred, unlike other leaders in the world, and again this is largely unchallenged by the mainstream press. No one brings out the following point: This is a man who had weapons of mass destruction, including nerve gas and missiles capable of hitting Israel and ready to go in the 1991 war—which he does not now have—and he kept his finger off the button. So how unreliable is he if not on the brink of being deposed or killed?

What specific questions are not being asked or not asked often enough by the press?

One question the press is not asking: Is there a single high military man who believes this war should happen now, that it is appropriate and [the] risks worthwhile? Every indication leaking out is that most feel that it is far from certain, even unlikely, that the war will be as short and successful as the civilian bosses say. What are we gaining that is worth the chance of a disastrous outcome? The military chiefs do not agree with civilians in the Pentagon as far as we can tell. And does anyone in State or the CIA strongly favor war? Another question, about how the oil reserves play out in this—has that issue been fully explored for the American public, and have they weighed it adequately?

What about the loss of many Iraqi lives?

The lesson the government learned from Vietnam is to rely on bombing rather than troops, no matter what the cost to civilian life, and at high altitudes. Second, keep the American public in the dark as to how many foreigners we are actually killing. In this case, before we start killing Iraqi soldiers, the press needs to address, do we have the right to kill all of these people, especially civilians? Have they threatened us in a way that they deserve to be killed?

Have editors ever asked how many we killed in the Gulf War? Have you ever seen a number on that? We never really even got good figures in Vietnam. In Vietnam, early on, I was pressing for estimates of civilian casualties of bombing. Over and over, I was asking the embassy consul in Vietnam, and later [Henry] Kissinger in 1969, to undertake that: what is the range of estimates? The Bush administration does not want to answer that question now, but the press has got to get that out.

This government, like in Vietnam, is lying us into a war. Like Vietnam, it's a reckless, unnecessary war, where the risks greatly outweigh any possible benefits. I'd make this argument to insiders: don't do what I did. Don't keep your mouth shut when you know people are being lied to. Tell the truth before the bombs are falling, while there's still a chance to do something about it.

Greg Mitchell is author of So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, Pundits and the President Failed on Iraq. A "classic" version of his award-winning book The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor has just been published.  

DAYBOOK for Tuesday: Stewart On Sanchez, Parker-Spitzer Debuts, O'Donnell Does Nixon, The Beatles, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources 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. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

TOPS FOR TUESDAY & AFTERNOON UPDATES

Mistah Kurtz, he mad?  Howie exits Wash Post for The Daily Beast.   What's next, Bob Woodward to Yahoo? 

Jon Stewart mocked Rick Sanchez  last night—even showed a comparison to Michael Scott and suggests he could fill Steve Carell's spot on The Office next season—but closes on kinder note and points out that Rick's being replaced by ParkerSpitzer.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Hurty Sanchez
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

 

Ezra Klein hits Tom Friedman's "Radical Center" idea for third-party run in 2012..... Nate Silver:  Odds against Third-Party Bid not as long as they seem. Really? Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson for president? Plus, news that polling itself is getting worse in general. 

Not exactly earth-shaking: MIchael Kinsley and Joe Scarborough columns debut at Politico today.

Most of reaction I've seen to ParkerSpitzer debut on CNN quite scathing, some even wondering if Rick Sanchez could be brought back to the 8 p.m. slot. They lost me when who appeared as first guest (with Tom Frank) none other than.... Andrew Breitbart. Spitzer's special background tested when a guest approvingly recalled when he had "huge balls." Later Spitzer asked guests about their "guilty pleasure." A juvenile roundtable segment capped it off. But one highlight: Refreshing candor from Aaron Sorkin, who called Palin an "idiot" and said today's GOP like "a mental ward." Here's opening segment. My new piece on Parker.

CSM: Did Israeli militants torch a mosque in the West Bank? ....  Democracy NowThe Dark History of Medical Experimentation From the Nazis to Tuskegee to Puerto Rico 

Andy Borowitz: "POLL: Democrats in Congress Unaware They Have a Majority." 

More video:  Stephen Colbert looks at Tea Party coloring books for kids. 

TEA BREAK What rightwing tax cut mania can lead to: Tenn. county’s subscription-based firefighters watch as home burns down. Olbermann announces he is organizing attempt to aid Cranick family.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Think Progress will charge US Chamber of Commerce with running attack ads with money from foreign corps.... Forget the Tea Party and media hype: New poll finds Cuomo over Paladino by 24% in NY....  Mike Allen scoop: That "outside" GOP funding group Crossroads will announce one of biggest political ad buys ever,  $4 million in 8 Senate race states.... Who could believe eliminating the minimum wage would become a GOP campaign issue?... Linda McMahon in hammerlock:  Blumenthal leads CT-Sen race by 12 points... Carl Paladino says Andrew Cuomo “Should Be In Jail” 

TV FLICKS  Another good doc on PBS tonight, the heralded one on my old friend Dan Ellsberg.....HBO's film on Springsteen's "Darkness" comes on Thursday.  

BITS & PIECES   Steve Coll in The New Yorker on Woodward, Obama and Afghanistan..... Jake Tapper's new ABC web cast "Political Punch" debuts today.....  Should he be called "Luckerberg"?  Ezra Klein's take on  Zuckerberg and a world of "simultaneous invention."

 TODAY's LAFF

 Now that Christine O'Donnell is channeling Nixon with 'I am not a witch' now she has to say we won't have her to kick around any more. Her first TV ad: 

 

 TODAY's MUSIC

If you saw The Social Network you probably walked out of the theater at the end to some group singing "Baby You're a Rich Man." Yes, it was the Beatles, and here's a full version. Actually, they could have used "Got To Get You Into My Life" from same era.

 

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