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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

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The Media's Disgrace to the Bottom on 'Koran Burning' Story

Until this week, the best known Terry Jones was  the Monty Python member.  Now an equally madcap Terry Jones, a disgraced pastor in Florida, may have overtaken the wacky-on-purpose Python, thanks to the American media.  

Yesterday he reached the heights of celebrity,  now already past the usual 15-minute limit, by playing the media like fools,  announcing his decision to cancel the burning of Korans, citing a non-existent "deal" on moving the "ground zero mosque," then recanting when the fantasy deal disappeared.  It was the ultimate Silly Walk.

Now the media self-analysis and mini-culpas have started to arrive.  Here's a fair selection, with more added at the top as the day goes on.

Michael Calderone, Yahoo!:  "MSNBC's 'Morning Joe'  had Jones on from Gainesville. But the 'interview' exemplified just how strange the Jones story has gotten. The press is simultaneously attracted to the controversy (and the ratings and pageviews that media executives can count on it to generate) and repelled by the idea of giving the pastor more publicity -- so as a result, co-host Mika Brzezinski had Jones on screen but didn't let him speak."

Howard Kurtz, Washington Post:  "This whole thing was covered like the Balloon Boy hoax, but with potentially deadly consequences....Why does the world need to follow the antics of one obscure book-burner in Florida? You can say we're just covering the story, but our combined megaphone has made it into an international story. And this isn't like over-covering Lindsay Lohan's jail sentence. This is a tinderbox right now."

Rick Perlstein, The New York Times:   "The problem is that elite media gatekeepers have abandoned their moral mandate to stigmatize uncivil discourse. Instead, too many outlets reward it. In fact, it is an ironic token of the ideological confusions of our age that they do so in the service of upholding what they understand to be a cornerstone of civility: the notion that every public question must be framed in terms of two equal and opposite positions, the "liberal" one and the "conservative" one, each to be afforded equal dignity, respect — and (the more crucial currency) equal space. This has made the most mainstream of media outlets comically easy marks for those actively working to push public discourse to extremes."

Jeremy Scahill of The Nation tweets this advice to reporters attending the Obama press conference today:  "There are so many pressing questions Pres. Obama should be asked. Don't waste one second on Pastor' Handlebar Mustache.”

Alan Wolfe, historian:   "Publicity may be what extremists crave but it is also the best defense against extremism. No society can rid itself of those who burn with hatred. A wise society will give them the space to burn themselves out. When the ashes cool, we will recognize that although Jones thought he was using the media and commanding the attention of the powerful, they were at the same time using him."

Chris Cuomo, ABC News anchor:  “I am in the media, but think media gave life to this Florida burning ... and that was reckless.”

Justin Elliott, Salon:   "Critics of the American media's coverage of the Quran-burning saga are loud and plentiful, and they have a strong case. In short, the U.S. media has given a global platform to a fringe pastor with a tiny flock, elevating him to a level of significance that would make most members of Congress jealous (whether or not he actually executes his plan). But those media critics are also missing the point.  To grasp the real story here, one has to understand the context in which Petraeus decided to weigh in: At that time, the Quran burning had already been treated as a major story in the media in the Muslim world for several weeks."

Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic:   "We live in an era of religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, exploited, used and manipulated by politicians, for their own purposes, and used by the media for its own. This has always been a dangerous and toxic combination, inimical to liberal society, dangerous to secular democratic politics, and today, something that can also lead to global warfare and destruction on an unimaginable scale."

Brian Stelter, The New York Times,  with excellent background, plus:   "On Thursday, President Obama condemned Mr. Jones’s plan, and his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that there were 'more people at his press conferences than listen to his sermons,' in a bit of media criticism."

DAYBOOK for Friday: Koran Story Burns Media, More WikiLeaks, Springsteen 'Rising' Again, DADT Banned

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

Do tell:  Federal judge declares military's ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional.

NYT hosts good debate on Koran burning episode and "When a fringe figure becomes news" with Geneva Overholser, Clay Shirky, Alan Wolfe, and Rick Perlstein, who says:  "The problem is that elite media gatekeepers have abandoned their moral mandate to stigmatize uncivil discourse. Instead, too many outlets reward it. " 

More on all this from Brian Stelter.  He notes that Chris Cuomo, an ABC News anchor, wrote Thursday  on Twitter, “I am in the media, but think media gave life to this Florida burning ... and that was reckless.” ....Balloon Boy, the Sequel?   Howie Kurtz:  How the jerk pastor jerked the media's chain , again.....  Our pal Lizz Winstead, Daily Show co-founder, tweets:  "The leader of 50 racist shitheads got more press than all the anti war protests in 2003." ... NPR's David Folkenflik comments. 

Earlier,   NBC had said it  will film Koran burning -- then decide what to show.  AP will not transmit any images.  Fox will also pass--perhaps the reason pastor backed down, for awhile, to start with.

Chris Hedges: How one father acted (extremely)  after his 20-year-old son came home from war -- in a casket. 

Ted Koppel op-ed: How our post-9/11 policies have helped al-Qaeda. 

NEW WIKILEAKS  WikiLeaks to publish massive cache of new docs from Iraq War:  Newsweek: Could be bigger than the document dump on Afghan, and once again they are working with news orgs.  Wonder if Pentagon chief Gates will now tell pastor to burn WikiLeaks docs instead of Koran? 

PUNDIT WATCH   Another inspired Daily Show segment on response to Obama's they-treat-me-like-a-dog speech this week, with more proof that MSNBC is not quite like Fox.  

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Are You Ready for Some Midterms? - MSNBC's Political Narrative
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

 

BETTER SHRED THAN READ   Pentagon to buy up all 10,000 copies of an Afghan war memoir it says reveals secrets. 

ALT-AFGHAN  Dan Froomkin summarizes response to the ad hoc Afghanistan Study Group which is proposing alternatives to current war policy and gaining progressive attention.

CUT THE CRAP   Ace blogger Digby points out that polls show the public favors doing away with tax cuts for super rich, so why are Dems seemingly about to lose this advantage--and a teachable moment? 

 TRAGIC NOLA STORY    Harry Connick Jr. responds to Pro Publica story on defective drywall in Habitat for Humanity houses in NOLA.  He accepts critique, so good for him. 

BOOZE FOR THIS  Maddow segment last night  on that Beck-Palin money grab on 9/11 revealed there's even a "wet" section in hall for people who want to booze it up.

 WHETHER REPORT   Democratic candidate for the Senate now running third, so Florida downgraded to a tropical depression. 

BITS & PIECES    NYT not really thrilled with new Sean Wilentz book on Dylan... .Westboro Baptist Church says it will burn Quran and 'doomed-American flag' on 9/11.... Haunting Wash Post piece on that suicide by an editor at Virginia Quarterly Review.... Al Jazeera near a deal to air in major U.S. markets -- over Pacifica Radio network... Dave Weigel hails Will Bunch's book "Backlash" at Slate.

TODAY's LAFF

GOP candidate with wildest campaign speech yet.  Re-defines over-the-top. 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

For 9/11-- and because this version is at the Beck-soiled Lincoln Memorial -- here's Bruce doing "The Rising" at the pre-Inaugural concert.

 

 

DAYBOOK for Thursday: Biden Thanks Bush on Colbert Show, More on 'Mosque' & Koran Burning, And That's Not All

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'S TOPS

Very disturbing case: 12 U.S. soldiers to go on trial for war crimes / coverup in Afghan.  Some alleged to have collected fingers.... Raw Story:  An Iraq veteran’s descent into suicide. The elusive face of PTSD. 

Imam of "ground zero mosque"  Feisal Abdul Rauf interviewed on CNN on the Islamic center  debate: "If we don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world."   But adds "Nothing is off the table" when asked whether he would consider moving the Islamic center site. 

Howie Kurtz latest to hit media for wildly over-covering that  pastor with 50 followers who plans to burn Korans in Florida. . ..  Even Obama goes at the guy on GMA this morning.... But U.S. embassies brace for protest.

On Colbert's salute to troops last night Yogi Berra bailed out Stephen for continually claiming Iraq war is "ended" by declaring, 'It's not over until it's over."    Colbert pointed out that the press is covering this phase of the conflict about as well as they did its beginning.  But even Biden has to disagree with him when he calls for a victory parade.  Biden also thanks George W. Bush for 'honoring" the troops.  Here's his interview with Biden.

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Joe Biden
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

 

Beck and Palin cash in on 9/11.  Every time they close their eyes: Lies, lies....Max Blumenthal covers Rachel Corrie v. Israel trial....  Haunting Wash Post piece on that suicide by an editor at Virginia Quarterly Review.... Al Jazeera near a deal to air in major U.S. markets -- over Pacifica Radio network... Dave Weigel hails Will Bunch's book "Backlash" at Slate.

The New Yorker:  Did Obama quote Jimi Hendrix in his big speech? 

Lizz Winstead tweets  "The only thing America is manufacturing right now is ragweed."

NOT ENOUGH OPINION OUT THERE  Politico hires Michael Kinsley & Joe Scarborough (who stays w/  MSNBC) to write dueling columns.  Balance is all. 

KRISTOF TIPS HAT  Nick Kristof on "inspiring" 9/11 widows now working to help people -- in Afghanistan: "So at a time when the American government reacted to the horror of 9/11 mostly with missiles and bombs, detentions and waterboardings, Ms. Retik and Ms. Quigley turned to education and poverty-alleviation projects." 

JUST LIKE THE MEDIA    Whistleblower reveals:  U.S. interpretors weak on interpreting Afghans.

BARING THAT CROSS  My personal Photo of the Day: When Ground Zero united, did not divide, us.... Bed bugs ordered to leave all hotels and apartments within three blocks of Ground Zero -- for dishonoring America.

BITS & PIECES   The Atlantic site puts together extracts from some top writers who proposed ways to "re-think Afghanistan."  .... Politico previews "What a Speaker Boehner Would Do."  Promising a chicken in every pot or in tanning bed? .... New Yorker slide show: Letters from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to his family in Pakistan....  Frank Ahrens leaving Wash Post --to be a Hyundai spokesman.

TODAY's LAFF

That wacky Taiwan news site returns with funny animated  take on NYT-WSJ battle for supremacy, with major digs at Sulzberger and a decidedly sharky Murdoch.

 

TODAY MUSIC

Thanks to my daughter Jeni Mitchell for finally introducing me to the great, one-of-a-kind band Beirut, here live on Jools Holland show.  

 

 

 

Lawrence Wright on Torture, the Taliban and What to Do About Afghanistan: Part II of Our Interview

If you missed last night’s airing of Lawrence Wright's My Trip to Al-Qaeda on HBO,  have no fear.  The film will appear  several  more times later this month.   Yesterday, I wrote about how and why the film came about, along with Wright's comments on what it was like to hang out with terrorists.and the true effects of U.S. torture policy.    Now here are a few highlights from the show and  comments by Wright from our interview.

--After watching the show, you may never look at a large dog the same way. I wasn’t aware of the lowly place dogs occupy in the minds of many Muslims   (akin to pigs) so the use of them in torture situations is especially brutal.  Wright emphasizes the effect on terror leader al-Zawahiri, who was not “violence-minded” at the start:  “He entered prison as a surgeon, he left as a butcher.”   He adds: “The particular characteristic of al-Qaeda, a thirst for blood” was born out of torture.

--While Wright in his prize-winning book The Looming Towers emphasizes the significance of the founding of Israel in shaping Arab and Muslim attitudes --   along with the "humiliation" of Arab military defeats and decades of suffering by the Palestinians -- the film makes no mention of this.  Wright claims that if the Israel-Palestine conflict "was settled tomorrow, bin Laden would be in tears." He points out that bin Laden has almost never ordered attacks on Israel and, by now, if that conflict was resolved, al-Qaeda would "be smaller but still very much exist."   But this overlooks, I believe, the centrality of the Israeli-sparked humiliation to the formative days of radical Islamism.

--The film aptly portrays the negative effect the treatment of women in some cultures, especially in Saudi Arabia, has on the men, who are “nearly incapacitated by longing.”   Well, only incapacitated until they take up arms or strap on suicide vests. (In a rare light moment in the film, Wright notes that some call the heavily-robed women BMOs – “black moving objects.”)   Wright told me that when he was mentoring newspaper staffers in Saudi Arabia not long ago he was “constantly flabbergasted by the lack of understanding between the sexes.” But he also noted that most of the women were not at all rebellious: “I had thought Saudi women would be a force for change, but this was not really true.”

--At the same time, young men  in totally closed Saudi society (no culture, no political parties, and so on) find they “can not get power—but al-Qaeda offers that.”   All they have to do to make their  mark is—die.   “The humiliated are entitled to hate….the truth is, humiliation sells,.” Wright says in the film.  And “death is better than a life of humiliation.”   He adds, “We think of al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization. Young people think of it as a suicide machine.”

--Given the Taliban's treatment of girls and women, along with other factors, what does Wright think the U.S. should do about Afghanistan?  He told me there are only "two likely outcomes: We remain for a considerable time propping up a fake democracy run by war lords and dealing with a low level insurgency....or we withdraw and the Taliban take over....

"Personally, I feel we need to reduce our footprint and try not to change the entire culture there, which we are incapable of doing anyway."  The key is to "separate al-Qaeda from the Taliban."   Al-Qaeda's "univeralist" ambitions have now started infesting the Taliban's focus on local goals. 

Wright points out that the would -be Times Square bomber was the first such terrorist to be sent here by the Taliban.  "We don't need that," Wright observes.

 
-

 

DAYBOOK for Wednesday: Run Rahm Run, Colbert Mocks Beck, Joan Jett Kicks Off the School Year, 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.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic recently got to Havana and is relating his tales of hanging out with Fidel all week.   This lighthearted installment reveals Castro's lunching, a trip to a dolphin show, and meeting Che's daughter -- a vet at the aquarium.   Fidel also kisses a Jewish leader and makes jokes about Iran.

The Atlantic site puts together extracts from some top writers who proposed ways to "re-think Afghanistan."

Rep. John Boehner on Good Morning America today proposes a non-starter:  two-year freeze on all tax rates, cut in government spending to 2008 levels.

Surprise:  Jimmy Carter's White House diary to be released this month... 

New Yorker slide show: Letters from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to his family in Pakistan: 

Part II of my interview with Lawrence Wright on his HBO film, torture, and what to do about Afghanistan. 

-- WEDNESDAY ON THE LINK

Imam behind "ground zero mosque" writes NYT op-ed saying he's going ahead with it and pleads for end to "vitriol."  He'll be doing a big CNN interview tonight, and promises to reveal financial backers...    9/11 widow  writes:  "The media duped us" on the so-called Ground Zero "mosque."

Mayor Daley suddenly announces he's not running for re-election in Chicago.  Liberal bloggers immediately clamor for Rahm Emanual to run -- to get him out of the White House.   Other wags suggest Blago.   Election is in February.  Run Rahm run.

Scooter Libby breaks silence in surprise 1st interview on Fox's O'Reilly last night, criticizes Obama a bit,  says he won't "whine" about getting full pardon. Guest host was Monica Crowley who knows something about bad guys seeking pardons--having worked as Nixon's assistant in his later years.    

Mike Calderone:   How will media cover Iraq in end-of-combat era -- and will they even acknowledge it's not the end of combat? ... Juan Cole:  2 Americans Killed, 9 wounded by Iraqi Soldier -- after volleyball game....Lengthy Alternet discussion between Andrew Bacevich and Terrence McNally carries this headline: "America's Empire and Endless Wars Are Destroying the World and Ruining Our Great Country."  

ARIANNA IN VANGUARD?    Lawrence Lessig hails Huffington's new book and reviews arrival of the "Neo-Progressive Movement." He concludes:  "Mainstream parties have lost the credibility for reform. As in 1912, only a breakaway, trans-party movement, possibly with no single leader, could have an effect in 2012. "

GOP DAMN?  Nate Silver's latest model gives GOP a one-in-four chance of regaining the U.S. Senate ..... Dems panic too soon? Gallup had GOP leading in generic congressional races by 10 points last week.  Now back to zero.   It's as if Beck gets a lot of coverage, pushing undecideds away from Obama, and then they realize what an idiot Beck is, and they scamper back.  Or, more likely, just another poll anomaly.

INSURING PROFITS     Remember how the Dems' health care reform was going to save us some money?  Naturally, health insurance companies now planning to hike rates in response to the overhaul.  

THE RIGHT STUFFED   NYT covers upcoming rightwing documentary by rare Hollywood conservative  vs. Obamacare to be released in theaters.   Trailer (below) is a hit on YouTube.  Also, here's a very professional, but witless,  Harry Reid animated video that takes off  on "The Office." 


MEGHAN & SARAH  Meghan McCain: I cried when dad picked "time bomb" Palin.  Note: But we didn't, knowing it sealed his doom.

OR ELIOT MESS?  Name for new Kathleen Parker-Eliot Spitzer show on CNN announced:  Yes, it's Parker Spitzer.

BY THE TIME HE GETS TO PHOENIX  Roger Ebert reviews new Joaquin Phoenix "what a train wreck" movie and seems to think it is not one big put-on. 

BITS & PIECES  Kidnapped Japanese reporter tweeted  secretly from Afghan captivity...  My new piece, an interview with author Lawrence Wright about his HBO film that aired last night -- al-Qaeda, 9/11, and U.S. torture.... Tony Blair cancels another book signing in London due to antiwar protestors.  

TODAY's LAFF

Stephen Colbert's salute to troops tonightand Thursday will feature Joe Biden, Jim Webb, Ray Odierno and...John Legend.   Last night he mocked the Beck rally while responding to online calls (it was the top Google trend yesterday) for him to stage his own Restoring Truthiness gathering.

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Geese Witherspoon
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

 

TODAY's MUSIC

It's back to school day across the USA, and you might think we'd favor Chuck Berry's "School Days" but actually here's Joan Jett and the Runaways with their, ahem, much different idea:

 

Tuesday DAYBOOK: Soros Gives $100 Million for Human Rights, Obama Finds Voice, 'Mad Men' & Mellencamp, 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.

AFTERNOON UPDATES 

Mayor Daley suddenly announces he's not running for re-election in Chicago.  Liberal bloggers immediately clamor for Rahm Emanual to run -- to get him out of the White House.   Other wags suggest Blago.   Election is in February. 

Good piece on Rep. John Hall's tough re-election fight (the former Orleans star  wrote for me at Crawdaddy back in the day).  See my upcoming piece on him here. 

Name for new Kathleen Parker-Eliot Spitzer show on CNN announced:  Yes, it's Parker Spitzer.

Mike Calderone:   How will media cover Iraq in end-of-combat era -- and will they even acknowledge it's not the end of combat? 

We're sure you are not shocked re: Marty Peretz's latest bout of anti-Muslim bigotry.

Cover of new Bob Woodward book on Obama out. Well, glad it's on wars, not general "first year in office" tome. 

My new piece, an interview with author Lawrence Wright about his HBO film airing tonight -- al-Qaeda, 9/11, and U.S. torture. 

Gen. Petraeus compares American religious right to Taliban in discussing Koran burnings.

RUBIES FOR TUESDAY

Bob Herbert:  On Labor Day, Obama finally found his voice: "Mr. Obama linked the nation’s desperate need for jobs to the sorry state of the national infrastructure in a tone that conveyed both passion and empathy, and left me wondering, 'Where has this guy been for the past year and a half?'”

George Soros donating $100 million to Human Rights Watch, his (and its) biggest donation ever and just about biggest gift by anyone this year to anything. 

Tea Party movement: Favorable 36% / Unfavorable 40% / Never heard of 10%  in CNN/ORC poll.

Robert Greenwald's video promoting "Restoring Truthiness" rally led by Stephen Colbert next month at the Lincoln Memorial -- well, you can sign the petition for it and if they build it, maybe he will come.

 

NOAH's ARC:   Swell multi-media presentation by TIm Noah on how to cut inequality in USA.... From The Atlantic:  10 ways to cut unemployment in half.  

GOP TAKEOVER COMING?   Repub consultants urge candidates to only attack Dems, don't talk about issues at all or try to pretend expertise.  New Wash Post poll finds Obama's "disapproval' rating over 50% for first time.... Stu Rothenberg, a leading election forecster just swung another 20 seats to GOP, giving them takeover in November. ....Wash Post's brand new interactive feature on every House race here.

THE FRAT PACK   New New Yorker profiles the infamous resting place for once and future disgraced politicians, the C Street House,  in D.C. as "The Frat House for Jesus."

JUST TEASING   Watch brief teaser for my upcoming book on Upton Sinclair's incredibly influential (and wild) leftwing race for governor of California in 1934, which inspired the invention of the modern political campaign--and Hollywood's first all-out entry into politics. 

BITS & PIECES:   Peter Orszag's first of regular columns in NYT appears today,on  the budget deficit-- he wants the Bush tax cuts retained for three more years, then aboliished for good..... Glenn Greenwald on his upcoming book, plus two new hard-hitting  books on the American right...  ProPublica:  Anthrax War -- the Malaysian Connection.

TODAY's LAFF

Babelgum imagines the 10th season of Mad Men -- in the 1970s.  Peggy becomes CEO.   Fonzi about to jump a shark.   Don Draper has lung cancer and finally tells the world he is a woman born into a man's body.  And more.

 

TODAY's MUSIC

One of my favorite Woody Guthrie songs, for the new Depression/Recession -- and the illegal alien debate --  "Do-Re-Mi."   From John Mellencamp and that Guthrie/Leadbelly tribute project a few years back.

 

 

Monday DAYBOOK: Zakaria Hits 9/11 Response, Clinic Bombed, Colbert Rally? And 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.

LABOR DAY LINKAGE

Fareed Zakaria: yes, now it can be told -- America totally overreacted to 9/11 attack. 

Don't miss: new New Yorker profiles the infamous resting place for once and future disgraced politicians, the C Street House,  in D.C. as "The Frat House for Jesus."

New video encourages Stephen Colbert  to hold a “Restoring Truthiness” rally at the Lincoln Memorial next month.  

U.S. troops in Iraq join in resisting deadly assault--so much for "new non-combat era." .... Tony Blair says he may cancel book tour in UK due to protests over his Iraq war  role. ..Mix-up by London newspaper leads to woman getting 99 lashes in Iran.

Important NYT piece: American Muslims ask, Will We Ever Belong?.....  One week after local Calif mosque hit.:  Planned Parenthood clinic firebombed.

Novel rock and roll death -- member of ELO killed by hay bale that rolled down hill. 

Watch brief teaser for my upcoming book on Upton Sinclair's incredibly influential (and wild) leftwing race for governor of California in 1934, which inspired the invention of the modern political campaign--and Hollywood's first all-out entry into politics. 

Glenn Greenwald on his upcoming book, plus two new hard-hitting  books on the American right.

SUNDAY UPDATES

Frank Rich hits Obama for Iraq speech,  "grown tone deaf in office...tidy homilies..."    Nick Kristof's new column: Before Islamaphobia, America had long and troubling history of "fear" of other outsiders.....Taylor Branch's unfortunate, often laughable, op-ed today errs by taking Glenn Beck, of all people, at his word.   Follow-up needed.  And, hey, why do you think Beck did not embrance "nonviolence"? 

Joe McGinniss leaves Wasilla as Palin neighbor to write that book, says locals welcomed him with blueberry pies and many offers of guns--over and over....  Horrid Sam Tanenhaus says others on right merely "confused" (not willfully ignorant, racist or overtly manipulated) about Obama's religion--like it's his fault. 

NYT new public editor's first real column today, on opinion in news pieces,  is pretty.... lame. 

 Will Bunch on that Pittsburgh cop killer & his rightwing-driven hit list--also, read Will's new book on rightwing in Obama era,  "Backlash" 

LSD and High on the Diamond: NYT hails infamous Dock Ellis no-hitter on acid.  Read my new piece and watch wonderful animated film. 


SATURDAY's ALL RIGHT FOR WRITING

Red Alert:   Russ Feingold in trouble in Senate race as fundraising falls short and poll shows tossup.... Gail Collins has fun as usual, this time  on Arizona race, calling Gov. Brewer's debate performance truly "Nixonian."   Craig Ferguson pokes fun also in this clip.

Beck finally admits telling lie at his rally about George Washington document.  Also: He did not cut down cherry tree.... Curse of Beck rally ends, as Cards finally win one.  Did LaRussa go on Olbermann last night or something?... Internet petition drive gains momentum--for Stephen Colbert to stage "Restoring Truthiness" rally at Lincoln Memorial.

The Pentagon has a kiddie porn problem.... Plus the latest Blackwater badness. 

BACEVICH BOOK   Good NYT book review tomorrow on important Andrew Bacevich book on militarism.  In same issue:  a review of the new Wilentz book on Dylan -- the review includes several laughable moments, including calling a statement that Dylan is really a "jazz musician" the most true thing ever said about him. 

OH, CHRIST   Cool NYT piece on popular parody site ChristWire.org.    Yeah, gays causing all this bad weather!   Now the site responds to NYT claim it's all in fun.

LOOMING ON HBO   Alex Gibney film on Lawrence Wright's great "Looming Towers" book (and one-man stage show) coming on Tuesday from HBO.  I'll have interview with Wright up Monday night here. 

THAT's EARLE, FOLKS    One of our heroes, Steve Earle, joins our own Laura Flanders to talk about why we need to save New Orleans.  Remember, he recently provided closing theme song for HBO's "Treme." 

 

BITS & PIECES   Ex-OMB director Peter Orszag to write NYT Op-Ed column once or twice a month. Debuts Tuesday......  Internal AP memo: Do not report that combat is over in Iraq.

TODAY's LAFF

Here's someone's idea of 10 best "political comedies" ever.  Of course we fully endorse "Dr. Strangelove" and "Wag the Dog," but question a couple picks.  But here's earliest one: The Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup." 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

The Holy Grail for some, rare footage of country-rock icon Gram Parsons with the very young Emmylou Harris during their brief tour in 1973 before his tragic OD death.  I saw them at Max's Kansas City in NYC and later co-wrote first major article about his life--and death.

 

 

L.S.D. and He's High on the Diamond: 'NYT' Pays Tribute to Dock Ellis No-Hitter on Acid

In a surprising holiday weekend treat, The New York Times in its sports section today hails the historical and cultural attention gained in recent years by a one of the infamous events in baseball history: the day free-spirited Pittsburgh Pirates righthander Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter after taking L.S.D.

You may be amazed at the lack of finger-wagging or reminders that acid was illegal and perhaps bad for you.  Well, it certainly didn't hurt Dock that day.  

I've featured the popular and wacky animated video here in the past  -- with Dock providing the narration himself, from a radio interview (we learn today) done shortly before his death -- but did not know it was shown at Sundance this year.   So, without further ado, here it is:   

 

Friday DAYBOOK: Hitchens, Colbert, Vitter, Don Draper, Big Star, 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.

FRIDAY ON MY MIND

U.S. unemployment rate climbs to 9.6 percent in August; private sector added only 67,000 jobs.  But losses mainly due to census ending .....Krugman sticking to story: stimulus saved us,  we just need more of it....    Ex-OMB director Peter Orszag to write NYT Op-Ecolumn once or twice a month. Debuts Tuesday.  

Joe Biden will be on Colbert's salute to troops next Wednesday....  Let's hope Stephen drops the "Victory" theme by then..... Internal AP memo: Do not report that combat is over in Iraq. 

Watch brief teaser for my upcoming book on Upton Sinclair's incredibly influential (and wild) race for governor of California in 1934, which inspired the invention of the modern political campaign--and Hollywood's first all-out entry into politics.

HItchens will do "series" on his ailment called "Topic of Cancer." Here is new installment, largely about people praying for him or praying he renounces atheism. Here is the video Hitchens refers to for "placing bets" on whether he renounces atheism.

David Plouffe reportedly angling for old job with Obama campaign for 2012....  Seemed unlikely two years ago, but now the "youth vote" is up for grabs in this year's elections--yes, they're liberal on social issues but horrendous job outlooks for many draws them away from Democrats.....Whitman leads Brown by 7 percent in CA-Gov race...  Thin Reid:  Nevada Senate race also a tossup. 

My latest piece here:  Fun, amazing, 1952 TV commercials for Ike and Adlai -- when not being a military man was seen as a plus, Democrats then believed.

Alex Gibney film on Lawrence Wright's great "Looming Towers" book (and one-man stage show) coming on Tuesday from HBO.  I'll have interview with Wright up Monday night here.  

TOUCHING ARGUMENT  Tea Party candidate opposes masturbation. Will Rep. Castle take a stand? Or take it iying down?

BOB AND WEAVE  New Bob Woodward book on Obama's first year in office, still untitled, with a lot of debate over Afghan policy, arriving Sept. 27.

TO HEALTH AND BACK   Your health premiums at work go up a lot last year?  Could be that for the first time, study finds, employers passed ALL the increases on to workers.

GIVE PIECE A CHANCE  Time magazine's new cover story: "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace."

ALSO, OGLES LADY GAGA?    Pic for Rolling Stone story:  Don Draper checks his iPhone.

BITS & PIECES   L.A. Times on Breitbart here .... John Stossel continues to go after the Americans with Disabilities Act ..  Coming from NYT Mag on Sunday--how London tabloid listened in on, and 'hacked," the elite, right up to "the royals."  Piece now posted...

COURT NOT IN SESSION  Pew survey: 53% admit they can't name chief justice of Supreme  Court (can't even guess)--only 28% know it's Roberts.

TODAY's LAFF

Democrats in Lousiana, knowing that most voters have forgotten, or never knew, about Sen. David Vitter's prostitution ties, have  produce a real howler, a 5-minut e"documentary" true crimes takeoff complete with shadowy figures and re-enactments of condom disposal.

 

TODAY's MUSIC

Time is right to remember the late Alex Chilton and Big Star's "September Gurls."

 

Vintage Ike-Adlai TV Campaign Spots: Military Man in White House a Bad Thing?

As the crucial (if generally depressing) fall election campaigns get ready to launch, you might find amusing, and amazing,  the  vintage singsong TV commercial from back-in-the-day (1952) which promoted Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois over Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for president on grounds that the Democrat was not a military man.  You won't find anyone highlighting that line these days. 

The female singer goes so far as call Stevenson "Civilianson," and like now, we were then trying to wind up a war, in Korea.  Of course, as we all know,  the Man from Illinois with no military experience was trounced in November.  Here's how the song ends:

From Illinois, whence Lincoln came/His leadership has won him fame

A soldier man is always found/To think in terms of battlegrounds

But Stevenson --Civilianson-- Will lead us till the peace is won.

Only a truncated version of the commercial exists online today, but here's the famous "I Like Ike" commercial from the same year -- made by Roy Disney.  Reportedly it even got me marching around in front of my house carrying such a sign -- at age 4.

 

 

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