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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Watch Sneak Preview of Hollywood Film on Plame/CIA Leak Case

As some may recall, I covered the arrival of the new Doug Liman film on the Valerie Plame/CIA leak case last spring when it debuted at Cannes, to mixed reviews.  It's based on the Plame memoir, shares the title Fair Game, and stars Naomi Watts with Sean Penn as husband Joe Wilson. 

Now it's set for a November release in the U.S. and a trailer has just been posted.  It's much better than a teaser put out around Cannes, and continues to focus on the intrigue of her CIA work, not so much the infamous outing.

For my interview with Plame around the release of the recent anti-nuclear documentary Countdown to Zero, go here. 

Here is the new trailer: 

 

Monday DAYBOOK: Tea Party Funders Exposed, Hillary for Veep?, Spike Lee Returns to NOLA

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

MONDAY, CAN"T TRUST THAT DAY

First U.S. soldier killed in Iraq -- since combat "ended" and war "over."

Wash Post with major new analysis of WikiLeaks docs--discovers al-Qaeda almost after-thought now in Afghan war, little presence and contact.   Meanwhile, four U.S. troops die in Afghan war on Sunday.

GOPer Chuck Hagel endorses Joe Sestak vs. old Repub colleague Arlen Spector in Pa. race for U.S. Senate, and will campaign for him.

My new piece with brand new trailer for upcoming Hollywood film on Plame / CIA Leak Case, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Krugman:  Oh, right, let's join the GOPers and Dems who want to give tax breaks to the needy--you know, the 120,000 richest Americans.

Koch as Koch can: a  tour of who funds the Tea Party via the new New Yorker. Or is that Koch as in crook? .... Tea party candidate wants to put welfare recipients in labor camps.

NYT op-ed:  Report from a ship deck at the top of the world on the coming disaster from global warming.

SARAH SMILED  My new piece at The Nation on how the media REALLY created Sarah Palin.  Hint:  It happened ever before McCain picked he as veep candidate.

MOSQUE OF THE CRED DEATH    Wash Post surveys anti-mosque protests around USA and signs of growing anti-Muslim beliefs....  Nick Kristof:  Those opposing an Islam center  near ground zero are taking bin Laden’s side, not America's.... Michael Wolff agrees with Frank Rich's Sunday column--much of "mosque" obsession traces back to Murdoch and News Corp....  Ron Paul: anti-"mosque" campaign "is all about hate and Islamaphobia." 

SPIKED AGAIN   Spike Lee's sequel to his massive documentary on Katrina and New Orleans to air starting tonight on HBO, here is review.   Yes, "Brownie" re-appears and Condi Rice is caught trying to say "Who Dat" on the sidelines of a Saints game.

NEW NUMBER 2?  This idea apparently won't die -- David Ignaitius latest to argue for Hillary replacing Biden as Veep to provide Obama a "spark."   And we thought Joe was a pretty sparky guy....

CAN YOU BEAR IT?   In big S. Dakota race for U.S. House two "mama grizzlies" battle, one GOPer and one Dem... In Tuesday's primaries, establishment candidates such as John McCain now expected to win--so much for the pundit predictions, again.... E,J. Dionne on how the Dems must "raise stakes" in fall campaign by really hitting hard on how radical right the GOP has become. 

BITS & PIECES    WSJ on Sidney Harman's plans for Newsweek...  Barry Ritholtz's blog with big review of Arianna Huffington book on crumbling middle-class coming in September, titled "Third World America."..  To keep up with news about my buddy Will Bunch's new book "The Backlash" go here.   

TODAY's LAFF

In light of the new polls, the only way Obama can prove he's not a Muslim.

 TODAY's MUSIC

Since "Mad Men" is now approaching mid-1965 we thought we'd use this as an excuse to unveil the young Rolling Stones doing what could be called Don Draper's theme song,  "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," which hit big that summer.  Amazingly the two singles often listed as the "greatest" ever  (at least by older critics)   came out at the same time -- the other being "Like a Rolling Stone."  And if you want a direct reference from the show, this link will take you to the Beach Boys doing "LIttle Honda." 

 

 

How the Media Created a Monster: Sarah Palin

It's often said these days that Sarah Palin is a "media creation." That is, the media promote and elevate her as one of America's most popular and influential leaders, even though her approval ratings remain in the tank, by covering every appearance and statement (whether speech or tweet) as if she is the Junior President from Alaska.

But the "creation" part goes well beyond what's happened since the 2008 campaign to keep her constantly in the public eye. It's my view that she was created by the media even before John McCain picked her as his Veep candidate.

It fact, it was exactly two years ago this week that a true (if rarely recognized) turning point in the 2008 race for the White House arrived. It came at the Democratic convention in Denver. No, it was not the good vibes about Obama, the ringing speeches by Teddy Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Bill and Hill, or by the candidate himself.

Rather, it was the electronic media's overblown coverage of the allegedly widespread threat by female Hillary delegates, and other Clinton fans, to bolt Obama in favor of McCain that November.

As you may recall, the dissidents, known as "PUMAs," got massive face time on TV and, it was claimed by many in the media, represented just the tip of the iceberg. And it was also said (by commentators, not just by the new, pro-Hillary media stars) that women, particularly older ones and suburban/blue-collar types who had voted for Hillary in the primaries, would likely abandon the Democrats in November.

There was no firm evidence for this, of course, and few pundits, on TV or in print, seemed to notice that the same handful of disgruntled Hillary delegates appeared on all of the shows. No matter. Obama's possible defeat because of the possible defections was widely predicted.

Why did this end up making any difference, since the mass female defections never happened?

Because John McCain and his people bought it, hook, line and sinker. This explains the sudden (though often ill-explained) rise of Sarah Palin to the top of their VP list. The McCainites saw an opening, which really wasn't there, and went completely overboard. Not only did a female VP suddenly look like a great idea, but she would have extra appeal to the particular type of Hillary primary voters so hyped by the media.

The preposterous media coverage of the (few) unhappy Hillaryites at the Dem convention—which was aimed not at helping Obama but maintaining interest in the affair and the coming campaign—inspired McCain to select as his running mate someone who would virtually destroy his campaign.

Recall that after months of trailing, McCain came out of his convention with a bump that led to at least a tie with Obama in the polls—then he plummeted very quickly as the truth about Palin seeped out. In addition, he had lost his chief calling card: an edge in experience on Obama. A week after the GOP convention ended, polls were already showing that, if anything, women thought less of Palin than did men.  CNN's survey, for example, gave Obama a 50% to 36% edge over McCain, with only 13% of women saying they were more likely to vote for him because of Palin -- and 11% reporting they were now less likely. 

And surveys later showed that while she drew crowds she actually drove more people away from the GOP than toward it. In fact, it's a myth that Palin was broadly "popular."

Imagine if McCain had picked even a neutral figure such as a Pawlenty or, say, Kay Bailey Hutchison. Yes, Obama still would have won (he ran a fine campaign and the economy collapsed). But if McCain hadn't picked Palin, it might have been a real nail biter.

Also: Sarah Palin would still be a little-known political figure probably completing her first term as governor and with no boomlet for her as a candidate for president in 2012. And Tina Fey would have missed out on another career boost.

[For my new piece looking back at my first political convention--Chicago '68--go here.]

Greg Mitchell's book on the 2008 campaign is titled "Why Obama Won."

Friday DAYBOOK: Removing the 'Mosque,' Colbert vs. Carell, Phil Ochs Declares War Over, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

T.G.I. FRIDAY SPECIALS

HIllary Clinton expected to announce today that Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct talks after 20 month lag, seen as victory for Obama team.... Meanwhile, U.S. may have convinced Israel that it will take at least a year for Iran to build a nuclear weapon (assuming it is doing this) -- Obama administration  feels it has halted Israel move to maybe pre-emptively bomb. 

Andy Borowitz on U.S. troop pullout this week: "The withdrawal from Iraq is a withdrawal in the sense that Cher's first farewell tour was a farewell."

Roger, Over and Out: The politics of Roger Clemens getting indicted on charges of false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Remember? GOPers on panel fawned over Clemens while Dems were critical. Now Clemens hammered as we were heading for extra innings.

AP fact check debunks falsehoods about proposed NYC Islamic center. Powerline blog guy mad that AP reported as fact that Obama is not a Muslim. AP memo advises staff against using "Ground Zero mosque." .... Howard Dean tries to defend his call to move "mosque," pressed by Keith Olbermann.

CNN: Muslims pray in Pentagon chapel built less than 100 feet from where 9/11 plane hit....Florida church vows to burn copies of Koran on 9/11, despite fire department objection.

Big piece in this Sunday's NYT Magazine: Why won't today's 20-somethings grow up or at least move out of parents' house or something? (Yeah, tell me about it.) 

Sarah Palin continues to defend Laura Schlesinger over "N-word" uproar.

Note to fans:  No afternoon updates today, and no Saturday Daybook. Hey, guy needs a break once in awhile.

AS OBAMA ARRIVES AT VINEYARD Mark Knoller of CBS tallies the vacation days at same point in terms: Obama 70, Bush 223.

TALKIN' NEW YORKER BLUES?  Ace New Yorker music guy Alex Ross chats with historian Sean Wilentz about his new Bob Dylan book.

OFF TARGET  MSNBC rejects MoveOn.org ad calling for protest of Target in campaign funding protest.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND?  Time complies a list of the ten things today's kids will never experience, including camera film, the glory days of Nick At Nite, and music videos on MTV. What about reading a hardcover book? Or magazine in print?

PAT ANSWERS AT LAST  My new piece on Pat Tillman film opening today, with trailer, interview and round-up of rave reviews.

ANOTHER TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE  Coming Sept. 7 on HBO: "My Trip to al-Qaeda", project of New Yorker's Lawrence Wright and Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney.

BITS & PIECES  Haaretz: The ongoing saga of the U.S. Navy "swastika" building. 

TODAY's LAFF

With the latest hype over U.S. troop "pullout" in Iraq, seems apt to re-play the classic Colbert and Carell "Even Stephen/Steven" episode when they pretended a debate before the war. 

 

 TODAY's MUSIC

With partial U.S. troop pullout in Iraq, time for Phil Ochs'  "The War Is Over."  It really wasn't really when he sang it either -- U.S. was still in Vietnam.  Why he called it "surreal" and "futuristic."

 

UPDATE: Much-Awaited Pat Tillman Film Opens Friday—Critics Rave

It's received favorable media attention and early reviews for quite some time—and we carried a story and trailer here long ago—and now the Tillman Story is finally arriving in theaters Friday. The Pat Tillman family has done Larry King this week and you may have already read about its shocking and honest revelations, and treatment of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and others.

The first reviews are in, almost all favorable, including one from Stephen Holden, just posted by the New York Times before publication in print on Friday.  It calls it a "sorrowful, devastating documentary…clearsighted, emotionally steady," and it "persuasively" portrays Tillman's family  "as finer, more morally sturdy people than the cynical chain of command that lied to them and used their son as a propaganda tool."

Kenneth Turan of the LA Times open his review: "The Tillman Story is a story that won't go away, won't leave you alone, won't let you feel at ease. Intensely dramatic, filled with elevated heroism, crass self-interest and blatant stupidity, it's a paradigmatic narrative of our tendentious, turbulent times." And another veteran reviewer, Richard Corliss,  in TIME magazine: "Meticulous in its amassing of interviews, news footage and Army documents, The Tillman Story plays like a mystery of epic proportions and awful implications." 

Now here's a lengthy and excellent Q&A with director Amir Bar-Lev  just up at the Tribeca Film Festival site. Here's an excerpt and a new trailer below. Also see my article from 2005 shortly after the full story started to break.

Tribeca: What was the biggest challenge in making this film? Were there roadblocks from the military?
 
Amir Bar-Lev: There’s really nothing in the film that another journalist couldn’t have reported on. And it was shocking to us to see—I mean, there is some investigative journalist involved in what we did, but not much—we couldn’t believe that it hadn’t been reported on! I’m not a big media critic or anything, but it does speak to how thin hard journalists are spread these days....

As far as the military putting up roadblocks, they really didn’t; they didn’t feel like we were a threat to them. They didn’t help us at all, but they didn’t hinder us. I think that’s because they don’t operate the way the films depict them operating—like putting a bullet in my mailbox or saying, “You better not go down that road…” That’s another case of people mistaking movies for reality.

In actuality, they have a team of very good publicists that makes sure that their spin gets disseminated through the mainstream press, and they are wildly successful at it. And they think that a small documentary isn’t going to have an impact on public sentiment.
 
The scene in the Congressional hearing where those generals basically say the equivalent of, “The dog ate my homework”—that worked. That was how it was reported. The reporting that night was, “Generals apologize to Tillmans for errors in bungling the Tillman case…” It takes a wide berth around the fact that they’ve never admitted to anything deliberate, even to this moment.

Tribeca: What do you want audiences to take away from the film? What do you want to happen?
 
Amir Bar-Lev: The story is not over. Nobody has really been held accountable. The guys who actually shot at Pat were given the same punishment as if they had forgotten to clean their weapons. Personally, though, my ire is directed to the people who continue to cover it up to this day.

 

DAYBOOK for Thursday: Poll Finds More Americans Than Ever Think Obama is a Muslim

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

If 1 in 5 (in new Pew poll) think Obama is a Muslim I bet 4 in 5 think we have no troops left in Iraq, thanks to yesterday's and today's media angle. E.g. Michael Gordon, who wrote bad NYT pieces on Iraq WMD with Judy Miller, waits until 12th paragraph today to reveal 50,000 U.S. troops remain.....Mission Accomplished: Halliburton gets big contract to help develop new oil field in Iraq.

Andy Borowitz: "The withdrawal from Iraq is a withdrawal in the sense that Cher's first farewell tour was a farewell."

AP fact check debunks falsehoods about proposed NYC Islamic center. Powerline blog guy mad that AP reported as fact that Obama is not a Muslim. AP memo advises staff against using "Ground Zero mosque." Good reason: not true.... Howard Dean on Countdown tonight defending his views on moving non-Ground Zero non-mosque.

High, hard one: Roger Clemens to be indicted on charges of false statements about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. And about time, as we were heading for extra innings.

Man, those were the days? Time complies a list of the ten things today's kids will never experience, including camera film, the glory days of Nick At Nite, and music videos on MTV. What about reading a hardcover book? Or magazine in print? 

THURSDAY's TOPPERS

New Pew survey confirms other recent polls, finds 1 in 5 Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, and among GOP conservatives it's 1 in 3 -- and the numbers are rising, not falling, nearly two years after his election.  Among those who hold the false Muslim view some 60% say they learned about it from (wait for it)....the media.

New applications for jobless benefits in US jump to 500,000, highest level since November.

NBC and MSNBC offer massive coverage of pullout of U.S. combat troops from Iraq--although we are leaving 50,000 "trainers" and "advisers" in place.  Just 7 years or so since Dexter Filkins opened his  NYT piece, May 2, 2003: "The war in Iraq has officially ended." ....  Waiting for Baghdad Bob to announce: "We have driven the American troops out! Victory is ours!"

Jon Stewart last night with another of his Glenn Beck impersonations in discussing the News Corp. $1 million donation to GOP:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
News Corp. Gives Money to Republicans
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

 


Glenn Greenwald  has response to Howard Dean's call for moving the non-ground zero non-mosque....   I guess Twitter told Howard Dean to follow Harry Reid... TPM:  Famed attorney and 9/11 widower Ted Olson: Obama Was Right On 'Mosque...34% say they'd oppose construction of a mosque two blocks from their home.

Pallin' around with racists? Sarah Palin defends Dr. Laura via Twitter: 'Don't retreat...reload!'

PAT ANSWERS AT LAST  My new piece on Pat Tillman film opening Friday, with  trailer, interview. 

PROBAMA:  Obama's favorability rating higher than any GOP presidential contender.

NO TRUTHS OUTSIDE New indie comedy "Gates of Eden."  Relationships of ownership they whisper in the wings: Does Dylan get a cut?  

MORE ON "MOSQUE"   Amy Goodman titles new column"Mosque-issipi Burning."  ... Nancy Pelosi not only took a side on the Islamic Center debate on a local California radio station KCBS, but she also questioned the motives of those who opposed the mosque. "I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded? How is this being ginned up?"  ...  Republican strategists are now finally saying that there is now a danger in pushing the "Ground Zero mosque" issue too forcefully. Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie told the Washington Post, "One of the biggest dangers in politics is to overplay an issue."

ANOTHER TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE  Coming Sept. 7 on HBO: "My Trip to al-Qaeda", project of New Yorker's Lawrence Wright and Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney.

GRASS GREENER DEPT.  Alternet features an excerpt from Thomas Geoghegan's book, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?  How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life., which explains how Europe makes people's everyday life much more pleasant to live in.

BLAGO DOWN THE DRAIN  Did one juror scuttle more Blago convictions? Some say yes, foreman says no.

LIVE AND LET DYE  Anderson Cooper offered $1 miilion to get the grey out.... Fareed Zakaria jumping from Newsweek to Time... 

TODAY's LAFF

"Tom Brokaw" interviews singer "Aaron Neville" about the cocoa butter solution to our energy problems--plus the N. Korean nuclear bomb.

 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

With U.S. combat operations wound down in Iraq, a return to (even) more perilous days, via the great Richard Thompson's "Baghdad's Gonna Kill Me."  As he sang, "At least we're winning on the Fox Evening News."

 

 

 

Wednesday DAYBOOK: Colbert on FOX-GOP Wedding, Dr. Laura Quits, Tom Waits, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

TPM:  Famed attorney and 9/11 widower Ted Olson: Obama Was Right On 'Mosque'

Nancy Pelosi not only took a side on the Islamic Center debate on a local California radio station KCBS, but she also questioned the motives of those who opposed the mosque. "I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded? How is this being ginned up?"

Republican strategists are now finally saying that there is now a danger in pushing the "Ground Zero mosque" issue too forcefully. Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie told the Washington Post, "One of the biggest dangers in politics is to overplay an issue."

Alternet features an excerpt from Thomas Geoghegan's book, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?  How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life., which explains how Europe makes people's everyday life much more pleasant to live in.

Did one juror scuttle more Blago convictions? Some say yes, foreman says no.


WEDNESDAY ON THE LINKS

Dr. Laura Schlesigner quitting her radio show (she announced on Larry King's show, natch) in wake of N-word flap -- says it's so she retains her "First Amendment" rights and doesn't have to worry about offending some "special interest group."

Media this month: Mosque of the Cred Death.    Amy Goodman titles new column"Mosque-issipi Burning." 

Maureen Dowd, who just backed Gibbs in attacking lefties, slams Obama on mosque timidity, calls on Dubya, of all people, to weigh in.... Rainn Wilson tweets: "They better not build a church anywhere near where Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City! Sacrilege."  

News Corp (Fox News's and Wall Street Journal's daddy company) donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association in June.     Howie Kurtz weighs in here as Dems attack. Eric Boehlert tweets: "Logically, shouldn't the GOP be giving $1M to Fox News, not the other way around?".... Stephen Colbert's take last night on the "wedding." It's now "Fox Friends With Benefits."   

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Fox News and Republican Party Make it Official
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

 

Dick Armey on Daily Show  warns Jon Stewart that if they get stuck on a desert island together "I'll have a gun." Jon: "I'll have a boat." Armey: "And I'll shoot your boat with my gun."  

Coming Sept. 7 on HBO: "My Trip to al-Qaeda", project of New Yorker's Lawrence Wright and Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: U.S. Army willing to discuss request for help in reviewing Afghan war documents.

NEW LOOK AT ALS  Great NYT sports story today played on front page by Alan Schwarz, who should have been Pulitzer finalist last year for his concussion stories. New evidence suggests that head trauma can lead to what has been diagnosed as ALS-- but is really not. Even Lou Gehrig himself may have been a victim, as he was hit in head by several balls and knocked out.

DIM LIGHT SONATA   Most U.S. students think Beethoven is a dog.

GOP: WEATHER VAIN   Republican candidates decide there are votes in attacking "myth" of global warming and are stepping up foolish assault . Politico: “Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming." 

FOX FIGHT?  Greta Van Susteren: Glenn Beck 'should move' this month's rally from Martin Luther King spot.

BITS & PIECES  Most memorable fictional depiction of the late Bobby Thomson's famous 1951 HR: DeLillo's long and brilliant opening chapter in "Underworld."...  NOLA culinary icon Susan Spicer leads restaurant owners suing BP over leak's effect on local-seafood biz.... The Onion reports, "Candidate to Accuse Opponent of Racism Just to See What Happens."

OUT OF FOOD  Where's my food? Democrats propose cuts to future food stamp funding in order to save $14.1 billion over 10 years and reduce the national budget deficit.

 TODAY's LAFF

 

TODAY's MUSIC

Yeah, you read it right, newly posted live version of Tom Waits doing James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." 

 

DAYBOOK for Tuesday: Jon Stewart Mocks 'Mosque' Opponents, Bob Herbert Hits War, 'Mad Men' Meets Dylan

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

TUESDAY's TOPS

Bob Herbert with maybe his 10th column on need for Afghan pullout so we can do nation building at home.   Also points to passage in Jonathan Alter book where Gen. Petraeus last year  promised Obama he will not oppose 2011 troop pullout--which he has now hinted he might do. ... icasualties.org reports 575 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since Obama took office--same # that died under Bush.

John Oliver on The Daily Show:  Catholics CAN build church next to a playground, but SHOULD they -- or is it "too soon"?  Earlier in same segment on the "ground zero mosque" Jon Stewart caught Glenn Beck in (surprise) hypocrisy:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mosque-Erade
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

 

Meanwhile, Yahoo's Mike Calderone on blatant errors in coverage of non-mosque not at Ground Zero.....   Glenn Greenwald: CNN's Don Lemon expresses the ugly, bigoted core of the anti-"mosque" argument. ... Olbermann special comment and photo tour of Ground Zero area. ....  TPM hits Harry Reid caving and opposing mosque, while Jacob Heilbrunn at Huff Post slams his "moral cowardice" ....  NYT op-ed:  How the mosque fight may alienate our moderate Muslim allies, the Sufis.

Important Annie Lowrey piece in Wash Independent on suicides among the long-term unemployed.

Poll shows only 34% correctly say TARP enacted by Bush; 47% believe TARP passed under Obama. 19% say they dunno.  (h/t Barbara Bedway)

IS THAT A WEEKLY OR A WIKI COLUMN?   WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to write weekly column for left-leaning Swedish newspaper.

SLY AND THE FAMILY MOAN    Today's America: Sylvester Stallone #1 again and millions applaud Jet Blue guy as "hero," now gets own reality show. 

WILL POWER AND BOMB POWER   My new piece marking the death 75 years ago of one of greatest Americans ever: Will Rogers. A true "progressive" whose comments on FDR, the economic crisis and weak Democrats resonate today.... Plus:  My two interview segments on atomic bomb coverups-- in the military and in Hollywood-- aired on  NPR's "On the Media" this weekend but now also up on online, with transcripts later today.

HITTING TARGET     That protest of Target stories for company's "buying" election of rightwinger in Minnesota inspires a fun "flash mob" musical demo:

 

 

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL  Alvin Greene, now facing obscenity charges, howls and wails .....  Huff Post:  As the midterm elections get closer, it is becoming increasingly clear that this political season won't be any different when it comes to political insults. With the Senate race as a choice between a "mob banker" and a "serial liar" (or a new Republican Senate candidate, Linda "Crotch-Kicker" McMahon), the name-calling is sure to get much worse before November. 

BYTES & PIECES:   Wash Post on counter-marches to Glenn Beck's upcoming D.C. extravaganza ...  CIA tapes of terrorist interrogation found -- under desk....  Suddenly emerging out of the closed society of North Korea: tweeting and posting videos on YouTube hitting rivals in the south and U.S. figures, such as Hillary Clinton....  U.S. to ease curbs on travel to Cuba....

BRAND NUKE WORLD   The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy announced that it was suing the Department of Energy for failure to comply with FOIA in a meaningful way over nuclear power subsidies. The Obama administration said in February it would  provide $8.3 billion in taxpayer-financed loan guarantees to the Southern Company to build two new nuclear reactors at its Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

TODAY's LAFF

As we noted yesterday, numerous fun videos have quickly appeared to spoof the trailer for upcoming Hollywood flick on the founding of Facebook.  We brought you the Twitter version, now here's the YouTube story:

 

TODAY's MUSIC

In Mad Men episode this week, young Peggy attends a hipster party south of 14th Street in Manhattan, takes a hit of pot and endures flirting from a lesbian--before the cops arrive.  Meanwhile, across town in the Village, Bob Dylan was filming what some might call the first music video (with Allen Ginsberg, no less), warning Peggy "they must bust in early May" and urging her to watch those "users, cheaters, six-time losers."  Also: Watch those parkin' meters, girl.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday DAYBOOK: Krugman Defends Social Security, Petraeus Backs War, Elizabeth Warren Rap Video, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES 

Newt Gingrich: Building Islamic center not far from Ground Zero like posting a Nazi sign next to Holocaust memorial. Yet he will still receive endless face time on Fox and elsewhere.

Robert Gates says he's quitting as Pentagon chief next year.  Maybe he's angling for Steve Carell's job at "The Office"?

Huff Post:  As the midterm elections get closer, it is becoming increasingly clear that this political season won't be any different when it comes to political insults. With the Senate race as a choice between a "mob banker" and a "serial liar" (or a new Republican Senate candidate, Linda "crotch-kicker" McMahon), the name-calling is sure to get much worse before November. 

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy announced that it was suing the Department of Energy for failure to comply with FOIA in a meaningful way over nuclear power subsidies. The Obama administration said in February it would  provide $8.3 billion in taxpayer-financed loan guarantees to the Southern Company to build two new nuclear reactors at its Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

MONDAY ON THE LINKS

Paul Krugman blasts critics of Social Security at its 75th birthday--numbers and arguments don't add up, and then there's the "ignorance."

New Yorker site with chapter from Sean Wilentz's forthcoming book on Bob Dylan in America, this excerpt covering Dylan, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats.

David and Goliath: Gen. Petraeus on "Meet the Press" says U.S. military leaders inherited faulty strategy for Afghan war at end of Bush era. Opposes fast pullout and says he didn't sign on just for a "graceful exit." .... Gen. McChrystal reportedly getting new gig -- teaching at Yale.

Rap video "Got a New Sheriff" backs Eliz Warren for that appointment.

 

My new piece marking the death 75 years ago of one of greatest Americans ever: Will Rogers. A true "progressive" whose comments on FDR, the economic crisis and weak Democrats resonate today.... Plus:  My two interview segments on atomic bomb coverups-- in the military and in Hollywood-- aired on  NPR's "On the Media" this weekend but now also up on online, with transcripts later today.

If you missed Christoper Hitchens on Charlie Rose on Friday night:

AMERICA KEEPS ITS MOSQUE ON?  GOP thinks it can make hay over the "not Ground Zero not a Mosque" issue but Nate Silver at 538.com has polls that show otherwise.  Meanwhile  NYT's Ross Douthat naturally says it's correct for "ground zero" mosque critics to put Muslims on defensive in debate, suggesting there is much worth in both tolerant and intolerant America. 

OBAMA KEEPS HIS SHIRT ON  White House makes sure photogs don't snap shirtless Obama on vacaton on the beach.  Well, not quite like ban on pictures of FDR in wheelchair or getting helped from car. 

CALL IT GERIZON, OR VOOGLE?  The Google-Verizon plans for Internet raising real privacy concerns.  

BITS & PIECES   NYT Co. paper in Mass. to charge for online content....  Richard Clarke on Colbert tonite, while Daily Show gets Emma Thompson..... More YouTube spoofs of that trailer for Hollywood's Facebook movie appear.

TODAY's LAFF

You've no doubt read about Dan Quayle's son Ben running for office and in the process calling Obama "the worst president ever" among other cracks.  So Andy Cobb of Second City fame has announced he is now running against young Quayle -- shooting Quayle, so to speak.

 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

Richie Hayward, great drummer for Little Feat since 1970, has passed at age 64.  Richie once wrote me a letter thanking me for saving their career in 1971--by writing rave reviews of their first album for four separate magazines.  Apparently Warner Bros. didn't pay any attention to bylines--but who did?  Here he is with Lowell George and the rest of the gang in one of the great songs of the 1970s. Rumor at the time had it that the subject of this song was Brian Wilson in his recluse phase.

 

TRIBUTE: To Will Rogers, One of the Greatest Americans, on His Passing 75 Years Ago

One of the most tragic accidental deaths of an American in the past century occurred 75 years ago today when a light plane helmed  by famed pilot Wiley Post crashed in Alaska killing him -- and the man often described as "the most popular" American of his time, Will Rogers.  The phrase "nation mourned" is often tossed about carelessly but in this case it was true.  Historians claimed it was greatest outpouring of genuine affection since Lincoln passed away.  NBC and CBS radio went off the air for 30 minutes in mourning and movie screens all over the country darkened their screens for awhile. 

Rogers was simultaneously the country's most popular radio personality and newspaper columnist and one of the top three movie stars.  Unfortunately, many Americans today (those who even know about him) think of him as merely a humorist or celluloid comedy star but he was also the nation's most influential political commentator, and from a progressive point of view always promoting the "common man."  His views on the economy,  FDR and the need for bold action are particularly interesting in the Obama era.

In the wreckage of the plane in Alaska was found in his typewriter a sheet of paper with the beginning of one last column:  "Now I must get back to advising my Democrats."

Perhaps the question most often asked in America was:  Did you see what Will Rogers said? Some of his wisecracks had turned to cliche ("All I know is what I read in the papers"); others entered the American language as folk sayings or punch lines:

• "Every time Congress makes a joke it's a law, and every time they  make a law it's a joke."

• "We hold the distinction of being the only nation that is goin' to the poorhouse in an automobile."

• "This would be a great world to dance in if we didn't have to pay the fiddler."

• "My idea of an honest man is a fellow who declares income tax on money he sold his vote for."

Will Rogers was America's "most complete human document... the heartbeat of America," Damon Runyon had observed. Reviewing one of his books, a New York Times critic insisted that "America has never produced anybody quite like him, and there has rarely been an American humorist whose words produced less empty laughter or more sober thought." The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr praised his facility in puncturing foibles "which more pretentious teachers leave untouched."

Rogers's life was an American amalgam. He liked to brag that his ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower—they met the boat.   Rogers was born in Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1879, and he was part Indian, but his parents were prosperous Methodists. Before settling down as a political philosopher and movie star in the 1920s, Rogers worked as a cowboy, a circus performer, and a comedian. Rope tricks were his specialty, but Rogers was no bumpkin: he lived in New York City for many years while appearing with the Ziegfeld Follies, and he often traveled abroad.

Although he never took the trouble to vote, Rogers read newspapers and magazines voraciously and hobnobbed with politicians and foreign dignitaries, gathering material for his seemingly spontaneous political gibes. "This man Rogers has such a keen insight into the American panorama and the American people," Theodore Roosevelt said back in 1918 when Will was still twirling rope, "that I feel he is bound, in the course of time, to be a potent factor in the political life of the nation."

A few years later, Rogers was mentioned as a presidential candidate, and he regularly received a strong write-in vote in state and national elections. This was one way for a populist voter to protest without turning Socialist. The humorist ran a mock campaign for president in 1928 as the candidate of the Anti-Bunk party ("He Chews to Run") in the pages of Life, the humor magazine. The National Press Club appointed him America's congressman at large, and others called him the Unofficial President.  At the Democratic National Convention in 1932, he received twenty-two votes as Oklahoma's favorite-son candidate and was so excited he slept through the balloting. Another Oklahoman named Will Rogers, no relation, ran for Congress in honor of the comedian-—and won by fifty thousand votes.

To those who complained that his humor was becoming too topical, Rogers replied, "I hope I never get so old that I can't peep behind the scenes and see the amount of politics that's mixed in this medicine before it's dished out to the people as 'Pure statesmanship.' " He proposed as his epitaph: Here lies Will Rogers. Politicians turned honest and he starved to death.

During the early years of the Depression, he voiced the despair of the common man and appeared at countless benefits to raise relief money. "What is the matter with our country anyhow?" he wondered. "With all our brains in high positions, and all our boasted organizations, thousands of our folks are starving, or on the verge of it. Why can't there be some means of at least giving everybody all the bread they wanted, anyhow?" He boosted FDR's election, and when Roosevelt was about to take office, Will sent along a list of soon-to-be-immortalized sugges- tions:

"A smile in the White House again, why, it will look like a meal to us."

"Kid Congress and the Senate, don't scold 'em. They are just children that's never grown up. . . . Keep off the radio till you got something to say. . . . Stay off that back lawn with those photographers. Nothing will kill interest in a President quicker. . . ."

"If somebody gets all excited and tells you, 'Wall Street has just done a nose dive,' tell them, 'Those Republican organizations don't interest me in the least. Why, there is 115 million of my subjects don't know if Wall Street is a thoroughfare or a new mouthwash.' "

Roosevelt, a big Rogers fan, followed his advice almost to the letter. When the President declared a bank holiday, Rogers commented: "The whole country is with him . . . Even if he does something wrong they are with him, just so he does something. ... If he burned down the Capitol, we would cheer and say, 'Well, we at least got a fire started anyhow.' ... We have had years of 'Don't rock the boat.' Go on and sink it if you want to. We just as well be swimming as like we are. . . . For three years we have had nothing but 'America is fundamentally sound.' It should have been 'America is fundamentally cuckoo.' Every American international banker ought to have printed on his office door, 'Alive today by the grace of a nation that has a sense of humor.'"

Rogers called the NRA  "decency by government control," although he was suspicious of the Brain Trust gang and theorists in general. "I don't know what additional authority Roosevelt may ask," he advised, "but give it to him, even if it's to drown all the boy babies, for the way the grown-up ones have acted he will be perfectly justified in drowning any new ones." 

Some accused him of writing the President's speeches, but he explained that he was the Dumb Brain Truster and that the difference between him and Roosevelt was that "when he's talking he knows what he's talking about, and when I'm talking, I'm just guessin'."  

Hardly. 

Greg Mitchell studied  Rogers' papers, visited his home and interviewed his son for his book on Upton Sinclair's race for governor of California in 1934, "The Campaign of the Century."  

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