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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

When David Brooks Failed the 'Palin Test'

As I note in my Daybook here today, there’s a major profile of David Brooks in the new New York magazine, a puff piece that gives the columnist and TV pundit far too much credit for being the last “reasonable” man. It’s the old syndrome of over-praising Brooks for being “the conservative liberals can tolerate.”   Just today he has a particularly weak column that Paul Krugman, in a rare public New York Times  insider spat, has just attacked in a blog post.

The New York piece, as do most that seek to give Brooks undue credit (same goes for Kathleen Parker),  cites one of his quotes critical of Sarah Palin.   He has also in recent months called her “a joke” and only qualified to be a TV “talk show host.” Of course, that was always true.   But when it really counted, during the 2008 campaign when there was a very real chance she’d become vice president, he trimmed his sails in his Times column. 

Here’s what happened. In early October 2008, the  columnist admitted at a small Manhattan forum -- fortunately, for us, captured on video by then-Huff Poster Rachel Sklar -- that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was not qualified for higher office ("not even close") and, indeed, was a "cancer" on the  GOP. This was a bit shocking,  because to that point, while offering some criticism of Palin as candidate, Brooks had not offered this frank appraisal to his millions of Times readers.  

"Not even close" to being up to being a heartbeat from the presidency is about the most damning thing you could say about a Veep wannabe.

Days passed and -- Brooks  never did put that in  his column.    At Huff Post, I kept a running count of days he was missing in action. Election day came and went and no Brooks slam --  in print -- on this "unqualified" angle.  Yes, he'd charge that she was weak and lacking in proper experience but took the edge off by adding that maybe she was just not his "cup of tea." And he never did say that selecting an incompetent was a fatal blemish on John McCain and should disqualify his candidacy.

In fact, Brooks wrote, "Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive."  In a key declaration, Brooks also mocked what he called the "smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place."

Who needs Mark Shields? Maybe Brooks should debate himself on PBS.

Yet many of Brooks colleagues on the right had no trouble – in print --  frankly labeling Palin unqualified. The list includes everyone from David Frum to Christopher Buckley.   Brooks apparently felt the same way but refused to share this with his Times readers.  Some cited this in stating they can no longer support McCain.  

Matthew Dowd, the key Bush strategist in 2004, jumped on the anti-Palin bandwagon, stating flatly that she was not at all qualified for higher office, and suggested that McCain, no doubt, would regret the Palin pick after the results in November arrived.

Yet Brooks refused to put his own "disqualified" views in print.   Yet he still gets credit for allegedly breaking ranks with his  friends on Palin -- and remains the conservative Democrats, and journalist who should know better, love.    

DAYBOOK for Tuesday: Michael Steele Right on Afghan War? 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 (and at the bottom) musical picks. Return for updates all day. Keep up with fresh items via tweets. E-mail: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

Amazing L.A. Times story on the little-publicized isses surrounding our drone aircraft in war zones, including costly glitches, crashes.     Money quote from manager of the program:    ‘It was never designed to go to war when it did.  We didn't have the luxury of ironing out some of the problems." 

Paui Krugman, in rare inside-NYT public spat, takes on  DAvid Brooks' latest weak column: "I have no idea what he's talking about." ... PLUS:  My new piece here on when cowardly Brooks failed "the Palin test" when it really counted -- during the 2008 campaign.

Mediaite:   Women from "The Daily Show" respond to "sexism" charges from Jezebel.

Ruth Rosen at Alternet:  Why women dominate the tea parties--make the "white Christian" movement seem less scary.

The great Hannah Allam -- Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy (I put her on the cover of E&P six  years ago) -- is five months pregmant and still working in war zone.   Just had a baby shower attended by other long-timers.

 

--TUESDAY ON THE LINKS

Rachel Maddow doing show from Kabul this week....  Steve Carell visits Colbert on Wednesday--hoping for a Steven vs. Stephen rematch? 

New NY Magazine profile of David Brooks just posted, calling him both "irrelevant" and "essential."  Well, they are half right.   They also call him "the voice of reason."   You get the picture. Writer Christopher Beam apparently born yesterday, or thereabouts.  Best excerpt:  One of his first political acts came "in third grade at the Grace Church School, when he scrawled 'Julie Nixon is a Nazi' on the board. He received a paddling as punishment."  

David Corn:  Was Michael Steele mainly RIGHT about Afghanistan war and Obama? .... Latest on House Dems revolting over Afghan war, and divisions ...

Harry Shearer for his radio show produced funny Larry King impersonation and a kind of farewell song, "Who Can I Talk to Tonight?" to the CNN host.... But Tom Shales mourns the end of  TV "civility" with Larry's exiit.

Glenn Greenwald on latest detention of a journalist  and "BP / Government police state" tactics:  "The very idea that government officials are acting as agents of BP (of all companies) in what clearly seem to be unconstitutional acts to intimidate and impede the media is infuriating.  Obviously, the U.S. Government and BP share the same interest -- preventing the public from knowing the magnitude of the spill and the inadequacy of the clean-up efforts -- but this creepy police state behavior is intolerable."

GAZA IMPORTS EASED   McClatchy: In advance of big meeting with Obama today, Israel yesterday moved to  allow more goods to come into Gaza, but still blocking some of key construction materials and other necessities.... MIke Allen on the ground with Joe and Jill Biden in Iraq, as Veep's plane springs a leak.  .  

STILL IN A HUFF   Arianna Huffington is miffed about PolitiFact finding one of her Liz Cheney-related statements "half-true," comes out swinging -- and piece  rides top of Huff Post Monday. . 

KICKING TO THE RIGHT  Rick Herztberg in The New Yorker probes  why rightwingers hate football… er,  soccer.

HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN PERMIT  Who knew?  You want a concealed gun permit from lax Utah? Just take an online course and you can get one even if, say, you've never been to Utah and never plan to visit.

NAKED  CAPITALISM:   That's the name of Yves Smith's excellent econ blog that we cite from time to time.  Today she has co-authored a NYT op-ed,  urging owners to re-invest profits, plus she's posted the unedited version at the blog with a headline she much prefers:  “It’s the Corporate Savings Glut, Stupid! The Hysteria of Marching to Austeria.” 

WEATHER OR NOT?  Waiting for the rigthwingers and Fox personalities to now claim that weather in D.C. -- 100 degrees -- proves global warming is real since they charged it wasn't following winter storms.

BITS & PIECES  Andrew SullivanKey question remains in wake of Dave Weigel exit -- was that JournoList  list-serv leaked  (Breitbart) or hacked (Weigel) ? ....  The Onion has new parody news show online--for 20 cents a minute? ....  Despite partial cave-in to Wall St., Dems find campaign donations from them down 65%....

TODAY's LAFF

We missed it for the holiday but still not  too late to catch up with the latest JibJab:  George Washington and friends rap about kicking some "British A--."

 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

For some reason, every time I hear the great  Richard Thompson doing his "Persuasion" (below with son Teddy) I think of Obama foolishly  trying to work with GOPers.  "After all the foolish things you put me through /   I could always make a start on something new / I'll always be a man open to persuasion....We need to rebuild / What was never there .... Don't know what to do / Because I still believe."   

 

 

 

 

Monday DAYBOOK: No Holiday for Media & Politics Outrages

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 tweets. E-mail: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

MONDAY OFF (AND RUNNING) 

Paul Krugman in column on how we are, like never before,  "punishng the jobless" ends by quoting my man, Upton Sinclair... New NY Magazine profile of David Brooks just posted, calling him both "irrelevant" and "essential."  Well, they are half right.

The Guardian:  US questions its unwavering support for Israel.  Somehow, I doubt it leads to much… FAIR:  Yes, there's a Heart of Darkness in today's Congo but this Time magazine piece is not helpful.

David Carr:  Chicago trial reveals increasing problem of gaps in media coverage—fewer reporters, fewer probes, lessx expertise. And here Carr looks behind the Dave Weigel flap, concluding that he "was the victim of a 'not invented here' reflex that many legacy media companies still possess. He was not, as they say, 'one of us,' but one of 'them,' brought in to sprinkle new-media pixie dust on a mainstream newspaper that was hemmed in by political and journalistic convention." More from Howie Kurtz on the Weigel case—obviously more friendly to the Post.  

Rick Herztberg in The New Yorker probes  why rightwingers hate football… er,  soccer.

Remember de-throned Miss USA, Carrie Prejean?  Just married Oakland Raiders QB Kyle Boller.

Fareed Zakaria on CNN calls Afghanistan a "real" but "small" problem and U.S. effort is disproportionate.... Rand Paul backs MIchael Steele's original call for Afghan pullout and points out it IS Obama's war of choosing--choosing to send more troops, in any case.  But most top Repubs hit Steele's view… Meanwhile, Tea Partiers rip Paul for taking DC money.

WIDE GULF:  Surprisingly, a big range of views among experts on just how ecologically damaged the Gulf has become due to oil leak, Wash Post reports.  

BITS AND PIECES    Cool and unusual fireworks photo from NYT (if you like that sort of thing).....That Obama cover for The Economist--a little altered..... 

 

--GO 4th, AND MULTIPLY

TAKE TEA AND SEE GOP  New Gallup poll:  Despite hype to the contrary,  Tea partiers not much more than run of the mill conservative GOPers. 

AFGHAN GONE  BABY GONE  Al Hunt on ABC's This Week today: sources say if private vote this week Dems and Repubs alike would have voted against Afghan war funds. Also, Krugman hits Dems for coming down so hard on Michael Steele's comment when really what hey need to do is re-consider the war… 

GULF OUILED  From the faux Twitter account BPGlobalPR:  "We've eliminated the huge turtle surplus in the gulf.  Next on our list: dolphins, whales, reporters."

GAZA BLOCKADE AID  Another brave Nick Kristof column from Gaza—Israel should not just ease blockade but end it.   He explains more here and asks for feedback.

WOODY APPROVE?  For the holiday:  A political undating of  Woody's "This Land is Your Land."   If your taste runs more to Popeye the Sailor, you can find his "patriotic" cartoon here.

  

 

VETS  Amazing 4th of July story about Iraq veteran overcoming severe injuries.  Multi-media here. The Toledo Blade looks at its local, troubled vets… Huff Post:  the 1000th US military member to die in Afghanistan was literally born on the 4th of July. 

FATEFUL OP-ED  Seven years ago this weekend the infamous Joe Wilson op-ed in the NYT that really launched the Plame/CIA leak case was published. Read my new piece here.

RICH & RACE Frank Rich column on status of racial progress in USA  (still a "work in progress"—and rips senators this week who attacked Justice Marshall (plus a dig at Justice Roberts) .

BITS & PIECES   Andy Borowitz:  "No one can beat Cleveland's offer to LeBron:  6 years in Cleveland is like 100 years anywhere else…  After Saturday's World Cup result finally  the words "Germany" and "Argentina" will now have a happier ring for Germans…  Press groups hit  "prior restraint" at Gitmo.

SATURDAY ON THE LINKS

TORTURED LOGIC  Latest from NYT defending its policy of not, in the main, referring to waterboarding and other forms of torture as, well, torture. Hey, they didn't want to be politically correct!  BIll Keller should be ashamed for his quotes. Glenn Greenwald agrees, calling it  "one of the more demented and reprehensible statements I've seen from a high-level media executive in some time." And Keller freely used "torture" as a reporter to describe, for example, what Russia did.

COUSINS OR CUSSINGS?  Kathleen Parker digs herself a deeper hole in column tomorrow in Wash Post and elsewhere defending calling Obama our "first female president."  She even stoops to claiming he is actually a distant cousin.

BP POISONS  Major ProPublica piece just out:  BP's Texas refinery had huge toxic release in April—just before Gulf blowout.  "It stemmed from the company's decision to keep producing and selling gasoline while it attempted repairs on a key piece of equipment, according to BP officials and Texas regulators.… The company now estimates that 538,000 pounds of chemicals escaped from the refinery while it was replacing the equipment. These included 17,000 pounds of benzene, a known carcinogen; 36,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to respiratory problems; and 189,000 pounds of carbon monoxide."  Also, photographer for above piece detained by police.  

STEELE AWAY?   Liz Cheney joins in calls from GOPers for ouster of Michael Steele after his latest gaffe dissing chances for success in Afghanistan.  Steele video here.  More here on Democrats hitting Steele—but in the process defending forever Afghan war. 

BITS & PIECES:   The Economist:  America spending on unemployment insurance, but not on training workers… Adam Clymer, former "big time" NYTer, rips Wash Post in lettter to ed today on use of anonymous sources to smear Rolling Stone writer…  Mariano Riivera, and his "cutter," on cover of tomorrow's NY Mag.

DEATH AFTER DEADLINE  US actually stopping "combat" role in August as promised when troops in Iraq hit 50,000 goal? Not exactly, reports NYT's TIm Arango… Pentagon clamping down on press access after McChrystal mess. If tree falls in forest now it didn't happen. 

PAT ANSWER   As we have predicted, the upcoming film on Pat Tillman (due in August) will make Gen. McChrystal's retirement a lot less relaxing, Newsweek reports.  Read my take, plus watch trailer.

GO FOURTH AND ANSWER  Gail Collins's July 4th weekend quiz.  For example, who said, “Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and four guys jumped on top of me.”

JUST ONE HITCH  Andrew Sullivan says he'll pray for recovery of über-atheist Christopher Hitchens "just to piss him off."

CRIME  PAYS?   A major, and lucrative, US peace prize for alleged "war criminal" Tony Blair.

TODAY's LAFF

 A wrapup of the Kagan hearings from The Daily Show

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

 

TODAY's MUSIC

My favorite July 4th song, suitably titled "The Fourth of July," originally by the band  X, here done by writer Dave Alvin (though I prefer the Robert Earl Keen version).  Dry your tears and walk outside…

Seven Years Ago: The Spark That Lit the Plame/CIA Leak Scandal

So much has been said and written about the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame—and the cast of characters that swirled around it, from Judith Miller to Karl Rove—that this weekend, for the seventh anniversary of how it all began, it seems proper to quote the first lines of the fateful Joseph C. Wilson IV op-ed in the New York Times:

"Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq? Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

The date, falling on the Sunday of another holiday weekend, was July 6, 2003. Remember op-ed  title? "What I Didn't Find in Africa."  People in high places paid attention: as we now know, Vice President Cheney marked up a copy of the op-ed from the paper, wondering if the trip to Africa was "ordinarily" done or "did his wife send him on a junket?"

An article about Wilson's Niger trip and views on the WMD threat appeared the same day in the Washington Post, since Wilson was going fully public with an appearance on Meet the Press.

Things then happened fast. The following day the Bush administration admitted that accusations included in the president's 2003 State of the Union address had turned out to be inaccurate. At a press conference in Africa, Secretary of State Colin Powell concluded: "There was sufficient evidence floating around at that time that such a statement was not totally outrageous or not to be believed or not to be appropriately used. It's that once we used the statement, and after further analysis, and looking at other estimates we had, and other information that was coming in, it turned out that the basis upon which that statement was made didn't hold up..."

Within another day, Powell's assistant Richard Armitage had provided the first—but by no means last—leak to columnist Robert Novak about Wilson's wife Valerie Plame and the CIA.

On July 14, 2003, Novak identified "Wilson's wife" publicly as "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" named "Valerie Plame" in his syndicated column. This effectively ended her CIA career.

Plame later testified before Congress: "I found out very early in the morning when my husband came in and dropped the newspaper on the bed and said, 'He did it'.... We had indications in the week prior that Mr. Novak knew my identity and my true employer. And I of course alerted my superiors at the agency, and I was told, don't worry; we'll take care of it. And it was much to our surprise that we read about this July 14th."

Two days after that, David Corn at The Nation suggested that the leak was a crime. Wilson said: "Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames."

Of course, as we learned much later, Cheney's aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby had learned about the Wilson/Plame connection the previous month and would blab about it with numerous officials and journalists such as Judy Miller and Matt Cooper.

He talked to Miller about Plame as early as June 23, 2003. He mentioned her to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on July 7, 2003. (Libby would claim that he first heard about her from Tim Russert three days after that.) Then Libby chatted about Plame with Karl Rove on July 11, 2003.

And the rest is (sad) history.  Although early previews weren't great, let's hope there's still hope for Sean Penn and Naomi Watts to salvage something out of the WIlson-Plame affair in the upcoming Doug LIman movie.

Greg Mitchell's book So Wrong for So Long:  How the Press, the Pundits and the President, Failed on Iraq, contains a good deal on the Plame case.

 

Upcoming Pat Tillman Film Will Give Gen. McChrystal Retirement Blues

We predicted some time ago that the upcoming release of the documentary The Tillman Story will make Gen. Stanley McChrystal (among others) look bad, and that sense seems to be spreading based on comments by those who have seen the film.

The latest report comes from Newsweek: "After Tillman's death, McChrystal, who doesn't appear in the film, was involved in the decision to award Tillman a posthumous silver star for valor, based on the report that he had died under enemy fire. McChrystal then sent a memo to several top generals and to White House personnel warning that there might be questions about Tillman's death and cautioning speechwriters against making direct reference to what happened the day Tillman died in President Bush's speech for the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

"One of the most disheartening scenes in the film is the footage from a 2007 Congressional hearing featuring recipients of McChrystal's memo. One by one, the military brass, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, come up with one excuse or another for why they, literally, "didn't get the memo." (General John Abizaid blames a faulty fax machine—a crazy notion until you realize that this is the Army.) No one, including McChrystal, takes responsibility for the alleged cover-up; the Army continues to insist blame lies solely with Lt. General Phillip Kensinger, who was in charge of the Army Rangers and is conveniently the only general involved in the situation who is retired."

Follow the link above to read full article plus nine-minute video on TIllman's life story. Trailer for the upcoming film below:

 

Friday DAYBOOK: Lindsey Graham Hits Tea Party, Glenn Beck Goes Back to School, 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 tweets. E-mail: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

"Gumbo for the Gulf" house parties in 26 states to be held this weekend, with backing from Anthony Bourdain, other well-known foodies. 

Barry Ritholtz looks behind new  numbers for June: Unemployment rate falls to 9.5% but jobs actually lost.

Wonderful Michael Steele gaffe causing uproar (even if true), in which he suggests we can't win in Afghanistan -- see as he triesto dig out.... Heralded doc on Afghan unit Restrepo opens today nationwide.... As we have predicted, the upcoming film on Pat Tillman (due in August) will make Gen. McChyrstal's retirement a lot less relaxing, Newsweek reports.

Great cartoon: "The 24 Types of Libertarian."

Andrew Sullivan says he'll pray for recovery of uber-atheist Christopher Hitchens "just to piss him off." 

 --- T.G.I. FRIDAY LINKAGE

NYT's defense of not routinely calling waterboarding "torture" here, in chat with Mike Calderone of Yahoo! But their argument that they were just adopting a "middle ground" and aware of political pressures is slammed by many,  including here. Also here. Plus our own Chris Hayes on MSNBC. The media group FAIR points out that it's been calling out the NYT on this since 2004.

Glenn Beck actually declares the "founding" of "Beck University." Will Bunch has a go at it here. BU probably has already suspended its campus newspaper and kicked the liberal student groups out.

Sen. Cantwell backs FinReg, giviing Dems crucial boost... 

Fun Contest::  We hope you like the new logo for Media Fix at top of page.  Now, be the first to identify the seven sources of the letters that make up the new MediaFix  (the @ is generic) and win a cool prize! They all come from major sites or media companies.  Enter in Comments below or mail me at:  epic1934@aol.com

GRAHAM PARSES:  Here's this Sunday's NYT Mag profile of Lindsey Graham, with a quote that will spark a Tea Party challenge:  "The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.”

AUSTERE IN WRONG DIRECTION?  Yet another Paul Krugman column on his fear and loathing re: the new "austerity" consensus among Serious People (and governments) and how it will doom us.  Note: Krugman will guest on Charlie Rose show tonight.

BYRD WATCHING   First news photographer allowed in US Senate chamber since 1961 to snap Senator Byrd's casket.

BATTLE OF THE ANDREWS   It's Sullivan vs. Breitbart on offering to pay $100,000 for JournoList archives, Breitbart and others hit back, and then Sullivan returns serve, all here. Don't worry, Palin is involved here somewhere.

BORNE IN THE USA  My colleague Peter Rothberg picks his dozen all-time "most patriotic" songs, with videos, including everyone from Warren Zevon and Sam Cooke to Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger.

SETTING PRESIDENTS  Poll of historians (once again) finds Bush as one of the worst presidents, at #43, and below Nixon, again. Obama already at #15, three spots ahead of Reagan, so you know Fox will be blasting this any second now.

GUNNING FOR KAGAN  NRA says it will oppose Kagan  nomination, and publicize how Senators vote on her. 

BITS & PIECESCJR: Message control tighter under Obama than Bush...   New site from Free Press called Corruption Road, on "How Corporate Money and Astro Turf Pollute Media Policy"... Sen. Lindsey Graham: “I Ain’t Gay. Sorry.” Your punchline here.... Lizard King on the throne? Jim Morrison haunts bathroom at Santa Monica eatery.

--TODAY's LAFF 

Wackiest conservative quotes in recent times all collected in one place,  from Joe Barton and the Chicken Lady to Limbaugh and Beck, plus Sarah Palin meets Katie Couric, and that "Macaca" moment.  

 

-- TODAY's MUSIC

Johnny Cash explains why he is The Man in Black: "I wear the black for the poor and beaten down.... I wear it for the sick and the lonely old..."  And more. 

 

 

 

MEDIA FIX Contest: Guess Where the Letters in Our New Logo Came From and Win a Prize!

As we reach the two-month mark since we launched this blog, we hope you like the lively new logo for Media Fix at the top of page.  Now, be the first to identify the sources of the seven letters that make up the new MediaFix  (we'll consider the @ generic) .and win a cool prize!   They all come from major news / new media, famous companies or social networking sites.

Enter in Comments below or email me at:  epic1934@aol.com    And watch for our new "Daybook" icon soon.

Thursday DAYBOOK: Jobless Benefits, and Al Gore, in Peril? More in Afternoon Updates

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 tweets. E-mail: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

Jamie McIntyre, formerly of  CNN, now a prof, hits Lara Logan for her attack on Michael Hastings -- though faults the latter, too....  Amy Davidson at The New Yorker also criticizes Logan strongly (and you can watch the video in question there)  ...  Rolling Stone's Hastings on Democracy Now! today.

NYT's defense of not routinely calling waterboarding "torture", here, in chat with Mike Calderone of Yahoo!   But their argument that they were just adopting a "middle ground" and aware of political conditrions is slammed by many,  including here. Also here.

Bits & Pieces:  New site from Free Press called Corruption Road, on "How Corporate Money and Astro Turf Pollute Media Policy" .... Eric Schlosser urges Senate to pass food safety bill (VIDEO)....  The Guardian Without its immunity, can the Vatican survive? ... Those "FEMA trailers" banned post-Katrina because of formaldehyde now being used for Gulf cleanup workers.  Just "new car smell"? 

Andrew Sullivan vs. Breitbart on offering to pay $100,000 for  JournoList archives,  Breitbart and others hit back, and then Sullivan returns serve, all here.  Don't worry, Palin is involved here somewhere.

If you don't know, Willie Geist -- late of Morning Joe, now on Today -- was the kid in his dad's Little League Confidential memoir.   I later wrote my own book  Joy in Mudville starring my kid.

Paging Samuel L. Jackson:   Falling maggots from overhead bin force a US Airways flight to return to gate.

Fun Contest::  We hope you like the new logo for Media Fix at top of page.  Now, be the first to identify the seven sources of the letters that make up the new MediaFix  (the @ is generic) and win a cool prize!   They all come from major sites or media companies.  Enter in Comments below or mail me at:  epic1934@aol.com

-- MORNING BECOMES ECLECTIC

Nick Kristof  from the West Bank:  "The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable and costly to the country’s image. But one more blunt truth must be acknowledged: the occupation is morally repugnant."  For example there's the question of who gets electricity and who doesn't (guess who).

THIS IS TORTURE  Study finds that media called waterboarding "torture" for decades—until our side started doing it, as Glenn Greenwald notes.    Will Bunch, calling the media on "appalling cowardice,"  has much more here.  

WITHOUT BYRD IN HAND   Senate Dems now one vote short on help for jobless, Harry Reid admits....  Olbermann last night on GOP and average folks: from "voodoo economics" to "screw you economics." ...  Sen. Sharrod Brown -- no recess until jobless benefits passed!  McClatchy with more here.

GETTING HITCH  Longtime Nation columnist Christopher Hitchens canceled book tour amid mystery, then announced yesterday is being treated for cancer of the esophagus.  Best wishes on that.

"HOT" SPY CASE   Media frenzy continues over the alleged Russian espionage agents, but mainly all anyone cares about is the sultry one, as Wash Post piece proves.

KOS AND EFFECT:  Latest fallout on DailyKos vs. its pollster Reearrch 2000 and suggestion that allegedly bogus survey offered false narrative on Arkansas Senate primary, raising false hopes for Bill Halter, producing shockwaves for Democrats when, maybe, Blanche LIncoln had race in bag all along.   Pollster is fighting back hard.

FEINGOLD AND FIN REG  Sen. Feingold on why he is not backing current form of FinReg bill,  which won't see vote in Senate until next week ..... Ezra Klein with wrapups on House passing FinReg. ... NYT shocker: TARP on the way out?  

GORE-SEX?   AP:  Porltand, Ore. police to re-open Al Gore "sex assault" case after another National Enquirer edition.  Gore spokesperson responds.    Dan Abrams on TV today: charges not likely.

BITS & PIECES     Coming Sunday, NYT Mag cover story on the great Mariano Rivera, posted now.... .  Roger Ebert continues his crusade against video games.

OBAMA: GIRL?   Kathleen Parker—newly named CNN co-host—writes today that Obama is the First Female President, and that''s why he is failing. "Obama may prove to be our first male president who pays a political price for acting too much like a woman." Although she notes he is "endowed." 

AFGHAN REALTY   Yesterday's list of U.S. dead in Afghan -- Joseph Caskey, Daane DeBoer, Edwardo  Loredo, Jared Plunk, Robert Repkie, William Richards, Blair Thompson.   And five more today.... My new piece here: "Who'll Be the Last Soldier to 'Die for a Mistake' in Afghan?" And, yes, we know who it was in Vietnam.

PAGING BRUCE WILLIS   We've had fun running a couple of those wacky campaign ads by Alabama's Rick Barber lately (you, he keeps seeing dead people--former U.S. presidents).  Now Chris Matthews has talked to him about this neurosis. Stop making Sixth Sense?  

PULLING A BOEHNER    Gail Collins mocks Scott Brown and John Boehner, and quotes Joe Scarborugh on the latter:  “Every Republican I talk to says John Boehner, by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars. He is not a hard worker."   ...  And at a NYT blog,  David Brooks discusses  with Gail the Weigel and Hastings episodes and his own "balanced" approach to reporting and punditry -- "fuddy duddy" and  "Old Media and proud of it."  It may make you scream.

FOR EMILY,  WHEREVER WE MAY FIND HER   Slate: Sordid sex on Emily DIckinson's couch—while she was upstairs and knew all about it! Yes, it's true.


-- TODAY's LAFF

 The 100 greatest movie insults ever.   You lookin' at me?

 

-- TODAY's MUSIC

As timely now as in the late 1960s-- when it was banned from TV, for awhile -- here's Pete Seeger singing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," though now it might have to be change to "Big Sandy" or "Big Rocky." 

 

Who'll Be The Last Soldier 'To Die for a Mistake' in Afghanistan?

In the midst of weeks of debate  over the economy, jobs, and the deficit, media and public attention have once again drifted from Afghanistan, even as the killing, and the stalemate, go on.   I follow that war more closely than most, and even I cannot recall the president's latest promise or when exactly he is supposed to announce the next step.   Polls show the public is so obsessed with the economy that few call for getting out of our wars as a top priority, even though our military spending is a prime cause for our budget problems.

Yet when the top media commentators or veteran war reporters do discuss the Afghanistan war -- e.g. Dexter Filkins, formerly of The New York Times and now at The New Yorker, on Bill Maher's HBO show last Friday --  they almost always describe it as a lost cause for the U.S., or at least beyond our control.  So I would like to update John Kerry's famous question in 1971: "How do you ask someone to be the last American soldier to die for a mistake?"

This has caused me to wonder: Well, who was the last soldier to die for the Vietnam mistake? And what can we learn from that example in our previous "longest war"?

To my surprise, with a little research, I discovered that there is a consensus on who that individual was. We'll get to his name in a moment, but what's most relevant is that he died almost exactly -- get ready -- five years after that "mistake" was widely acknowledged. How many will die from now until the last American perishes in Afghanistan? Gallup and other polls show that a clear majority of Americans, for about five years now,  have  labeled the current mission in Afghanistan, in its ninth year, a "mistake." 

We are at a haunting juncture in the Afghan war. Forgive me for another "back in the day" reference -- especially since Obama has claimed that "Afghanistan is not Vietnam" -- but I recall very well that the public only turned strongly against the Vietnam conflict with the mass realization that young American lives were not only being lost but truly wasted.

Now, who was that last American to die in Vietnam?

According to Arlington National Cemetery, and numerous other sources, he was Army Lt. Col. William B. Nolde, a 43-year-old father of five. He was killed Jan. 27, 1973, near An Loc -- just 11 hours before the U.S. signed the Paris Peace Accords -- when an artillery shell exploded nearby.

This is how Time magazine reported it the following week:   "The last hours of the Viet Nam War took a cruel human toll. Communist and South Vietnamese casualties ran into the thousands. Four U.S. airmen joined the missing-in-action list when their two aircraft were downed on the last day. Another four Americans were known to have been killed--including Lt. Lieut. Colonel William B. Nolde, 43, of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., who was cut down in an artillery barrage at An Loc only eleven hours before the ceasefire. He was the 45,941st American to have died by enemy action in Viet Nam since 1961."

His Wikipedia entry opens:  "Born in Menominee, Michigan, Nolde was a professor of military science at Central Michigan University before joining the army. As an officer, he served in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War, acting as an adviser to the South Vietnamese forces in the latter. . . .While other Americans lost their lives after the truce was enacted, these were not recorded as combat casualties. During his time in the armed forces, he had accumulated four medals, including the Bronze Star and Legion of Merit."

His full military funeral was so momentous -- it included the same riderless horse that accompanied President Kennedy's coffin -- it was covered on the front page of The New York Times on Feb. 6, 1973. That story began: "The Army buried one of its own today, Bill Nolde. And with him, it laid to rest--symbolically, at least--its years of torment in Vietnam."

How many more years of torment and wasted lives remain in Afghanistan?

Greg Mitchell's latest book, his 12th,  is Atomic Cover-up.

Wednesday DAYBOOK: Kathleen Parker on Obama as First Girl President—and More Afternoon Updates!

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 tweets. E-mail: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size hit the middle "A" above right.

AFTERNOON UPDATES

Kathleen Parker—newly named CNN co-host—writes today that Obama is the First Female President, and that''s why he is failing. "Obama may prove to be our first male president who pays a political price for acting too much like a woman." Although she notes he is "endowed."  

Glenn Greenwald: Study finds that media called waterboarding "torture" for decades—until our side started doing it.  And more on media "servitude"... Meanwhile, Joe Klein interrupts his vacation to attack Greenwald,  for hitting his pal, Jeffrey Goldberg, and ends up suggesting Glenn is  "a twisted, deluded soul." Of course, Klein has long been ripped by Glenn in his own right—and expect more of same later today.

Sen. Feingold on why he is not backing current form of FinReg bill.

Slate: Sordid sex on Emily DIckinson's couch—while she was upstairs and knew all about it! Yes, it's true.

My new piece here: "Who'll Be the Last Soldier to 'Die for a Mistake' in Afghan?" And, yes, we know who it was in Vietnam.

Hurricane Alex may actually help the gulf oil situation, and probably won't hurt it in any case.

-- WEDNESDAY ON THE LINKS 

Full wrapup on the Kagan hearings at Talking Points Memo, with conclusion: "She sailed through," even though Sen. Jeff "Not In" Sessions basically called her a liar over and over. Fun revelation about Jews like her tending to spend Christmas Day in Chinese restaurants... She'll  join Roberts Court already super-activist, despite GOP denials.

Tweet of the Day from Stephen Colbert: "Why does looking at animals covered in oil make me sad, but looking at animals covered in oil and deep-fried make me hungry?" He also has more serious take on BP making light of disaster.

Rolling Stone brought  war home—Afghanistan tops survey of news coverage 1st time in 7 months... Petraeus in hearings Tuesday claimed he backed Obama's plan/hope to withdraw troops next July but flexible on that. Also, might loosen rules of engagement—so Afghan civilians, beware.

Birther control: New CBS poll finds one in four Americans believe Obama born outside the USA, but NYT's Ross Douthat says, Aw, they don't really mean that, nothing to see here. Also he takes heart from the fact that many of these people simply don't know that Hawaii is one of our fifty states.

STIMULATION NATION  Dave Leonhardt: This is no time to stop stimilus spending, private sector not ready to pick up load.

BREITBART OR BLACK BART?  Andrew Breitbart puts a $100,000 bounty on archives for Ezra Klein’s (now closed) liberal list-serv, the one that got Dave Weigel in trouble (and Dave then wrote a mea culpa for Breitbart's site). But even if someone wanted to help him, might be a little difficult to get at.

WARNING TO MSNBC FANS  Network has just hired Mark Halperin as senior poltiical analyst, meaning he'll be on all the campaign panels with Keith, Rachel, Chris, Pat...

DEMS HAVE NO ENERGY?  They compromise and compromise on climate bill  and still getting nada from the GOP.   Also still struggling on Fin Reg.

KING ABDICATES  Larry King announces retirement (but will he stick to withdrawal timetable?)  The last time I was on his show it was, to say the least, memorable: seated next to man who dropped the A-bomb on Nagasaki, one of the crimes of the century.

JON ON BUSH-WHACKING  Stewart tackles Fox News and others complaining about Democrats blaming everything on Bush—by showing how same folks blame everything on Clinton, even today. Also Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon figures in it.

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KOS AND EFFECT  Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos going after his longtime pollster Research 2000 for allegedly producing fraudulent results. When FiveThirtyEight put in its two cents, the pollster sent a cease and desist letter, which Nate Silver says he will ignore.

PALIN's DUTCH TREAT  Eureka! Sarah Palin gets a Reagan fact very wrong, at a college no less. Meanwhile, a candidate in Nevada she helped inspire, Sharron Angle finally sits down with prominent media guy in Nevade to defend her wackiness and walk back of her views, such need for insurrections against Obama.

FOOLS RUSSIAN  Those arrested suburban "spies" seem more out of The Russians Are Coming than a great cold war thriller. What secrets were sending home from, say, Montclair?  Perhaps the location of David Carr's backyard grill there.

PENTAGON TURNS JAPANESE?  Marc Ambinder:  "What used to be known in warfighting as 'psychological operations'—or 'psyops'—will formally be known to the Pentagon as 'Military Information Support Operations'—or MISO—pronounced,  Miso, as in the soup."

DC CONFIDENTIAL  Jay Rosen: "Did you know the Washington Post's rules on confidential sources are themselves confidential? Ombud can't link to them."

-- TODAY's LAFF

It's only June and we've already featured half a dozen wacky ad spots/videos for GOP candidates, and no surprise, most come from Alabama or Arizona. Here's the latest from gun-toting a Mama Grizzly from Arizona. Aw, shoot.

 

-- TODAY's MUSIC

More true today than ever: This ain't no party, this ain't no disco.

 

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