Greg Mitchell | The Nation

Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Andrew Bacevich, His Lost Son, and Obama's War in Afghanistan

With each passing month, it seems, Andrew Bacevich gains more fans and influence--and turns ever more critical of President Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan.   Until four years ago, Bacevich was best known as a professor and author, a self-described "conservative Catholic" --  Vietnam veteran, career military officer, West Point instructor.  Since then, he has appeared widely on top newspaper op-ed pages, and on network and cable programs (Bill Moyers was an especially ardent  admirer), and authored three major books, most recently Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War.   He teaches at Boston University.

Today at The New Republic he has produced perhaps his hardest shot at Obama, his administration's lack of "moral core"  and the war in Afghanistan.  Long a critic of George Bush's war in Iraq, today he writes,  "Obama doesn’t want to be in Afghanistan any more than Benjamin Netanyahu wants to be in the West Bank. Yet like the Israeli prime minister, the president lacks the guts to get out. It’s all so complicated. There are risks involved. Things might go wrong. There’s an election to think about.  So the war continues." 

You should read the entire piece but consider for now his conclusion:  "The question demands to be asked: Who is more deserving of contempt? The commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes? Or the commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?"

I suppose this is a variation on a piece I wrote for this blog two weeks ago asking who would be the last American to "die for a mistake" in Afghanistan (and identifying exactly who that was in Vietnam).   But I think it is relevant to recall at this point one essential and tragic element that makes Bacevich a particularly expert and poignant spokesman on this subject:  His own son was killed in Iraq in 2007.

I mention this because Bacevich has reached so many new people in the past couple years and I presume many, or most, do not know about his son's death, especially since Bacevich rarely if ever mentions it in his writings today (as far as I've seen).     1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, 27, of  Walpole, Mass., died May 13, 2007, in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat patrol operations.

But I'd caution anyone who wants to draw to straight a line between this personal loss and Bacevich's views about the current conflict in Afghanistan.  Even before his son died, he was writing about other lives being lost, most notably in a  piece for the Washington Post -- exactly four years ago tomorrow -- titled "What's an Iraqi's Life Worth? " 

He wrote, "Who bears responsibility for these Iraqi deaths? The young soldiers pulling the triggers? The commanders who establish rules of engagement that privilege 'force protection' over any obligation to protect innocent life? The intellectually bankrupt policymakers who sent U.S. forces into Iraq in the first place and now see no choice but to press on?"   

And:  "Unless we demonstrate by our actions that we value their lives as much as the lives of our own troops, our failure is certain."

Finally, take a look at another Bacevich op-ed for The Washington Post, from May 27, 2008:  "I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose."   Bacevich closes with this: "I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought I was doing the same. In fact, while he was giving his all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him." 

DAYBOOK for Thursday: A CNN Firing, McCain Hits Kagan, Carell and Colbert Re-Unite

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.


Updates on CNN's firing of longtime top staffer Octavia Nasr over a tweet:  former CNN host Daryn Kagan defends her, and at legnth Glenn Greenwald attacks move.  Greenwald: "Within this episode lies several important lessons about media "objectivity'  and how the scope of permissible views is enforced."

AP reveals that it held back reporting news on terror plot against U.S., coming out of Norway, for two weeks. 

Andrew Bacevich on Obama's lack of a "moral" core, plus:  "Obama doesn’t want to be in Afghanistan any more than Benjamin Netanyahu wants to be in the West Bank. Yet like the Israeli prime minister, the president lacks the guts to get out. It’s all so complicated. There are risks involved. Things might go wrong.  So the war continues."   See my new piece on Bacevich here.  

Turn lemons into lemonade?    So says GOP/Tea Party candidate  vs. Harry Reid in Nevada in opposing abortions in all cases, even when teen raped by father.    Huff Post has audio.

Remember that popular YouTube video of Israelis dancing in the streets?   Andrew Sullivan:  "It sure was a fun video. But a little context makes it less so. The street in Hebron they were dancing on is restricted to Jewish settlers, who make up just one percent of the town's population. The Palestinians who live on the street cannot leave their homes through the front doors because the Israeli occupiers welded their doors shut in 2000. Here's a video from B-Tselem showing how one woman has to clamber across a rooftop just to leave her house. She also claims she is the object of relentless harassment by the settlers, subsidized by you and me."



CNN drops respected Middle East senior editor and reporter Octavia Nasr after she tweets that she had some respect for  Hezbollah leader Fadlallah who passed away.  She later apologized, saying she had foolishly tried to express something in 140 characters that is much too complex for that -- and she is in fact critical of much of what the leader did and stood for.  Don't miss very complex Foreign Policy look at Fadallah which happened to run just this past Tuesday.

Andy Borowitz: "BP Says Oil in Gulf Must be Changed Every Six Months."   I'd add: Or every 3000 miles of drifting.

John McCain is latest Republican to say he is voting against confirming Elena Kagan. McCain says he will not vote for Kagan because of her decision to bar military recruiters on campus.  This is the same man who found Sarah Palin qualified to be president.  An opinion piece outlining McCain's decision is printed in today's USA Today.

We've run  a couple of vintage "Even Steven / Stephen" segments from "The Daily Show" lately but could hardly imagine that we'd see a reprise last night when Carell returned to the Colbert show for a great mutual mockfest.  Video:   

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Steve Carell
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News



The Left and Obama: Eric Alterman with massive accounting of the "Kabuki." .  Peter Daou on the Left's growing "civil war" over Obama.  

Leukemia patient in Colorado says insurance company held up payment because she owed them -- one penny.

IRAQ ROLLED?  Andrew Sullivan this morning:  "Two days, two sectarian bombings that killed close to 60 people and wounded hundreds of others. If this had happened in any other country, it would be dominating the news cycle. There is still no post-sectarian government in Iraq and no sign of one either."

AZ DOES IT FOR OBAMA  The White House finally speaks to base voters: Robert  Gibbs says Obama thinks lawsuit against AZ law is "right" thing to do. 

LOST KOS  Markos Moulitsas, the Daily Kos founder, reveals that he has been blackballed from appearing on MSNBC for now at the urging of Joe Scarborough.   Markos allegedly went too far in a tweet  not long ago.

BRISTOL STOMP   Gail Collins has some fun with Levi Johnston and his partial "apology" to the Palins, and the mother of his child making a buck off it herself.... Sarah Palin  with new video hailing a "Mom Awakeeing" juxtaposed with Tea Party scenes. 

TWAIN MEETS.... JIM LEHRER PBS NewsHour offered first look at new Mark Twain ms. to be published, on the subject of journalism, no less. Much more at that link including video of the essay being read.   Did Twain and Will Rogers ever meet? Would love to have transcript of that chat.

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?   To get to California? Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed a historic "egg bill" which requires that starting in 2015, all shell (whole) eggs sold in California must come from hens who were able to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure. 

 BITS & PIECESThe Daily Show's Olivia Munn joins defense of show not being "sexist" ....  George Will somehow connects 1920s Prohibition to today's "ambitious" gov't attempts to "improve" people....  Huff Post has bought Pollster.com to "beef up" election year coverage.... TPM catches Sen. Vitter lying, hooker, line and sinker. ... TIME's Alex Parry latest bigtime journo to totally lose it in the face of criticism (we were among first)


American Idol reject Krista Branch records Tea Party anthem, titled "I Am America" -- same name as the bestselling Stephen Colbert book.  It's for sale on iTunes and promoted by Glenn Beck yesterday.   Yes, she and supporters are "taking names" awaiting  "Judgment Day."


With the Doug Liman film starring Naomi Watts coming soon, we thought you might enjoy The Decemberists'  "Valerie Plame" single, here performed solo by the group's Colin Meloy. 



DAYBOOK for Wednesday: Obama's War, Colbert's Job Program, BP's Leak

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.


Peter Beinert, who has been doing great work on Israel the past few weeks,  writes today that Obama got "rolled" by Bibi in chat yesterday. And Dana Milbank offers this amazing assessment: "Obama came to office with an admirable hope of reviving Middle East peace efforts by appealing to the Arab world and positioning himself as more of an honest broker. But he has now learned the painful lesson that domestic politics won't allow such a stand."

Best news of day: BBC reports that drinking several cups of coffee or tea a day cuts heart disease risk.

John McCain is latest Republican to say they are voting against confirming  Elena Kagan. McCain says he will not vote for Kagan because of her decision to bar military recruiters.  An opinion piece outlining McCain's decision will be printed in tomorrow's USA Today.

The White House finally speaks to base voters: Gibbs says Obama thinks lawsuit against AZ law is "right" thing to do: http://bit.ly/cgCoUr

Jon Stewart on GOPers cutting off benefits for unemployed fearing handouts make them lazy: "The gravy train is over! Well, not so much gravy as the ketchup-packet soup train.”

Details on MIchael Hastings's  book deal from The Guardian.  

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to California? Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed a historic "egg bill" which requires that starting in 2015, all shell (whole) eggs sold in California must come from hens who were able to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure.

Andy Borowitz:  "BP Says Oil in Gulf Must be Changed Every Six Months."   I'd add: Or every 3000 miles of drifting.


New (bad) landmark: Oil from Gulf leak finally reaches Lake Pontchartrain. Also today: AP with report on gulf hosting 27,000 abandoned wells.

Stephen Colbert promoting United Farm Workers "Take Our Jobs" campaign which, slightly tongue-in-cheek, reveals they are tired of Americans complaining that immigrants are stealing their jobs: "So farm workers are offering up a day of work in the field. Experienced field workers will train legal Americans to harvest seasonal goods in states like Florida and California." Line forms at the right. 

Rachel Maddow reported from Kabul last night (with tape from Kandahar), raising issues about why we are still there and is it worth it?  Here's 11-minute key video… Would you risk your life for a gallon or two of gasoline? Check out this photo from Afghanistan.

HELL AND THOMAS  Politico looks at wife of Clarence Thomas and her work for pro-Tea Party group—which has raised money for secret sources (surely they are not trying to curry favor for SCOTUS?)

WAR ON ERROR  In "The Crux of our Endless War on Terror, " Glenn Greenwald returns to recent confirmations by Leon Panetta and others about Afghanistan: "All of this ongoing war and those hundreds of billions of dollars spent and those deaths and the decade of occupation, and those bombings and shootings and drone attacks and lawless prisons and habeas-stripping court precedents: it's all (ostensibly) for a few hundred extremists total hiding in remote tribal areas. A few hundred. "

KING JAMES VERSION  Will  Bunch tweets: "Knicks to announce Thursday: Lebron James as a 'recess appointment,' bypassing NBA confirmation rules." My view: LeBron will announced he replacing on TV either Larry King or Steve Carell plus paying all those lapsed unemployment benefits for all through Labor Day. 

GET "MAD" AND GET EVEN  Can't wait for the July 25 debut of Mad Men? Our friends at JibJab have unleashed a tool that you put yourself and your friends in the series as characters. 

ISSA FOR REAL?  Former Bill Maher fave, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, anointed Obama's "annoyer-in-chief."  His jet-black Congressional hair is "brilliantly in place and perfectly stagnant."

THE BP GAME  Yes, as ProPublica notes, there was a 1970 BP offshore drilling board game. One result:  "Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean-up costs. Pay $1 million." 

DAVID NO GOLIATH  My new piece here on when cowardly Brooks failed "the Palin test" when it really counted—during the 2008 campaign.

SUNNY SIDE WAY UP  NYT writers cook tuna on baking sidewalk in NY, try to fry the proverbial egg, don't quite succeed.

BE MY BIBI  McClatchy: More on Obama and Bibi patching up differences (in public)—is this a helpful or hurtful sign? 

HANNAH AND HER SITTERS?  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.

THEY ALWAYS BLAME BARACK  Andy Borowitz:  "BREAKING: Michael Steele Says All His Idiotic Comments Were Actually Made by Obama."  Or that Muppet character that Jon Stewart keeps showing?

BITS & PIECES   Update on Daily Show women defending show from Jezebel attack…  Alvin Greene, that upset Dem winner in S. Carolina race, has idea on how to create jobs in his state: produce Alvin Greene "action figures"… Roger Ebert: Do you value a good video game over Huckleberry Finn?…  Should Andrew Brietbart's new site Big Peace instead been called Big Piece of Work? 


 The Onion has launched a new video series, more costly than anything it has done—and also, it will cost you, via iTunes.  But here's the free trailer looking ahead to the year 2137. 


Fun parody of OK Go viral videos, via Babelgum.  "Giant Pie" supposedly took 36 months to shoot.... took weeks alone to decide on the fillings for the pie....


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.


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.



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%....


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--."




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.


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..... 



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.


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.


 A wrapup of the Kagan hearings from The Daily Show

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



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.


"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." 


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.


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.  



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.

Syndicate content