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Monday, March 31, 2008

Hagel's theory

Sen. Chuck Hagel -- who has often been all talk and no action on Iraq -- guested on The Daily Show tonight and as usual said all the right things about the war, especially for a GOPer. Interesting moment: He said he hadn't endorsed anyone for president, not even his "good friend" and fellow Viet vet John McCain. Is it possible he will sit it out or back a Dem?

The day Iraq became Vietnam?

My post at Huff Post today (it's been on the home page there all day) looking back exactly five years ago and a picture in The New York Times of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with -- Robert McNamara -- just as it became apparent that the Iraqis were not greeting us with open hearts and flowers.

A penny for your thoughts -- and 50 Cent for Obama

Now we know he has it wrapped up--Obama has gotten 50 Cent to come down off the Hill and switch to him. CNN reports: "Hillary Clinton appears to have lost a high-profile backer to rival Barak Obama. Rapper 50 Cent, who told Time last September he was supporting the New York senator's White House bid, now says he has decided to shift his allegiance to Obama. The multi-platinum star, born Curtis Jackson, told MTV that Obama's recent speech on race was the deciding factor for his decision. 'I heard Obama speak,' he said. 'He hit me with that he-just-got-done-watching-Malcolm X, and I swear to God, I'm like, Yo, Obama! I'm Obama to the end now, baby!'"

Bush booed at baseball opener

I remember a couple of years ago when the Washington Post described a similar scene and said something like "cheers mixed with so me boos." By then, online video had arrived, and people could readily see that it was really "boos, mixed with a few cheers." There should be no such doubt based on last night's reception:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A gay hero soldier and the 'Wash Post'

The paper's ombud takes up the question (raised by blogs and The Washington Blade) of why the Post refused to mention that a recent casualty in Iraq was quite well-known as gay -- in fact, according to some, he was the "first openly gay" soldier killed in the war. Here's the linky:

Obama takes double-digit lead in Gallup

And we don't mean Gallup, New Mexico....It's the first time he has reached the 10% in-front-in- Gallup Poll number ever...It's 52%-42%...

Remember when McCain ripped Michael Moore at GOP convention?

I forgot about this until today. Naturally, I sat down to scribble something about it. You remember: Moore was covering 2004 confab in NYC for USA Today and McCain denounced him from podium, and GOP delegates turned Mike in the gallery, pointed and booed, etc., and he soon exited. Here is my thing at Huff Post:

Sunday transcendence

As is our tradition, here is more Beethoven: the extraordinary 3rd movement of opus 135, just a small part of the late string quartets which some consider the peak of Western music...Written at the end of Beethoven's life, when he was stone deaf, and never performed in his lifetime. Then again: He wouldn't have been able to hear it. But you can. Think about that for a minute.

4,000 died for this?

Great column today by our friend Joe Galloway on Cheney saying not so bad that our guys died because, hey, they volunteered (see link below). Of course, even the facts are wrong -- none of those National Guard people over there signed up for this....Also, a truly depressing column in NYT by Tony Cordesman. I've already quoted from some remarks he made a couple of days ago but now he has fleshed them out -- basically Sahr is bad but the Maliki government may be just as bad or worse. Note: It is the latter for which our guys and gals have perished.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'L.A. Times' reviews my book

First big city newspaper review, though short, by Richard Rayner on Sunday: "Mitchell's book, an annotated collection of pieces that he's written for Editor & Publisher over the last five years, has a big central polemic: 'This book explores how the media helped get us into Iraq and then for many years did not do enough to point the way out.' The media helped dig the hole, Mitchell says, and his argument works best and feels most forceful when he gets into the gritty particulars of the stuff that has gone underreported in these last years. He details, for instance, the ins and outs of the blood money paid to Iraqis who lose family members in non-combat situations, and tells the story of Basam Ridha, the holder of an engineering degree (and a former actor who appeared in the George Clooney film ) who now plans high-level executions back in Iraq. Much of this has a surreal 'Catch-22' feel but, of course, Mitchell's not making it up."

Famous blue raincoat

Leonard Cohen, amazingly (at his age) has announced a lengthy tour of native Canada, then Europe (even to Turkey), and then the U.S. Here is one of his greatest songs, with his best band, late 1970s:

Razing McCain

Will Bunch at his Attytood blog stops in at the annual gathering of liberal bloggers in Philly organized by Duncan Black of the Eschaton/Atrios blog. They are hopping mad about the media loving John McCain -- you might call it "dire straits" talk -- and plan to do something about it.

Bush confesses all to Oprah!

I just put up a diary at DailyKos, adapted from my book, in which I take the actual transcript of fake memoirist James Frey's 2006 confession on Oprah and put the words pretty much in George W. Bush's mouth as he admits he was making up that stuff about Saddam's WMD....this was actually a fantasy proposed by some pundits at the time but I actually put it in print. Enjoy:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Beethoven and Iraq

An antiwar slide show to one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, Beethoven's "Cavatina."

Kagan rhymes with "not again"

To certain media watchers (i.e., me) nothing is more maddening than the fact that "experts" or "pundits" who are always, or nearly always, wrong on Iraq keep getting trotted out by cable news, leading op-ed pages and even PBS talk shows (Charlie Rose) and treated as if they actually deserve broad respect. Few fit the bill as well as that whale of a fellow, Fred Kagan, an author of the surge. Glenn Greenwald has a delicious post -- scroll down a bit in the link -- on Kagan's latest buffoonery, declaring the "civil war in Iraq" is completely over early this week, only to be followed by ample evidence that it is, well, not.

Got my 'MoJo' working again

New article by yours truly up at Mother Jones site on media's general willingness to re-assess and point fingers at everyone on the 5th anniversary of war -- everyone except themselves...

It's the thought that counts...

Farfetched, but you can dream: Time magazine writer wonders if Fox News is toast if the Dems sweep this year....

Casey at the bat

A big, and surprising, endorsement for Obama in the key Keystone State (where my mom was born and raised), via Marc Ambinder at theatlantic.com, and now the Veep talk with begin for this working-class/anti-abortion hero: "Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of Barack Obama is obviously a shock to Sen. Clinton's campaign. (I'd note that Obama has picked up a total of three superdelegates since last week, to Clinton's zero). Casey is a freshman Senator; his father, former governor Bob Casey Sr., was so popular among white working class Dems that pundits have named an entire class of voters in his honor: the Casey Democrats who live in the inner suburbs of Pennsylvania's cities, who are wary of liberal social views but very sensitive to economic conditions. Obama begins a six-day bus tour in Pittsburgh today."

A new lease on (Second) Life....

A podcast based on my "virtual" appearance last night is now available. Video to follow soon. Scroll down here:

The Bosnia brouhaha

Here is TPM's timeline on the Clinton escapade, and now please, let it be over:

My so-called Second Life

Just did my first Second Life, or as used to call it Virtual Life, thing for the book, with Jimbo Hoyer. Beyond the strangeness (my avatar was pretty buff, I must say) it was like so many bookstore readings of my past -- only about 20 people showed up but the questions were good and the buzz was fine. Some looked like Jimi Hendrix, complete with guitar but maybe without the drug habit. Unlike bookstore things, you don't know if anyone bought any books and I certainly didn't sign any. There was supposed to be an "after party" but it didn't seem to happen, although music was in the air and people complained about the selections. I was a little curious about virtual dancing but maybe next time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iraq explodes again, not exactly a shock

Success seems to be "surging" in the wrong direction now, and will our media be blamed again for misleading readers/viewers? Time will tell. Andrew Sullivan quotes from article by Tony Cordesman who has seen it all and is no dove. He's the national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and now offers his take on the violent power struggles now unfolding in Iraq: "Much of the current coverage of the fighting in the south assumes that Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadr militia are the 'spoilers,' or bad guys, and that the government forces are the legitimate side and bringing order. This can be a dangerous oversimplification."

Dang me, hang me

Looking through the old email bag today, spotted this one, calling for my death, in response to a recent E&P column, from a "Will" from Raleigh, N.C. Spelling mistakes left as they were, poor guy: "Greg Mitchell is an imbicile. He is a sheep. Just because 60% of the american public thinks Iraq was a mistake doesn't mean it's right. I despise people who can't fathom that the US is in a difficult position in fighting terror. Terrorism is everywhere! I guess we should have never gone to the middle east and just sat back and waited for another attack. People like Greg Mitchell should be hung for treason and for betraying their fellow americans. It's soft, gutless individuals like Greg that make us a target in the first place. It's also people like Greg who will complain all day long about the solutions being implemened but consistely fail to come to the table with alternatives. It's also people like Greg who's narrow minds fail to understand that the terrorists and extremist group in the middle east have no use for diplomacy. They don't want to talk or reason, they want to kill. Pacifists like Greg will help them be successful. Get a spine Greg!"

I get a 'Second Life'

Forget NPR, the "NewsHour," Rachel Maddow, Salon, Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, TPM -- now this is a book promotion to get excited about. I've often been told to "get a life" and tonight it happens, as I make my first appearance in Second Life. It's all happening at 9 p.m. ET and I guess you can learn more at the link below. It's the "Virtually Speaking" show with "Jimbo Hoyer." They are still working on my avatar -- at last check I still looked like a young Jan-Michael Vincent. Hey, don't mess with that!

Diddy or didn't he?

From the AP today: "The Los Angeles Times apologized for using documents that were apparently fabricated in a story implicating associates of Sean 'Diddy' Combs in a 1994 assault on rapper Tupac Shakur. 'The bottom line is that the documents we relied on should not have been used,' Editor Russ Stanton said in a story posted Wednesday night on the newspaper's Web site. 'We apologize both to our readers and to those referenced in the documents ... and in the story.' Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Chuck Philips, who wrote the story, and his supervisor, Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin, also apologized. The apologies followed an investigation launched by Stanton after The Smoking Gun Web site reported earlier in the day that the paper was conned by a prisoner who doctored the documents."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hiding in McCain's sites

Josh Marshall at TPM wonders why the Democrats don't stop bashing each other and go after McCain on the war...

Just stop everything and follow this link

Glenn Greenwald (see my post down below) over at Salon has put up the video of the shattering appearance of two Iraqis on Charlie Rose's show last night -- which disrupted the media's surge-is-working narrative, along with his excerpts and analysis. Plus, equally startling bits from Peter Jennings long-forgotten ABC interviews with a different pair of Iraqis in the midst of Shock and Awe five years ago.

The Wright stuff

A stirring defense of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the man -- and ex-Marine, among other things -- from the much-respected Martin E. Marty in the Chronicle of Higher Education (via Andrew Sullivan):

Gallup only confirms the obvious

Much angst in the liberal blogosphere today over a new Gallup poll finding that 28% of Hillary backers claim they would vote for McCain in November if Obama is nominated. Wow, what a shocker. If I have said it once, I have said it a dozen times: Racism still exists, folks, and there are plenty of people still not ready to vote for a black president (and they felt that way before the Rev. Wright brouhaha). Get used to it. I'm no Ed Rendell fan, but he has been crucified with simply stating the obvious: that some whites in Pennsylvania will not vote for an African-American. Too true. And some men -- and women -- won't vote for a woman.

Hillary was right about her claims of gunfire in Bosnia...

Some people have a little fun with it....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My chat with Glenn Greenwald

I was a fan of Glenn Greenwald way he got his own blog at Salon and wrote two bestselling books (a third is coming out in a couple of weeks). He gave me a blurb for my book and wrote about it again at his blog a few days ago. Here's what he wrote plus a link to a podcast for Salon that we did (sound quality is shaky at first but improves greatly): "Speaking of crucial political topics that have received virtually no attention from the establishment press, Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher, has just released a new book covering one of the most significant and under-reported topics of the last decade: the profound failures of the establishment press with regard to the Iraq War. Mitchell's book -- So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits and the President Failed on Iraq -- is one of the very few historical accounts of the media's role in actively enabling both the invasion and the tidal wave of government falsehoods regarding the subsequent occupation. I spoke with Mitchell regarding several of the topics in his book, which can be heard here."

Maybe the media will have to cover the war again

From The New York Times: "Heavy fighting broke out Tuesday in two of Iraq's largest cities, as Iraqi ground forces and helicopters mounted a huge operation to break the grip of the Shiite militias controlling Basra, and Iraqi forces clashed with militias in Baghdad. The fighting threatened to destabilize a long-term truce that had helped reduce the level of violence in the five-year-old Iraq war. The battles, along with indications in recent weeks that militia and insurgent attacks had already been creeping up, raised fears across Iraq that Moktada al-Sadr, the renegade Shiite cleric, could pull out of a cease-fire he declared last summer. If his Mahdi Army militia does step up attacks, that could in turn slow American troop withdrawals."

May he stay, forever Young

Kind of a thrill that a leading Neil Young site picked up on my much-reprinted "Unsung Heroes" of Iraq war protest piece. When my original column about Neil, now in my book, came out, the guy who played trumpet on the Living With War CD wrote me a nice note. Now here is what the site says, followed by the link to what they, and I, wrote: "As we enter the 6th year of the Iraq war with 4,000 U.S. soldiers and thousands of innocent Iraqi's dead, Mitchell's book arrives at a particularly relevant moment to look back at who was wrong -- but just as importantly -- who was right about the fiasco. Among those who Mitchell credits as right on Iraq is Neil Young." http://www.thrasherswheat.org/2008/03/unsung-heroes-of-iraq-war-coverage.html

Hillary, wrong and Wright

Still reeling from her fibs about her super-hazardous 1996 diplomatic mission, Clinton battled back by telling Richard Scaife's Pittsburgh paper that she would have left church if her pastor had turned out to be a Rev. Wright. Then she repeated it at a press conference: “I was asked a personal question and I responded as to what I would have done… and I feel very comfortable with that. I don’t think that’s negative.” An Obama campaign aide shoots back: "It’s disappointing to see Hillary Clinton’s campaign sink to this low in a transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia."

Getting the war wrong means never having to say you're sorry...

I have a new column up at E&P exploring the deafening silence on the war after five years/4000 deaths from pundits, such as David Brooks and Bill Kristol, who got it so wrong. Funny, they both were rewarded with prestigious NYT gigs. Or not so funny.

Fred Thompson: Goin' Hollywood again -- back where he belongs

From AP: " After a failed run for president, Fred Thompson is getting back to pretending to be commander in chief. Hollywood's high-powered William Morris Agency announced this week that it has signed the actor/politician, signaling a return to the screen for the former senator from Tennessee. Thompson dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Jan. 22."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Surge to nowhere?

From the usually reliable McClatchy bureau in Baghdad comes this chilling headline today: Is 'success' of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel? Of course, Sadr is involved. Read all about it, if you dare:

My 'NewsHour' appearance tonight

It's up at the PBS site in audio and transcript form...I presume video to follow...You be the judge of what I said, along with the three others: an L.A. Times foreign editor, a Pew director and an ABC correspondent who reported from Iraq. In any case, I am grateful for the expanding coverage of past couple days (NPR, PBS, Amy Goodman), exposure for the sometimes strong points that I want to make, and sales which have the book at a surprisingly high position at Amazon.

A Bunch of trouble for Hillary

My friend Will Bunch helped make news today when Sen. Clinton visited the Philadelphia Daily News (where he works and blogs at Attytood) and Philly Inquirer seeking their editorial nod. Let him tell the start of the story, then follow the link: "Earlier this afternoon, Sen. Hillary Clinton came to the Daily News and Inquirer building here in Philadelphia -- where she's seeklng the Daily News editorial board endorsement -- and I had a chance to ask her about a controversy that's increasingly dogged her campaign the last few days: Whether she misrepresented the danger of her March 1996 trip to a U.S. military base in Bosnia in an effort to boost her foreign policy credentials.

"Clinton acknowleged today for the first time that it was a 'misstatement' when she said in a major prepared foreign policy speech last week that 'I remember landing under sniper fire' but also tried to brush off the entire issue as 'a minor blip.' She also gave a revised account of her airplane landing and her tarmac greeting at the Tuzla Air Force base 12 years ago -- seeking to explain a picture re-published this weekend in the Washington Post showing her and daughter Chelsea calmly greeting an 8-year-old girl.


I'm on Jim Lehrer show tonight...and more

Will be interviewed live on the PBS "NewsHour" tonight about Iraq and the media and my book, with a couple other journalists....My "Democracy Now" appearance this morning available (see below) in every possible form you could want: video, audio, transcript, mp3, DVD and more....and the NPR "On the Media" special is online at www.onthemedia.org.

Cheney on 4000 dead: Sympathy for Bush, military families -- not so much

From the lead to the ABC News online summary of its latest interview segment with the Veep: "In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney was asked what effect the grim milestone of at least 4,000 U.S. deaths in the five-year Iraq war might have on the nation. Noting the burden placed on military families, the vice president said the biggest burden is carried by President George W. Bush, and reminded the public that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan volunteered for duty."

Every picture tells a story....

From Nico Pitney at Huffington Post, a mosaic using the faces of 4000 dead in Iraq in hopes that perhaps Bush and Cheney will some day "face" the music. He notes that some photos are repeated when a picture was not available. Unfortunately, even this image will very soon be out of date, if it isn't already.

How candidates keep winning re-election

In this witty parody of drug commercials, they do it by taking pills that keep them going -- or keep voters from waking up...

Grin and Colbert it...

With the death toll rising in Iraq, as the economy sinks in the USA, you might need a bit of cheer. Here is about eight minutes of Stephen Colbert's classic Bush- and media-bashing at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006. His routine was so caustic the only thing they could think to do to atone was to invite Rich Little as the guest the following year -- and nearly everyone thought he had passed away long ago.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

U.S. Iraq toll hits 4000-- and attacks on Green Zone "surge"

It's not on AP yet but MSNBC reports tonight: "Four U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb blast in southern Baghdad late Sunday, raising the death toll for American forces since start of the war to 4,000, according to the Pentagon. The grim milestone was reached less than a week after the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion to topple former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and coincided with a spate of violence across Iraq on Sunday that left at least 61 people dead. The attacks included rockets and mortars fired at Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone and a suicide car bomb detonated at an Iraqi army post in the northern city of Mosul."

And The New York Times observes in passing (as my wife discovered) in a story on the rising violence elsewhere in Iraq: "Two children in Baquba, a 10 year old and an 8 year old, also died on Sunday. They were playing on a street, as children do, when a homemade bomb hidden under some garbage detonated, killing them instantly. When authorities reached the scene, the security official said, all that they found were pieces of the children’s bodies."

More radio/TV appearances around new book...

I'm now set for "Democracy Now" on Monday morning. The NPR "On the Media" program aired all weekend but is still up at www.onthemedia.org. More to come this week, stay "tuned." As we speak, the book is #1 on Amazon's "Journalism" sales chart, #2 on "Iraq War" and "Media and Society." UPDATE: You can read transcript and/or listen to the Democracy Now 20-minute segment at:

McCain helped give us....Chalabi

From Bob Drogin's L.A. Times report today: "In 1998, he was among the cosponsors of the Iraq Liberation Act. The law set 'regime change' in Baghdad as U.S. policy and mandated support to opposition groups seeking to overthrow the dictator. Among the major beneficiaries was the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based exile group headed by Ahmed Chalabi.

"The CIA had initially sponsored the group but broke with the controversial leader in 1997, saying he could not be trusted. Under the new law, Chalabi's group received almost $33 million from the State Department, until U.S. officials found financial improprieties and ended the arrangement. ...Asked by The Times this month if he regretted backing the 1998 law, which produced few discernible results other than bolstering Chalabi, McCain said he did not. Chalabi, though initially touted by neoconservatives as a future leader of Iraq, failed to garner significant support in elections."

Sunday transcendence

Continuing our weekly much-needed Beethoven break, here is Daniel Barenboim (great hero in bringing Israelis and Palenstinians together), who just performed what have been called the "concerts of the century" in London, playing first part of the immortal "Appassionata":

Media to blame? Polls show public was badly misinformed on eve of war, 5 years ago

We've just posted a piece over at E&P that looks back at any article we ran exactly five years ago by Ari Berman, then an intern with us. He studied the prewar polls which showed that most Americans, when we went to war, believed Saddam helped plan 9/11 or that Iraqi hijackers were part of it -- and that WMD had already been found in Iraq in recent weeks. Here is link:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bush: a "comma" or a "coma"?

I have a new post up at Huffington Post, with four more U.S. troops killed in Iraq and the 4000th approaching, about Bush's notion of calling the whole Iraq tragedy "a comma, not a period" in our history. The expression can be traced back to...comedy spouse Gracie Allen????

The unofficial 'Stop-Loss' film trailer

Two guys who worked on the much-anticipated Iraq/soldier film opening next week made this trailer:

Carville calls Richardson "Judas"

James Carville on Bill R's endorsement of Obama: “An act of betrayal...Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Is John McCain the new "Baghdad Bob"?

I supplied evidence that this might be, at least, partly true over at Huff Post earlier today. After all, they both said that Rumsfeld "needs to be knocked on the head" and "we are winning everywhere." See link below....Meanwhile, CNN's Michael Ware, from Baghdad, on Bill Maher's HBO show tonight, testified that al-Qaeda supporters make up only a tiny part of the insurgency in Iraq and anyone who tells you otherwise is just selling you "pap," like a "used car salesman." And he supports the U.S. staying there for years.

Yours truly on NPR media show this weekend

The popular National Public Radio program, On the Media, reviews five years of media performance this weekend, with yours truly as the featured guest. The program airs over hundreds of stations across the country at different times over the weekend. I am interviewed extensively by host Bob Garfield as we walk through the war, from "runup" to "surge," with key audio clips inserted, all related to my new book (you can order at left) naturally. In a nice add, the show can be heard starting Friday night at their site:

Fox's Obama-bashing too much for one guy...

One of the hosts of the hysterical (in every way) "Fox and Friends" had enough today and stalked off ...then they had Fox's Chris Wallace on and even HE hit the show's imbalance...so you know how bad it had to be...

Bill comes due: Richardson backs Obama

It was no slam dunk, and came just hours after John Edwards failed to deliver on Leno. Obama’s address on race in Philadelphia on Tuesday appeared to sway Richardson, "who sent word to the senator that he was inspired and impressed by the speech," The New York Times reports. "Aides said the endorsement was locked down over the following two days." Richardson: “I believe he is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime leader that can bring our nation together and restore America’s moral leadership in the world."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Exclusive: Rev. Hagee in 'NYT'

I have a piece up at E&P revealing excerpts from this coming Sunday's New York Times Magazine with wacko McCain backer Rev. John Hagee...

On foreign policy, McCain not able

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo hits the nail on the head in this assessment of McCain, the surge, and to some extent, Hillary:

The 'Surge' is working? Try reading Fareed Zakaria's new column [Newsweek online] on just how poorly things are going on the ground. McCain's opponents may seize on what may possibly be the beginning of an uptick in violence in the country. But that's really secondary to the real issue which is that the strategic aim of the surge has failed. It's fastened us down even more firmly in Iraq whereas the aim was to jumpstart a political process in the country that would allow us to begin to disengage.

These points are completely lost on McCain. A savvy campaign should be able to make McCain's failure to understand the surge's failure into a potent political issue.

This is why Clinton laudatory statements about John McCain as potential commander-in-chief amounted to such folly. McCain was a Navy fighter pilot. Everything suggests he's incredibly weak on foreign policy. He doesn't get strategy, doesn't get the big picture of what's going on in the world. At the simplest level he can't grasp why it's not in the United States' interest to stay in Iraq for decades. The monetary costs, the inattention to the growth of other regional powers -- all lost on him.

U.S. soldiers in Iraq electrocuted: KBR to blame?

I have a new column up at at E&P which opens thusly: "The mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq this past January filed a lawsuit yesterday in a Pennsylvania state court against KBR, the defense contractor that was in charge of inspecting the wiring at the base where Sgt. Ryan Maseth died -- from electrocution. This has brought to attention a 11 other fatal electrocutions in Iraq, leading to both a congressional investigation and a Pentagon inquiry.

"Recently, at her request, I had passed along to Maseth's mother the names of other soldiers officially listed as electrocution victims since 2003.

"This came after I wrote a story in January about Maseth's death for Editor & Publisher and the family's initial reaction, which ranged from disbelief to anger (see below). Maseth apparently had died in a bathroom or shower stall. His mother, Cheryl Harris, contacted me then, asking if any others had died in this manner. Now her lawsuit has arrived."

More on my book -- and Jim Lehrer and NPR interviews

My book, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits --and the President -- Failed on Iraq, has just been published by Union Square Press and you can order it online or find it in stores for a little more than $10. Joe Galloway wrote the foreword and Bruce Springsteen wrote the preface. To order, see the links to Amazon and B&N under the book cover over on the left rail at this blog. It's the first five-year history of the war.

Reviews are just arriving, with Kirkus saying that it is "worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date." I've just appeared on the Jim Lehrer's PBS "NewsHour." Major excerpts or articles have appeared at Salon, MotherJones and many other places, I've done "book salons" at Talking Points Memo and FireDogLake, with a Vanity Fair review coming this week. NPR's "On the Media" feature on the book aired this weekend (and at www.onthemedia.org), and I did Democracy Now radio/TV on March 24. Here are other early comments on the book:

"Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looks to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice."
— Bill Moyers

“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation. Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.”
— Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com writer and author of A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act?

"With the tragic war in Iraq dragging on, and the drumbeat for new conflicts growing louder, this is more than a five-year history of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our times—it's a cautionary tale that is as relevant as this morning's headlines. Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
— Arianna Huffington

"Anyone who cares about the integrity of the American media should read this book. Greg Mitchell asks tough questions about the Iraq war that should have been asked long ago, in a poignant, patriotic, and thoughtful dissection of our war in Iraq. Mitchell names names and places blame on those who’ve blundered. Examining the most complex issue of our time, he connects the dots like no one else has."
— Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of Chasing Ghosts

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My wife's favorite YouTube video of the moment...

Has to be Demetri Martin's 'Personal Information.'

This review is 'So Wrong'

Reviews of the book are just starting (it was just officially published today), here is a good one from Philadelphia City Paper.

American media

At long last, Hillary Clinton's White House scheduling records are finally released and ABC news on its popular site highlights...Monica Lewinsky, and even shows a picture of the "stained blue dress." Yes, the records suggest that Hillary was in the White House when the dirty deed was done. Queasy as ABC....good going, Brian Ross.

Sorry, I've been off doing book publicity things

For 5th anniversary I have been posting over at Talking Points Memo in the "cafe" devoted to my book this week (see below), posting at Huff Post (made the top of the site), writing at E&P, the TomDispatch thing (also see below) has been reprinted all over the place, and just taped Rachel Maddow show on Air America for airing 6:30 tonight, and NPR's "On the Media" special for airing all weekend all over the country, plus a bunch of local radio, Glenn Greenwald's podcast for Salon and much more. Whew.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guv the one you're with

Jon Stewart on Daily Show tonight had a special segment on deviant governors. Later, he looked at Obama's big speech on race. And there was a connection: Obama was brave, he said, because he could have easily let the Rev. Wright controversy fade away -- surely the media would have moved on when a story about a " governor fellating a donkey" came along...

Arthur C. Clarke outlived '2001' -- until today

Sci-fi writing great Clarke has died. '2001' is far from my favorite Kubrick film, even though I was, shall we say, very much of the target audience in the late 1960s. Now here it is almost 40 years later, and my son in film school has completed a terrific short with an astronaut in space vs. an authoritarian computer....with a better ending...

Four more years....of Bush?

Is McCain just a Little Bush or a Lotta Bush?

My "unsung heroes" of the war

I have a lengthy article up via Tom Englehardt's always-excellent TomDispatch site, related to my new book, on few media figures who got and get Iraq right -- from lowly reporters to Stephen Colbert and, yes, Neil Young (son of a sportswriter). Tom offers many more in his thoughtful intro:

Obama's big speech on race

Transcripts are up all over the place, from New York Times site to blogs. TPM gives him "A" on content but not usual "A" on delivery.... "I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election,” he said. I made that point a couple of months ago when Obama first surged and some scoffed....Apparently, we learn, he wrote the speech himself, over the past couple of days. The full speech:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Florida re-vote now appears off

That would be a real blessing for Obama. He might have survived possibly losing Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania to Clinton but it would have guaranteed nastiness all the way to the convention. And that's still a long, long way off. Well, with no vote, Florida can't screw it up again, at least.

Discussion around my book -- and the media and Iraq -- starts at TPM

With the fifth anniversary of the start of the war approaching, I am happy to lead a discussion on the media performance at the Talking Points Memo site all week. The site recently won even wider attention in winning a George Polk Award. Others taking part in the online "roundtable" discussing issues raised in my new book include media critic/professor Jay Rosen, famed war reporter Joe Galloway, veterans leader Paul Rieckhoff, military historian Lt. Col. Bob Bateman and Spencer Ackerman, who has covered the war. Readers can join in, too. Ackerman has just posted, others will follow. The book, of coruse, is "So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq" (Union Square Press). Link: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/tpmcafe-book-club/

U.S. soldier killed herself in Iraq -- after objecting to torture techniques

I have a post up about Alyssa Peterson over at Huff Post -- one of the most haunting deaths in Iraq of the entire war. See for yourself:

UPDATED: Kristol cut again?

There's a big blog flap today over yet another factual miscue in Bill Kristol's New York Times column. Kristol, who loves to cite rightwing sites for his "facts," today offers this, in attempting to debunk Obama's denial that he was ever present when his pastor made some of his most "offensive" remarks: "But Ronald Kessler, a journalist who has written about [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright’s ministry, claims that Obama was in fact in the pews at Trinity last July 22. That’s when Wright blamed the 'arrogance' of the 'United States of White America' for much of the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks. In any case, given the apparent frequency of such statements in Wright’s preaching and their centrality to his worldview, the pretense that over all these years Obama had no idea that Wright was saying such things is hard to sustain."

Kristol does not identify Kessler as writing for far-right NewsMax.

Now, Marc Ambinder at theatlantic.com, and others, have charged "error," pointing out that Obama was in Miami campaigning on the day in question. Kessler bases his story on another righty who claims to have actually attended that sermon and even says he saw Obama "nodding" in agreement.

UPDATE: Kristol has just admitted his error, posting at the end of his column on the Times' site: "In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign has provided information showing that Sen. Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error." Fox News' latest over-the-top coverage:

Disband on the run: That Iraqi tragedy

Front-page New York Times piece today by, ahem, Michael Gordon on that fateful decision to disband the Iraqi Army. No one wants credit for that disaster, of course. Sounds like Paul Bremer made the decision and the president was out cutting brush, maybe, and no one else knew about it. Here is a key passage: "Colin L. Powell, the secretary of state and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was never asked for advice, and was in Paris when the May 22 meeting was held. Mr. Powell, who views the decree as a major blunder, later asked Condoleezza Rice, who was serving as Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, for an explanation. 'I talked to Rice and said, Condi, what happened?' he recalled. 'And her reaction was: I was surprised too, but it is a decision that has been made and the president is standing behind Jerry’s decision. Jerry is the guy on the ground. And there was no further debate about it.'”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

U.S . toll nears 4,000 in Iraq

From the AP: "Sometime soon, the U.S. military will suffer the 4,000th death of the war in Iraq. When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was just gaining steam. The 2,000th death came as Iraq held its first elections in decades, in October 2005. The U.S. announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006, at the end of a year rocked by sectarian violence.

"The 4,000th death will come with the war further out of the public eye, and replaced by other topics on the front burner of the U.S. presidential campaigns. Analysts say the 4,000 dead, while an arbitrary marker, could inject the war debate back into the campaign season, particularly with the war's fifth anniversary on Thursday. Or, with overall violence lower in Iraq, the milestone could pass with far less public discussion than in past years."

Bear went over the mountain -- will we?

It may be dangerous when I walk outside in NYC tomorrow, if people start throwing themselves out of windows. NYT reports tonight: "Bear Stearns, pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by what amounted to a run on the bank, agreed late Sunday to sell itself to JP Morgan Chase for a mere $2 a share, narrowly averting a collapse that threatened to cascade through the financial system. The price represents a startling 93 percent discount to Bear Stearns’ closing stock price on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. Bankers and policy makers raced to complete the deal before financial markets in Asia opened on Monday, as fears grew that the financial panic could spread if Bear Stearns failed to find a buyer."

Alan Greenspan in the Financial Times sees the worst, literally: "The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war."

NOTE: My new book on Iraq and the media, "So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq," can be ordered via the left rail on this page. "Read this book -- twice," blurbs Bill Moyers. It is the first five-year history of the war and features a preface by Bruce Springsteen and foreword by famed war reporter Joe Galloway.

McCain back in Baghdad -- and no trip to market this time

Amazingly, he isn't even going to try to visit that market again (see post down below on this page), as it is now too dangerous-- even with an army around him...

Chat with me online Sunday at 5 p.m. -- and TPM coming

I'll be doing a live chat related to my new book over at FireDogLake. com this afternoon at 5 p.m. (ET), you can find it via the Book Salon at top of their home page. This is the site, of course, that I covered years ago when it took the lead on covering the Libby case....Starting tomorrow and running the full week, I will be in the TPM Cafe at Talking Points Memo kicking around the with special guests Joe Galloway, Jay Rosen, Paul Rieckhoff, Spencer Ackerman and Bob Bateman. You can join in, too....Radio and TV appearances coming up for me this "fifth anniversary week." Stay tuned....Here's the FireDogLake link...

AP looks at 5 years in Iraq: Only at midpoint?

The "surge" in fifth anniversary stories started today. The New York Times has a long piece by John Burns and a gallery of mini-op eds. Here is a good AP summary:

Obama winning even bigger in Iowa

Obama may have just picked up more delegates in Iowa then he lost in his "big" defeat in Ohio. From Politico: "A pretty stunning gain out of Iowa for Obama, where an Iowa Democratic official confirmed to me just now that the county convention results will translate into a 25-14-6 edge for Obama over Clinton and Edwards. That's a gain of nine for the Illinois Senator over the results reported in January, while Clinton lost one delegate. (Edwards lost eight). It's a welcome -- and meaningful -- gain for Obama on a tough weekend, and a result both of his long, hard work in Iowa and of a situation in which Clinton's attacks seem to be turning off party activists."

Sunday transcendence: Beethoven and bands of brothers

One of the highlights of the great Band of Brothers series a few years back, in a closing episode, movement from String Quartet No. 14 after the freeing of a death camp....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Return of the Winter Soldiers

It hasn't gotten much mainstream media coverage, but antiwar Iraq vets have been staging this weekend a kind of sequel to the famous Winter Soldier hearings during the Vietnam era that I remember so well, detailing alleged war crimes and more. Here is an AP story:

John McCain returns to Baghdad

You remember his last trip to the market...declaring everything safe and calm...with helicopters overhead and hundreds of soldiers surrounding him. This was the same trip where Rep. Mike Pence likened it to an Midwestern farm fair or flea market. He didn't mention the blast walls or the merchants killed there in the recent past. But Sen. Lindsay Graham bragged about the swell price he got on some rugs....Here's my Huff Post posting on it:
But the most revealing and chilling episode featured Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). He was widely quoted in the initial accounts declaring that he found the Shorja bazaar “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.” Pence later described one rug merchant who kept patting his heart and refused to take his money: “His eyes, like so many others, radiated with affection and appreciation.” Pence said he was “deeply moved” by this.

Well, a National Public Radio reporter returned and found that grateful merchant—and uncovered a quite different story. The carpet seller, Ahmed al-Kurdi, recalled for NPR: “I didn’t accept the money. I said to myself, ‘they must be guests, so I must give them a good impression of Iraqis.’ After all, we are occuped by these Americans — and they are accompanied by a lot of U.S. security.”

Al-Kurdi then said that actually he favored the insurgents: “We are not against the resistance. We are with them.

Reuters says flatly: Bush cooked up war

They've been slow to arrive but it looks like 5th anniversary coverage of the war has begun. Shocked to see a Reuters roundup that pulls not punches at all in the opener:
"The Bush administration marched to war with Iraq armed with inaccurate intelligence, mistaken assumptions and extravagant hopes that have cost the United States dearly in blood and treasure." Then it brutally summarizes it all:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama on Olbermann may have goofed

Obama said what you would expect about Rev. Wright after the uproar over the offensive remarks -- he said he disagreed with many of Wright's statements on the videos but would not "repudiate" the man entirely. But he then went a little beyond that, stating that he had not heard the reverend saying those things -- or anything like them, ever -- himself while in "the pew." And he added that he would have objected if he did hear any remarks he strongly disagreed with -- not just the ones that have surfaced -- and taken them up with Wright.

But the problem is: Obama was a fairly regular church goer in those 17 years. And even if he was not in church for the now-famous video remarks -- audio tapes or transcripts will no doubt surface of other sermons, as Jon Alter pointed out. Was Obama present for other offensive remarks and did he in fact object? Will Wright say he objected? Or perhaps there are not that many controversial remarks to worry about and we have already seen the "greatest hits" on the videos. Again: the problem is only that Obama said he had "never" heard these kinds of statements in all those years "in the pew." Not just the ones in the videos, but any truly offensive remarks. It's always a problem when you make such a categorical denial, and he didn't have to go that far at all.

To be continued, unfortunately.

Springsteen, Iraq and roll

I have a new post up at Huff Post right now on The Boss and his preface for my book and a little of our history, and an excerpt as he takes on Iraq -- and Ann Coulter....I've been posting over there for the past week if you want to look in the archive there.

No more annoying cell phone calls..

This is mind-boggling, in a creepy kind of way: From the New Scientist, a demonstration of vocal but voiceless communication. A band around the neck supposedly intercepts signals from the brain, on what you want to say, and transmits them without you having to move your lips -- or yell into your cell...

Obama hits pastor's remarks

This won't be the last we hear of this, but here is Obama today, speaking to a Pittsburgh newspaper about the controversial video (see down below on this page):

Q: I don't know if you've seen it, but it's all over the wire today (from an ABC News story), a statement that your pastor made in a sermon in 2003 that instead of singing "God Bless America," black people should sing a song essentially saying "God Damn America."

A: I haven't seen the line. This is a pastor who is on the brink of retirement who in the past has made some controversial statements. I profoundly disagree with some of these statements.

Q: What about this particular statement?

A: Obviously, I disagree with that. Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor. There are times when people say things that are just wrong. But I think it's important to judge me on what I've said in the past and what I believe.

Who tells the truth: Dana Perino or Helen Thomas?

Of all people, White House spin queen Dana Perino had the nerve to claim on The Daily Show that Helen Thomas's questions are "not based on fact." Stewart brought howls, however, with this zinger: "The president has said that he's going to sprint to the finish -- can you get him to run faster???"

Goliath looms larger for David?

From Washington Post today: "Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday. Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that 'no one' in the U.S. and Iraqi governments 'feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation,' or in the provision of basic public services. The general's comments appeared to be his sternest to date on Iraqis' failure to achieve political reconciliation."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Compromise on Michigan and Florida vote?

Mark Halpertin of Time's The Page blog received a document that the Michigan Dems are circulating which proposes this compromise on the Michigan and Florida delegations: "Michigan’s 156 delegates would be split 50-50 between Clinton and Obama. Florida’s existing delegates would be seated at the Denver convention—but with half a vote each. That would give Clinton a net gain of about 19 elected delegates.

"The two states’ superdelegates would then be able to vote in Denver, likely netting Clinton a few more delegates." So she would come out somewhat ahead while Obama would avoid possibly a pair of defeats in any re-done primaries....I don't know why Clinton would go for this since she needs bigger edge in delegates and major mojo from primary wins...

Sonny side up: More Leonard Cohen, as promised

In case you wondered how he could possibly end up in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame this week -- One of the great music video moments ever, "Who By Fire," featuring jazz great Sonny Rollins:

'Politico' predicts McCain's coming victory in November

Just one problem: The article says it's because the public's views on the war have now come around to his side. Yet the new USAToday/Gallup poll out today shows that 60% of Americans still want withdrawal -- not the perpetual presence McCain's advocates. The Wall Street Journal even observes today: "At the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war, the conflict remains as unpopular as ever, despite the military progress of Mr. Bush's troop buildup of the past year -- of which Sen. McCain was the chief promoter. A majority still wants to start withdrawing troops in 2009 rather than stay indefinitely until Iraq is stable, as Sen. McCain suggests." Glenn Greenwald has the full take at:

The 'race' is on: Here's that new video featuring Obama's preacher

Inevitably making a stir today is a video of Obama's controversial church leader, Jeremiah Wright, preaching, back in January, that "Hillary's never been called a nigger," and much more, such as: "Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people." It aired first, naturally, on Fox.

Mourning Joe: Galloway hits media on Iraq

At E&P we just put up much of the foreword from my book, written by legendary war reporter Joe Galloway (co-author of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young). Joe's a great guy and true hero--winner of a Bronza Star for valor in Vietnam--and he was one of the firtst mainstream reporters/pundits to come out against the war. Here is link:

Kind of a drag: TV crews race -- despite fatal accident

The El Paso Times reports on its Web site, www.elpasotimes.com: "A day after a fatal highway drag racing crash, a pair of local television live trucks were caught on video in their own race at a local drag strip. The El Paso stations, KDBC-TV and KVIA-TV, were at the legal drag racing strip Friday night when a crowd of onlookers apparently convinced a pair of photographers and a part-time anchorman to race.

"Charlie Bernal, a 25-year-old photographer for KDBC, said he was fired Tuesday after his bosses saw the race on the video sharing Web site YouTube. "I knew what I was doing and figured, if someone gets wind of this, I'm in a world of crap,' he said." Here's the video:

Book him: Update on what's "So Wrong"

Not a lot new today after a wild week. But the publicity "campaign" for So Wrong for So Long is just starting for next week and the fifth anniversary of the start of the war. I'll be on with Rachel Maddow, have been tentatively booked for Olbermann and did a pre-interview for Jim Lehrer. Don't miss my FireDogLake book salon thing on Sunday, and the whole week at Talking Point Memo's Cafe starting Monday: We have lined up as contributors there Jay Rosen, Joe Galloway, Paul Rieckhoff, Bob Bateman and Spencer Ackerman....And if you have (somehow) missed them, the lengthy excerpt from the book is still up at Salon, an article Mother Jones and an excerpt from Galloway's foreword for the book at Huff Post and antiwar.com....

The real reason for the Fallon out...

From Josh Marshall at TPM: "Yesterday we reported at some length on the departure Adm. William Fallon, commander of Centcom. Then yesterday afternoon a reporter colleague told me that the real issue with Fallon wasn't Iran but something called 'the pause.' With 'surges' and 'pauses' and various other bits of jargon floating around, it's a little hard to keep track. But essentially the 'pause' refers to how long we're going to put off drawing down our forces in Iraq. Fallon wanted a short pause, this colleague told me, and Petraeus wanted a long or (I think more likely) an indefinite one. Now Fred Kaplan at Slate and David Ignatius in the Post bring reports confirming that this was indeed the key issue.

"So, not about Iran but Iraq -- and specifically whether we stay there indefinitely waiting on the El Dorado of political progress. Fallon wanted to start drawing down. His bosses disagreed. And now he's gone."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer's 'Kristen' is "all about my music"

Or so she says on her My Space page. You can even hear her "sing," just like she did for the prosecutors. Stage name: Ashley Alexandra Dupré. A lyric from her hip-hoppy song: “I know what you want, you got what I want. I know what you need. Can you handle me?” It's not exactly the "Spitzer Sonata." See link below.

Some funny Daily Show takes on case tonight, from showing how Fox gave Spitzer's ride to the press conference the "full O.J." with the copters overhead to imagining the orgy he may hold this weekend in Albany -- since he doesn't step down until Monday....Best bit was showing Spitzer resigning today while admitting that much is "expected" from those who are "given" a lot. You can imagine where Jon took that.

Gerry crosses the mercy

Ferraro steps down from Hillary committee, blames Obama, refuses to apologize, tells Clinton in letter: "I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen."

Americans don't know how many U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq

From AP today: "Fewer people know how many U.S. troops have died in the war in Iraq, a poll showed Wednesday. Only 28 percent correctly said that about 4,000 Americans have died in the war, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
That’s down from last August, when 54 percent gave the accurate casualty figure, which was about 3,500 dead at the time. In previous Pew surveys dating to 2004, about half have correctly given the rough figure for the approximate number of deaths at the time.

"In the new poll, around a third said about 3,000 U.S. troops have died while about one in 10 said 2,000 deaths. Fewer overestimated the number of casualties: about a quarter put the figure close to 5,000." The Pew poll was conducted from Feb. 28-March 2 and involved telephone interviews with 1,003 adults.

Trial by Gerry

TPM's Josh Marshall looks for some comic relief in this lull in the campaign and finds it, on one level, in Geraldine Ferraro's defense of her race-based comments re: Obama.

Black reporter jumped by local whites -- arrests follow

Let's go to the videotape:

Worst news of week: Unsafe iPods?

"It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep — but there’s an iPod in the house, and it’s recharging." This is how Mike Nizza at The New York Times' The Lede opens a blog entry today. Apparently, Japan is investigating a possible defect in Apple Inc.’s iPod after one of the popular digital music players reportedly shot out sparks while recharging, a government official said Wednesday. But Nizza adds: "The rare bout of bad publicity for the lovable device was prompted by a single reported case, though several others have turned up in other countries." So: not to worry. Yet. EQ, over and out.

The Emperor's No Clothes: Spitzer quitting

He's resigning now on TV as I type (11:45 a.m.)....The usual, apologizes, important programs need to be carried out and if he stays would be distraction, etc....says he hopes to heal and then help society in future....very brief....wife still by his side and looking a little less devastated ...his "good friend" David Patterson to take over in a few days, with Blomberg next? Rudy? Al D'Amato? ARod? I guess Gerry Ferraro is out now...

Washington Post today has some details on the surprising length and extent of the Plan Client 9 from Outer Space probe: "Weeks before a hotel meeting with a prostitute that threatens to derail his career, the FBI staked out New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer at the same hotel in an unsuccessful effort to catch him with a high-priced call girl, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation. The FBI placed a surveillance team on Spitzer at the Mayflower Hotel for the first time on Jan. 26, after concluding from a wiretapped conversation that he might try to meet with a prostitute when he traveled to Washington to attend a black-tie dinner, the source said Tuesday."

I'm not sure I agree with this but a fun comment, from Peter Baker, also at the Post: "This certainly is not the way Clinton's strategists would have mapped out this week on the campaign trail. They want voters to be thinking about that 3 a.m. phone call in terms of who is ready to handle a crisis in the White House, not in terms of where an unfaithful husband might be catting around town."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Our greatest poet makes Rock Hall of Fame

Leonard Cohen laughed at the "unlikely" absurdity last night at the Waldorf in New York but there he was with Madonna, the Dave Clark Five and all the rest. Lou Reed read some of the inductee's lyrics/poems, and then Leonard did too, from his "Tower of Song." He also gave props to Hank Williams -- and made a Springsteen reference -- along the way. Pure class. More Leonard all week.

UPDATE: Today's NYT reports tha Leonard has announced his first tour in years, starting June 6 in Toronto. Hallelujah! Leonard back on Boogie Street! Here's the 10-minute Hall of Fame induction.

Gerry and the Pacemaker

On a day, Barack Obama scored another primary win (in Mississippi), Geraldine Ferraro somehow has made worse her original comments to the obscure Daily Breeze paper in California with an update today. You'll remember, as I noted below, that she had said, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color), he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

After catching flak for that, Ferraro, a Clinton fundraiser and adviser, clarified today for the same paper: "Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?" So now the Obamans want her canned and the Clintonistas say merely that they regret her remarks. At this rate, there will be no advisers left by June and I (or Bob Shrum) will be running one of the campaigns.

Now, if Obama can only avoid staying "in Mississippi a day too long." Meanwhile, Sinbad says Hillary is fibbing about their dangerous trip together:

Got my 'MoJo' working....

My latest piece derived from the book is up at the Mother Jones site now, on the order of "18 horrible things you've already forgotten about the war and the media." I met David Corn, the new Washington editor there, when we founded the first ever softball team at The Nation, where he interned, in the early 1980s. A year later he worked as my righthand man when I was editor of Nuclear Times -- and, more important, we kept the team going as a joint Nation/Nuke Times thing for a couple more years....

Tom Ricks: Anyone want to talk war?

At an online chat at washingtonpost.com today, the respected military reporter and author of Fiasco, Tom Ricks, has this exchange (as captured by Romenesko):

Newport Beach, Calif.: How is it that eight U.S. soldiers killed in one day in Iraq doesn't warrant front-page treatment in The Washington Post? Is the paper that out of touch with how much we, as Americans, care about our troops?

Thomas E. Ricks:
I can't speak for all Americans. But I can count, and there are fewer questions here today than ever before. So, judging by that and other recent indications, I think Americans really aren't paying that much attention to the Iraq war right now.

Ricks was asked later in the chat: "Are you covering the news, or what is popular?" He responds: "I'm covering the news. I am working on Iraq full-time this year, because I think it is important. But that doesn't mean Americans want to read it."

Surgin' USA....stalling?

Important piece at the New York Times site now: "Newly declassified statistics on the frequency of insurgent attacks in Iraq suggest that after major security gains last fall in the wake of an American troop increase, the conflict has drifted into at least a temporary stalemate, with violence levels remaining stubbornly constant from November 2007 through early 2008.

"The new figures, presented Tuesday at a Senate hearing in Washington by David M. Walker, the top official at the Government Accountability Office, emerged a day after eight American soldiers — five in downtown Baghdad and three in Diyala Province — were killed in bomb attacks. And the trend appeared to continue on Tuesday, as bombings and small arms attacks led to casualties among Iraqi civilians and security forces in or near at least seven cities."

Update on book-related stuff...

The big Salon excerpt is still up on their site. There's a lengthy interview with me related to the new book up at Buzzflash (see link below). Joe Galloway's excellent foreword for the book is up at antiwar.com. Much more to come.

Well, I guess Hillary could still be Veep...

Nancy Pelosi said today that the 'dream team' notion floated by the Clintons -- you know, the one with Obama as V.P. -- is now "impossible." Madame Speaker explained: “I think that the Clinton administration has fairly ruled that out by proclaiming that Senator McCain would be a better Commander in Chief than Obama.” Or as John Lennon sang, "The dream is over."

'Whether' report for Tuesday

New York Times reports Spitzer aides expect him to resign. Too bad, we were looking forward to more New York Post headlines like today's "HO NO." The Daily News only managed, PAY FOR LOVE GUV....

Obama expected to win landslide in Mississippi today, with 33 delegates at stake. Meanwhile, his lead just keeps growing, as the Texas caucus results show that he really won there, a full tally in California finds him gaining a little there, and a couple more super-delegates announcing for him....

Major excerpt from my new book just published over at Salon!

The first lengthy excerpt from the book was posted tonight at Salon.com. It's basically the opening half of the foreword for So Wrong for So Long, kind of a five-year overview, with a little Colbert thrown in. Meanwhile, eight U.S. soldiers were killed today in Iraq, worst day for us there in quite awhile. Here is link to the Salon piece:

The money shot....

So to speak, in the Spitzer probe, as described by The New York Times just now, which noted that IRS investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks "found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said. …The money ended up in the bank accounts of what appeared to be shell companies, corporations that essentially had no real business. The transactions, officials said, suggested possible financial crimes — maybe bribery, political corruption, or something inappropriate involving campaign finance. Prostitution, they said, was the furthest thing from the minds of the investigators. …

"Because the focus was a high-ranking government official, prosecutors were required to seek the approval of the United States attorney general to proceed. Once they secured that permission, the investigation moved forward.

"At the outset, one official said, it seemed like a bread-and-butter inquiry into political corruption, the kind of case the F.B.I. squad, known internally by the designation C14, frequently pursues. But before long, the investigators learned that the money was being moved to pay for sex and that the transactions were being manipulated to conceal Mr. Spitzer’s connection to payments for meetings with prostitutes, the official said."

Monday, March 10, 2008

A 'black' day for Obama

If haven't caught up to this quote from the first female Veep candidate, Geraldine Ferraro: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

Almost as good, top Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson on the "threshold" question and why Obama can't be Prez but could be Veep when the convention rolls around: "We do not believe that Sen. Obama has passed the commander-in-chief test. But there is a long way between now and Denver."

Gov. Spitzer: The Emperor's no clothes

Mr. Clean probably will step down tonight after revelations of visiting high-price call girl or girls affiliated with the recently busted Emperor's Club. I'd read the story about the bust last week in The New York Times and marveled at the prices, as high as $5000 an hour for an "iconic" prostitute (Moll Flanders?). Just go to www.nytimes.com to follow it, with text messages and a federal wiretap and more at center of it....The paper has the extremely unflattering AP photo above at top of its site right now, from Spitzer's presser today. He looks like Walter Brennan after he lost his teeth.

Congressman who said terrorists would boogie for Barack stands by his claims

On Fox News, naturally, Rep. King sticks to his guns -- especially since, as he says, being a Muslim is, you know, "hereditary."

Clarence Thomas for....vice president?

I'm afraid I awoke a couple of commuters, and maybe caused someone else to spill their coffee, on the train to NYC this morning when I burst out in laughter reading the conclusion of the column by ever-reliable Bill Kristol in The New York Times this morning floating the name of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as John McCain's running. Here's the passage: "He could persuade the most impressive conservative in American public life, Clarence Thomas, to join the ticket." We had a "Silent Cal" (Coolidge) as president so why not a "Silence Clarence" as Veep?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

'Wire' reporter wins that Pulitzer

I finally gave up on The Wire a few weeks back but was curious (given my job) what would happen with the Sun reporter who made shit up. In the final mash up at end we briefly see him picking up some parchment at a podium labeled Columbia University. Some of us know that's where the Pulitzers are handed out, but surely it must have gone over the head of many watchers....But we get the point....The female reporter who knew his notebook was empty got shipped out to a bureau so she wouldn't stand in the way of the big prize....Just because I am a giant Steve Earle (who appeared regularly in the show) fan, here is how Season 2 ended, with the big boy's "I Feel Alright."

Fears about "white flight" from Obama rising

As some may recall, I have long been in the minority claiming that good old white racism plays, or will play, a bigger role in confounding the Obama candidacy than most in the media have suggested. An AP story, picking up on some confirming poll results, lends some credence for this, hinting that a "white flight" from Obama may have already taken place in Ohio: "Some analysts think it's possible Obama's heavy black support is nudging some working-class white Democrats into Clinton's camp. If true, it could be an important factor in a contest that remains remarkably tight after a year of campaigning...

"Ronald Walters, a University of Maryland political scientist who tracks racial trends and is writing a book on Obama, thinks Obama's strong support from blacks made it easier for some whites in Ohio and Texas to vote for Clinton. 'There's some of that,' Walters said in an interview. He pointed to exit polls from Ohio, where 62 percent of all whites lack college degrees and many are anxious about their jobs in a weak economy. 'This is a racially sensitive group,' he said, referring specifically to whites who earn less than $50,000 a year and did not attend college. 'They are the quintessential Reagan Democrats,'" he said. "They feel they've been left" and their resentment can have social and racial overtones.

Don't drink the Cheney water...

From an AP scoop today: "Dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq fell sick at bases using 'unmonitored and potentially unsafe' water supplied by the military and a contractor once owned by Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, the Pentagon's internal watchdog says. A report obtained by The Associated Press said soldiers experienced skin abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections, diarrhea and other illnesses after using discolored, smelly water for personal hygiene and laundry at five U.S. military sites in Iraq. The Defense Department's inspector general's report, which could be released as early as Monday, found water quality problems between March 2004 and February 2006 at three sites run by contractor KBR Inc., and between January 2004 and December 2006 at two military-operated locations."

When Bush joked about missing WMD

Last night, the president received a fond farewell at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. No, this is not a football fan club but a longtime, quasi-secret, gathering of journos and politicians, who perform skits. Bush surprised the guests by taking his turn, to the the tune of "Green Green Grass of Home," about his permanent return to Texas, changing the lyrics to "Brown Brown Grass of Home" -- though some might say he could have chosen, "If I Only Had A Brain." Anyway, at least he avoided making another tasteless joke about those dang missing WMDs, as he did at a similar 2004 dinner, a true low point in his presidency and for the U.S. media (since nearly everyone there laughed along). Here's the video in case you missed it:

Major review of my new book at DailyKos...

Just posted today at the top of the site by one of Kos's top deputies, SusanG, certainly appreciate that. I also did Bob McChesney's Media Matters radio show today, it's available on the Web and as podcast, I will look for link. Here is the Daily Kos review:

Sunday transcendence: The original 'Van the Man'

No, it's not Van Morrison in his "Gloria" days, but Van Cliburn, and there's a long and terrific whatever-happened-to piece in The New York Times' Arts &Leisure section today. He was a sensation during my youth and I remember him on Ed Sullivan and elsewhere all the time. And he nearly ended the Cold War singlehandedly (well, he tried). Here's my favorite clip of his, doing the 2nd movement of another "Van," Beethoven's piano concerto no.5 -- in Moscow, of course.