Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
"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.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
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."
"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."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
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.
"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."
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
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
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:
Sunday, March 16, 2008
"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."
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.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
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.
"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
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.
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.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
"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...
"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:
"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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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."
"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."
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....
"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
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."
Sunday, March 9, 2008
"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.