Daily Archives: May 3, 2004

Monday Blog-Browsing

++Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom, who’s becoming the blogosphere’s version of the Reader’s Digest, with commentary, is working on Joe Wilson’s new book this week. What he pulls from it is, not surprisingly, a tad different from what the media has pulled from it.

Joseph Wilson doesn’t know who leaked his wife’s name and occupation to journalist Robert Novak. His best guess is the Vice President’s senior aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. He outlines the case against Libby over a couple pages towards the end of the book (pp.441-442 passim). The case is hardly definitive–and he doesn’t pretend it is.

Far from his reported shrillness and certainty, Wilson, according to Tim, comes off as measured and responsible.

What’s more important by far is Wilson’s almost offhand desription of how many people in the BA suddenly knew about his wife’s work. “[T]he revelation of how Plame’s name and occupation was apparently widely circulated within certain sections of the administration once it was decided to ‘get Wilson’.”

++David Corn at one of the The Nation‘s blogs, Capital Games, has an interview with Wilson.

++Jeanne at Body and Soul responds to the Atrios posts Seattle links to , but from a “slightly different angle”.

In the same spirit, what the hell is NPR thinking in having an evangelical reporter telling listeners who is or isn’t an “orthodox” Catholic? In the first place, that shouldn’t even come up in a news piece, but even if NPR, for some reason, decided to conduct a discussion of that issue, the people discussing it ought to be the only ones whose opinion on that topic is of the slightest relevance — Catholics.Not only is this report wrong for all the reasons Atrios describes, it’s insulting to Catholics.

++Billmon at Whiskey Bar has an excellent piece on Likud’s rejection of Sharon’s “land-grab” plan and what it might mean for the Middle East peace initiative.

It’s not clear at this point whether Sharon will resign, try to push his plan through his cabinet and the Knesset despite his loss, dissolve his current cabinet and try to form a national unity government with Labor and/or some of the other opposition parties, or call for new elections.The idea of withdrawing from Gaza is very popular with Israeli voters as a whole, although I suspect that, like U.S. voters, they haven’t read, or don’t understand the fine print, and thus don’t realize that Sharon is trying to embed Israel more deeply in an open-ended conflict with the Palestinians, rather than implementing a permanent “separation” — the Holy Grail of Israeli public opinion.

++Henry at Crooked Timber links to an old WaPo article and concludes that Abu Ghraib is a long way from an “isolated incident”.

It sounds as though the kinds of ‘cooperation’ between soldiers and interrogators that were discovered at Abu Ghraib have been going on for a long time, and have received some sanction from either administration appointees or senior security officials, or both. It may – or may not – be that the soldiers in Abu Ghraib went further than they were supposed to in using specifically sexual forms of humiliation. But the pattern of using non-specialized army personnel to ‘soften up’ people for interrogation through physical abuse and terror seems to have been established a long, long time before Abu Ghraib.

++Juan Cole at Informed Comment notes the recent Newsweek report that your favorite Iraqi expatriate and mine, Ahmad “Make Me King of Iraq or I’ll Bury You Neocon Bastards” Chalabi, passed sensitive information to Iran and allows as how he wasn’t particularly surprised.

First, Chalabi’s close links to Tehran have been known for a long time (the Stratfor article is suggestive but I wouldn’t take everything in it at face value).. In fall of 2002 when he had a brief falling out with the Americans, Chalabi convened a conference of expatriate Iraqi politicians in Tehran, just to demonstrate that he could switch patrons if necessary.

That’s why the falling out was brief. Then Cole points to the probable source of this information–a pissed-off IC.

The leak of the Chalabi/Tehran link so breathlessly at this juncture seems intended to checkmate his Neoconservative patrons in the Department of Defense and in Dick Cheney’s office (indeed, Cheney himself). The CIA and State have long held that Chalabi is unreliable and that he was unable to account for the money they gave him in the 1990s. If they got damning evidence on tape that he was passing sensitive information to the Iranians, they would certainly use it this way against him.

++David, at an interesting new (this month) blog called F U G O P (use your imagination), notes that the so-called “Medals Scandal” started with [a] 1971 video interview of John Kerry [that] was released to the press by the RNC… and concludes that the press has the story the wrong way round.

The media has an obligation not to regurgitate partisan talking points, but to discuss the strategies of the campaigns unveiled by their research pursuits. If the RNC is feeding media outlets criticisms of Kerry’s Vietnam record, the headline of the story should be: “RNC attacking Kerry’s Record in Vietnam.”

David, my old son, you are soooooo naive.

Fartin’ Around

I can’t get serious about anything today. With everything that’s going on–Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, Sharon’s rejection, religious attacks on Kerry, fresh Bush attacks on the environment, etc etc etc–there’s a ton of stuff to absorb, react to, and comment on. And I don’t have the energy for any of it.

So I’ve been goofing off. So shoot me.

I’ve read a lot of serious stuff today but here’s what caught my eye: I got some heat over the name Omnium from a pretentious would-be Latin scholar who insisted it wasn’t even a word. Maybe he’s right, I don’t know and I don’t care. But I was curious if anybody had taken it as a domain name in case I should ever want to do that myself, so I typed it into the address bar.

Well, somebody has. There’s a small record company called “Omnium Recordings”. Here’s their logo:

Neat, huh? No, I’m not going to steal it, though it’s tempting. I probably wouldn’t be mentioning this except that the names of their recordings are so clever and..weird…that I wanted to share them with you.

My favorite: The Reptile Palace Orchestra.

Others include: Shi’ite and Onions, Boiled in Lead, and Felonious Beach.

Ah, the internet is a marvelous little playground for second childhood to romp around in, especially when you’re easily amused.

I love Atrios

Atrios, who shares many of my negative views of religion has posted a very insightful analysis of Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s commentary on NPR. There are three follow up posts:




I have tremendous respect for Atrios.

FITE’s Latest Newsletter

Newsletter #24

We wrote in newsletter #21 how the financial irresponsibility of the Republican controlled congress has helped push up prices. Record spending combined with record tax cuts have contributed to lowering the value of the dollar, so the Arab countries, who are paid in dollars, have raised the price of oil just to maintain their purchasing power on the world market.

You might think, then, that they would at least stop giving even more tax breaks to the super rich to stop this serious threat to our economy. Not a chance! They simply can’t stop giving breaks to their friends, the campaign contributors, to the tune of $170 BILLION. This includes:

* $8 million for makers of arrows. Yes, as in Robin Hood.

* $25 million for foreigners who gamble at US horse and dog races.

The list goes on and on. It’s a feeding frenzy of the super rich, out to wring the last drop out of our government before it goes bust.

Meanwhile, there’s still a shortage of body armor for the troops, our schools lack the funds to satisfy the “No child left behind” program, and local police departments still lack the funding they were promised for terrorist threats.

And Kerry? Not a mention of these problems on his web site!

Two Signs of Backbone in the Mainstream Media

I bitch a lot about the spinelessness of mainstream American journalists, but recently I read about two surprisingly bold reports (I didn’t actually see either of them). First, CBS reported that Iraqis are being tortured by coalition forces. That this information is readily available in the foreign press is not surprising, and furthermore the story broadcast by CBS is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg, but the fact that CBS would make this information readily accessible to large numbers of Americans is both surprising and encouraging. Second, ABC read the names – while showing the photographs – of all the American soldiers killed in Iraq. Again, this information isn’t hidden, but the fact that a mainstream media outlet makes the true meaning of this information accessible to large numbers of Americans is both surprising and encouraging. Not so surprising is the Sinclair broadcast group’s censorship of the show on many ABC stations, but many stations did broadcast the show.

It’s refreshing to see at least a little courage in the mainstream media. Be thankful for small blessings … and let’s hope it’s the start of a trend!