Monday, June 23, 2008

Hitler Tamed by Prison (1924)

Oh thank goodness.

Via the fantastic Pixdaus.

An Open Letter to MoveOn

I have been a member of MoveOn virtually since it's inception during the Clinton impeachment debacle. Until a few days ago, I was also a passionate supporter of Senator Obama's presidential run. I have welcomed MoveOn's endorsement of this extraordinary candidate, as chosen by an overwhelming majority of MoveOn members.

Like many of Senator Obama's supporters, however, I am shocked and horrified by the Senator's decision to sign on to the unconstitutional and fascistic FISA bill. I believe that such an action betrays all Americans in a fundamental way that calls into question Senator Obama's fitness for the highest office in the land. I therefore urge MoveOn to hold an immediate vote of its members to decide whether to withdraw MoveOn's support from this candidate.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Obama Supports FISA Legislation


More on Russert, and a potential First Lady's sordid past

In the comments to my previous post, Anonymous takes issue with my criticism of the recently-passed Tim Russert. Presumably, Anonymous is uncomfortable with the propriety of criticizing the dead, since he or she offers no substantive response to my main point. As a top dog in the back-patting Washington media world, Russert was a defacto enabler of the worst and most criminal Administration in recent history. This point would be hard to deny even if Anonymous wanted to try.

Linda Hirshman has a good summary of Russert's legacy up on Alternet. Here's a snippet:

The Russert Test was a disaster because it rewarded people willing to lie unabashedly on TV. They lied because they could not truthfully defend their positions. But Russert's famed "gotcha" research couldn't catch them. Much has been said this eulogizing week about Russert's hard-working ways assembling the material in advance of the show. Old metal. When someone told a new lie on Meet the Press, such as when Dick Cheney flat-out denied he had ever said that intelligence confirmed the Al Qaeda/Iraq link, Meet the Press had no procedure for producing the contrary evidence. This would hardly have been difficult, given Google, an earpiece and a producer to do instant research. As it happened, NBC had the rebuttal to Cheney's lies in its own archives, but it remained for The Daily Show to do the research.

While I'm on the subject of the media, can you imagine the media brouhaha if Michelle Obama had a history as a drug addict who stole prescription pain killers from her own non-profit, medicines intended for poor people in Third World nations ?

One of the presumptive First Ladies is a former drug addict and thief, but it's not Obama. Cindy McCain's past isn't a secret -- she has discussed it on Dateline and Good Morning America -- but I still find it odd that Michelle's fist bump can dominate a slow news cycle while Cindy gets such softball treatment. Salon wrote about the whole sordid affair back in 1999, but almost everyone seems to have forgotten about it, or decided the McCains deserve a free pass on this one. The article is well worth a read, both for what it reveals about the powerful McCain spin machine and for its tale of a lonely, depressed woman trapped in a marriage of convenience.

The media has decided that candidate's spouses are fair game; let's see if we get any balance.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert - The Other Side

The chattering class is praising Tim Russert to the stars today, after the amiable Meet the Press star collapsed and died unexpectedly.  I always thought Russert seemed like a nice guy and I'm sure all the kind words are heartfelt. But I have a lot of trouble stomaching all the high praise. Russert was a $5 million a year hack, a central figure of the Beltway elite "political" press who basically shilled for his friends in high places while hiding behind his "blue-collar guy from Buffalo" persona. Serious journalism hardly ever emerged from his show.

Tim Russert: Stop the Inanity is a sharp summation of Tim Russert's unique qualities.

Glenn Greenwald, former civil rights litigator and best-selling author, holds the mainstream media to the fire on a regular basis on his Salon blog. Here are a couple of his Russert-related favorite quotes of 2007:

When I talk to senior government officials on the phone, it's my own policy -- our conversations are confidential. If I want to use anything from that conversation, then I will ask permission
--Tim Russert, under oath at the Lewis Libby trial, citing the textbook function of a government propagandist to explain his role as a "journalist." 

I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used. It's our best format," as it allows us to "control the message 
--Cheney media aide Cathie Martin, under oath at the Libby trial, making clear how well Russert fulfills his function.

And check this video of Matt Lauer speaking with Russert about Speaker Pelosi's trip to Syria, which Greenwald calls "a two-minute tribute to the fact-free idiocy of our media stars." Notice how Russert simply accepts Lauer's right-wing frame without question.

Here's a fun Digby post from April, 2007.

BILL MOYERS: Critics point to September eight, 2002 and to your show in particular, as the classic case of how the press and the government became inseparable.

Someone in the administration plants a dramatic story in the NEW YORK TIMES And then the Vice President comes on your show and points to the NEW YORK TIMES. It's a circular, self-confirming leak.

TIM RUSSERT: I don't know how Judith Miller and Michael Gordon reported that story, who their sources were. It was a front-page story of the NEW YORK TIMES. When Secretary Rice and Vice President Cheney and others came up that Sunday morning on all the Sunday shows, they did exactly that.

What my concern was, is that there were concerns expressed by other government officials. And to this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them.


TIM RUSSERT: I-- look, I'm a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I know who my sources are. I work 'em very hard. It's the mid-level people that tell you the truth. Now-

BILL MOYERS: They're the ones who know the story?

TIM RUSSERT: Well, they're working on the problem. And they understand the detail much better than a lotta the so-called policy makers and-- and-- and political officials.

BILL MOYERS: But they don't get on the Sunday talk shows--


For more Russert goodies, check out the Huffington Post's Russert Watch.