Quote of the Day: "Jackie Judd, who covered the Monica Lewinsky investigation for ABC News, says the tight relationship between journalists and their sources seems to survive each passing scandal. 'We're always used,' says Judd, now with the Kaiser Family Foundation." Here.
A gay porn star is honored at CPAC.
There They Go Again
By Todd Gitlin
The front-page headline is damning: "In '05 Investing, Obama Took Same Path as Donors." The story, by Mike McIntire and Christopher Drew, is awfully gosh-darned important. It's on the same front page as the Libby verdict and "Questions About Cheney Remain." This is big.
The story? Well, here's the lede:
Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.
Sounds like they nailed him dead to rights. But hold on for the fourth graf:
A spokesman for Mr. Obama, who is seeking his party's presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday that the senator did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks. He sold them at a net loss of $13,000.
The spokesman, Bill Burton, said Mr. Obama's broker bought the stocks without consulting the senator, under the terms of a blind trust that was being set up for the senator at that time but was not finalized until several months after the investments were made.
So let's see if we've got this straight. First graf: "Barack Obama bought...." Fourth graf: "the senator did not know that he had invested...."
If you're feeling nostalgic for the '90s, or if you're of a numerological bent, please note that today's peculiar choice of a front-page story comes fifteen years minus one day after the legendary March 8, 1992, front-pager by Jeff Gerth on Gov. Bill Clinton's Whitewater deal.
So the NYT is off and running to demonstrate that it's even-handed. So today's story about the Congressional testimony of the fired U. S. Attorneys is on page A14: "Prosecutors Describe Contacts From Higher Up."
That chalk-on-blackboard sound you hear is the sound of Bill Keller, facing the most demonstrably and systematically corrupt administration since Warren G. Harding, bending over backward to prove that the Times is even-handed.
Why do these boys -- and their mindless minions -- put me in mind of George Kennan, who likened democracy to "one of those prehistoric monsters with a body as long as this room and a brain the size of a pin: he lies there in his primeval mud and pays little attention to his environment: he is slow to wrath -- in fact, you practically have to whack his tail to make him aware that his interests are being disturbed; but once he grasps this, he lays about him with such blind determination that he not only destroys his adversary but largely wrecks his native habitat. "
Really, read the list of questions those guys have come up with for Obama and ask yourself what any of them have to do with being president, given the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing anywhere. These smart guys actually seem to think it's a bigger story than the Libby verdict, which after all, was only about lying to get the nation into a ruinous war.
And ask yourselves why candidates on the liberal end of the spectrum have to deal with this crap in a way right-wingers do not. Well before Linda Tripp ever wired up herself up for girl talk, The Washington Post's editors demanded an independent counsel to investigate the Clintons' money-losing Whitewater land deal, in the words of its editors, "even though -- and this should be stressed -- there has been no credible charge in this case that either the president or Mrs. Clinton did anything wrong." You read that right. The Post editors supported an investigation of the president by his enemies in the Republican Congress on the basis of what they could not exactly say. And yet when it was belatedly discovered that by the members of the same media, that while serving as a director and member of the audit committee of Harken Energy, Bush managed to dump 200,000 shares of the company's stock shortly before it publicly announced massive losses, it was considered to be unworthy even of notice. (The Post devoted a grand total of 26 words to it during the entire 2000 presidential campaign. The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN also ignored it entirely during the campaign. )
The good news is that if Obama becomes president we can look forward to thousands of pages of Wall Street Journal editorials about this collected in six volumes that, collectively, add up to nothing and will only make Brother President Obama stronger ...
On Libby: I'm still amazed there was no pre-trial pardon. Recall I offered to bet anyone $1,000 that such a pardon would take place before Libby went to jail. I'm withdrawing that offer, though it could still happen. Still, I would have thought that these imperial types would have spared themselves all this embarrassment immediately after the midterm elections.
What is most interesting about this extremely interesting exchange is the fact that the reporters are absolutely certain that they themselves operate outside of a system of bias or even ideology. The ideology of the establishment is intense and all-consuming. It's most unyielding aspect is its refusal to admit that it is, in fact, an ideology. Victor Navasky does a great job with this in A Matter of Opinion, but I don't have the references here.
The great Charles Pierce on Comrade Hagel.
Speaking of whose emails, don't ever believe anything these people ever say again after this ridiculous list. The less said about it, the better. (In a just country, these people would be taken out and shot ...)
Let be said of Jean Baudrillard, here, that he gave "bullshit" a bad name.
"Red" State Children at Greater Risk than Youths In "Blue" States, Reflecting Toll of Anti-Government Politics Drawing from official federal data, the book illustrates how living in a so-called "red" state appears to be more hazardous to the health of millions of American children. The factors weighed in the "Homeland Insecurity" ranking include such indicators as inadequate pre-natal care, lack of health care insurance coverage, early death, child abuse, and teen incarceration.
Based on this diverse range of 11 child-related statistical measures, nine of the 10 top states with the best outcomes for children are so-called "blue" states (Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and #1-ranked New Hampshire, with Iowa being the sole "red" state in the group) and all 10 of the bottom states with the worst outcomes for children are so-called "red" states (Wyoming, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and, in last place, Mississippi). Click here to see where your state stands. Red/blue designations are based on state voting patterns in the 2004 presidential election.
"Homeland Insecurity ... American Children at Risk" proposes a $500 billion "Invest in Kids" agenda to reverse the harmful impact of anti-tax ideology on children, and to make new investments in documented children's needs.
For additional data on child poverty and other issues creating homeland insecurity for America's children, youth, and families or to see our plans for making children a priority in the 2008 presidential campaign, visit http://www.everychildmatters.org/.
Tom Engelhardt's latest piece, "Hostages to Policy," places the Bush adminstration's last hot-button issue -- supporting not the policy in Iraq but "the troops" there -- in the larger context of a thoroughly wasteful war and of post-Vietnam history. Jumping off from the fact that Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain both had to express instant "regrets" for having suggested that the lives of American soldiers had been "wasted" in Iraq, he explores what we now know about "waste" and war in that country (and, via scandals like the present one at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, at home as well). He suggests that, no matter your brand of politics, it should be an obvious, if painful, fact that the loss of young people, who might have accomplished and experienced so much, in the pursuit of a thoroughly wasteful war is the definition of wasting a life. "That this can hardly be said today," he comments, "is one of the stranger aspects of our moment."
He then explores the way, in the post-Vietnam years, the idea of supporting the troops gained a life of its own, quite separate from whatever the troops were engaged in doing; and how, as well (via the symbol of the "yellow ribbon"), our all-volunteer Army was reimagined as a group of warrior-victims, potential captives and hostages in any situation they might enter.
Engelhardt concludes, in part, that the administration's revved up support-our-troops approach is now nothing less than "hot-button blackmail. Little could be more painful than a parent, any parent, outliving a child, or believing that a child had his or her life cut off at a young age and in vain. To use such natural parental emotions, as well as those that come from having your children (or siblings or wife or husband) away at war and in constant danger of injury or death, is the last refuge of a political scoundrel...
"As the Iranians in 1979 took American diplomats hostage, so in 2007 the top officials of the Bush administration, including the President and Vice President, have taken our troops hostage and made them stand-ins and convenient excuses for failed policies for which they must continue to die. Someone should break out those yellow ribbons. Our troops need to be released, without a further cent of ransom being paid, and brought home as soon as possible."
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TRANEUMENTARY will run through July 17, with new episodes released every Tuesday. Each episode spotlights an individual personality, including interviews with Jimmy Cobb, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Steve Kuhn, Dave Liebman, Terence Blanchard, Joe Lovano, Geri Allen, Jason Moran, Dr. Billy Taylor, Anton Fig, Karrin Allyson, Michael Cuscuna, Lewis Porter, Ashley Kahn, Dave Schroeder, Lenny Pickett and many others.
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Still no mail, sorry.
 Jamison Foser, "Media Matters," Media Matters for America, May 26, 2006.