Saturday, July 29, 2006

Journalists Blast Rove's Role in Journalism

Filed at 4:35 p.m. ET Saturday July 29, 2006
Special to The New York Herald Journal Tribune American Sun

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Journalists said Saturday that Presidential adviser Karl Rove often criticizes journalism professionals because he wants to draw attention away from the ''corrosive role'' his own activities play in reporting and opinion coverage.

''Some decry the professional role of journalism, they would like to see it disappear,'' journalists told graduating students at the George Washington University Graduate School of Perception Management. ''Rove argues that journalism professionals are ruining American politics -- asking candidates about actual facts and events instead of about the public relations campaigns he runs on behalf of his clients.''

But journalists turned that criticism on Rove.

''It makes perfect sense to us that most of these critics are, like Rove, political fixers,'' journalists said. ''Perhaps they don't like sharing the field of play. Perhaps they want to draw attention away from the corrosive role their campaigns have played focusing attention on phony issues and not reality.''

Journalists told about 100 graduates trained to be political operatives that they should respect the instincts of the American reporter.

''Rove, who is credited with stealing the Presidency for an obscure and incompetent governor in 2000 and 2004, holds that reporters are dumb, ill informed and easily misled, that reporters can be manipulated by a clever ad or a smart mind,'' said the journalists, who spoke from behind a curtain but with one voice. ''We've seen this cynicism over the years from political professionals and campaign contributors. American journalists are not policy wonks, but they have great instincts and try to do the right thing.''

Journalists said it is ''wrong to underestimate the intelligence of the American reporter, but easy to overestimate their interest. Much tugs at their attention.''

But they said reporters are able to watch campaigns and candidates closely and ''this messy and imperfect process might produce great leaders, not that it has yet.''
A Reckless Lack of US Middle East Urgency
Published: July 26 2006 03:00
Financial Times

Few ceasefires in the Middle East amount to more than an opportunity for the combatants to reload. Yet never was one more needed than in Lebanon today. That is not just because of the suffering inflicted on civilians on both sides of the border between Israel and Lebanon. It is because the conflict is on the point of spreading like fire across a region enraged by Israel's wanton destruction of an Arab country, with the full support of a US administration that purports to be Lebanon's ally.

To be sure, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, started her tour of the region in Beirut, giving that warred-over capital a brief respite. But no sooner had she moved to Jerusalem than Israel resumed massive air strikes on Beirut's teeming southern suburbs, the heartland of Hizbollah, the heavily armed Shia Islamist group.

The message she brought to both parties was that there would be no return to the status quo ante. Hizbollah had to pull back from the border, disarm and hand back the two Israeli soldiers it seized two weeks ago, precipitating the crisis.

The chances of this happening are virtually nil, as Israel should know. Hizbollah was spawned by the Israeli invasion of 1982, and its shrewd but implacable guerrilla warfare forced Israel finally to abandon its occupation in 2000. Ignoring the hard reality of the region, Washington appears to believe diplomacy is about achieving Israel's unrealisable war aims by other means.

The Bush administration is taking a huge gamble. Ms Rice blithely asserts that we are witnessing "the birth pangs of a new Middle East" - an unfortunate metaphor set against the background noise of the death-rattle of a recently resurgent, pro-western Lebanon.

But the point is that fighting could now easily spread, and not just by sucking in Hizbollah's patrons in Syria and Iran. Israel's assault on Shia Lebanon has inflamed the Shia majority in Iraq - the community preventing the total meltdown of the US occupation. Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army, modelled on Hizbollah, which fought alongside it in the 2004 siege of Najaf, is itching to launch a new uprising. Even Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of the Shia who has held the Iraqi ring, is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing his tacit but vital support for the American project.

No wonder Nouri al-Maliki, the beleaguered Iraqi premier who yesterday held talks with President Bush, is so insistent on a ceasefire in Lebanon. So it is with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, another US ally who, despite his fear of Iran-led radicalism, warned yesterday "there will be no other option but war" unless Israel halts attacks on the Lebanese and Palestinians. The US and its friends need to engage with all parties in the region. That includes Syria and Iran. That was partly how Washington stopped the last bout of fighting approaching this scale in 1996. Its lack of urgency now is reckless.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Protracted Colonial War
With US support, Israel is hoping to isolate and topple Syria by holding sway over Lebanon

Tariq Ali
Thursday July 20, 2006
The Guardian

In his last interview - after the 1967 six-day war - the historian Isaac Deutscher, whose next-of-kin had died in the Nazi camps and whose surviving relations lived in Israel, said: "To justify or condone Israel's wars against the Arabs is to render Israel a very bad service indeed and harm its own long-term interest." Comparing Israel to Prussia, he issued a sombre warning: "The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase 'Man kann sich totseigen!' 'You can triumph yourself to death'."

In Israel's actions today we can detect many of the elements of hubris: an imperial arrogance, a distortion of reality, an awareness of its military superiority, the self-righteousness with which it wrecks the social infrastructure of weaker states, and a belief in its racial superiority. The loss of many civilian lives in Gaza and Lebanon matters less than the capture or death of a single Israeli soldier. In this, Israeli actions are validated by the US.

The offensive against Gaza is designed to destroy Hamas for daring to win an election. The "international community" stood by as Gaza suffered collective punishment. Dozens of innocents continue to die. This meant nothing to the G8 leaders. Nothing was done.

Israeli recklessness is always green-lighted by Washington. In this case, their interests coincide. They want to isolate and topple the Syrian regime by securing Lebanon as an Israeli-American protectorate on the Jordanian model. They argue this was the original design of the country. Contemporary Lebanon, it is true, still remains in large measure the artificial creation of French colonialism it was at the outset - a coastal band of Greater Syria sliced off from its hinterland by Paris to form a regional client dominated by a Maronite minority.

The country's confessional chequerboard has never allowed an accurate census, for fear of revealing that a substantial Muslim - today perhaps even a Shia - majority is denied due representation in the political system. Sectarian tensions, over-determined by the plight of refugees from Palestine, exploded into civil war in the 1970s, providing for the entry of Syrian troops, with tacit US approval, and their establishment there - ostensibly as a buffer between the warring factions, and deterrent to an Israeli takeover, on the cards with the invasions of 1978 and 1982 (when Hizbullah did not exist).

The killing of Rafik Hariri provoked vast demonstrations by the middle class, demanding the expulsion of the Syrians, while western organisations arrived to assist the progress of a Cedar Revolution. Backed by threats from Washington and Paris, the momentum was sufficient to force a Syrian withdrawal and produce a weak government in Beirut.

But Lebanon's factions remained spread-eagled. Hizbullah had not disarmed, and Syria has not fallen. Washington had taken a pawn, but the castle had still to be captured. I was in Beirut in May, when the Israeli army entered and killed two "terrorists" from a Palestinian splinter group. The latter responded with rockets. Israeli warplanes punished Hizbullah by dropping over 50 bombs on its villages and headquarters near the border. The latest Israeli offensive is designed to take the castle. Will it succeed? A protracted colonial war lies ahead, since Hizbullah, like Hamas, has mass support. It cannot be written off as a "terrorist" organisation. The Arab world sees its forces as freedom fighters resisting colonial occupation.

There are 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gulags. That is why Israeli soldiers are captured. Prisoner exchanges have occurred as a result. To blame Syria and Iran for Israel's latest offensive is frivolous. Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq's occupation ended, there will be no peace in the region. A "UN" force to deter Hizbullah, but not Israel, is a nonsensical notion.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Corporate Media Gets it Right for Once

Lieberman's Real Problem, Harold Myerson, Washington Post (registration required.)

mr harold myerson
washington post

mr myerson:

you called it bang right on sen joe lieberman and CT in 2006 exactly because you understood pres lyndon b johnson and the USA in 1968. your killer observation was that this is not a year in which northeast republicans are being cut any exemptions and that joe shouldn't expect anything different. the country moved; the incumbents didn't.

as a comparison, i learned this story in a bio of gov al smith but have forgotten the author. in 1936 a congressman came to postmaster jim farley and complained that in his district the party wasn't putting out enough posters of him, just of FDR. farley said, "when the ferry comes into the slip, a whole lot of garbage gets brought along in with it. the name of your ferry is franklin d. roosevelt."

similarly, when a ship goes down, a whirlpool is formed that sucks down a lot of surface debris. the name of joe's deathship is george w bush.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup 2006

Sometimes a bloggist has to work two months of sixty-hour weeks. And sometimes for relief a bloggist just has to go watch/listen to/read about the World Cup.

Semifinal Match Preview for Over-Fifties
Teams: Hitler v. Mussolini
Coaches: Dolf v. Nito
Nicknames: SS v. OVRA
Favorite: Hitler

The Axis Breakdown
Longtime allies Dolf & Nito go at it in a symbol-rife match for the right to contest Eurosupremacy. Dolf’s lads’ attacking style leaves his defense knackered and liable to crack. Nito’s boys’ fluid defensive flair is hampered by their lack of match fitness and a habit of playing while their hands are in the air. Winner will be overwhelmingly favored against next opponent.

Teams: Salazar v. Petain
Coaches: Toni v. Henri
Nicknames: PVDE v. LFC
Favorite: Petain

Wannabes’ Undercard
Minor-league imitators Toni & Henri hope to push their squads back to former glory (anyone remember the 13th or 17th centuries?) Tendencies of chaotic Gauls and sclerotic Iberians prevent the best quality play here. Sloppily mediocre elements contaminate the styles of each team, but derivative play will not prevent one of them from contending for mastery of all the concentration camps.

Futbol Feuhrer Sepp Dietrich Blather, speaking from his HQ in Malmedy, praised the last four squads for maintaining traditional European values of brutality, inequality, thuggery, timidity, gross deception, rigid order, lack of imagination and repeated betrayal of the weak. "Ve haff liqvidated zer schweinhunds off zer NKVD, Peronist, Falangist und Ashanti pretensions," Blather remarked with great satisfaction, "und of course ze Perfidious Albion, ze FBI/OSS und ein whole schmear off ozzer negligible peoples."