Eason Jordan defends CNN in letter to Dan Kennedy
: Eason Jordan
has written a long letter to Dan Kennedy, defending CNN's actions. I was so infuriated reading the letter, I was set to fisk the damn thing. But Dan does a great job demolishing Jordan's arguments at the end. No need for a fisking. Eason just doesn't get it.
: Read the paragraph below from Jordan's original NYT op-ed
. See if you notice anything. Here's the paragraph:
"A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for 'crimes,' one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home."
Notice it? See the word 'Kuwaiti'? See the words 'occupying her country'? Did this happen in Kuwait? A different country. Kuwait was liberated 12 years ago. Jordan couldn't tell this story until now? Never mind the danger Iraqi employees, sources and family members faced by having any association with CNN in Iraq. We're talking about Kuwait
. ... They sold their souls for access.
'Wave the white flag on mass transit's future'
: Continue to get emails on my post about the cancellation/postponement of the Greenbush and New Bedford Fall River
commuter rails, in addition to this morning's post from Brighton Reader
. Not only is it a bad decision, but Foy's logic is flat-out anti-commuter rail, under any circumstances. Anyway, a sampling from Savin Hill:
"Could not agree more with you regarding cancellation of the Greenbush line and the general mass transit mess in Mass. To throw away this idea now is to wave the white flag on mass transit's future for ... well, probably decades. You correctly tie the issue to a type of effette snobbery of all things suburban emanating from the earthy-crunchy types. ..."
Another letter, this one from John:
"Good stuff on your blasting Romney for the decision to bag the commuter rail. Far as I'm concerned, local Bloggers should start beating up on Hingham the way national blogs are bashing France."
Surviving the war and now HBS?:
First Lieutenant Joe Finnigan, who's deployed with the Third Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment in Iraq and who conducted an application interview via satellite phone during a sandstorm in Kuwait, has been accepted into the Harvard Business School
. He doesn't know it yet. They're having trouble getting hold of him, understandably. Here's hoping he gets home safely and has a happy celebration.
Here’s why we should pray for the Boston College grad's safe return: Saddam’s Fedayeen are launching deliberate attacks
in Baghdad against civilians, trying to pin blame for them on Americans and disrupting the peace. The Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Petersen actually interviews one of the Fedayeen, who's confronted by a cleric: " 'You were not forced,' the cleric spat out. 'You fedayeen are hypocrites. Fedayeen is a missionary job; you are misrepresenting the faith, and slaves of wealth. You've lost all your respect for human life.' " ... Nope, we haven't done one iota of good in Iraq. Not one iota
Deep cuts and House pay raises
: You can’t make this up: House Dems
are pushing ahead with plans for deep cuts
in order to make the public scream for taxes -- while Tommy and Trav orchestrate pay hikes for members
, most of whom just voted to turn down pay hikes in order to ‘share the pain’ with the people. ... The cynicism is so par for these guys, it barely registers a blip on the outrage detector. ... Is there or is there not a voter-approved constitutional provision establishing how and when lawmakers should get pay raises? Not that voters and the constitution matter to these guys. ... Still: Not a peep from the ‘progressive’ community, as one reform after another gets shot down. They’ll feign outrage after they get the taxes -- when the leverage is conveniently gone.
Plato, Socrates, Jefferson, Locke, Marx etc. -- all rolled into one:
Here’s a quick profile of Harvard professor Brian Palmer
, who teaches "Globalization and Human Values: Envisioning World Community." ... That covers about everything, right? History, economics, philosophy, ethics, the future of the world, etc.
Hub Blog’s headache over humanitarian assistance in Iraq
: Hub Blog goes back and forth on this issue, causing dizziness, disorientation and throbbing headaches. Here’s why: Sarah Kenyon Lischer
, a specialist in humanitarian aid and a research fellow at Harvard University, makes some good points about the expertise of professional do-gooders in these matters. And then she bashes the military. ... Of course, you can’t bash the military too much as long as they’re hiring committed people like Michael Iacobacci
, a civilian contractor for the Army in Iraq. ... But, whoa! The former head of the Big Dig
is overseeing U.S. development efforts in Iraq. ... But, wait, the antiwar movement
now wants a say in rebuilding Iraq. ... See my dilemma? ...
... Favorite quote from antiwar ‘activist’ Katharine Preston of Lincoln, Mass.: "People who turn to antiwar protesters and say, 'You must have been wrong,' don't understand where we're coming from.” ... You’re wrong, Katharine. We know exactly where you’re coming from, even though the media routinely doesn’t tell us where you're coming from in stories about the antiwar movement. ... Second favorite quote from an antiwar ‘activist’: "There's not one iota of proof yet that what the US has done there has helped anyone." Remember: Not one iota.
Here's one iota -- besides the freeing of millions from a tryrant -- Hub Blog would like to see happen in Iraq: The capture of Saddam. The Brits are reporting he's still alive
The devil wants the Angels
: Frank McCourt
is a finalist to buy the World Series champion Anaheim Angels. ... Are those ugly surface parking lots near Fort Point Channel still ugly surface parking lots, Frank? Or are you still trying to throw wrenches into others’ development plans in order to maximize the value of your parking lots? ... Believe me, Frank is a kook. I’ve met him. I’ve listened to him. He’s a kook. Hope he buys the Angels. Improves the Sox’s odds.
: The war is over -- and Brighton Reader is back! Anyway, Brighton Reader takes aim at Doug Foy and the decision to kill the Greenbush and New Bedford/Fall River
commuter lines. From Brighton Reader:
“What is this guy thinking? Commuter rail is not going to cause sprawl. If zoning regulations stay the same, there are still going to be big subdivisions of oversized houses no matter what you do about public transportation. Provide some real incentives to communities to allow multi-family housing, smaller lot sizes and houses that are not enormous, and thus hopefully more affordable. One of the main reasons people keep pushing out to 495 and beyond is the hunt for a home they can afford. Foy also overlooks the economic benefits that commuter rail brings. The New Bedford/Fall River area has always had one of the higher unemployment rates in the state. They will benefit from having more people living in the area, spending the money they earn in Boston.
“And people really like commuter rail! It is popular!
“Totally agree with you about the message it sends about litigating projects to death, and also puts the administration on the side of elitists who want to keep their towns isolated Pleasantvilles.”
Hub Blog's response
: This is one of those issues that will leave a negative mark on Mitt's record for years to come, if not decades. Frank Sargent killed an auto highway through the city -- and he's fondly remembered for it. Mitt killed commuter rail lines into the city -- and won't be fondly remembered for it. The difference is 'auto' and 'commuter rail.'
‘The tax revolt will be something to watch’
: The Herald had a nice editorial yesterday about efforts by the anti-reform 'Let ‘Em Beg for Taxes' Dems pushing a trial balloon to raise the auto excise tax.
The Herald: “... on second thought, maybe they should let the plan go forward. The taxpayer revolt will be something to watch.” ... Indeed, let them go forward with it. It’s sure to further alienate Independent suburban voters
is taking a swipe at the Herald’s pay-to-view policy on its columnists. Glenn: “Why in God's name is The Herald
limiting its web content to subscribers?” ...
'Kubler-Ross's stages of dying':
A reader writes in to thank me for all my recent posts on Tom Keane’s
Let ‘Em Beg For Taxes theory on the state budget, adding that I sound like I’m going through "Kubler-Ross's stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance." ... Hey, I admit it. I see Finneran’s strategy unfolding before my eyes and I can’t believe people are falling for it. I’m scrambling for counter-measure tactics. ... FYI: Blogger’s permalinks don’t seem to be working today. Scroll down for numerous references to Tom’s column.
Cosmo takes a smack at CNN
: More on Eason Jordan and Peter Arnett in Cosmo Macero’s column,
which contends CNN is croaking itself. ...
... Dan Kennedy also has some thoughts on both CNN’s ‘ethics’
and Jules Crittenden’s classic ‘A mortal decision made’
column on the demise of objectivity in the face of enemy fire. Put another way: There are no atheists in foxholes -- and there ain’t no journalism objectivity either when someone’s firing RPGs at you. ... FYI: For the same Blogger-permalink reasons, you may have to scroll down below for my thoughts yesterday
on Crittenden’s piece. ...
Grab me one of those flintlock jezails, Jules
: The Herald’s embed Jules Crittenden
looks like he’s about to bid farewell to A Company, 4/64 Armor Battalion and head home, perhaps after he grabs himself and Hub Blog one of those souvenirs in Uday’s secret storeroom
‘Prepared for a backlash’ over Doug’s World
: The Romney administration says it’s ‘prepared for a backlash’ over its plan to kill the Greenbush and New Bedford-Fall River
rail commuter lines. They better be prepared. Because the backlash starts right here: This is an awful, snob-motivated, non-reality-based decision that’s being driven less by transit finances, as the administration claims and fibs, and obviously more by Doug Foy’s fanciful, ideological, anti-sprawl, utopian vision for developing the Perfect Hobbit Villages. ...
... Ultimately, the new transit plan’s glaring flaw -- abandoning commuter rail expansion in favor of expanding the Blue, Green and Silver lines, as if the two are mutually exclusive -- rests on the fanstastic assumption that’s there’s only one way to fight sprawl: Doug Foy’s Happy Hobbits way. ... What does Doug expect? For corporations and people to suddenly pack up their belongings and move from the suburbs to Revere, Medford, Chelsea and other inner-city communities because Doug slaps a T stop in them? Yes, I can envisage it: Like in the old WWII newsreels from Europe, we’ll see refugees hauling their belongings in quaint horse-drawn carts as they’re pulled in the micro-managed direction Dougie is wishing them, leaving behind empty suburban homes, schools, churches, office parks and shopping malls, all of which one day can be plowed under and returned to nature. ... Questions to Doug: Are you going to have high-quality schools in place when the happy masses roll into your quaint Hobbit villages? Will you have quaint patisseries
and butcher shops ready, too? When they arrive, can they do happy Peasant Dances around maypoles like in the movies Robin Hood and Braveheart? It will be so communal! How about organized Barn Raisings? Yeah, a Barn Raising! Oh, the masses can’t wait for their Perfect Hobbit Villages along the new Blue and Green line extensions! ...
... Back to harsh and depressing reality. ...
... Let me get this straight: The state has spent years and years planning the expansion of the Greenbush and New Bedford-Fall River lines -- buying up land, fighting anti-transit fanatics in Hingham, filing environmental reports, lining up funding, building consensus and hope. But now the state is going to abandon those projects and start anew with more years and years of planning on the Green, Blue, Urban Ring and Silver Line extensions etc., only to possibly later resurrect the Greenbush and New Bedford plans when we accept the reality that the suburbs won’t go away. Oh, this is great. ... The net result of this plan is going to be: No expansion of any
rail transit lines for years and years and years and years, compounded, and sending a signal to mass transit opponents that you can kill future projects by driving up costs through litigation. Including future projects such as the Blue, Green and Siliver line extensions. ... Congrats, Mitt! ... Your first big mass-transit decision is to kill off doable mass transit projects in pursuit of Perfect Hobbit Villages. ...
... Hub Blog has nothing against the extension of the Blue Line to Lynn, the Green Line extension to Medford, and the Urban Ring, a fanciful and far-into-the-future vision of a rail-and-bus service circumventing Boston. In fact, Hub Blog LOVES the concepts. Let’s move forward on them. Except for the overrated Silver Line. But what I can’t stand about this new non-commuter-rail strategy is that it’s so flavor of the month, so utterly blind to the market reality that most high-tech companies and their workers etc. are now based in the suburbs and the suburbs aren’t going away, so dunderheaded that it doesn’t accept the REALITY that people LIKE living in quieter suburbs (just like you, Mitt) and commuting into the city via the Fitchburg commuter lines of the world (just like your Belmont neighbors, Mitt). ...
... Ah, but there are evil Sheriffs of Notingham out there who will destroy Doug’s dreams for Perfect Hobbit Villages for the masses ...
... From Bennet Heart, senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, on commuter rails vs. T lines: ''It doesn't need to be either/or. ... They should do everything they can to make the funding pie bigger for transit and rail.” ... Well, thank goodness the CLF hasn’t lost its marbles, unlike its former director who’s lost his now that he’s in state government. ...
... What the state needs is a reality-based INTEGRATED mass transit plan -- which requires both commuter rail for suburban travelers AND inner-city expansion of the T. ...
Hub Blog’s suggestion: Ram reforms down the T’s throat, pass a gax tax hike, fund what needs to be done: A fully INTEGRATED mass transit plan that deals with REALITY, not far-off Hobbit Villages. ... There are different and more realistic ways to approach sprawl, Doug.
‘A mortal decision made: Journalistic objectivity a casualty of firefight':
Read this story
. Now. Don’t put it off. It’s one of the most memorable and frank accounts of battle -- and journalism ethics -- I’ve ever read. Of course, it’s by the Herald’s embed Jules Crittenden, who openly admits to his spotting three enemy soldiers during a firefight and their subsequent deaths at the hands of machine-gun-firing GIs. From Jules:
“Some in our profession might think as a reporter and non-combatant, I was there only to observe. Now that I have assisted in the deaths of three human beings in the war I was sent to cover, I'm sure there are some people who will question my ethics, my objectivity, etc. I'll keep the argument short. Screw them, they weren't there. But they are welcome to join me next time if they care to test their professionalism.”
Hub Blog’s reaction
: Now I understand why Jules mentioned the word ‘we’ in this post
. I suspected this was the case. And I side with Jules 100 percent. ... As Jules says: Screw ‘em. ... Darwinian and moral question to fellow armchair journalists: What was Jules supposed to do? What would you do? Stay cool, calm and collected during a battle and let enemy soldiers fire off RPGs, allowing GIs and yourself to be killed in the process? Leave behind a widowed wife and fatherless children? It’s not even a close call. ... You shout ‘incoming!’ when you hear artillery coming in. You shout ‘grenade!’ when a grenade is lobbed in your midst. You shout ‘watch it!’ when an enemy takes aim at you and someone else. You push a person out of the way when a piano is falling from a tenth-floor window. ... Think of this honesty about a split-second, life-or-death decision during an intense battle and contrast it to CNN’s year-after-year, non-life-or-death, corporate-boardroom decision to cover up the truth in the name of network access. ...
Let ‘em Beg for Taxes
: Yep, Tom Keane
was right. They’re going for the more severe cuts and dumping Mitt’s reforms
. ... Two things: 1.) Mitt’s undeniably sloppy numbers are being used as an excuse to cover up their nixing of reforms. Mitt clearly shot himself in the foot in this regard. 2. ) Mitt should strip down all his reform ideas, throwing away the ones he knows are bogus, package them together and then force lawmakers to take a constitutional up-or-down vote on them. Forget the budget numbers. Make it simple and clear: These guys oppose any and all reforms -- and they will shamefully tax people to the max and slash services to the bone in order to avoid altering the way their world works on Beacon Hill. ... Wonder if progressives see the cynical strategy unfolding in the House.
‘Let’s hear from Bulger’
: From Eileen McNamara
: “The last thing this town needs is more secrecy or more deference to those who would use their power to protect the most depraved among us.” ... What is the rationale for letting Bulger testify behind closed doors? National security? I’ll bet, if we dig into the rationale a bit more, we’ll find the FBI’s cover-it-up fingerprints somewhere, as well as others’ embarrassed cover-it-up fingerprints.
‘This block needs retail dialysis’
: Don’t agree with turning Boylston Street into another Charles Street. But love the other ideas and overall vision for Boylston Street
expressed in the piece. ... One quibble: Don’t bad mouth the past-their-prime retailers on Boylston who stuck with the street through thick and thin. They deserve praise, not ridicule. ... One other point: Another show-off-Boston boulevard we should be concentrating on is Cambridge Street, from the Charles Street T stop to City Hall Plaza. The state recently postponed a much-needed and long-planned street and sidewalk project for this neglected gateway into Boston from Cambridge. Let’s get it done before the 2004 Dem convention.
Postwar Iraq and the Kurds
: Not a bad editorial in the Globe
, which suggests the administration should ‘sheathe the sword,’ cool down the rhetoric and concentrate on rebuilding Iraq -- while also keeping a wary eye on Syria and Iraq. It even slaps around Russia, Germany and France. Hub Blog would have been tougher on Syria and Iraq -- and more than just slapped around the Coalition of the Clueless. But the editorial is fundamentally on target. ...
... Tom Oliphant
writes a good piece on Turkey’s betrayal and the Kurds' loyalty. Tom: “It's bad enough that the Kurds are not receiving the proper affection and gratitude for all they have done to help topple Saddam. The kid glove treatment of a misbehaving alleged ally, Turkey, needs to stop now.”
Building a democracy after totalitarianism
: Smart piece by Paul Berman
on the success rate of rebuilding a country and establishing democracy after a totalitarian government collapses. The comparisons between post-communist Poland and Yugoslavia etc. are important. ... The main problem we’re facing in Iraq in establishing democracy: Saddam appears to have wiped out any and all liberal opposition. No Havels, no Mandelas, no Karzais. One might emerge, but it’s not clear right now if any survived.
A protest heard 'round the world
: From the Globe wire services: "Even as the war with Iraq winds down
, protesters in the United States and abroad continued their campaign against the conflict Saturday." ... As I've indicated before, they're not playing with a full deck. ...
The ultimate no-bid consulting contract
: Let me get this straight
: An $8,000 monthly retainer with a private-sector company to find public-sector contracts with the private-sector retainer paid for by public tax dollars since 1989. Not bad.
‘The House is more intent on protecting business as usual’
: Mitt on rejection of his court reforms
by a House committee: “The direction they may be heading is, `Give me taxes or give me cuts, but don't give me reform.’ ” ... Saw a snippet of Jon Keller’s interview with Speaker Finneran -- for Jon’s ‘At Large’ show tomorrow on Channel 56, 8: 30 a.m. -- in which Finneran vows to outdo Mitt in budget cuts. Maybe Tom Keane
was right. Personally, I keep going back and forth on the Let ‘Em Beg For Taxes theory. ... No reforms, no new taxes.
‘These antiwar protesters are so hypocritical’:
Perhaps the most awful great idea
in the history of the Commonwealth: Charging antiwar protesters to pay the cost for their staged arrests. ... Says state Rep. Brian P. Lees, R-East Longmeadow: “These antiwar protesters are so hypocritical. They stand out there with their signs that say don't spend our money on war. They should add a line that says don't spend our money on war, but spend it on arresting me.” ... Alas, the idea is probably unconstitutional and therefore regrettably regrettable.
‘Coalition of the Clueless’
: Am I the only one who thinks President Putin appeared embarrassed to be seen in the presence of his fellow ‘Coalition of the Clueless’
members, President Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder? ... Notice how Putin was the only one of the three to embrace the American idea of forgiving Iraq’s foreign debts
. ... George Will
thinks the UN should be involved in rebuilding Iraq, but only on a limited humanitarian and civil administrative basis: “This invitation should be extended for the same reason France was made a permanent member of the Security Council in 1945 -- as psychotherapy for a crisis of self-esteem brought on by bad behavior.”
‘Uday Hussein's Weapons Store’
: A gold-plated AK-47, a gold-plated Walther pistol, a 200-year-old 5-foot-long Arab flintlock jezail (‘inlaid with mother-of-pearl’), Arabic swords, huge Braveheart-like broadswords, Winchester repeaters, Remington shotguns, more jezails, Baretta pistols, a gold-plated antique Mauser bolt-action rifle. And, oh, what appears to be one sound-proof torture chamber in the basement. Jules Crittenden
has the embed goods. ... Hey, I know I'm a non-legitimate blogger low in the social hierarchy of the journalism world, but I would have grabbed one of the those flintlock jezails and scrammed.
‘Unlovely and unloved’
: Globe ran an editorial this morning on the latest effort to change the ‘unlovely and unloved’
City Hall Plaza. ... Hub Blog is all excited about the redevelopment and the forthcoming Sidewalk Superintendent ideas. My suggestion: Townhouses, with ground-floor retail, with really narrow streets and/or alleyways. At least along Cambridge Street. Townhouses would pay for other plaza improvements. Need to bring 24/7 life back to the area!
Cosmo, big media and blogging
: Hey, Cosmo Macero’s blog
is getting some backing and a plug, albeit a small plug (for now), over at the Herald’s web site. Go to this link
, scroll to the right. See Cosmo’s handsome picture? Look right under it. See tiny ‘weblog’ reference. Click. ... OK, so it’s not such a big deal. But it’s another sign of the Big Media Blogging Convergence. FYI: There might also be some ‘guest blogging’ on Cosmo’s site ...
: On Cosmo’s site, I happened to notice this item
about the blogging Agonist controversy and comments by Sean Kirby, who rightly notes the strengths of the big media and how blogging won’t eclipse it etc. All of which is absolutely true. But there was something sanctimonious and annoying about Sean's tone, such as how many bloggers are “excellent freelance journalists whose aspirations to be important participants in topics of importance outpace their actual pull in the social hierarchy of the journalism world." Or: “Bloggers shouldn't overstate their role in that dialogue or imagine that their traffic numbers equal legitimacy.”
Social hierarchy? Legitimacy? Geesh. ... Hey, you newsroom janitors! Get out of the way! The big dogs are walking through. ...
: This on the day CNN’s Eason Jordan
writes an op-ed that will probably go down in journalism history as one of the greatest and most shocking confessions of a journalist who sold his soul for access. ... Check out Dan Kennedy's reaction
to CNN's social hierarchy, legitimacy and treatment of excellent freelance Iraqi employees who just didn't have enough pull.
Mitt raises gas taxes
: Yep, you read it right. Cosmo Macero
has the scoop, though you’ll have to pay the Herald’s own online fee/tax to read the column (i.e. pay-to-view). The bottom line: The administration approved what amounts to a 2 cents per gallon tax hike through an obscure fund that pays for cleaning spills and underground leaks at gas stations. ...
Hub Blog’s view: Fine. Mitt’s no-new-taxes pledge applied to the deficit. He never ruled out other tax increases. Unless this gas tax money is diverted to other projects or agencies (and/or frees up money for other uses), he’s keeping within his pledge -- not that I agree with the pledge. ... Also: Hub Blog is boldly on record as advocating a gas tax hike to pay for expansion of rail service and other infrastructure improvements -- as long as it’s tied to reforms at reform-challenged agencies like the MBTA.
They’re testing the tax waters
: House leaders are tinkering with the idea of changing the way auto excise taxes
are assessed in Massachusetts. Think suburban owners of a 2000 Mercedes S-Class are going to put up with paying $1,375 per year for the right to drive their car? Lawmakers are trying to frame the allegedly revenue-neutral move in progressive, soak-the-rich, class-warfare language, though they’re not quite phrasing it that way. ... Hub Blog can’t think of a better way for House Democrats to kiss away suburban votes in the next election. ...
... Kind of surprised the House has even broached the subject at this point. I thought the game plan was for House Democrats to first let citizens shriek over budget cuts -- then pull out the tax proposals. They don’t have the timing down, obviously. Or maybe Tom and Hub Blog
were wrong about our Let ‘Em Beg For Taxes theory. ...
is pounding the drums again for a broad-based tax increase. No mention of reforms. ... Howie Carr
is having a good guffaw at do-gooders’ expense. (Howie's column is pay-to-view.)
Another reform bites the dust?:
As the House floats its auto excise idea, other House members are belittling Mitt’s reform/restructuring plan for Massachusetts’ court system
. The lede of the story says it all: “Defending their power to oversee the courts, members of a special House task force yesterday ...” ... You get the idea. ... These guys are like the Catholic hierarchy: They will never give up power without a fight. Never. Hub Blog is almost embarrassed for suggesting yesterday what I thought was a reasonable compromise: A tax increase in exchange for true reforms. How naive of me. (See above ‘Tom and Hub Blog’ link for details.) ...
... But there’s good (and surprising) news on the reform/budget front: A progressive organization, Common Cause Massachusetts, is actually backing Mitt’s court overhaul plan. I’m shocked. Guess I’ll have to tinker a bit more with my cutting-edge theory about the Progressive Hack Alliance -- though it doesn’t fundamentally change my belief that ‘progressives’ tend to look the other way when it comes to patronage/nepotism/corruption as long as they get their cherished tax hikes.
One excellent reason to overhaul the courts
: John ''Jackie'' Bulger
, who pleaded guilty yesterday to lying under oath in the Whitey Bulger case, is a former court magistrate. ... Gee, wonder how he got his court job. ... Think it has anything to do with lawmakers “defending their power to oversee the courts”?
‘I don't know, sir, one palace don't need 50 fricking stereos’:
I didn’t think it was possible, but the Herald’s Jules Crittenden has outdone himself in terms of superb embed reporting from Iraq. Most of his past stories -- particularly those involving combat and the dialogue of GIs -- have been incredibly vivid and telling. ... But this story
, well, it’s different. He throws away the detached I’m Not Really Here language and starts referring to events in the personal “we” and “our” and “us” and “I,” as he tells tales of a chaotic Baghdad, GIs liberating stashes of Chivas Regal in Saddam’s palaces, soldiers bragging about wasting Iraqi soldiers. ... Jules just walks from one surreal moment to the next. Outstanding reporting. ...
The Globe’s Pulitzer and Kristen Lombardi’s reporting
: Dan Kennedy
has a nice piece about the Globe’s well-earned Pulitzer for its coverage of the sex-abuse scandal. ... Couldn’t agree more, as I indicated earlier this week
. ... Still, the Phoenix’s Kristen Lombardi was one of the first to expose Cardinal Law’s “culpability in the matter,” as Dan puts it. ... The Globe indeed blew the lid off the scandal; Lombardi was among the first to notice there was a lid at all. So she also deserves credit -- and gratitude -- for helping expose and dismantle a local pedophile network.
Next up: Syria?:
The Boston-based Christian Science Monitor is all over the Syria angle. There’s this CSM story
about how some in the administration appear to have "pretty much decided to go after Syria.” ... Then there’s the story by CSM embed Ben Arnoldy
about how Saddam’s forces brought in freelance Syrian fanatics to fight Americans, using local Iraqi civilians and their homes as shields. ... And here’s another CSM story
about America’s future foreign policy. Says one expert: "Syria may be next. ... The Syrians consider it a given." ...
Hub Blog’s view? One can’t escape these facts: We’re in Iraq. We’ve taken it. We’re going to have to rebuild the country and, if at all possible, establish democracy there. If Syria and Iran try to undermine our rebuilding efforts by sending in terrorists and thugs, they’re playing with fire. Syria and Iran are simply realities we have to face now that we’re in Iraq. We need to deal with Syria and Iraq on a case-by-case basis, aggresively and militarily if necessary. ...
... However, what bothers me about this entire affair is how the Bush administration has yet to spell out to the American people what’s clearly emerging as a grander vision of the world and even of history, a vision that goes well beyond the war on terrorism: Belittling alliances, the UN, global economic institutions, NGOs overseeing AIDS programs etc. A lot of today's policies are indeed driven by a laudable desire to prevent the spread of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. No doubt. But there’s a deeper philosophy at work here: It’s about the fundamental permanency of American power and how it should be wielded well into the 21st century to shape the world in our image -- regardless of whether we smash terrorism and bottle up all the world’s WMD. ... And it’s not a vision of the world and history that Tony Blair shares, FYI. ... Hub Blog's new mantra: Assess events on a case-by-case basis.
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill on suicide attacks in Iraq:
As noted above, the CSM is hammering away at the Syrians-are-in-Iraq angle. But let’s give Armchair Gen. Savin Hill, a loyal Hub Blog reader and contributor, a crack at roughly the same issue. From Savin Hill:
“Many reports (Thursday) on the news attributing suicide bomb attacks to Iraqi forces. I don't believe for a minute the suicide bombers are Iraqis or Fedayeen. The Fedayeen and and Baathist militia's weapons are AK-47s and RPGs, not plastic explosives, remote timing devices and an operational knowledge of bomb electronics. Suicide bombing is not something you decide over breakfast -- you need to recruit and train people for it.
“Note that in the largest concentration of militia and Fedayeen -- in Basra -- there were no suicide bomb attacks, just conventional weapons. And remember, these guys were fundamentally fighting for survival -- to keep their privileged place in a brutal regime. Fighting for survival by blowing yourself up is slightly inconsistent. ...
“Who carried out the most extensive suicide bombing wave in history last year? Hamas. Who trains, equips and even offers office space to Hamas in its capital? Syria. Would Syria be interested in waging a proxy war in Iraq -- to destabilize a new pro-US neighbor? I'll let you figure that out.”
George ‘They got it down!’ Bush
: My favorite reaction to news of the fall of Baghdad? The excited reaction of the undeniable Man of the Hour: George Bush. As he watched the televised toppling of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad, the president reportedly exclaimed, ‘They got it down!’ ...
... Though the administration is trying to dampen down current euphoria
, George Bush clearly deserves enormous praise. Forget past (and undoubtedly future) arguments over his diplomatic skills. What’s amazing about his leadership during the current military campaign
and the military campaign in Afghanistan is that he simply made the right choices, despite warring factions within his administration and the Pentagon. He put boots on the ground in Afghanistan. He put boots, tanks, Bradleys, embeds, Special Forces, Marines, Brits on the ground in Iraq (not to mention smart bombs hurling from the air), wisely splitting the difference between competing military doctrines within his administration. This isn’t luck. This was his call. Two campaigns, two brilliant victories.
... I know, I know. The war isn’t over. It wasn’t over yesterday when Saddam’s Stalinist statue was yanked off its pedestal, as the Herald’s Jules Crittenden
made clear. Even as adults and children chanted ‘Good, good, mister! Good, good, mister!’, GIs were rooting out Syrian Islamic extremists hiding in a neighborhood mosque. ... And the war won’t be over today or tomorrow, as the Globe’s Charlie Sennott and David Filipov
make clear. Resistance in northern Iraq -- and resolving the Kurdish question -- is still far from over. ...
But, what the heck, let’s celebrate -- or better yet, let’s read about others’ celebrations. From an American officer in Baghdad, as quoted in this Globe embed story
: ''The civilians all came out and were overjoyed to see us. I was surprised that a lot of them spoke English and had relatives in the United States. They were thanking us for our help and denouncing Saddam and the regime.'' ....
The Iraqis have relatives in the United States? OK, let’s switch over to them. From a local Iraqi woman as quoted in this Herald story
: “It was the happiest moment in my life. It's a dream. It's my dream -- to see Saddam's statue toppled down.”
What a day.
Update - 10:20 a.m. --
So how long is The War Isn't Over Phase going to last? I don't know, but Kiruk just fell.
... And Turkey
is none too happy about it.
Best local lead on a Fall of Baghdad story
: From the CSM
: “One of the most brutal and entrenched tyrannies of the age fell Wednesday with a crack heard around the world.”
Best online street map of downtown Baghdad
: Right here
. Now, where was that cracked statue heard around the world?
Benjamin Franklin’s sad and dying legacy
: Not quite sure why the fate of the Ben Franklin Institute of Technology has hit such a sad nerve in me. Maybe it’s the history. Not sure. .. But it’s clearly hit a sad nerve in Adrian Walker
as well. Adrian: “Sad it is, both because the institute serves a population that depends on it and because this debacle might have been avoided.”
The unfolding scenario for a tax increase
: Hub Blog was busy most of Wednesday, which accounts for the only one blog item yesterday. However, I did catch Tom Keane’s column
about what he thinks will happen in the end as lawmakers cobble together a state budget package: Taxes will be raised after enough shrieking over budget cuts. Tom: “The scenario I describe is really just a variation on the strategy Finneran successfully employed last year, when he almost single-handedly pushed through a delay in planned income tax cuts. If it worked then, it very well may work now.”
... Tom is probably right. But the big questions are these: Will any reforms be passed? And what will Mitt do and say if lawmakers move to raise taxes without passage of any substantive restructuring and reforms? Mitt made three vows during the campaign (not two, as the Globe once asserted in an editorial): 1.) He will not raise taxes to balance the budget. 2.) He will not cut core services. 3.) He will clean up the mess on Beacon Hill. If lawmakers raise taxes to avoid cutting core services, will Mitt stand idly by as as lawmakers also gut most of his restructuring and reform ideas? He could indeed sit on the sidelines, taking shots at lawmakers and making them pay the price. But he might also come across as another ineffective Paul Cellucci or Jane Swift if he chooses that option. Tough call.
... Personally, I think he could also throw his grudging support behind a tax increase -- assuming it’s going to happen anyway -- as leverage to get his reforms. He’d break his no-taxes pledge by doing so, but I think he could explain to the public that he had no room to maneuver, that a tax increase was going to happen anyway, and that he went for a compromise in order to achieve at least some of his aims. ... Hey, what do I know? I’m not a politician. That’s just one scenario. But I do know this: Mitt’s day of pledges reckoning is fast arriving. He’s done a great job making reforms a top issue. What’s he willing to do to make some of them a reality? ... The chess match is far from over.
A reader responds
: A reader writes in asking 'what's in it for legislators to cut a deal' with Mitt. ...I assume he's referring to a taxes-for-reforms deal. So the answer is: Mitt can give them cover. ... I hope that answers the question. And, again, it's only one scenario I'm throwing out there. Lawmakers could pass a budget on their own with a tax increase and just enough reforms in it to quiet the masses ... Or. ... Many other 'or' possibilities out there.
Local leftovers from Wednesday
: As I noted above, Hub Blog was busy on the Big Day in Baghdad -- and couldn’t blog as much as usual. But I did save some local stories of interest from Wednesday. Quickly, here they are in no particular order ...
Globe Special Forces Columnist Eileen McNamara
-- obviously aware of possible Jo Moore church tricks during the war and obviously aware most of her Globe colleagues would be savagely hungover from all their well-earned Pulitzer parties -- nobly stood guard on the ramparts and caught Thailand Paul's church attorneys going after both a victim and a parent.
... The Herald
reported that Billy will indeed be dragged before a Congressional hearing. Scot Lehigh praises Dan Burton
-- yes, praises, and rightly so -- for not letting go of the Billy story. Scot also makes mention of ''Black Mass,'' by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. Hub Blog’s advice: If you haven’t already, read “Black Mass.” One of the three best books about modern Boston’s darker side. The two other books, of course, are “Common Ground” and “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” ...
... On of all days, the Globe editorialized
on Wednesday about Pentagon policies allowing single-parent GIs to serve in combat. An important issue, for sure. But editorializing on the subject as Baghdad was under siege and as the world’s attention was focused on more profound events unfolding in Iraq? Geesh. I don’t know. ... Robert Kuttner
, showing no sense of timing, began his op-ed on Wednesday by sniping at Rummy’s military tactics in Iraq, citing Maureen Dowd as an authority. Believe it or not, I kept reading after the Dowd reference and learned that Bob is now stomping off to the next ideological argument. Bob, calm down. Take a day off. Enjoy the celebrations. A nasty regime just collapsed. ... Derrick Jackson
was upset George Bush didn’t pray for Iraq during the war. Maybe he didn’t. But, Derrick, he did answer the prayers of a lot of Iraqis on Wednesday.
A Herald embed’s account of the killing of 2 journalists
: Talk about being on top of a highly controversial story -- and a highly controversial story involving journalists, reported by journalists and, if the action of the Committee to Protect Journalists is any indication, about some journalists taking a rather rash and double-standard side in the controversy. Setting the stage: Two reporters died yesterday when an American tank blasted a Baghdad hotel.
The Boston Herald’s Jules Crittenden
is embedded with the U.S. brigade -- and, I believe, the very tank company -- that fired on the hotel. Excerpts from Jules’ story:
“It was later in the day, after the Assassins had taken their first combat casualties, that the tank company tried to stop RPG fire from across the Tigris River and kill a suspected Iraqi forward artillery observer.
“One tank opened fire, hitting the upper floors of the 17-story Palestine Hotel, killing two journalists and wounding at least three others. The tanker had seen RPG crews operating around the hotel, headquarters for hundreds of foreign journalists, and someone peering out an upper window with binoculars. ...
“The incident, which set off a furor in Arab-language media, came on the day one of the unit's tank commanders was seriously injured by a sniper ... The Army tanker, who was in serious condition but managed to walk to a medevac track, was shot through the shoulder by a sniper in a building as armed Iraqis in civilian clothing were pushed back to an intersection outside the palace complex.”
Now let’s switch to another story about the killings
“Even if accidental, the two cases raised issues for the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, as did the US response.
“ ‘They (Pentagon officials) did not say what needed to be said: `We want to make sure our troops and fighters know this is wrong and we don't want to see it happen again,' said board member Michael Massing, who is monitoring the war from Doha. In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the committee said, ‘We believe these attacks violate the Geneva Conventions.’
“Even if fire was coming from the Palestine Hotel, ‘the evidence suggests that the response of US forces was disproportionate and therefore violated international humanitarian law,’ the letter said.”
Whoa! Hold on, Michael. I know you're upset. I am, too. But what’s with this ‘even if accidental’ and ‘even if fire was coming from the Palestine Hotel’ and ‘the attacks violate the Geneva Conventions’ and the ‘evidence suggests’ a ‘disproportionate’ force and therefore the U.S. is ‘violating international humanitarian law’?
Does Michael have any clue that the committee might have just crossed a line by sending that letter, by so quickly and so assertively proclaiming/suggesting violations of international laws without even a full day’s investigation of the facts? Did the committee bother to wait until it could interview its own colleagues -- embeds, such as the Herald’s Crittenden -- to get another perspective on the incident?
Does the Committee to Protect Journalists realize it’s opening itself up to possible charges of emotional bias and double-standards in the middle of a war? Has any such letter been sent to the Iraqi regime about ‘armed Iraqis in civilian clothing’ who are clearly hovering near the hotel (if not in it, as the committee acknowledges for the sake of argument) etc?
For a journalism advocacy group to so quickly make such serious charges -- in the middle of a war and while admitting the tragic hotel incident could have been an accident and at least more complicated than it appears -- is simply ludicrous and embarrassing.
Postscript: Maybe the committee should start investigating -- but refrain from firing off a letter concerning -- the death of two other journalists
in Iraq: “On Monday, Christian Liebig of the German news weekly Focus and Julio Anguita Parrado of the Spanish newspaper El Mundo -- both embedded journalists -- were killed when an Iraqi rocket hit a US communications center on Baghdad's southern fringe.”
‘It deserves the gratitude of Catholics everywhere’
: Globe editor Marty Baron to his Globe staff
on winning the Pulitzer for its coverage of the sex-abuse scandal: “You made history this past year.” ... And they absolutely did. They made history on so many levels, exposing a local and national pedophelia network, forcing a cardinal to resign in shame for taking part in that network, provoking Catholics to question the church, its leadership and its very logic and legitimacy, and changing the generational loyalty and dynamics of Catholics everywhere and forever. Spiritually, the scandal was an historic watershed -- and the church and its hierarchy will never fully recover from it. ... My favorite quote about the Globe came from an AP story
: “ ‘The Globe deserves more than recognition from its journalistic peers. It deserves the gratitude of Catholics everywhere,’ said Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.” ... ‘Deserves the gratitude of Catholics everywhere.’ As a Catholic, I can’t think of a better accolade. ...
... The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
also won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the deaths of four boys who died in the icy waters of the Merrimack. ... And Winthrop’s Samantha Power, executive director of the Carr Center at Harvard, also won a Pulitzer for "'A Problem From Hell:' America and the Age of Genocide.” ...
All in all, a spectacular day for Boston reporters and writers.
'I heard Madonna was protesting the war'
: Speaking of fine journalism (and as the war apparently winds down), here’s a good behind-the-scenes piece
in the Christian Science Monitor about the military’s civil authorities who are tasked with winning the peace, which one officer described as “the exact opposite of the 'shock and awe' campaign.” ...
Meanwhile, another CSM embed reporter, Ann Scott Tyson
, writes a melancholy piece about how badly American GIs want and need the support of the American people back home. Says one forlorn GI: “I heard Madonna was protesting the war.” ... Speaking of the Christian Science Monitor, Hub Blog has been negligent by not giving the same attention to the Monitor’s embed reporters
as I’ve given to other local reporters. Ben Arnoldy, who wrote the first story above, and Tyson, who penned the second story, have done a stellar job in the Gulf, as have their embed colleagues at the Globe and Herald.
Now that the war is winding to an apparent close ...:
The war wasn't going well last week -- and John Kerry was antiwar. The war is going well this week -- and John Kerry now wants to change the subject
. Hmmmmmm. ... The Herald is now stalking poor John in Iowa and having a fun time.
-- Paul Krugman
is rushing to John Kerry’s defense, framing the issue around the ‘right to criticize in times of war’ and ‘questioning one’s patriotism in times of war.’ Granted, as I’ve noted already
, some dunderheaded right-wing hawks are indeed unfairly attacking Kerry on those fronts. ... But a lot of other non-right-wing people
(including Tom Oliphant) see something different in Kerry’s words and deeds. It has something to do with Kerry’s constant backtracking and pandering
to voters. Krugman conveniently doesn’t address this issue. And I'll leave it at that. (Krugman column via Dan Kennedy
The most questions ever asked in a column?:
Or the most desperate column ever written? You decide, dear reader. The whole damn column
is questions. Forty-one in all. Carroll is obviously reeling -- but I didn’t think reeling could get this bad. Ridiculous questions. Obvious questions. Leading questions. Contradictory questions. Questions, questions, questions! ... My question: Should I even bother clicking on his column in the future? I think 'the answer is no.' It’s getting to that point.
is having a field day with questions, questions, questions! He even asks if there's a shortage of exclamation points in Boston! What a foolish question! I think 'the answer is no'! What do you think, James? Does Instapundit make good points? Is there a shortage of other punctuation marks in Boston? Is he right about open-ended questions? Tell him it isn't so!
Gay marriages and gay GIs fighting for their country
: A majority of Massachusetts citizens now support gay marriages.
A slim majority, granted. But it’s a majority. Quick question: Do you think the Catholoic sex-abuse scandal has anything to do with this? I wonder. I suspect the scandal has factored into this shift, somewhere, somehow. Put it this way: When a priest or Bishop bellows from the pulpit about the evils of homosexuality, I know some church goers will nod their heads in agreement. I also know that more than a few parishioners will raise their eyebrows, look sideways at each other, stifle a mischievous grin and wonder, ‘Who the hell is he to lecture to us about homos in the wrong places?’ ... The sex-abuse scandal, more likely than not, will have a subtle and not-so-subtle impact on a wide range of political issues in Massachusetts, one of the most Catholic states in America.
And the war will have an impact, too, as Tom Oliphant
notes in his column this morning on gays in the military. The hypocrisy we’re showing towards gays -- treating them as second-class citizens while asking them to fight and die for our country -- is glaring and will come to light after the war, when the first gay war hero is inevitably drummed out of service amid outrage among constituents and some straight GIs alike.
A ‘vindication of the Rumsfeld doctine’?:
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill writes in. My reaction before getting into the thrust of his arguments: A.) This isn’t exactly a pure form of the Rumsfeld Doctrine (as I’ve said before). B.) The Brits developed their own urban warfare tactics without Rummy’s help or influence C.) I still admire Armchair Gen. Savin Hill’s insightful, non-partisan, non-ideological analysis of the war. Lots of honest analysis. Armchair Gen. Savin Hill:
“Verdict: Operation Iraqi Freedom was (ok, ok, is) a vindication of the Rumsfeld doctrine of a ‘transformation’ military in action. People still seem to be confused over what this is, so let me lay out the main elements:
“ -- Multiple, simultaneous attacks using multiple strategies and force dispositions: At any one time, we were launching cruise missiles on the leadership, using air assets on the com grid, using armor against conventional forces, and using special forces and airborne to seize special objectives. The point is, this was all done at the SAME TIME. The Southern front was conventional division/ground assault. The Northern front was a light-infantry/special forces operation. Two entirely different force dispositions working at the same time in different fronts.
“ -- Enhanced, new ‘remote sensing’ technology gave an unprecedented and fully coordinated view of the battlefield, accessible to any ground commander. This was done with JSTARS overhead assimilating and disseminating real-time data from unmanned drones at high, medium and low (hundreds of feet) altitudes.
“ -- The emergence of UCAS: Never even heard of before last week, US forces have apparently worked out a system of Urban Close Air Support. Unfortunately, it looks like we won't get a chance to practice it much. Nonetheless -- it points to a new urban fighting doctrine with far-reaching consequences: You are not safe in a city -- even in your capital.
“ -- Victory over ‘irregular’ forces: Brits proved their mettle, again, as experts in fighting against guerrilla, ‘irregular’ forces. Conventional forces cordoned off hostile areas while special forces went in at night and killed/captured targets and gathered intel. Of course, the 3rd ID just rolled into Baghdad and blasted apart anybody who looked at them funny, and that appears to work well, too.
“ -- Intell wins the day: From the first minute, it was apparent we now have intel assets that could provide ‘eyes on target’ of the highest echelons of leadership. That's game, set and match in military terms. The message: You are not safe -- even in your leadership circle.
“Verdict: No future enemy force, conventional or irregular, should feel safe today. Hooah.”
Mitt’s poll numbers
: These poll numbers
sound about right.
‘The price-gouging abounded’
: In an editorial, the Globe jumps on
a Hub Blog pet-peeve issue, to wit: The botched, monopolized, anti-competitive electricity deregulation in California -- and the lessons that might apply to what appears to be an increasingly monopolized and anti-competitive electricty industry here.
Sen. Having It Both Ways strikes yet again
: This isn’t as big as the ‘regime change’ fiasco, but it’s yet another example of Kerry’s sorry antics
. From the Herald:
“Kerry argued that the White House should restart a dialogue with (North Korea), even as it fights the war with Iraq.
“ ‘There are a lot of people in Washington and elsewhere who believe that one of the reasons the administration won't do that is that you need a boogeyman over there in order to be able to build a missile defense,’ he said.
“Asked about the comment, Kerry said some ‘serious policy people in Washington’ had made those assertions but said he did not agree with them.”
Notice how the senator is saying what he said wasn’t really what he meant but reflected what others said and so he said it. Translation: He’s having it both ways. Got it?
Two embeds -- and an armchair journalistic critic of embeds
: Two more good embed pieces from local reporters -- one by Brian MacQuarrie
as U.S. troops try to bottle up Baghdad from the north and the other by Jules Crittenden
about mopping up operations in the south. ...
... Meanwhile, an armchair academic criticizes
embeds and media coverage of the war in general, saying they’re “constrained by’’ all those “institutions” and the “ideology of society,” all of which “not surprisingly produces a view of the world skewed toward the powerful.” The author of the Globe op-ed is Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream.” ... Gee, I wonder what Jensen’s ‘view of the world’ and ‘ideology’ might be -- and how he views the war with or without facts. I can’t imagine.
They’re Botching It Again?:
The Christian Science Monitor reports on the diplomatic wrangling
over post-war Iraq. I’d love to say of the Bush administration: They’re botching it again! But I’m also dubious about the UN and France and Russia and China getting involved. So I give up. I’m throwing in the towel. ... Another possibility: Follow Tony Blair’s instincts on this one. The British prime minister has become an expert on sorting out the warring factions within the American administration.
Civil liberties in times of war
: The CSM
goes after the FBI over its handling of the six Buffalo-area men of Yemeni origin who were charged with ‘conspiracy and aiding a terrorist organization.’ All six of them had visited Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, so I really don’t buy their arguments that, oh, you see, well, we became disillusioned and so we left -- and so leave us alone! .... But the FBI, well, it’s still the FBI. ... Instapundit
says the FBI’s actions sound like ‘dirty pool’ tactics. ... Cathy Young
is concerned about (and saddened by) tough anti-terrorist measures in the United States, but she’s not alarmed. Not yet. Mistaken Homeland Security measures do have a way of being democratically A.) blocked B.) exposed as folly and/or C.) corrected.
Maureen Dowd on Michael Kelly
: No Dowdisms
. She's hurting inside. A straight-from-the-heart tribute.
‘John Kerry goofed in the middle of war last week’:
And goofed is putting it mildly. The Herald’s Wayne Woodlief
, in a subscriber/pay-to-view column, says John Kerry’s remarks last week showed “an appalling lack of judgment and a stunning political miscue” by Kerry. ... The MetroWest Daily News’ Tom Moroney
asks: “What was he thinking? If this is how Sen. John Kerry plans to run the rest of his campaign for president, I have only one thing to say. It's going to be a lot more fun than I figured.” ...
But Tom Oliphant
nails it pretty well, systematically taking apart Kerry’s comments as wrong, dumb and damaging at almost every level. Tom: “A more enduring point is that every serious candidate for president must survive at least one near-death experience. I doubt the Peterborough Pop-off qualifies, but it's close enough that Kerry should take care to learn from it.”
One last quote from Tom’s column:
“Kerry has had difficulty articulating his support as well as his reservations and criticisms without exposing himself to the suggestion that he wants to be for and
against the war at the same time. In politics, clarity trumps fudge.” ... Which leads to. ...
JFK II can learn from Teddy K
: Have you noticed the dignity Ted Kennedy has displayed since the outbreak of the war? Kennedy was hard-core antiwar before the war broke out, but he clearly meant what he said when he proclaimed once it started: “Our thoughts and our heartfelt prayers are also with our president. ... We join our president in pledging our commitment to victory, to disarm Saddam and to bring freedom and opportunity to all the people of Iraq.”
Here’s a portion of Kennedy’s statement yesterday on the death of Capt. Benjamin Sammis
in Iraq: “I pray for a quick end to this conflict so no more Americans have to lose their lives in the fight for Iraqi freedom.”
Here’s what he said at a rally yesterday at Otis Air Foce Base
: ``You already know the overwhelming support you have from the people of Massachusetts and people across the country at this critical time. ... We've always been proud of you, and we're prouder than ever now.''
What does this all add up to? Class. ... Can the same be said about JFK II?
Mitt’s first 100 days -- three views
: Three views on Mitt’s first 100 days in office:
1. The Globe’s piece
is excellent, thoroughly and fairly analyzing the governor’s strengths, weaknesses, successes and setbacks.
2. The Herald’s piece
is also fair and balanced, though it’s not as nuanced and thorough.
Best quote from Mitt (in Globe story): ''I'm not Pollyannaish enough to think everything I want to see happen will be accepted by the Legislature. ... But I want to move the ball forward. And for some cases I've gone for the long bomb, on others it will be three yards and a cloud of dust, and on others I'll probably be thrown for a loss.''
3. Hub Blog’s view: Oh, now here’s
a fair and thorough and balanced and nuanced view. ... Hub Blog shall give Mitt an A - for setting the agenda. No small task for a Republican governor facing a Democratic-controlled Legislature in Massachusetts. He's kept lawmakers off balance and on the defensive. Lawmakers even acknowledge the need for 'reform,' even though we all know they despise the thought. ...But Mitt still gets only a C for execution -- partly because he doesn't have much room to maneuver (no veto threat to wield etc.), partly because he's made some classic rookie and Dudley Do-Right mistakes that are distinctly 'Mitt' in nature, partly because he assumed people wouldn't add up his budget numbers. ... The latter grade would have been a solid A+ if his ‘shock and awe’ strategy had initially worked to decapitate Billy. All other blunders would have been forgiven.
It’s turned into a Story That Won’t Go Away:
More on the Tip’s Tunnel/Liberty Tunnel
flap. ... Jeff Jacoby
is piling on in a partisan way. I didn't think it was possible, but he's managed to do it. ... Repeat: Hub Blog likes ‘Tip’s Tunnel,' primarily because I love the ring of it. It’s quaint, parochial, endearing. Sure to evoke questions 50 years from now like, ‘Why do they call it Tip’s Tunnel?’ It adds to local lore. ... The issue is settled! Hub Blog has made the decision! Now go away! ...
‘The history and ethics of military deceptions’
: This Globe 'Ideas' piece
comes dangerously close, in my mind, to moral relativism concerning the argument over/excuse for Saddam’s savage tactics in Iraq. Read it and see if you agree. ...
The ideological war over military tactics in the war
: Terrific story by the Globe’s Bryan Bender and Robert Schlesinger
on the battle over military tactics. ... Didn’t know that Rummy has a long, long pre-Wolfy/Perle history of supporting a lean-and-mean, high-tech machine. Also didn’t know this fact: Rummy used to drive Henry Kissinger up a wall when Rumsfeld served in the Pentagon in the ‘70s. File this under: New Respect. ...
... Here’s a key line in the article, though: “Since Sept. 11, 2001, Rumsfeld has tried to put the winds of history at his back.” ... Ding, ding, ding!
... Here’s where the debate over military strategy, which pre-dates the administration and even pre-dates Saddam's rise to power, starts to dovetail into today’s ideological debate within the administration. ... Clearly, Paul Wolfowitz and neoconservatives like William Kristol have glommed onto not only Sept. 11 but also to 'Invasion light' to push their Pax America vision of U.S. foreign policy. Iraq and ‘Invasion light’ happened to neatly fit into their ideological vision of American foreign policy and the wars they envision fighting. Rummy, who hired Wolfy, also is exploiting Sept. 11 to push what amounts to a combo military and
ideological cause. ...
But does that mean those who oppose the Pax America/Rummy ideological agenda should oppose 'Invasion light' because it's been effectively hijacked by neoconservatives? Answer: No. As I said the other day
, it's not as black and white as some ideologues on the left and right hope and/or want. We're probably going to need to maintain three military doctrines into the foreseeable future: 'Invasion light' (for campaigns like we saw in Afghanistan), the 'Powell Doctrine' (for conventional wars that may break out in such places as Korea) and a combination of the two (which we're seeing now in Iraq).
is still hammering away at the ideological angle. I suspect Mickey’s merely trying to win an argument at this point.
‘Free Iraq’ pins
: A local reader of Hub Blog sends in this link
in to get your very own ‘Free Iraq’ pin/logo. Check it out. And check out the moving words about the pin/logo. You don't have to be prowar or antiwar to appreciate the sentiments expressed.
NYT discovers politics in antiwar, prowar movements
: This is a funny, funny story
about the yawning political gap between college professors and students regarding the war in Iraq. The aging ‘60s professors seem stunned -- particularly at Amherst College -- that their students don’t see the world through their 30-year-old Vietnam-era prisms. Can you imagine? For the record, the NYT actually uses commonly used political phrases/terminology to describe where people are coming from! Here’s the tally from the NYT story:
Mention of the words ‘liberal’ or ‘liberals’ in the story: 3. As in ‘three’ mentions.
Mention of the words ‘left’ or ‘leftist’ or ‘left-wing’ or ‘radical’ etc.: 2. As in ‘two.’
Mention of the words ‘politics’ or ‘political’: 1. As in ‘one.’
Mention of the words ‘ideology’ or ‘ideological’: 0. As in ‘zero.’
Mention of any other politically related word commonly used in all other ‘political’ stories that might indicate where antiwar and prowar citizens might be coming from in terms of their ‘political’ identity: 3. As in ‘three.’
Of course, this still isn't very impressive, considering just about every time the story mentions ‘antiwar,’ the words ‘liberal’ or ‘left-wing’ could easily have replaced it. But it’s a hell of a lot better than the politically neutered antiwar stories
we saw in the local press last weekend. Guess you can’t avoid a ‘political’ analysis when you can’t fall back on a ‘sociological analysis’
about the 'intellectual elite' and ‘more educated’ etc. But it’s a start!
Favorite quote in story: “ ‘Protesting is a niche activity,’ said Prof. Michael Kazin, co-author of "America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960's. ‘There are some people who do drama, some people who do protest, other people who drink too much.' ” (NYT story via Instapundit
Entering Baghdad -- and the ideological war simmers down
: Whew! American troops are entering Baghdad.
And according to this AP report
, they’re not probing -- they’re there to stay. A daring plan to forestall the possibility of Republican Guard troops
regrouping and infiltrating back into the city? The opportunity was there, so the Americans took it? Who knows? ...
... On another war front, an ideological truce over the ideological arguments over military tactics apparently has been called -- an argument that had less to do with military tactics and more to do with scoring ideological points, left and right. To his credit, the conservative Andrew Sullivan
says this column by the NYT’s liberal Bill Keller
‘brings closure, to my mind, to debate over the war-plan.’ Keller’s key point:
“The war we are watching is neither a pure old-fashioned, heavy-metal war nor a light and lean ‘transformational’ war. It is, as Mr. Thompson puts it, ‘a transitional war’ — with elements of both old and new.”
Which is a point I was making yesterday
and which is a point Tom Oliphant has been making the last few weeks, in this column
and in this column
. (FYI: Oliphant’s excellent columns during the war have been an important element of the Globe’s superb ‘shock and awe’ war coverage. More later on how the media has covered the war. Until that greatly anticipated Hub Bloggian moment, check out Dan Kennedy’s assessment
: New England is seeing its first military fatalities in the war. Here’s the Herald story
and the Globe story
. ... The pre-war talk between Matthew Boule and his WWII vet grandfather was sad, brief but historically intriguing, especially if you’re a history buff. See Globe story to see what I’m talking about.
Michael Kelly, RIP -- Part II:
More on the sad death of Michael Kelly. ... Often, the seemingly simple observations say so much about a person. From afar (having never met him), Kelly always struck me as a little kid with a great heart and mind. In other words, he was curious, enthusiastic, confident, full of child-like energy. Here’s what Michael’s wife told Mark Jurkowitz
: ''He has two little boys that he loved very much and who love him very much. ... He was up for anything, just jumped into anything with his kids.'' And he jumped into a war when he got bored with office journalism. He was that type of guy, it seems. ... Here’s the Herald’s story
... Mickey Kaus
has a lot of links about Kelly, including this terrific piece by Peggy Noonan
. ... Andrew Sullivan
has more to say over at Salon.
Fast Company makes fast break to NYC
: No surprise here: Boston-based Fast Company is indeed moving
its operations to New York. The magazine’s owner, Gruner+Jahr USA, also moved Boston-based Inc. magazine to NYC last year. Can’t blame them. Makes sense to concentrate Gruner+Jahr USA’s growing North American holdings in one place. ... Another blow to Boston publishing? Definitely. But don’t cry too much. ... I’m beginning to think Boston perhaps is becoming a great incubator for new publications. My only problem: We don't seem to have anything in the entrepreneurial pipeline right now. Hub Blog (seriously) has some ideas for new publications, if any David Bradley types want to contact me about them. ... We still have the Atlantic Monthly and Christian Science Monitor!
Technical change to prep school
: This is sad, but also not surprising. The Benjamin Franklin Institute
has been struggling for a long time now. ...
Finneran uncorks on just about everyone
: In an interview with the Dorchester Reporter, House Speaker Tom Finneran
fires off volleys in every direction:
On the Bulger/Romney spat
: "They'll be no defense of President Bulger simply because he's the former senate president and now has done a good job at the university. Nobody's going to be able to just sit back and relax. At the same time, I do take issue with somebody who just wants to drop-kick him around and impose a punishment because he was the former senate president."
On the Herald’s coverage of the spat
: “The Herald really seems to be thirsting for this one, like it's Ali-Frazier or something. They want to see the heavyweights dance and hit each other."
On Romney’s first 90 days
: “If there's a strategy there, I'm troubled by it because the strategy would seem to suggest that you're going to lead the public in a direction and, then, never really inform the public. It seems to me that the governor should either be less bold in his initial announcements or he owes a statement to the public.”
On opponents of his constitutional amendment requiring a mandatory reserve fund
: "process liberals."
Fun stuff. Good points. Bad points. Check it out. P.S.: Hub Blog is wondering when Finneran et gang will endorse at least one
of Mitt's reforms. Still waiting, Mr. Speaker.
-- A reader sends in an obvious observation that Mitt isn't going after Billy because he's a former Senate president. It has 'something to do,' the reader said, with 'taking the Fifth during a manhunt for a murderer.'
Michael Kelly, RIP
: Returning from a luncheon meeting, I saw I had an email from Reader No. 1, slugged "Awful news!!!!!" Michael Kelly, former editor and current editor at large of the Boston-based Atlantic Monthy
, has been killed in Iraq covering the war. Awful news indeed. Reader No. 1 also forwarded a link to Dan Kennedy's site
, with this message about Dan's item, 'This is an awesome remembrance.' It surely is. Boy, Mike will be missed.
... Here's a statement from the Atlantic Monthy
. Says David Bradley, chairman and owner of Atlantic Media: "This is the first friend and the best friend I made in journalism. In that quarter of the heart, he can't be touched." Says Cullen Murphy, managing editor: "He saw his profession not as a game but as a public service. I want Mike's boys Tom and Jack to know that their Dad was a hero. His loss is devastating to all of us." ... There are other comments and photos at the site.
-- Glenn Reynolds
over at Instapundit has more about Michael Kelly and some other links, one of which is so gross that, well, I'll let Glenn rebut it in his usually devastating fashion. I can't believe someone could sink so low.
Cable and local coverage of the war
: John Ellis
has a sharp piece over at the WSJ Opinion Journal
about the cable news networks’ coverage of the war. John: “Wall Street remains insistent that companies hit their numbers come hell or high water. So we're fast approaching the point where one of these news operations is going to have to blink” and cut back on coverage. I’ll let John tell you who he thinks will blink first. ...
... Meanwhile, Dan Kennedy
has a good column about the local media’s coverage of the war. Dan’s overall assessment: They’ve done a fine job. Couldn’t agree more. They’ve really been impressive.
‘You should be shot in the head’ ... ‘Have you ever shot anyone?’
: I loved these two stories, strategically placed next to each other in the Globe today, about a UMass prof getting arrested
during a protest (if you can call it that) and Marine recruiters at Belmont High
... As for the UMass-Boston story, the National Guard officer, who was on campus recruiting, certainly comes across as a jackass who should be disciplined for losing his cool, but so does the professor, as you read into the story. National Guard officer to prof: ''You should be shot in the head.'' Prof to National Guard officer: ''No. You should be shot in the head.'' Case closed. Both are jerks. ...
Notice how the UMass students are quoted throughout the piece, verifying the prof’s version of events even while they’re chanting ''Stop police brutality'' and ''Recruiters off our campus.'' And then like groupies being led by a Pied Piper Prof, the students all trudge off to the police station to show their support for our hero. ...
... Contrast those college students with the Belmont High School students, who surrounded an on-campus Marine recruiter and eagerly fired off these questions: ''Have you ever been in live combat?'' ''Have you ever shot anyone?'' ''What's your favorite weapon?'' They also did push-ups to get Marine T-shirts. ... Fear not: when the Professor Van Der Meers of higher ed get their hands on these kids, they’ll be shouting “Police brutality” and “Recruiters off our campus.” ... Interesting fact: Military recruitment isn’t really up in Massachusetts. But interest is.
‘Sgt. Lustig just blew that guy's head off’
: Another great embed piece by Jules Crittenden
, whose best reporting comes when he simply lets the GIs do the talking. ...
One curious line in the story: “In the Bradley's rear cabin, we slapped magazines into the M-4 rifles in case we were forced out to fight in the road.” ... We
? This wasn’t part of a quote.
Having it both ways on Sen. Having It Both Ways:
Hub Blog is having it both ways with John Kerry. Yesterday, it was glee
over his being tripped up; today, it’s glee over his tripping up Republican critics
who know so much about proper military protocol in times of war, even though they’ve never served in the military in times of war. ... FYI: Kerry’s criticism of the president isn’t the issue. It’s his backtracking that’s the issue.
Not a public naming contest! Ahhhhhhh!:
Admire the Globe for weighing in
on the ‘Tip Tunnel vs. Liberty Tunnel’ spat. But we just held a truly stupid public contest to come up with the truly stupidest state motto. And now we should repeat that stupid process for naming the new I-93 tunnels? ... The suits are going to overrule anything the public suggests anyway. So let’s cut the charade about public input and go with ‘Tip’s Tunnel North’ and ‘Tip’s Tunnel South.’ ... And go with a ‘Salvucci Park’ and a ‘Conte Park,’ too.
Kill the bottle law?:
Hub Blog has a soft spot for the bottle bill. You see, there’s this elderly Asian woman who, three times a week, goes through everyone’s trash on Beacon Hill, collecting beer and wine bottles for the deposits. She’s a little messy, tearing open trash bags etc. But she’s gotten better in recent months. And so. ... Well, Steve Bailey
has some interesting arguments against expansion of the bottle bill. In fact, he wants to kill the bottle bill. Very persuasive, insightful arguments. But what about the Asian woman?
The new Green Monster: ‘The view is awesome’
: Hub Blog likes it!
Good job! ... Here’s a photo
of the changes at Fenway. (Photo expires tomorrow.)
French anti-Semitism watch
: From the Boston-based CSM
: “The problem, as (French) Jewish activists see it, isn't necessarily the support for Palestinians. It's the rejection of Israel. ‘It's become acceptable to not want Israel to exist,’ says Levy.” ... FYI: Levy, a French leftist and a Jew, was severely beaten at a Paris antiwar rally when he came to the defense of another Jew being beaten. Their crimes: They were Jews.
-- A Hub Blog reader, noting there's indeed "something worthwhile from France," sent me a link to a new bilingual blog, The Dissident Frogman
, apparently written by a Frenchmen who likes our policies. ...
... Of course, there's the legendary Merde in France
, written by an American who lives in Paris and who's a blast to read.
Ideologues continue the argument over military tactics
: It’s almost laughable: armchair general intellectuals arguing over the military strategies and tactics being used in Iraq. From the left: Discredit ‘Invasion Light’ -- and you discredit the pre-emptive/unilateralist foreign policy initiatives of neoconservatives. From the right: Prove the worth of ‘Invasion Light’ -- and you prove the credibility of pre-emptive/unilateralist foreign policy initiatives of neoconservatives. ...
... Andrew Sullivan
is at the forefront of this obnoxious and toxic debate. Sadly, H.D.S. Greenway
, who wrote some of the most insightful political columns before the war, allowed himself today to get sucked into the vortex: “The Pentagon's worst mistake may prove to have been abandoning the Colin Powell doctrine of overwhelming force. Instead the Pentagon chose to feed troops into the battle piecemeal in the so-called ‘rolling start’ strategy.” ... H.D.S. also brings up Vietnam, ‘hubris’ and ‘hopes for quick victory are receding’ etc. etc.
But these armchair generals, both left and right, should do one thing: Read this Tom Oliphant column
from a few weeks ago. In fact, President Bush wisely split the difference between ‘Invasion light’ and the ‘Powell Docrtine,’ as Tom makes clear. What we’re seeing in Iraq today is a combination of the two doctrines, not a ‘pure’ form of either one, and it would have tilted more in the ‘Powell Doctrine’ direction if we could have gotten the 4th Armored Division on the ground in time. But we didn’t. ... Alas, that won’t stop ideologues from seeing things in black and white. ...
... FYI: I believe there is
an ideological element to the fight within the administration over ‘Invasion light’ vs. the ‘Powell Docrtine.’ But also keep in mind: There’s been a huge, huge debate in the Pentagon, well before Rummy took office, about the future make-up of the military, with some generals arguing for a leaner-meaner military in the post-Cold War world, while others say we still need ‘an overwhelming force’ that’s the hallmark of the Powell Doctrine. Both are right. The campaign in Afghanistan cried out for a nimble, lean-and-mean strategy -- and it worked. But would the same doctrine work if North Korean forces all of a sudden started to cross the 38th parallel next week?
The worst possible outcome in this ideological debate is for one ideological side to prevail -- for then armchair intellectual generals will literally have blood on their hands if one doctrine is abandoned and later found to have been necessary for victory.
Have-It-Both-Ways Kerry strikes again ...and again. ... and again
: Lost track of how many have-it-both-ways incidents/antics the Globe catches in this one article
alone, based on one speech and one post-speech interview with John Kerry. Mickey Kaus
is going to have a field day with this. Highlights from the Globe:
Kerry: '' ‘What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States,’ Kerry said in a speech at the Peterborough (N.H.) Town Library.”
Kerry after being confronted by Globe: “It is possible that the word `regime change' is too harsh. Perhaps it is.”
“Despite pledging two weeks ago to cool his criticism of the administration once war began, Kerry unleashed a barrage of criticism as US troops fought within 25 miles of Baghdad.”
“By echoing the ‘regime change’ line popular with hundreds of thousands of antiwar protesters who have demonstrated across the nation in recent weeks, the Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential contender seemed to be reaching out to a newly invigorated constituency as rival Howard Dean ...”
“The criticism appeared to contradict statements Kerry made on March 18, just a day before Bush authorized military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power.”
And on and on it goes. Oh, yeah, almost forgot. The article notes: “Finally, he said his overall criticism of the administration was part of ‘the healthy democracy of the United States of America’ and no different from some of the war critiques published on the front page of major newspapers. ‘Is that unpatriotic?’ he asked.”
Questions: Did the Globe reporter and/or someone else ask
about your patriotism, John? Did the reporter and/or someone else question
your patriotism, John? Why are you even bringing up the subject, John?
Which conveniently brings us to ...
The dreaded Debate Over Debate In Times of War:
Bringing up the My-Patriotism-is-Being-Questioned line has now become the rhetorical shield du jour
of those who want to criticize but can’t stand being criticized back. ... Kerry is obviously anticipating criticism of his criticism, so he pre-emptively pulled out the old My-Patriotism-is-Being-Questioned shield. Ugh. ...
Lots of other talk today (such as in this Globe editorial
) about ‘dissent’ and ‘protest’ and ‘healthy democracy’ in times of war, a subject Hub Blog tackled way back when
Tommy DeLay obnoxiously told Tom Daschle, ‘Fermez la bouche.’ Hub Blog repeats: Criticism in times of war is good. ...
But the opposite is true, too: Analytical criticism of the critics’ arguments is also good in a time of war.
Example: Joan Vennochi
today rightly bashes Peter Arnett over the head (you gotta read how she levels him -- not once, but twice, in her column). I.e. She’s criticizing the appropriateness and timing of Arnett’s criticisms and antics. Fine. That’s her right: Analytical criticism of a critic’s arguments/antics in a time of war.
But then Joan attacks those who criticized the negative military analysis by armchair General Barry R. McCaffrey and non-armchair General William Wallace (who really didn’t criticize -- he just spoke a truth about what’s happening on the ground in Iraq). Joan asks: “Is unpleasant truth now treason?” ... Huh? Who said anything about “treason” in regards to McCaffrey and Wallace? Granted, Arnett definitely has been fatuously accused of ‘treason’ by some right-wing pundits. But McCaffrey and Wallace? I’ll stand corrected if they were indeed accused of ‘treason,’ but my reading of it is that their military arguments and assessments were being questioned and criticized, not their patriotism. No need for a My-Patriotism-is-Being-Questioned shield in those two instances, Joan.
God, I hate debates over debates.