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Dan Rather Revives the Chickenhawk Rule for Pundits



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Dan Rather was on CNN’s Reliable Sources yesterday and had this to say about “hawks” who are advocating military action around the world (Transcript via TPM):

Well, absolutely. Look, the war drums have been beating along the Potomac for some little while, accentuated in recent weeks and now in recent days. As a citizen — let me take my journalist hat off for a moment — but, as a citizen, this worries me a great deal. Because as a journalist who has seen war zones, I’m not padding my part here, but I’ve seen war up close not like the combatants do, but the savagery, the brutality of war once we put the nation at war … All of these people on television — some of whom I have enormous respect for — but it unsettles me to hear them say, listen, we, the United States, we have to, quote, “do something” in Ukraine, we have to do something in Syria, we have to do something in the waters around China, we have to do something about what’s happening in Yemen, we have to do something in Iraq, we have to do something about ISIS, what they are talking about are combat operations.

My first question to anyone who is on television saying, “We have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places” is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums. If you aren’t, I have no patience with you, and don’t even talk to me.

Well, as it was President Obama beating the drum for intervention in Syria, I look forward to Rather asking the president which branch of the armed forces Malia and Sasha will join. 

Obama Has Lost Mike Lupica



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Here’s the headline from Lupica’s latest piece in the New York Daily News:

Obama’s return to the links shows lack of leadership in face of ISIS threat
For the second consecutive day, President Obama reappeared at a golf course on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, seemingly counting the strokes toward being an ex-President following the release of video showing American journalist James Foley being executed by an ISIS jihadist.

Read the whole thing here.

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This NY Daily News Cover Is Going to Leave a Mark



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Friday’s NY Daily News cover is a keeper:

 

 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race’



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The NBA Hall-of-Famer writes at Time that the coming race war will really be about “class warfare”:

Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

The answer can be found in May of 1970.

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.

You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.

There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

After six year of President Obama we’re now on the cusp of all-out class warfare? The rest here.

St. Louis Post Dispatch Photographer: ‘I Saw Three Separate’ Molotov Cocktail Incidents



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From the Post-Dispatch’s David Carson:

There are many on Twitter who still say these Molotov cocktails are a myth, however.

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Columbia Journalism Review: Obama is a Free-Speech Hypocrite



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David Uberti writes:

Why Obama’s statement on reporters’ arrests in Ferguson is hypocritical

Obama defends reporters in Ferguson, but demands compliance from James Risen

In a news conference Thursday addressing the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown and resulting unrest in Ferguson, MO, President Barack Obama criticized the arrests of two reporters there on Wednesday night.

“Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs,” Obama said in a news conference televised from Martha’s Vineyard, where he’s vacationing. On Wednesday, Washington Post Reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly were arrested when working out of a McDonald’s in Ferguson. After being taken to the Ferguson Police Department, both were quickly released.

Just minutes after the president finished his remarks, a coalition of journalism organizations at the National Press Club in Washington began a news conference condemning the Obama administration’s attempt to compel James Risen, a New York Times reporter, to identify a confidential source. The menagerie of groups this morning presented a petition, signed by more than 125,000 people, calling on the Justice Department to end its six-year effort to force Risen to testify against his source.

In June, the US Supreme Court turned down a last-ditch appeal from Risen, removing the final legal barrier for federal prosecutors who want him to take the stand.

The coincidental timing puts a spotlight on a White House that has repeatedly defended its claim as the most transparent administration in history.

The rest here.

David Gregory Out at Meet the Press, Chuck Todd In



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Details here.

Two Reporters Arrested Overnight in Ferguson



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Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post were arrested last night for, I guess, trespassing in a McDonald’s and in Reilly’s words, “not packing their bags quick enough.” The two were taken into custody and released a little later in the evening without any charges filed.

Here’s a summary from Mediaite:

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery was arrested and subsequently released by Ferguson police. Lowery called into Rachel Maddow‘s show to describe how he was placed in restraints and even assaulted by the cops right after he was just doing his job.

Lowery, who was arrested alongside Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly, said that journalists were using the McDonald’s for the past few days as a “media center.” And then earlier tonight police decided to just shut it down. Lowery started to recording what was going on around him.

And as he was packing up and heading out, they decided to arrest and restrain him. He had tweeted he was slammed against the soda machine, but Lowery told Maddow he wasn’t hurt nearly as much as Ferguson citizens have been hurt in the past few days.

Lowery recounted his experience here, complete with video of his encounter with the police officer.

When you watch the video, you’ll see that Lowery was asked multiple times to gather his belongings and leave the restaurant. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborugh blamed Lowery’s arrest on his actions inside of the McDonalds, via the HuffPo:

“I will just say if I saw that video and my son was the one police arrested after that episode, I’d say, ‘Joey, heres a clue. When the cops tell you for the thirtieth time, let’s go, you know what that means, son? It means let’s go. I’m sorry…I don’t sit there and have a debate and film the police officer unless I want to get on TV and have people talk about me the next day.” 

Lowery wasn’t happy with this take at all:

“I would invite Joe Scarborough to come down to Ferguson and get out of 30 Rock where he’s sipping his Starbucks smugly…I have little patience for talking heads. This is too important. This is a community in the United States of America where things are on fire. This community is on edge. There is so much happening here and instead of putting reporters on the ground we have people like Joe Scarborough running their mouth who have no idea what they’re talking about.”

I think they’re both right. Lowery could have handled it a little differently, but he’s right to ask, “where are the ‘talking heads?’ “ MSNBC was AWOL last night with no camera crew on hand for when the protest turned violent. MSNBC’s Trymaine Lee was on the ground, however, and did phone in several reports to the hosts in New York City, including live coverage of getting hit with tear gas. 

But the cable news channels should have been on location to chronicle the events. If local television and radio stations could figure out how to get live images out, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News should have, too.

 

 

Simon & Schuster Turns Down Book From Bergdahl’s Platoon Members



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Because the publishing giant isn’t sure it ”can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends.”

Via Michael Isikoff:

While the U.S. Army weighs whether to bring charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed earlier this year after spending nearly five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, six of his former platoon mates are shopping proposals for a book and movie that would render their own harsh verdicts.

A draft of their book proposal, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, depicts Bergdahl as a “premeditated” deserter who “put all of our lives in danger” — and possibly aided the Taliban — when he disappeared from his observation post in eastern Afghanistan in the early morning hours of June 30, 2009.

But the political furor over Bergdahl’s release from Taliban captivity — the result of a U.S.-Taliban swap deal that saw the release of five Guantanamo terrorism suspects in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom — is complicating the book’s prospects. Agents for the soldiers say that some publishers have balked, and in at least one case out of fear that the project would bolster conservative criticism of the Obama administration.

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.

“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’” — a reference to the controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign. (Durand did not respond to requests for comment. “We do not comment about our editorial process,” said Paul Olsewski, vice president, director of publicity, at Atria.)

Simon & Schuster didn’t seem to mind publishing Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices and she’s using it for her own gain. Quite the double standard, no?

The rest here.

 

Silence from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on Ferguson, Too



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It’s not just the president who has been silent on the events in Ferguson, Mo.

Nancy Pelosi hasn’t said anything, but did find time to comment on her love of dark chocolate. . .

Harry Reid hasn’t said anything, but did find time to congratulate a local Little League team. . .

And David Axelrod hasn’t said anything, but find time to tweet this dig at Hillary Clinton. . .

Senator Claire McCaskill did tweet this, which I thought was appropriate and measured. . .

But other than McCaskill, why the silence, Dems?

Does President Obama Have a Problem with African-Americans Because of Ferguson?



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A quick search of Twitter for “#Ferguson Obama” results in a large number of tweets from African-Americans who aren’t happy that the president had time to make a statement on the death of Robin Williams while not addressing the police shooting of Michael Brown or the protests/riots in Ferguson, Mo.

Some examples:

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Just people mouthing off on Twitter or does the president have a problem? My thought: he has a big problem. Ferguson is going to prevent the president from doing anything major on immigration and will lower turnout for the Dems in the 2014 midterms.

ICYMI, Vox’s Matt Yglesias Didn’t Know President Ford Died in 2006



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In the middle of a discussion on his Twitter feed on the inequity of John F. Kennedy Jr. getting a second aircraft carrier bearing his name while Bill Clinton has none, Yglesias tweeted:

Good thing we have the thought leaders at Vox to explain stuff to us because it’s not like Wikipedia has any information on how the U.S. Navy names its ship.

WaPost: ‘Marco Rubio Is Balding. Will it Cost Him the Presidency?!?’



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The good news is that Rubio’s hairline won’t affect his chances. Now, can the Post please ask about Hillary Clinton’s “concussion.” Thanks!

‘Toddlers At Risk From Extremists’ -- Like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?



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An unfortunate headline and photo layout for The Daily Telegraph:

The Daily Telegraph later changed the headline to “Nurseries” in later print editions.

Ezra Klein: President Obama Broke ‘American Politics Even Further’



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Ezra Klein of Vox ’splains how President Obama created the current partisan/political divide by passing so much of his agenda:

Reid Cherlin nails the central irony of Barack Obama’s presidency in one sentence:

[T]hey have managed over six years to accomplish much of what Obama promised to do, even if accomplishing it helped speed the process of partisan breakdown.

The 2008 Democratic primary was, as Mark Schmitt wrote, a “theory of change” primary. The different candidates didn’t disagree all that much about what to do. They disagreed about how to get it done.

Hillary Clinton’s argument was that she best understood the conflictual nature of American politics: she had fought these battles before and so she was best positioned to win them in the future. Change would come through mastery of the old politics.

And. . .

Obama pushed more change through the political system than any serious observer expected: he passed health-care reform, as well as the largest stimulus and investment package in American history, and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms (which are working better than most realize). He brought the Iraq war to a close and he actually did find and kill Osama bin Laden. There’s much left on his to-do list, but even in places where he’s failed to pass his legislative remedies into law — like immigrant reform and cap-and-trade — he’s used or is using executive actions to make huge strides.

But he didn’t do all this by fixing American politics. He did all this by breaking American politics even further. Obama hasn’t healed the divisions between Democrats and Republicans. Rather, he’s one of the most polarizing presidents since the advent of polling. . .

Klein ends with this:

Obama has brought a lot of change to America. But he’s done it by accepting — and, in many cases, accelerating — the breakdown of American politics. Judged against the rhetoric of his campaign, his presidency has been both an extraordinary success and a complete failure.

The whole thing here.

The problem with Klein’s argument is he misses that the “successes” he cites are temporary and the issues will all be dumped on the next president. It’s a safe bet that Obamacare, whether it’s working or not, will change with the next president, either Democrat or Republican; Dodd-Frank hasn’t stopped banks and “too big to fail”; and Osama bin Laden is dead, but ISIS lives; we see increased instability, well, everywhere in the Middle East. 

Klein writes that the president is off to tackle climate change and immigration reform next, but the president has broken the system and only has executive actions left for both. And doing that will make it more likely that the Republicans take control of the Senate. 

 

Los Angeles Times Editors: Mandatory Condom Use for Actors Isn’t Working



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The Times opposed the 2012 law that mandated porn actors use condoms on any film shot in Los Angeles County, and today the editors are warning that adopting the law statewide makes no sense, too:

But there’s no evidence that the law has had its intended effect. Instead, many adult film production companies have moved their shoots outside of the county — and in some cases, out of the state or country. Others have stopped filing for county film permits and have reportedly continued to shoot without complying with the condom mandate. In all, the number of permits issued to adult films in L.A. County dropped 90% in 2013 after Measure B went into effect, and there is no indication that porn stars are any safer today than they were two years ago.

The editors don’t come right out and say it, but they’re talking about all the jobs the County has lost since 2012. Not just for the actors, but the lighting technicians, editors, etc.

Here’s more from their editorial:

But upon further research, it became clear that government is ill-equipped to mandate and enforce the use of condoms on adult film sets. 

[. . .]

When the editorial board opposed Measure B in 2012, we said that its proponents were taking an attitude of “let’s pass it and see what happens.” Well, now we know what happened. Legislators should learn from L.A. County’s experience and reject AB 1576.

Well, I guess the good news is the editors at the Times have found at least one thing the government isn’t good at.

 

 

The Nonsensical Vox Summary of Obama’s Foreign Policy



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I need somebody to explain Vox’s explanatory journalism to me, because this doesn’t make much sense:  

 

Al Jazeera Airs Video Showing Hamas Tunnels Still In Operation



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This segment is from the August 6 broadcast of Al Jazeera out of Qatar, via MEMRI:

​At one point in the video, the Hamas fighters say they were within meters of Israeli soldiers and not discovered. I wonder how much overall damage Israel has done to these Hamas tunnels.

Archival Media Coverage of U.S. Presidents Bombing Iraq Since 1991



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What’s old is new again, and will be newer again under President Cruz/Paul/Clinton/TBD:

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NDTV Reporter Explains the ‘Backstory’ of His Hamas Rocket Video



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This is a great post by NDTV reporter Sreenivasan Jain where he explains his reporting of the now viral video of Hamas fighters firing a rocket at Israel from next to his hotel. An excerpt:

We knew then we had to air the story. For us to have filmed how a rocket was assembled next to us, on a site used twice to launch a rocket, endangering the lives of all those around us on two occasions -to not have reported it would have been simply wrong. But we did take precautions – we aired the report a good five hours after the rocket was launched, well into the ceasefire. By then it was clear that Israel was not responding, at least for the period of the ceasefire. (Incidentally, given Israel’s extensive surveillance of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip it hardly seems they would need the media to point out to them where rockets are fired from.) 

There was the question of  possible reprisal by Hamas; to this one, there are no easy answers other than to ask: how long do we self-censor because of the fear of personal safety in return for not telling a story that exposes how those launching rockets are putting so many more lives at risk, while the rocket-makers themselves are at a safe distance?  More so when we have rare, first hand proof of how it works?  

We have been asked how we can be sure that those who fired the rocket were members of Hamas. With groups like Hamas, absolute certainty is always hard to establish. The rocket we witnessed was not a one -off, launched by one of the splinter groups of the resistance. It was launched in a flurry of outbound missiles in the final moments before the ceasefire came into effect, suggesting the handiwork of the biggest, most-organized and well-stocked group on the Gaza Strip- Hamas. Also the fact that this was the second time a rocket was launched from the same spot a week prior suggests  this is not the work of one of the factions/ freelancers  but a more entrenched group.

Jain continued with a warning to both the Israelis and Palestinians from using his work as “propaganda” one way or the other:

I can’t imagine anything more disingenuous in both these positions. For starters, our report in no way absolves the IDF from taking responsibility for the appalling toll its offensive has taken on civilian lives. If anything, it only makes it all the more incumbent for the Israeli Army to evolve a response that minimizes the damage to civilian lives and property. So far, none is visible. As we and other media have reported from Gaza Strip areas like Rafah, Khuzaa, Shejaiya and Beit Hanoun, entire neighborhoods have been laid to waste, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians, many of them children  in order to hunt down a tunnel, or knock out a rocket launch pad. (Also Read: NDTV’s Hamas Exclusive Is An International Headline)

Equally, if we have reported that the other side – Hamas – is also posing a risk to Gaza civilians, surely those who are concerned about the Palestinian cause should direct their ire at that group, and not at us? Our report in no way implies proportionality. The death toll – close to 1800 Palestinians killed to about 60 Israelis – hardly needs restating. We know that compared to Israel’s firepower, Hamas’s rockets are a minor threat. Of the almost 3,600 fired so far, only 10% have posed a serious risk to Israel’s cities and have been taken down by its Iron Dome response system. The rocket we saw, in all probability, must have been the one of the 1000s that landed in open areas. But by firing these rockets from civilian areas, they threaten the people of Gaza more than anyone else: that was the simple point of this report.   

Instead a series of arguments have been thrown at us, for instance, the ‘we have no choice’ argument, suggesting that Israeli encroachment has deprived Gaza of open spaces from which Hamas can launch attacks.  This is factually dubious – one only has to drive down the Salahudin Road from Gaza City in the north to Khan Younis in the south to see that the Gaza strip is not, as is commonly believed a continuous urban agglomeration. ‘We have no choice’ is also intellectually questionable – it is the same argument that Israel advances to defend its atrocious record of collateral killings. 

I understand that he doesn’t want his work used to make the case for war for one side or the other, but the reason his reporting became so popular with the pro-Israel crowd is because of its uniqueness. If more reporters were allowed to report accurately from Hamas, the world would be better served.

 

 

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