Tuesday, November 30, 2004

FALLUJA FIRST-HAND

More revealing than any nightly news broadcast, this lengthy candid letter from a Marine officer to his father is astonishing in its description and feeling. I received it from a colleague, who received it from a friend in the military. Please keep in mind, this is propaganda.
---------------
--begins--
...
Source and authenticity not verified.

November 21, 2004
The Real News from Fallujah
by Lt. Col. B-----.

Dear Dad -

Just came out of the city and I honestly do not know where to start. I am afraid that whatever I send you will not do sufficient honor to the men who fought and took Fallujah.

Shortly before the attack, Task Force Fallujah was built. It consisted of Regimental Combat Team 1 built around 1st Marine Regiment and Regimental Combat Team 7 built around 7th Marine Regiment. Each Regiment consisted of two Marine Rifle Battalions reinforced and one Army mechanized infantry battalion.

Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) consisted of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (3rd LAR), 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5); 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1) and 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry (2/7). RCT-7 was slightly less weighted but still a formidable force. Cutting a swath around the city was an Army Brigade known as Blackjack. The Marine RCT’s were to assault the city while Blackjack kept the enemy off of the backs of the assault force.

The night prior to the actual invasion, we all moved out into the desert just north of the city. It was something to see. You could just feel the intensity in the Marines and Soldiers. It was all business. As the day cleared, the Task Force began striking targets and moving into final attack positions. As the invasion force commenced its movement into attack positions, 3rd LAR led off RCT-1’s offensive with an attack up a peninsula formed by the Euphrates River on the west side of the city. Their mission was to secure the Fallujah Hospital and the two bridges leading out of the city. They executed there tasks like clockwork and smashed the enemy resistance holding the bridges. Simultaneous to all of this, Blackjack sealed the escape routes to the south of the city. As invasion day dawned, the net was around the city and the Marines and Soldiers knew that the enemy that failed to escape was now sealed.

3/5 began the actual attack on the city by taking an apartment complex on the northwest corner of the city. It was key terrain as the elevated positions allowed the command to look down into the attack lanes. The Marines took the apartments quickly and moved to the rooftops and began engaging enemy that were trying to move into their fighting positions. The scene on the rooftop was surreal. Machine gun teams were running boxes of ammo up 8 flights of stairs in full body armor and carrying up machine guns while snipers engaged enemy shooters. The whole time the enemy was firing mortars and rockets at the apartments. Honest to God, I don’t think I saw a single Marine even distracted by the enemy fire. Their squad leaders, and platoon commanders had them prepared and they were executing their assigned tasks.

As mentioned, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry joined the Regiment just prior to the fight. In fact, they started showing up for planning a couple of weeks in advance. There is always a professional rivalry between the Army and the Marine Corps but it was obvious from the outset that these guys were the real deal. They had fought in Najaf and were eager to fight with the Regiment in Fallujah. They are exceptionally well led and supremely confident.

2/7 became our wedge. In short, they worked with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. We were limited in the amount of prep fires that we were allowed to fire on the city prior to the invasion. This was a point of some consternation to the forces actually taking the city. Our compensation was to turn to 2/7 and ask them to slash into the city and create as much turbulence as possible for
3/1 to follow. Because of the political reality, the Marine Corps was also under pressure to “get it done quickly.” For this reason, 2/7 and 3/1 became the penetration force into the city.

Immediately following 3/5’s attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with their tanks and Bradley’s and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1 followed them through until they reached a phaseline deep into the northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5 then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on different axis.

There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it was an awesome site.

The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

I could go on and on about how the city was taken but one of the most amazing aspects to the fighting was that we saw virtually no civilians during the battle. Only after the fighting had passed did a few come out of their homes. They were provided food and water and most were evacuated out of the city. At least 90-95% of the people were gone from the city when we attacked.

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager’s grandson). As the Marines cleared an apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man’s leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them “cook off” for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

The second example comes from 3/1. Cpl Mitchell is a squad leader. He was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. Cpl Mitchell told the doctor that he had actually been shot “a couple of days ago” and had given himself self aide on the wound. When the doctor got on him about not coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines.

It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.

I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did. We can call them many things but they were not cowards.

My whole life I have read about the greatest generation and sat in wonder at their accomplishments. For the first time, as I watch these Marines and Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are eager to continue to attack. Further, not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are.

By now the Marines and Soldiers have killed well over a thousand enemy. These were not peasants or rabble. They were reasonably well trained and entirely fanatical. Most of the enemy we have seen have chest rigs full of ammunition and are well armed are willing to fight to the death. The Marines and Soldiers are eager to close with them and the fighting at the end is inevitably close.

I will write you more the next time I come in about what we have found inside the city. All I can say is that even with everything that I knew and expected from the last nine months, the brutality and fanaticism of the enemy surprised me. The beheadings were even more common place than we thought but so were torture and summary executions. Even though it is an exaggeration, it seems as though every block in the northern part of the city has a torture chamber or execution site. There are hundreds of tons of munitions and tens of thousands of weapons that our Regiment alone has recovered. The Marines and Soldiers of the Regiment have also found over 400 IEDs already wired and ready to detonate. No doubt these numbers will grow in the days ahead.

In closing, I want to share with you a vignette about when the Marines secured the Old Bridge (the one where the Americans were mutilated and hung on March 31) this week. After the Marines had done all the work and secured the bridge, we walked across to meet up with 3rd LAR on the other side. On the Fallujah side of the bridge where the Americans were hung there is some Arabic writing on the bridge. An interpreter translated it for me as we walked through. It read: “Long Live the Mujahadeen. Fallujah is the Graveyard for Americans and the end of the Marine Corps.”

As I came back across the bridge there was a squad sitting in their Amtrac smoking and watching the show. The Marines had written their own message below the enemy’s. It is not something that Mom would appreciate but it fit the moment to a T. Not far from the vehicle were two dead enemy laying where they died. The Marines were sick of watching the “Dog and Pony show” and wanted to get back to work.

D---

Jizzudy, Flizzoyd on Chizzuck on PBS Tonizznatch

If for no other reason than to push that obnoxious Anderson Cooper quote down the page, I alert you to the following, courtesy of E+P.

Judith Miller, Floyd Abrams on Charlie Rose Tonight
By E&P Staff
Published: November 30, 2004 10:00 AM ET

NEW YORK New York Times reporter Judith Miller and her attorney Floyd Abrams will be featured tonight on the Charlie Rose talk show on PBS, discussing her involvement (and possible jailing) in the Valerie Plame/Robert Novak/CIA leak case. The show was taped yesterday, E&P has learned. The next hearing on Miller's refusal to go along with a subpoena in the federal probe is scheduled for Dec. 8.


Monday, November 29, 2004

"You seem to have all the answers?" "I'm a reporter. That's my job."

CNN's new ad campaign: "Your Command"

Pretty funny.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Death of a Legend: Murray Schumach

November 28, 2004
Murray Schumach, Neighborhood Storyteller, Dies at 91
By FRANCIS X. CLINES

Murray Schumach, a reporter who harvested rich stories from New York's neighborhoods and whose 48-year career at The New York Times also took him from the Orient to Hollywood, from the back rooms of City Hall to the gem-cutting sanctums of the diamond district, died on Saturday.

Read on...

Thankgiving of the Moguls

In this Sunday's NYT Magazine, The Donald responds to Richard Branson's multiple disses in his Deborah Solomon's Q+A last week. An excerpt from the Branson piece:

So, basically, it's an ad campaign for Virgin Domestic, your new airline for the American market. How can it possibly prosper when most American airlines are on the verge of bankruptcy?

The service offered by American, Delta and United is abysmal. They treat people like cattle. The difference between Virgin and the other airlines is like the difference between Donald Trump and me, or chalk and cheese.

Speaking of Trump, it seems fair to liken your new show to his ''Apprentice,'' which also entices contestants with the promise of a plum job.

But the shows are so different! His is based in an office. I never spend any time in an office. And none of my companies have ever gone bankrupt.

Have you met the Donald?

I had dinner with him three or four years ago in New York. He has a list of the most important things you need in order to be successful in business, and I don't agree with any of them. He says you mustn't shake someone's hand because you might catch a cold someday. That is not my approach.

And now, we have Trump's riposte:

Your questions for Richard Branson failed to mention any of his numerous failures, including cola, cellphones and soon, I predict, his excursion into the world of railroads (Deborah Solomon, Nov. 7). After years of trying, he couldn't even circle the globe in his wonderful balloon. Also, I find it hard to believe that anybody in the airline business is, in fact, a billionaire.

Since your feature appeared, Richard Branson's reality show, "Rebel Billionaire," has opened to minuscule ratings, even lower than Mark Cuban's failed attempt at knocking off me and my show. In the meantime, "The Apprentice" continues to bring in top ratings, and I am having fun on all fronts, especially beating my copycat rivals.
Donald J. Trump
New York

Friday, November 26, 2004

"Go Fuck Yourselves." - (former) State-Run Ukranian Media to Government

Update: AP
Ukraine Parliament Calls Election Invalid, Raising Possibility of a New Vote

Nov. 27, 2004 - Ukraine's parliament on Saturday declared invalid the disputed presidential election that triggered a week of growing street protests and legal maneuvers, raising the possibility that a new vote could be held in this former Soviet republic.

Parliament's vote came amid a flurry of domestic and international support for the possibility of a revote. A European Union envoy Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said new elections were the "ideal outcome" for the standoff between Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. Asked if new elections were the only solution, Ben Bot answered: "Yes."

The Unian news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko as saying Friday that Moscow regarded a potential revote favorably an apparent significant retreat from its earlier insistence that the Nov. 21 elections were fair and valid.

--

Things appear to have taken a dramatic turn as the state-run media has said that they will no longer lie on behalf of the government.

BBC Story:

by Sebastian Usher
BBC world media correspondent

Journalists on Ukraine's state-owned channel - which had previously given unswerving support to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych - have joined the opposition, saying they have had enough of "telling the government's lies".

Journalists on another strongly pro-government TV station have also promised an end to the bias in their reporting. The turnaround in news coverage, after years of toeing the government line, is a big setback for Mr Yanukovych.

Journalists in Ukraine seem to have responded to the call by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko for them to reject government censorship.

A correspondent on the state channel, UT1 , announced live on the evening bulletin that the entire news team was going to join the protests in Independence Square. She said their message to the protesters was: "We are not lying anymore".

(Read On...)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Kevin Sites Explains....

To Devil Dogs of the 3.1:

Since the shooting in the Mosque, I've been haunted that I have not been able to tell you directly what I saw or explain the process by which the world came to see it as well. As you know, I'm not some war zone tourist with a camera who doesn't understand that ugly things happen in combat. I've spent most of the last five years covering global conflict. But I have never in my career been a 'gotcha' reporter -- hoping for people to commit wrongdoings so I can catch them at it.

This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read the dispatches on this website is fully aware of the lengths I've gone to play it straight down the middle -- not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right.

But I find myself a lightning rod for controversy in reporting what I saw occur in front of me, camera rolling.

It's time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw -- without imposing on that Marine -- guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don't mean a damn to me.

Read on....

The decline of print media

From Wired News (via Dave Winer) :

"Young people just aren't interested in reading newspapers and print magazines. In fact, according to Washington City Paper , The Washington Post organized a series of six focus groups in September to determine why the paper was having so much trouble attracting younger readers. You see, daily circulation, which had been holding firm at 770,000 subscribers for the last few years, fell more than 6 percent to about 720,100 by June 2004, with the paper losing 4,000 paying subscribers every month.

Imagine what higher-ups at the Post must have thought when focus-group participants declared they wouldn't accept a Washington Post subscription even if it were free. The main reason (and I'm not making this up): They didn't like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses.

Don't think for a minute that young people don't read. On the contrary, they do, many of them voraciously. But having grown up under the credo that information should be free, they see no reason to pay for news. Instead they access The Washington Post website or surf Google News, where they select from literally thousands of information sources. They receive RSS feeds on their PDAs or visit bloggers whose views mesh with their own. In short, they customize their news-gathering experience in a way a single paper publication could never do. And their hands never get dirty from newsprint."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dan Rather to Step Down at CBS in March

By JACQUES STEINBERG

Less than two months after acknowledging that he could not authenticate documents central to a broadcast report that raised fresh questions about President Bush's National Guard service, Dan Rather has decided to step down as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" on March 9, on what will be his 24th anniversary behind the anchor desk.

"I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News," Mr. Rather said in a statement issued by the network just after noon today. "Along the way I've had the honor of working with some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the world, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to continue doing so in the years years ahead."

Mr. Rather will continue to work full time at CBS News, as a correspondent for the Sunday and Wednesday editions of "60 Minutes." There was no word from CBS News on a successor as anchor, although the front-runners in the view of network reporters and producers have long been John Roberts, the chief White House correspondent for CBS News, and Scott Pelley, a correspondent for the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes." But neither is considered to have strong name recognition among viewers, and the network has not ruled out looking beyond its own news division.

Mr. Rather's decision represents an abrupt, somewhat ignominious end to the nearly quarter of a century that he spent in one of the most visible jobs in journalism. In announcing his decision now to quit the anchor desk, Mr. Rather, 73, is seeking to act ahead of an independent panel investigating the journalistic breakdowns that led CBS News to broadcast and then vigorously defend the Guard segment, which it later acknowledged to be based on documents whose genuineness and origins it could not substantiate.

Follow the petition's progress

Here.

I will be updating this as more signatures come in. I'll be taking a printed version of this page to Dodd's Hartford office on Wednesday morning. Jared Allen has also agreed to take a copy to his DC office this week as well (he's heading there anyway).

Thanks!

By the way, the bill number is S.2030, and you can follow its progress in the Senate here.

Monday, November 22, 2004

NYT discount for j-schoolers

An RW1 buddy told me about this on Friday, so I called the same day and it's true: if you tell the NY Times that you're a Columbia j-school student, you can get the full 7-day subscription for $15 (thanks, Zak, I don't know where I came up with $35 earlier) a month. Which is pretty damn good.


They'll even deliver the weekday issues to one address and weekends to another, which is a nice perk if you have a honey that you hide out with on the weekends in the vain hopes of escaping schoolwork...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Best. Dateline. Ever.

LAKE CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG, Mass.

It is spelled just the way it sounds.

Unless you spell it differently, like in the sign put up by the chamber of commerce at the southern end of town, which has an O for one of the U's and an H for one of the N's.

Or the postcards at Waterfront Mary's, the lake's best-known restaurant, which have smuggled an extra "gaug" into the name.

Even for the locals, this sprawling central Massachusetts lake with the even more sprawling name, Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg - the longest place name in the country - is not for the tied of tongue.


NYT, Nov. 20 2004

Friday, November 19, 2004

SEN. DODD (D-CT) PROPOSES NATIONAL SHIELD LAW

Contact your elected senators and representatives and tell them to support Senator Dodd!

Sen. Introduces Bill to Protect Reporters


By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Reporters would not be forced to reveal their sources, and their notes, photographs and other material would be protected from government eyes under a bill introduced Friday.

Amid a spate of First Amendment fights pitting the government against journalists over confidential sources, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (news, bio, voting record), D-Conn., proposed the legislation as critical to ensuring the nation's liberties.

"Democracy is premised on an informed citizenry," Dodd said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "A free press is the best guarantee of a knowledgeable citizenry."

Journalists contend the First Amendment, which established freedom of the press, gives reporters the right not to divulge their sources. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have "shield laws" to protect the media from disclosing sources in state cases.

But no federal law exists, and special prosecutors in a number of high-profile cases have aggressively pursued journalists. The possibility of jail time looms for some.

A television reporter in Rhode Island was convicted of criminal contempt Thursday for refusing to reveal who leaked him an FBI (news - web sites) videotape of a politician taking a bribe. Reporters for Time and The New York Times have been held in contempt as part of an investigation into the disclosure of an undercover CIA (news - web sites) officer's identity.

Under Dodd's bill, the federal courts, legislative or executive branch could not compel a journalist to provide the source of information, whether or not that person has been promised confidentiality. That right would extend to a journalists' notebooks, photographic negatives and other material.

The bill says a court could force disclosure of news in cases in which it is critical to a legal issue, the information cannot be obtained anywhere else and an overriding public interest exists in the disclosure.

Lawyers who have handled First Amendment cases welcomed the legislation as overdue.

"The advantage of a shield law once and for all is defining the privilege and establishing what the scope is," said Kevin Baine, a lawyer at Williams and Connolly.

Bruce Sanford, an attorney at Baker and Hostetler, cited the courts' respect for confidentiality in certain relations — priest and penitent, doctor and patient, husband and wife — and argued that it should apply to reporters and their sources.

"It's an issue of open government and whether the public receives the information they need," Sanford said.

Dodd, the lone sponsor of the measure, introduced the bill in the waning hours of the congressional session, but promised to reintroduce it when a new Congress begins in January. He voiced optimism about gaining the support of Republicans and Democrats, noting that several states with shield laws are conservative, GOP-leaning states.

That point was echoed by media lawyer Laura Handman of Davis, Wright and Tremaine who said, "Informing citizenry really crosses party lines."

John Strum, president of the Newspaper Association of America, said the bill would allow journalists to do their jobs without fear of penalty.

It is rarely wise to bring sex into the office, but apparently no one informed the employees of The Spectator.

what?!?

oh.

nevermind.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Reporter Is Convicted in R.I. for Protecting Source

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A television reporter was convicted of criminal contempt Thursday for refusing to say who gave him an FBI videotape showing a city official taking a bribe.

Jim Taricani, of WJAR-TV, faces up to six months in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 9 by U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres.

Taricani, 55, broke no law by repeatedly airing the tape, but a special prosecutor was appointed to find out who leaked it because the court had ordered attorneys, investigators and defendants not to disseminate any tapes connected to a federal corruption probe during former Mayor Vincent ``Buddy'' Cianci Jr.'s administration.


-- AP, Nov. 18 2004

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Why, Kerry? Why?

Well, this was the man so many convinced themselves to follow. So sad.

Democrats Question Kerry's Campaign Funds

Wed Nov 17, 6:01 PM ET Politics - AP


By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer

WASHINGTON - Democratic Party leaders said Wednesday they want to know why Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) ended his presidential campaign with more than $15 million in the bank, money that could have helped Democratic candidates across the country.


AP Photo


AP Photo
Slideshow: John Kerry




Some said he will be pressured to give the money to Democratic campaign committees rather than save it for a potential White House bid in 2008.


"Democrats are questioning why he sat on so much money that could have helped him defeat George Bush (news - web sites) or helped down-ballot races, many of which could have gone our way with a few more million dollars," said Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore (news - web sites)'s 2000 presidential race.


Brazile is a member of the 400-plus member Democratic National Committee (news - web sites), which meets early next year to pick a new party chairman. One high-ranking member of the DNC, speaking on condition of anonymity, said word of Kerry's nest egg has stirred anger on the committee and could hurt his chances of putting an ally in the chairmanship.


Congressional Democrats and labor leaders also privately questioned Kerry's motives. One said he would personally ask the Massachusetts senator to donate some of the money to the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees.


Three former Kerry campaign aides, also demanding anonymity out of concerns about alienating their former boss, said they were surprised and disappointed to learn that he left so much money in the bank.


Kerry had roughly $45 million left in his primary campaign fund as of mid-October, according to his Federal Election Commission (news - web sites) report, and could use that as seed money for another presidential bid.


His final report is not due until next month, but officials close to Kerry said he has $15 million to $17 million in that account, with no outstanding debts, after giving the DNC about $23 million and state parties about $9 million since the mid-October report.


In addition, the report showed that Kerry had about $7 million on hand in a legal and accounting compliance fund that he could use for legal expenses in a 2008 campaign. Officials said he raised several million more for that account since the filing.


Last summer, Kerry donated $3 million each to the House and Senate campaign committees and $2 million to the Democratic Governors Association.


While Kerry has likely given more money to state committees than any other nominee, no other Democrat has raised as much as he did. And second-guessing Democrats said Wednesday they couldn't recall a candidate leaving so much money on the table after a campaign.


"He's going to have to give some of it up for 2005 and beyond," Brazile said. "The party will demand it."




This is the NYT cracking down on anon sources

In sports, philanthropy, Eminem, Lenny Kravitz's real estate, and cooking, all places where anonymity is critical:

One Minneapolis woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid family discord, said she and her husband were so attached to their mothers' stuffing recipes that they had to alternate years at each table. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/17/dining/17STUF.html)

The hospital has discussed a potential gift of tens of millions of dollars with Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, the cosmetics magnates who have supported Memorial Sloan-Kettering for years, said two longtime fund-raisers familiar with its capital campaign. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to alienate the Lauders. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/15/giving/15STRO.html)

Two Western Conference officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Denver officials were upset by the Nuggets' effort, their sputtering up-tempo game and Bzdelik's inability to control both. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/sports/basketball/14hoops.html)

Universal Music Group has licensed songs from its stable of artists including U2 and Eminem to a company that has developed technology designed to prevent the unauthorized distribution of audio tracks over online file-sharing networks, a source familiar with the venture said. (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/technology/AP-Legal-Peer-to-Peer.html)

Sometimes the prices are bid up; sometimes they just start higher. The vice president of a Manhattan real estate company who requested anonymity for fear of offending clients said, "I have represented many famous people and I automatically put the price 15 percent higher than I would without the big name for the same sort of apartment, and they have always sold." (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/realestate/14celeb.html)

The team preferred to build a new stadium that the team would own, according to team officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/11/nyregion/11meadow.html)

Notes from the Blog/'04 Campaign Panel

Comprehensive notes from last night's event, "Pamphleteering in the Digital Age: The Impact of Blogs on the 2004 Campaign?"

- Wonkette rolls her eyes as Madore uses the inevitable "sassy" in his intro of her
- Columbia is so clueless they list Duncan Black's credentials for Media Matters and not Eschaton on the invite
- "People do blogs because they can't get published elsewhere" ... partisan, high-pitched nature of '04 campaign ... blogs ... most lasting contribution and least novel ... "blogs made it impossible for mainstream media (MSM) to sit on the story until it's ready to go" ... "I'm not sure what we'd do if MSM changed the way we want them to." (Wonkette)
- (Scan alumni newsletter)
- Thomas Fitzgerald, Election Reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer: we're the whale (heh) and they chew our krill, or something. "Peeing in your pants makes you feel warm on a winter night" (neighbor looking at me with concern as I jot this down) "We're not dead yet! We might be dying..."
- Why'd they close the bar?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Safire to Leave NYT Op-Ed Page

Kurtzmeister...

Pour out a little bit of your 40's for a master, kids...

When William Safire left the Nixon White House to hold forth on the op-ed page of the New York Times, many readers reacted with disbelief, as if an intruder were defiling their liberal temple.

After three decades, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist has become a comfortable fixture at the paper, a must-read even for those who disagree with his conservative views.

Safire, 74, said yesterday he is giving up the column in January. "It's time to leave when you're still hitting the long ball and have something else you want to do," he said. Safire said he told Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. last year that the 2004 campaign would be his "last hurrah" and that Sulzberger "expressed the proper dismay" but urged him not to give up his "On Language" column. Safire will continue that idiosyncratic column for the paper's Sunday magazine.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Don't fuck with our VP. He'll . . . nevermind.

Friday, November 12, 2004

New NYT memo, courtesy Slate

Thanks, Jack:

Memorandum for: THE STAFF

In the last year and a half, The Times has deepened and widened its efforts to deserve readers' trust. Most notably, we have appointed a public editor and given serious consideration to his questions and advice; we have required that every unidentified source quoted in the paper be known by name to at least one editor; we have tried to describe our sources and their motives more candidly and usefully. We'd like to believe we have reduced our dependence on anonymous sources; certainly we have begun trying and intend to push ahead.

Now, as Bill Keller told us in his town hall meetings before the election, we want to examine our practices, and our readers' demands, even more thoroughly. We especially want to examine the measures we have NOT yet taken, asking ourselves why not, and whether they could improve our accuracy and accountability.

For that purpose, Bill has asked me to put together a committee of news people to collect and evaluate those possibilities. It will be a small group, but a central part of its mandate will be to reach out to everyone anywhere in the news department who offers a useful idea. Some of our first thoughts about proposals to examine include these:

* Can we cut back, or even cut out, our attendance at background briefings by nameless officials?

* Can we otherwise squeeze more anonymous sources out of our pages? Can we make our attributions (even the anonymous ones) less murky? Are there some stories we can afford to skip if they are not attributable to people with names?

* Can we encourage writers, in an organized way, to cultivate the respect of our sources by checking back with the people they have interviewed, and making sure they have both words and nuances correct?

* Is there a systematic way to keep track of the errors we make, and analyze their causes, and make better use of training to reduce their frequency?

* What are the best practices in our business for accuracy and accountability, and which ones should we adapt or emulate?

* Should we join the small number of papers that send out random questionnaires after publication, to ask our story subjects what they thought of our accuracy and the civility of their encounter with us?

* Should we print the writer's e-mail address at the bottom of each story? Does our practice have to be identical throughout the staff? Can it differ by department? By writer?

* Should we consider an electronic spot-check for plagiarism?

* Should we be responding systematically to outside critics who attack our believability for political or commercial reasons of their own? What is an effective vehicle for doing this? A column by the editor or editors on how we work?


The membership of the committee is listed below. Our introductory meeting will take place on November 11. We expect to meet for a few weeks, but not in marathon sessions like those of the 2003 Siegal Committee. We're trying to blend many kinds of expertise. We'll be grateful to everyone in the newsroom who has an idea to add to the list above, or who is willing to share thinking with the committee members.

Many thanks.

Al

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE

David Barstow, Metro
Dana Canedy, National
Rebecca Corbett, Washington
Steve Crowley, Washington Pictures
Kevin Flynn, Metro
Steve Holmes, Washington
Christine Kay, Investigations
Charles Knittle, Metro
Patrick LaForge, Metro
Mike Leahy, Managing Editor's Office
Eric Schmitt, Washington
Terry Schwadron, Newsroom Technology
Al Siegal, Chairman
Phil Taubman, Washington
Duff Wilson, Sports
Diane Cardwell, Metro
Fred Andrews (Rapporteur)


America's Finest News Source

Nation's Poor Win Election For Nation's Rich

WASHINGTON, DC—The economically disadvantaged segment of the U.S. population provided the decisive factor in another presidential election last Tuesday, handing control of the government to the rich and powerful once again.

"The Republican party—the party of industrial mega-capitalists, corporate financiers, power brokers, and the moneyed elite—would like to thank the undereducated rural poor, the struggling blue-collar workers in Middle America, and the God-fearing underpriviledged [sic] minorities who voted George W. Bush back into office," Karl Rove, senior advisor to Bush, told reporters at a press conference Monday. "You have selflessly sacrificed your well-being and voted against your own economic interest. For this, we humbly thank you."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

So Sorry....

UPDATE: THEY'RE NOT SORRY!!!

Everybody...

Example

And because we're an equal opporunity apologizer around here...from the other half...we have:

Letter of Apology
.

And while we're doing a little web roundup, I'd like to apologize for the really, really bad manners on the part of the person who recently said, Fuck The South.

All those Federal taxes you love to hate? It all comes from us and goes to you, so shut up and enjoy your fucking Tennessee Valley Authority electricity and your fancy highways that we paid for. And the next time Florida gets hit by a hurricane you can come crying to us if you want to, but you're the ones who built on a fucking swamp. "Let the Spanish keep it, it’s a shithole," we said, but you had to have your fucking orange juice.
Just unconscionable.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Livingston Awards

"The Livingston Awards for excellence by professionals under the age of 35 are the largest all-media, general reporting prizes in American journalism. They are also unusual in judging print, broadcast and on-line entries against one another, a practice of increasing interest as technology blurs traditional distinctions between rival branches of the profession."

http://www.livawards.org/awards/

All aboard

Earlier this month, Editor and Publisher reported that ever since U.S. Forces were ordered back into Fallujah, "the Pentagon-run embedded-journalist program has surged," and Iraqi insurgents "invited journalists to 'embed' with them to report their side of the war."
Wait...both sides? We can't do that. That'd be wrong. That'd be heresy.

The Falluja Mujahideen Shura group of insurgents, tribal chiefs and Sunni clerics said they would welcome all journalists to embed with their program, including U.S. media (their hostage supply must be running low). Reuters reported that "the few journalists remaining in Fallujah ... are mainly Iraqis."

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000707752

[War] Much More Scary...

Falluja
Fallujah
(Google News Search)

It should hardly be surprising that Bush held out as long as he did before the inevitable siege of Falluja.

Washington Post: 10 Americans Dead.
Wong: Sunnis leave government over Falluja assault.
Reuters, Dexter:

FALLUJA, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 10 - After two days of street-to-street fighting, the American-led assault on Falluja had wrested at least a third of the city from insurgents on Tuesday, capturing the mayor's office, two mosques, a commercial center and other major objectives in the heart of the downtown and advancing past the main highway through the city.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Arafat's wife has gone nuts, and it's not clear if the poor guy has knocked off or not. CNN just said that Arafat never made a will, but that's a little unclear. Bottom line is no one really knows where his millions are, nor what is going to happen to the Palestinian Authority now that he is gone.

Meanwhile, Theo Van Gogh, a distant relative of Vincent and agent provocateur, was mourned after he was murdered by an Islamic assassin, because Van Gogh made a film critical of Islam. BBC reports that even moderate Dutch Muslims are feeling the reaction - another example of the Europe's quiet demographic revolution.

Item: Christopher Hitchens has hysterically pleaded his fealty to the Bush administration and gloatingly protested too much against liberal bitterness at Bush's victory. You unhappy man.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg bitched out the MTA on its new proposed fare hike (was it just lip service?) and it looks like Guy "Do Not Pass Go" Vellela might very well be going back to jail.

So now, national politics aside, its time to get back to work. I wish I had any inspiring words other than Fuck You, Let's Get This Shit On.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Scary

Really Scary

But if we can get past the sense of nauseaus horror that last week's debacle has left us with, if for no other reason that wallowing in shit sucks, its time to get back to work. Ashcroft and Evans have left the building.

Because this shit is on.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Seymour Hersh and Jonathan Schell at NYU

Seymour Hersh (The New Yorker) and Jonathan Schell (The Nation) spoke tonight at a panel discussion moderated by Bruce Shapiro (The Nation, Salon.com, Yale University).

Apparently there you were supposed to register, but I didn't know that until I arrived with a guy from my RW2 class that I met on the subway, who had registered for himself and another one of his classmates that he was with. When we arrived at the door, the people at the ticket table told us that it was full already, and when he'd said that he'd registered already, they said: "Yeah, we filled up already, sorry." They'd underestimated how many people wanted to come -- they had too small of a room (a < 100 person classroom) to hold everyone.

I wandered down the hallway, and within a minute or two, someone came out the backdoor, and I slipped in. I found a space on the floor a few feet away from the panel and took as detailed notes as possible.

Following the discussion, Hersh signed books outside, so I shook his hand, bought a book and he signed it. When he noticed my name, he asked where I was from -- I said California. When he asked where my family was from, I said that my father was Iranian, and he was interested -- he said he's going there soon. I look forward to his reporting.

My unedited account is here.

JS: Jonathan Schell
SH: Seymour Hersh
BS: Bruce Shapiro
Q: Question from the audience

Friday, November 05, 2004

Hold Your Head Up

Ok, well politics has gone to shit. I guess this is all we have left:

Example


Thursday, November 04, 2004

William Saletan on how the Dems can get their shit together

Democratic Values
How to start winning the red states.

By William Saletan
Posted Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2004, at 1:15 PM PT
Slate.com

Hey, Democrats!

One silver lining in last night's debacle is that for another 24 hours or so, you might be open to rethinking what your party stands for. So, while I have your attention, here's an idea.

Go back to being the party of responsibility.

I'm not talking about scolding people. I'm talking about rewarding them. Be the party that rewards ordinary people who do what they're supposed to do—and protects them from those who don't.

If you think this kind of moral talk is anathema, you're the sort of person Karl Rove wants to be running the Democratic Party. Get out, or get a new attitude. Nearly 60 million people came out to vote for George W. Bush yesterday because they think that he represents their values and that you don't. Prove them wrong and you'll be the majority party again.

. . .

Democrats in the Roosevelt-Truman years didn't have this problem. They called tyrants by their name, and they didn't sound like they were faking it. A party that believes in right and wrong at home must be assertive about right and wrong abroad. You need a serious antiterrorist agenda. Otherwise, when you object to a war like Iraq, you sound like the peace party.

Continue Article

I'm not asking you to act like you care about this stuff. I'm asking you to care about it for real, and not just at election time. When a Republican president runs a TV ad accusing you of failing to protect us from wolves, you should be able to point out that he's the one who emptied our shotgun into a fox, leaving us helpless against the wolves. And you should sound credible saying it.

Once you eliminate the sincerity gap between you and the Republicans on national security, you can exploit the reverse sincerity gap between you and them on responsibility. Think about the values of our armed forces: shared risk, shared sacrifice, and reciprocal duty between officers and soldiers, regardless of race or class. Those are your values.

When leaders betray troops through bad planning and false pretenses for war, that should be your issue. When Republicans cut taxes for the rich while the nation is at war and the Treasury is empty, that should be your issue. When soldiers from poor families die while corporations skim from the war budget, that should be your issue. I've heard John Kerry talk about each of these issues separately, but each time, he sounded opportunistic. To be powerful, they must flow from a common message. That message is responsibility.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"4th inning" tallies

These early exit-poll numbers do not divine the name of the winner. Instead, regard these numbers as a sportswriter does the line scores from the fourth inning of a baseball game. The leading team might win the game, but then again it might not. But having the early data in front of him helps the sportswriter plot the story he thinks he'll need to write at game's end.

- Jack Shafer, Slate
November 2, 2004

That aside, Zogby says:

Zogby International's 2004 Predictions
(as of Nov. 2, 2004 5:00 pm EST)


2004 Presidential Election

Electoral Votes:
Bush - 213
Kerry - 311

Too Close To Call
Nevada (5)

Too Close To Call
Colorado (9)

Monday, November 01, 2004

South Mississippi Sun-Herald to The New Yorker: They're Called Periods...

Very funny piece.
(via Gawker)

It is time, once again, for propounding a paean to the period. Heavenly dot! Divine orb! Precious pea of punctuation! Let us pray for thy unceasing employment!

Why this unseemly ruckus? I shall explain - regretfully explain. On Oct. 4, The New Yorker magazine carried 1,500 words of truly abominable editing. The piece was a think-piece of little thought. It started nowhere, went nowhere, and arrived at no interesting destination. Even so, the content was not improved by the style. All of us may learn something here.

Newspaper Circulations Decline Slightly; Readership Holds

NAA release. Recent historical CMI numbers.

From E+P via Drudge:

According to an analysis of the latest FAS-FAX circulations figures, due out this afternoon, the Newspaper Association of America reported today that overall daily circulation dropped .9% and Sunday circulation decreased 1.5%. The NAA said that 281 of 841 papers that reported figures gained circulation...

The NAA also released its Competitive Media Index, which measures readership, and found that in the top 50 markets, eight out of 10 adults, or 115 million people, read the newspaper over the course of a week.

Small declines occurred in the index as well: Every weekday, 52.8% adults read the newspaper, compared with 53.4% in spring 2004. For Sunday, 61.2% of adults read the paper, down from 62% in spring 2004.

The CMI is an analysis of Scarborough Research data from the top 75 markets covering February 2003 to March 2004 and all adults 18 and older.

The following are the top 10 markets for adult readership:

Daily
1. Hartford/New Haven, Conn. (62.7%)
2. Cleveland (62.4%)
3. New York (61.7%)/Pittsburgh (61.7%)
4. Boston (61.4%)
5. Philadelphia (61.2%)
6. West Palm Beach, Fla. (61.1%)
7. Providence/New Bedford, R.I. (59.9%)
8. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota, Fla. (59.4%)
9. New Orleans (59.3%)
10. Harrisburg/Lancaster/Lebanon/York, Pa. (58.7%)

Sunday:
1. Cleveland (74.4%)
2. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota, Fla. (72.3%)
3. West Palm Beach, Fla. (72.2%)
4. Providence/New Bedford, R.I. (72%)
5. Pittsburgh (70.5%)
6. Hartford/New Haven, Conn. (70.1%)
7. Buffalo, N.Y. (68.8%)
8. Philadelphia (68.7%)
9. Milwaukee (68.5%)
10. Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News, Va. (67%)

WWJKDA380TOME: What Would John Kerry Do About 380 Tons Of Missing Explosives?

I got this forwarded to me:

October 31, 2004

	

As the political firestorm ignited by the revelation
of almost 380 tons of missing high explosives in Iraq
raged last week, experts warned that the missing cache
– which includes the most powerful and sophisticated
conventional weapons in existence – could provide
insurgents with tactical advantages in their violent
rebellion against the American occupation.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that Iraq's
Ministry of Science and Technology last month notified
the International Atomic Energy Agency that the
explosives disappeared from the Al Qaqaa weapons base
sometime after early April 2003 because of "the theft
and looting of the governmental installations due to
lack of security."

One week before the U.S. presidential election, the
disclosure immediately became a campaign issue and the
Kerry and Bush campaigns bickered relentlessly over
when the explosives might have been taken from the
site, and under whose watch.

But experts say that regardless of the timing of the
disappearance, the failure of occupation authorities
to respond to an I.A.E.A. warning in April of 2003
about the missing cache was emblematic of the lack of
planning that has become a hallmark of the occupation
and threatens to scuttle the entire American
enterprise in Iraq.

“This is a symbol that underscores how badly we’ve
messed up in the post-war era,” says Larry Diamond, a
Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution who served as
a Senior Adviser to the Coalition Provisional
Authority from January to April 2004 in Baghdad. “We
failed to secure the post-war order and this is a very
graphic illustration of that.”

In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Diamond
accuses the Bush administration of allowing “hubris
and ideology” to undermine its Iraq war plan. In “What
went Wrong in Iraq” Diamond concludes: “As a result of
a long chain of U.S. miscalculations, the coalition
occupation has left Iraq in far worse shape than it
need have and has diminished the long-term prospects
of democracy there.”

Diamond joins a growing chorus of experts, formerly
sympathetic to the administration, who believe that
the U.S. should have deployed more troops to provide
security for Iraq’s critical cultural, economic and
military resources. What galls many about the missing
explosives is the idea that insurgents may be using
weapons that the U.S. military failed to adequately
protect in deadly attacks against U.S. soldiers.

Experts fear that the explosives, mainly highly
powerful HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong
enough to cripple airplanes or blow up buildings, or
worse, detonate nuclear weapons.

Despite their violent explosive power, HMX and RDX are
quite rugged materials and can be easily transported
without fear of accidental detonation. But when
properly triggered, the materials’ explosive power is
grave. Just one pound of HMX was enough to bring down
Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988 and
larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of
a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex
in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people,
according to the New York Times.

“Pound for pound, this stuff is much more powerful
than normal explosives,” says Jon Wolfsthal, Deputy
Director for Non-Proliferation at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace. “Compared to TNT it
has a lot higher kinetic capabilities and properties.”


Wolfsthal fears that if the rebels possess even a
small portion of the missing weapons cache, “it could
allow them to use smaller devices or more innocuous
delivery vehicles,” in their campaign against the
American occupation.

Lee Seigal, a non-proliferation expert at the Council
on Foreign Relations agrees that the missing
explosives could provide tactical benefits to the
rebels. “They are the kind of explosives that are
particularly suitable to be transported and used by
terrorists – portable and hard to detect,” he says.
Seigal added that if the threat posed by "weapons of
mass destruction" was strong enough to justify
invading Iraq, then the Al Qaqaa weapons cache – which
the administration knew about prior to the invasion –
should have been worthy of protection.

There is also concern that the missing weapons might
be used as a nuclear detonator by the rebels, or
perhaps a rogue state or international criminal group.
Charles Ferguson, a physicist at the Council on
Foreign Relations says that both HMX and RDX could be
“useful materials to compress plutonium and uranium”
thus triggering the chain reaction needed for a
nuclear explosion. He said that it is widely believed
that scientists at the Manhattan Project combined RDX
with TNT to form a new explosive, “Composite B,” that
was used in the Nagasaki bomb.

“These materials are much more sophisticated than
TNT,” Ferguson said. “It is the kind of stuff that a
terrorist group would have a hard time gaining access
to, so if they got them, it would be like ‘whoo-hoo!’”

Indeed, for rebels waging a guerilla campaign against
an occupying power, the tactical advantages afforded
by the durability and potency of the missing
explosives could be significant. To a movement that
seems to have a steady supply of suicide bombers, the
ability to conceal more explosive power in smaller
bombs could increase the efficacy of what has already
proved to be a deadly tactic.

And given the sheer volume of the missing weapons
cache, by one account enough bomb-making material to
fill 40 large trucks, if the rebels are in possession
of even a small portion of it, they have enough
explosives to continue their attacks for many months,
if not years. But if the rebels are in possession of
the entire cache, they may be sitting on what one
I.A.E.A official last May called the "greatest
explosives bonanza in history."
--30--


Get out the vote everybody...