I just got off the phone with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the media conglomerate that owns seven ABC affiliates. Sinclair is refusing to let its affiliates air "Nightline" tonight, as mentioned earlier.
John McCain called Sinclair's decision "unpatriotic":
"Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. . .It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.
Want to contact Sinclair yourself? I hope you do. Their phone number is 410-568-1500.
All the bloggers were really glad to meet you, and really curious to know whether you knew who they were, and if you read their blog. If there is one word to describe bloggers, it is ‘vulnerable.’ Another word – well, phrase – might be ‘incredibly self-aware.’ Talking to them was like seeing Smiths songs come to life.
I know that it's a town that produces them routinely, but a travesty is occurring in Washington today. (And this one is bigger than most.)
Today, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will testify before the 9/11 commission. That isn't in itself a travesty -- it's about damn time. And it isn't even necessarily a travesty that they're testifying behind closed doors. (After all, President Clinton and I believe Al Gore did this as well...and I can certainly understand that sensitive information that shouldn't be necessarily made public might come from their testimony.)
No, my friends, the tragedy is that the President and Vice President will be testifying together...even after the commission had made it clear that they wanted to talk to them separately. And Bush and Cheney will be bringing a lawyer. And there will be no transcript, no tape recording, no court reporter, no record of their testimony -- apart from a single commission staffer who will be allowed to take notes. How does this further the cause of justice? How does this help the commission figure out what happened and make recommendations to prevent the next 9/11? If you can figure this one out, let me know.
Bush and Cheney have stonewalled the commission while ostensibly supporting it ever since it started holding hearings. At first Bush would only meet with them for an hour. (He could go to a rodeo for three hours, but not appear at a commission investigating our country's worst terrorist attack.) Then the offer was to only meet with the chairman and vice-chairman of the commission. They arrived at the current ground rules as part of the deal to get Condoleezza Rice to testify...something the Administration (wrongly) claimed was unprecedented.
Folks, if we're to get to the bottom of this, we need honest cooperation, honest answers, and an honest attempt by all parties involved.
Unfortunately, "honesty" is a concept that appears to be completely alien to this Administration.
ADDENDUM: Keeerist, they won't even name the White House staffers that will be in on the meeting.
Nicely written op-ed by none other than Wesley Clark in yesterday's Times. (Thanks to Odile for drawing it to my attention.)
The last two grafs are the best:
After risking his life in Vietnam to save others, John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a war he believed was wrong. Make no mistake: it is that bravery these Republicans are now attacking.
Although President Bush has not engaged personally in such accusations, he has done nothing to stop others from making them. I believe those who didn't serve, or didn't show up for service, should have the decency to respect those who did serve — often under the most dangerous conditions, with bravery and, yes, with undeniable patriotism.
This is classy.
ADDENDUM: Here's an interview with "Nightline" executive producer Leroy Sievers, whose idea it was.
ANOTHER ADDENDUM: Lisa de Moraes of the WaPo decries it as "a cheap, content-free stunt designed to tug at our heartstrings and bag a big number on the second night of the May ratings race." (Is this really Nielsen-bait?) And the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns eight ABC affiliates, is refusing to air the broadcast, calling it "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."
I think it's really interesting that Bush is attacking Kerry on the issue of military service. (Volunteering to go to Vietnam, three Purple Hearts, Bronze Star w/Valor cluster, Silver Star) != (not volunteering for overseas service, National Guard, failure to get required physical, suspension of flight qualifications.)
Check out this article about Bush's National Guard service...or lack thereof. As I've pointed out before, the administration's document dump didn't answer all the questions. Nor did it actually release all the documents (as the administration has claimed repeatedly):
The president and his staff are doing a very good job of convincing the public he has released all of his National Guard records and that they prove he was responsible during his time in Alabama and Texas. But the critical documents have still not been seen. The mandatory written report about Bush's grounding is mysteriously not in the released file, nor is any other disciplinary evidence. A document showing a "roll-up," or the accumulation of his total retirement points, is also absent, and so are his actual pay stubs. If the president truly wanted to end the conjecture about his time in the Guard, he would allow an examination of his pay stubs and any IRS W-2 forms from his Guard years. These can be pieced together to determine when he was paid and whether he earned enough to have met his sworn obligations.
More tidbits from the Salon.com story:
Ack. I'm tapped out of interesting things to say, and the workday today is craptacular indeed. Good thing I can always fall back on describing my weekend.
So B. came into town Friday night, and we had a nice quiet evening with Chinese takeout and our respective books. On Saturday, we got up (relatively) early and headed to New Hope, PA...we'd wanted to get out of town for a little while, and it seemed like an interesting destination. We stopped for a while at a craft fair in Flemington, NJ (and bypassed the adjacent shad fest, since we didn't have time for both.) The craft fair was interesting -- I managed to get Mother's Day and birthday gifts for several people.
New Hope is a nice little town on the Delaware River. It was full of tourists and day-trippers like ourselves, but justifiably so. Lots of interesting little stores (B. and I really drooled when poking around an antique store specializing in Art Deco stuff) and picturesque streets. We had dinner at a not-bad place overlooking the river. Then we headed back to New York, dawdling as we went.
And as they say, onward...
Interesting BBC report on the North Korean rail explosion...and how difficult it is to cover:
Two days in Dandong has been a sobering reminder that access to information, in some places, is still a privilege, not a right.
In most countries in the world, we take it for granted that if a disaster happens, we will find out and hold whoever responsible to account, and we also take it for granted that we will respond with compassion.
A while back, I wrote about my friend Tomas, who was wounded in Fallujah while covering the war. I just exchanged IMs with him, and am relieved to report that he's okay. He underwent surgery in Detroit to remove shrapnel from his back and head, and he's back on the job...but stateside this time. (Though Atlanta traffic may be dangerous, I think it's safer than Iraqi shrapnel.)
The San Francisco Chronicle has embarked on an ambitious-as-hell project: a 39-part (!), 70,000-word series chronicling the journey of a single bottle of wine from the planting of the grapes to its uncorking in a New York restaurant:
That three births and two deaths were associated with its making was truly no concern of theirs, nor of anybody drinking this wine, which is among the most popular Sauvignon Blancs poured in better American restaurants. . .Virtually every part of the California experience had in some way, shape or form touched this desirable bottle of wine on the white tablecloth in New York City on a cool May night with rain threatening. . .Life and death, water and air, war and peace, in a bottle of crushed grapes and yeast, 13.7 percent alcohol and yummy to drink. California's symbolic product, its face to the world.
"Quite frankly, we don't want the remains of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified," said John Molino, a deputy undersecretary of defense.
Is that really what's going on here? After looking at each of the 361 photographs (and the three non-FOIA photographs that got around the blackout -- of which the Seattle Times pic was one), I don't see anything undignified. There is no identifying material in the pictures -- the DOD redacted all that before releasing them to The Memory Hole. And what's undignified? I see flags, honor guards, hearses...nothing that indicates that the treatment of the remains is in any way disrespectful, or anything but solemn and dignified. The military does this kind of thing right, and servicemembers seem to take this duty very seriously.
[O]ne needn't oppose the war to find something morally unseemly about the strict enforcement of the regulations barring any images of the reality behind these numbers we keep hearing on TV. There is some problem of accountability here, of putting on airs of national sacrifice and not having the courage to risk the real thing, some dark echo of the Rumsfeldian penchant for 4th generation, high-tech warfare where data transfers and throw weights replace bodies at every level.
Of course, the rationale for this policy of barring these images is that to publicize them would be an invasion of the privacy of the families. And certainly if the issue were one of barring photographers from private funerals, perhaps that notion would have merit. But the idea that the privacy of the families is advanced by barring any sort of public grieving and witnessing of these sacrifices just seems ridiculous on its face -- especially when we are often talking about rows of anonymous flag-draped coffins.
All the arguments aside, there's something wrong about the fact that we're seeing none of this.
ADDENDUM: By the way, the photos depicting a hearse and a blue-uniformed honor guard (in the front page of The Memory Hole's gallery) do not show the remains servicemembers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather, they are the remains of the Columbia astronauts arriving at Dover AFB. (The Memory Hole's FOIA request covered any coffin arrivals from Feb. 2003 to the present, which included the Columbia accident.)
ANOTHER ADDENDUM: The Memory Hole link seems to be fux0red due to traffic. Here's a mirror of their pics.
One of the things about obsessively surfing and blogging is that I always feel like I'm discovering things too late. Not that I feel some need to be ahead of the curve or any such thing, but rather it feels like arriving at a party where most of the cool kids have gone home, the music has trailed off, the lights are a little too bright for comfort, and the carpet is speckled with unidentifiable bits of stuff.
Where am I going with this? Well, checking my referrer logs yesterday showed a few hits from a message board that appears to be mainly populated by UK-based mashup artists, reacting to the BoingBoing post about "London Booted" that I linked to yesterday. Perusal of this message board led me to a bunch of links for MP3 blogs. Why had I never heard of these before? It's like a mix CD, with good commentary, delivered a track (or three) at a time. What a brilliant idea!
I mean, I already knew about April Winchell's collection of bizarre (and often hilarious) songs, but this is definitely meatier stuff. I'm particularly fond of Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance Again (which has gone on the blogroll at right), but I also really liked Said The Gramophone, The Tofu Hut, and Fluxblog.
Happy downloadin', pardners.
It was a true one-two punch...first I noticed that Garry Trudeau showed B.D. without his helmet for the very first time. Then I noticed something else. You'll see if you click the link above. I was shocked, and my jaw literally dropped.
Trudeau should get another Pulitzer for yesterday's cartoon alone.
The pictures the White House doesn't want you to see:
Now, due to a Freedom of Information Act request, The Memory Hole has obtained 361 photos showing US military dead arriving at Dover AFB. (The original FOIA request was -- not surprisingly -- denied, but later overturned on appeal. I'd love to see some of the back-and-forth that went into that.)
As citizens and taxpayers, we owe it to ourselves to see the very real human effects of this war we're paying for.
I read about "London Booted" on BoingBoing, and while I hate feeling like my blog is one end of a one-way pipe from BB/MeFi/Romenesko to here, I must say that I might not have run across this otherwise.
What is "London Booted"? It's the Clash album "London Calling", reinterpreted by a bunch of different mash-up artists. Right now I'm listening to track #8 over and over; "Lost Souls in the Supermarket" is a gorgeous, hypnotic cover of "Lost in the Supermarket" by McSleazy. It sounds totally different from the original (which happens to be one of my favorite Clash songs), but also completely retains the quiet, lonely-in-a-crowd emotional space of the original song.