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By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2004 4:01pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2004 11:53pm PT  

Don Rumsfeld: "I think that --- I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture. I don't know if it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word."

Meanwhile Josh Marshall points to this, from the Report of Major General Antonio M. Taguba, assigned by the Pentagon to investigate the not-torture of Iraqi prisoners:

"Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; ... sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick..."

Makes the old "it depends on what the meaning of is is" look so quant in reflection.

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So much for Article 1...Next?
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2004 11:19pm PT  


The Rabid Anti-American March of the Right continues. After censoring last week's Nightline and running Howard Stern off the air, it looks like it's now Academy Award Winning Director and #1 Best-Selling Author Michael Moore's turn. Coulda seen this one coming.

Disney has blocked distribution of Moore's latest documentary "Farenheit 9/11" (his last one won the Oscar) according to an article in today's New York Times citing their right to prevent Miramax (a Disney-owned subsidiary) "from from distributing films under certain circumstances, like an excessive budget or an NC-17 rating."

According to Moore, the reason they are blocking it, is neither of the above. From the Times piece...

Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor. [emphasis added]

"Michael Eisner asked me not to sell this movie to [Miramax head] Harvey Weinstein; that doesn't mean I listened to him," Mr. Emanuel said. "He definitely indicated there were tax incentives he was getting for the Disney corporation and that's why he didn't want me to sell it to Miramax. He didn't want a Disney company involved."

Disney executives deny that accusation, though they said their displeasure over the deal was made clear to Miramax and Mr. Emanuel.

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's interests not because of the company's business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many.

It should also be noted that the non-alienating, family friendly movie Pulp Fiction and the charmingly sweet non-alienating family blood-baths Kill Bill Vols 1 & 2 were Miramax projects distributed by Disney.

Are there still any real conservatives out there who actually stand by what is now going on in this country?

If you can't beat 'em, censor 'em, I guess. Unbelievable.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2004 9:03pm PT  

It took a few years since Craig Kilborn left to prove that in fact, it's The Daily Show that rocks. Not Craig Kilborn.

From their "Indecision '04" coverage to their "Mess o' Potamia" updates, "The Daily" offers nightly some of the sharpest Political Satire available anywhere these days. Sharp enough, apparently, that they're now able to attract from the political 'A-List' for most evening's guest segments. Recent heavyweights have included Bob Woodward, Madeleine Albright, Bob Kerrey, Karen Hughes, Bob Dole and Richard Clarke to name just a few.

But, as usual, it's the writing that earns the big bucks.

Consider this exchange from last night's show as Jon Stewart was interviewing "Senior Political Analyst" Rob Corddry about Sinclair Broadcasting's decision to block last Friday's Nightline tribute to "The Fallen" in Iraq.

Stewart asks Corddry if he thought the Nightline show has a biased political agenda as Sinclair suggested:

CORDDRY: How does one report facts in an unbiased way? When the facts themselves are biased?

STEWART: ...I'm sorry...I'm sorry, Rob --- did you say the facts are biased?!

CORDDRY: That's right, John...From the names of our fallen soldiers, to the gradual withdrawl of our allies, to the growing insurgency --- it's become all too clear that the facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda.

:-) Good stuff...It's remarkable really that Jon Stewart hasn't yet been added to the Freedom Haters Club along with Michael Moore, Al Franken et al. Probably just a matter of time.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2004 8:08pm PT  

Won't give too much away in case you haven't yet caught last Sunday's episode of The Soprano's - but here's a heads up. After a few on again off again episodes, the latest managed to blow every episode this season outta the water. Top-notch writing and acting in every storyline of the night, plus one shocker that I'd defy any fan to not --- literally --- scream out loud upon viewing. If you didn't catch it yet, do so immediately. A lot went down in this week's superlative episode!

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By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2004 2:47pm PT  

While we try and be Fair & Balanced here at the Brad Blog, occassionally, it's nice to let the Professionals just kick some ass...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2004 1:27pm PT  

"The Senator from Massachusetts has given us ample grounds to doubt the judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security. "
- Vice-President Dick Cheney, Speech at Westminster College, Fulton, MO, 4/26/2004

FLASHBACK! Previous judgement and attitude brought to bear on vital issues of national security by Cheney and Bush...:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
- Vice-President Dick Cheney, Speech to VFW National Convention, 8/26/2002

"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons."
- Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, Cincinnati, Ohio Speech 10/7/2002

"After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon."
- Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, Cincinnati, Ohio Speech, 10/7/2002

"In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world --- and we will not allow it."
- Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, Speech to the American Enterprise Institute, 2/26/2003

"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
- Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, Interview with TVP Poland, 5/30/2003

More HERE if you've got the stomach for it...

NEXT WEEK: "It'll be a cakewalk! We'll be greeted as Liberators!"
WEEK AFTER: "We don't need the United Nations!"
WEEK AFTER THAT: "They'll be able to pay for their own reconstruction from oil revenues!"
WEEK AFTER WEEK AFTER THAT: "We can trust Chalabi!"

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By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2004 7:11pm PT  

Even the hardest to the Right seem to now be recognizing what a fine Mess o' Potamia we've gotten ourselves into...

Pat Buchanan: "Virtually all Iraqi's see us as Occupiers, not Liberators...We're gonna have to leave...[Fallujah] is the beginning of the great retreat."
John McLaughlin: "Three out of four Iraqi's regard us as Occupiers, not Liberators. If that doesn't tell you we've lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqis, what does?...14,600 Iraqi Civilians dead - that's another reason we've lost the battle for the hearts and minds."

And finally, Eleanor Clift, who still makes my ears bleed, but she got off a good line nonetheless:

"It's the most ill-conceived battle since Custer."
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The Right's Determined March Towards Marginalization.
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2004 4:41pm PT  

As much as I like to criticize the media for being lazy - which they are - I should probably add a word or two in praise of having such an open, independent press in this country in the first place.

Such a declaration of the obvious seems hardly necessary - particularly in light of recent events and their constant reminder of how "our freedoms are what the evil-doers hate".

And yet, it too often seems to be those freedoms precisely which are ironically enough under attack these days from the Bush Syncophants on the Hard Right Wing in the Blogosphere, on Talk Radio and elsewhere.

Instead of speaking out vociferously against the appalling treatment of Iraqi Prisoners, these Right Wingers have --- all too predictably by now --- chosen to use their time, incredibly, attacking CBS instead for having aired the story in the first place (after first holding the story for two weeks at the request of the Pentagon, I should add).

As this week's Newsweek article including an interview with Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski (the commander who over-saw the guards at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, including those at Saddam Hussein's former torture center at Abu Ghurayb, where these photos were taken) reminds us, we are very lucky to have a free and independent media in this country to keep our Leaders in check. Especially when they are running so wildly adrift with dangerous and self-destructive American Policy.

She says she warned her superiors from the first about the ill-treatment of Iraqi prisoners....The trouble was, Karpinski says, she didn't have enough troops or resources to do the job right, and the men at the top ignored her complaints. "They just wanted it to go away," she told NEWSWEEK last week. In the end, several of her soldiers apparently went out of control.

It has been suggested, by at least this one Rightwing Blog (which ironically calls itself "The Blog of Truth", I might add) that CBS should have informed the Administration of what they learned and then simply "shut up" in light of and apparently in support of current American Policies in Iraq. The Blog's author claims not that CBS is biased --- the usual tribal rallying cry --- but more revealingly, that "they are neutral" and he finds that to be the problem.

But Karpinski's own words underscore the need for the independence of a Free - and yes, "neutral" - Media willing to whistle-blow in service to our country - even with the possibility that such reporting may cause short-term damage to existing Administration policies.

Karpinski's words, taken only at face value to be sure, since she is currently being held responsible by the Military, along with the soldiers who actually committed the alleged atrocities at Abu Ghurayb, once again underscore the reasons why such a Fourth Estate is so necessary in this country.

Taking her statements at face value, and there should be a paper trail from which to verify them, such behavior, when kept In-House, out of the Media and thus Public Opinion only allows that such behavior to continue unchecked. It was, of course, only after CBS went to the Pentagon with the pictures to prove the allegations, that the Pentagon seemingly and finally sprang into action. Since they had already presumably heard the warnings from Karpinski previously, it was only the threat of Public Disclosure that seems to have forced them to take action.

Of course, CBS could have warned the Pentagon about going public with these pictures, and then not done so after the Pentagon supposedly took appropriate action. But, as Dubya might say, a threat is only good if you follow through with it. If CBS hadn't then released the pictures, after appropriately giving the Pentagon time to adquatelly respond, it would simply send the message to the Pentagon that they needn't worry about being embarrased in such a way in the future. They'd have the Media in their pocket, which seems to be precisely what the Extreme Right Wing is calling for.

If the Right hopes to remain anywhere within the American Mainstream after all of this nonsense eases up, they would be wise to re-examine their own self-proclaimed set of "American Values" as they continue to perpetrate reprehensible attacks on the Messenger instead of the Message.

Such behavior surely points up the weakness inherent in their own current positions, but that point must be lost on them, as they continue the same drum beat with every bit of media disclosure that they simply don't care for.

If they continue to avoid such sage advice however, hopefully they will soon find themselves relegated to the same extreme margins of American Public Policy where they --- mistakenly --- assume American Liberals with Real Patriotic Values currently reside.

Proceed at your own peril, boys.

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Another American Hero Speaks Out
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2004 2:35pm PT  

A remarkable statement yesterday as the Democratic Response to Bush's weekly Radio Address.

It's very short, I strongly suggest you read it, since it's very difficult to summarize the most telling statements.

It was written and delivered by Paul Rieckhoff, a National Guardsman who recently returned home from Iraq. Rieckhoff had been an investment banker on Wall Street for two years before volunteering for the National Guard. He "knew he would end up in Baghdad...and was ready for it".

While it's all notable, and movingly written, here's one or two key thoughts:

...when we got to Baghdad, we soon found out that the people who planned this war were not ready for us. There were not enough vehicles, not enough ammunition, not enough medical supplies, not enough water. Many days, we patrolled the streets of Baghdad in 120 degree heat with only one bottle of water per soldier. There was not enough body armor, leaving my men to dodge bullets with Vietnam-era flak vests. We had to write home and ask for batteries to be included in our care packages. Our soldiers deserved better.

When Baghdad fell, we soon found out that the people who planned this war were not ready for that day either....We waited for troops to fill the city and military police to line the streets. We waited for foreign aid to start streaming in by the truckload. We waited for interpreters to show up and supply lines to get fixed. We waited for more water. We waited and we waited and the attacks on my men continued…and increased.

With too little support and too little planning, Iraq had become our problem to fix. We had nineteen-year-old kids from the heartland interpreting foreign policy, in Arabic. This is not what we were designed to do.

He said a year ago they'd heard of the "Mission Accomplished" banner, and had been told they'd be home in time for summer of '03, until they were told they'd be staying "indefinitely" just three days before they were to have gone home.

The image of Bush's Press Conference two weeks ago continues to pop into his mind:

After all the waiting, after all the mistakes we had experienced first hand over in Iraq, after another year of a policy that was not making the situation any better...He told us we were making progress. And he told us that, "We're carrying out a decision that has already been made and will not change."

Our troops are still waiting for more body armor. They are still waiting for better equipment. They are still waiting for a policy that brings in the rest of the world and relieves their burden. Our troops are still waiting for help.

...

In Iraq, I was responsible for the lives of 38 other Americans....And when we failed, it was my job as their leader to take responsibility for the decisions I made — no matter what the outcome.

My question for President Bush — who led the planning of this war so long ago — is this: When will you take responsibility for the decisions you've made in Iraq and realize that something is wrong with the way things are going?

Mr. President, our mission is not accomplished.

Next time you hear a Rightwinger give lip service to "supporting our Troops", or the Vice-President reprehensibly charging that John Kerry does not support them, feel free to point them to the statement of this courageous soldier.

As expected, before Rieckhoff even made his address, he was already being added, by the Republican Attack Machine to their growing list of "Liars". Which is very credible confirmation, these days, that the man is well worth listening to.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2004 9:39pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2004 9:00pm PT  

Two different items on tonight's O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel would suggest that Bill O'Reilly himself has never actually heard of...the Fox News Channel!

In his "Talking Points Memo" at the top of the show he lambasted CBS for showing the photos of the disgracefully mistreated Iraqi Prisoners saying that such photos "give aid to the enemy". Therefore, he would not be showing those photos to viewers and that CBS should be ashamed.

I first saw the photos this morning on Fox News' Studio B program and again later in the day on Fox's Hannity & Colmes. The photos I ran on the Brad Blog were, in fact, taken from...the Fox News Website!

He then went on to blast Ted Koppel for not coming onto his show to explain tonight's Nightline tribute to the servicemen killed in Iraq (as discussed in this earlier Brad Blog item). Yet Koppel, we are told by O'Reilly, did find time to speak to a "far left Radio Network this afternoon". (Presumably, he's referring to Koppel's interview on Air America).

Of course, O'Reilly then failed to mention that Koppel was interviewed by Fox's own Sean Hannity on his radio show just this afternoon! Portions of which were re-broadcast on Fox's Hannity & Colmes!

This shit is just getting too easy. Keep not spinning, Bill! We're looking out for you!

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Or, I wonder where things could have gone so wrong?
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2004 2:54pm PT  

As today's mini-flap rages on concerning the tribute to "The Fallen in Iraq" on tonight's Nightline where Ted Koppel will read the names and show the pictures of those killed in combat, it seems our own Deputy Defense Secretary , Paul Wolfowitz, a major architect for the brilliant plan to go to war in Iraq, should perhaps tune in. With a calculator!

According to AP, when asked yesterday how many troops have died in Iraq at a House Sub-committee hearing , Wolfowitz' estimate was some 200 American servicemen short:

"It's approximately 500, of which — I can get the exact numbers — approximately 350 are combat deaths," he responded.

The actual number, as of Thursday, was 724 total dead with 522 of them killed in combat according to documentation on the Defense Department's own website. As of this morning, twenty-four hours later, the numbers are 732 and 530 respectively according to their website documentation.

In the meantime, despite a highly critical letter to them from War Supporter, Veteran, Prisoner of War and Republican Senator John McCain, the Sinclair Broadcast Group is refusing to carry tonight's Nightline show on their 8 owned ABC affiliate stations across the country.

UPDATED INFO SINCE POSTING THE ABOVE: Despite Sinclair CEO David Smith's claims that they would not run the broadcast because Nightline is "doing nothing more than making a political statement," it's worth noting that Sinclair has so far donated well over $100,000 in hard and soft money to Republican Candidates and $0 to Democrats since 2000.

As well, the Conservative website Newsmax.com reports the following in a January article titled "Sinclair, The Next Fox, 'Fair and Balanced'" about Sinclair's National News program distributed to the stations they own:

As [Sinclair Vice-President Mark] Hyman puts it, "The left's real beef is who controls the microphone. We're not liberal. We're not providing a slanted view. And that's what really angers them."

Sinclair CEO David Smith echoed that sentiment, telling the Washington Post that his aim is to offer a "fair and balanced" news program, something missing on the major network news programs.

"Our objective is to tell the story in the most truthful and honest way possible," he said, adding, "There will be no spin."

As mentioned, tonight's Nightline will do nothing more than read the names and show the pictures of those American's killed in action in Iraq. Perhaps it's the lack of spin that bothers Sinclair.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2004 1:57pm PT  

One of the oddest comments to the press from Dubya after his joint meeting with Dick Cheney before the 9/11 Commission in the Oval Office, was not: "I answered every question they asked."

Nor was it: "I enjoyed it."

Nor, after finally bowing to political pressure to meet with them at all, this statement: "...if we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place."

No, the oddest moment as it struck me was this response to a question posed on the value of meeting jointly with Dick Cheney, despite critic's charges that it was done so they could keep their stories straight and the Commission's request to to interview him alone like every other President who's ever testified before such a committee: "I think it was important for them to see our body language...how we work together."

Not certain how that's "important" to the Commission, but then I'm not on it. It did, however, hit me as strange. Really, get a room, boys.

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As published on the Fox News Website...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2004 1:05pm PT  

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