Friday, September 22, 2006

Who the hell is Alastair Paulin and how did he get so stupid?

Friday and lots of fun today and tonight. But I heard about Alastair Paulin who's with Mother Jones and doesn't that just about say it all -- the kind-of muckraker. Kind-of because while Mark Crispin Miller and Harper's were left to explore the 2004 vote, Mother Jones went for bitchy little unsourced note to readers. So little Alastair Paulin, who a reporter at an event tonight described as "a Ken doll with additional chins," does the sort of crap we can always expect for Mother Jones (and it's why "Toad" is so tight with the Moth-Jo gang -- I won't call it "MoJo") he rushes in to praise Dexy Filkins. Here's a quote from the non-thinking press critic
Alastair Paulin: "Dexter Filkins, who has done terrific reporting for the New York Times from Iraq, recently said that 98 percent of Iraq, including most of Baghdad, is now off-limits to Western journalists, a startling figure that begs the question of why reports from Iraq don't include such a disclaimer." Really, Filky has done such a great job?

When was that? Before or after the Washington Post outed him as the first speed number on the military's propaganda phone? Was that before or after a female reporter outed his 'techinques' of refusing to cover any topic that brought a frown to the face of the US military?
Was that before or after he wrote about all the pretty colors in the bombs destroying Falluja?

You have to be pretty stupid and wake up pretty late to praise Dexter Filkins. (Rebecca's tackling another piece of shit who did the same today.) Apparently, Alastair Paulin's never read Filkins, never heard Dahr Jamail speak about Filky's 'reporting' and knows nothing really but that, on Wednesday, he stumbled across an Editor & Publisher report. Community members know it too. Only they didn't have to wait until Wednesday of this week. They heard it about last Friday when C.I. wrote "Post-Gazette editorializes it's time to leave, Dexy Rats Out:"

Oh, how brave he is. When he's not churning out sob stories or rewriting press releases or being the US military's go-to-guy for propaganda. (As Christian Parenti pointed out to Laura Flanders years ago, back when the show was called The Laura Flanders Show, the Dexy in the paper and the Dexy in person are not the same person.)
Here's the thing, Dexy's not paid by the paper for speeches. He's paid to report. He's supposedly a reporter. If he has seen Iraq descend into anarcy, his reporting should have reflected that. If he sees that a civil war has started, his reporting should have reflected that.Instead readers got Reading Press Releases Live From The Green Zone. That wasn't reality.
And for him to play war correspondent as the actual work, the more dangerous work, was farmed out to stringers, wasn't reality. Readers of the Times may be shocked by Dexy's speech. (His cohorts may be outraged.) You can't paly reporter in front of audiences if you don't do the work required to back up the preformance.
If you'll remember the Times denied that white phosphorus was used in Falluja (in November of 2004). When that news came out and started to get traction over a year later, a reporter who'd never been in Falluja denied it and the reason for denying it was that Filkins (among other Times reporters) was there. (Filkins actually won a prize for his rah-rah 'reporting' that omitted key details.) Then the US government admitted that white phosphorus had been used. The Times noted that -- the same reporter, Scott Shane, wrote the denial and the affirmation.
Shane should have been able to depend on Filkins' 'reporting.' The paper ran with it. (Well, slow jogged it. Check the dateline on the 'award winning' piece and compare it to when it was actually published -- you'll understand why many whispers of military revisions/censorship still surround that 'award winning' piece.) Shane got burned by the paper's own reporting.

That's some of the reality. But MothJo writers and reality are a stretch. Which is how that crap ends up written (and written five days after C.I. had already discussed it at length). "Baby Cum Pants" is how the reporter I was talking to this evening nicknamed Paulin but I think I'd call him "Baby Dump Pants." Of course, the non-story is linked to by Lotta Links because they have no shame -- not when they're calling Ehren Watada "Bob Watada" (that's his father) or when they're falsely saying (last weekend) that Bob Watada is on a speaking tour (it ended weeks before), so Baby Dump Pants is perfect for Lotta Links, neither of them can think too good.

Baby Dump Pants needs to sit his ass down and wallow in his own shit instead of smearing it online. Takes a special kind of stupid to praise Dexy Filkins but damned if they don't always turn up. Who has criticized Dexy? C.I., Dahr Jamail, the Washington Post, Danny Schechter and if there's anyone else, please step forward and claim your prize. Remember Baby Dump Pants because Dexy's Falluja Fibs will be one of the stories that real press critics cite over and when the war is over as one of the biggest lies. Smart people already do (but smart people don't work at MothJo, they don't even know how to count to two at MothJo) but this is the one who will replace Judith Miller as the years go by. And Baby Dump Pants and all his crappy brothers and sisters should be held accountable when those days come because they pumped out crap to support the biggest liar in the Green Zone. I'd type, "Eat s**t, Baby Dump Pants," but it's obvious he already does.

I want to note the questions C.I. had for Dexy on January 7, 2006 (which is what Baby Dump Pants writes about with admiration today -- sorry, Baby Dump Pants, C.I. was all over this long, long ago so go back to playing with your feces):

1) Why, when Iraq was in chaos outside the Green Zone early into the occupation, did your reports not reflect that?

2) Do you really think that readers didn't have a right to know that you were provided with body guards and your movement severly restricted?

3) A reporter stated publicly that you killed an intended interview with the resistance when the American military was displeased. How often did that happen?

4) Your "reporting" on the November slaughter of Falluja ran many days after the end of fighting. Why was that? Is it true that you allowed the military to read over and make suggestions on your copy?

5) If readers had known how severely restricted your movement was from the start and, later on, even in the Green Zone itself, do you think that would have mattered? Why or why not?

6) Since the government has now been forced to admit that white phosphorus was used in Falluja, can you explain why you didn't note that in your articles? (Including your "award winning" one?)

7) What was the deal you agreed to when the military offered to take you into Falluja with them? How did that impact your coverage?

8) As you traveled with bodyguards (wearing black T-shirts with "New York Times" on the front), do you think that effected the way anyone interacted with you?

9) Did you were your own black T-shirt? (Tell the truth on that Dexy, there are some photos floating around.)

10) Using data gathered by stringers was a hallmark of the paper's reporting. In terms of your own reporting, do you feel any regret that stringers weren't credited from the early days? What of those who were the victims of violence or lost a life? Looking back, do you feel that an "end credit" in the later days was really sufficient or, if you had it to do over again, would you insist that they receive a byline?

11) As you packed heat, even while protected by bodyguards, a lot of reporters felt you were "play acting" at war correspondent. How would you reply to your critics?

12) There are those who compare you to a little boy, high on a war, intent to prove your manhood. You say what?

13) You are on record saying that no one can predict what will happen in Iraq. Do you think that their hunches might be stronger if you'd accurately portrayed the conditions under which you were "reporting"?

14) Despite winning an award, does it bother you that Seymour Hersh broke the Abu Ghraib story? That others (including Amy Goodman) broke the white phosphorus story?

15) Exactly what story do you feel that you broke? As someone who spent so much time in the Green Zone, what story do you feel proud about and why?

Stupid Baby Dump Pants really needs to stop calling attention to the fact that he soils himself in public. There's nothing in the Editor & Publisher article (which C.I. addressed a week before) that wasn't known to anyone who wasn't on the outside looking in. But that MothJo for you, always a few years behind.

As soon as I got back here, I had to look up the story because Baby Dump Pants was being trashed by real reporters for his swallowing Dexy with a smile. Let the record show, that from the first Sunday of The Common Ills, C.I. was addressing the lies of Dexy. All this time later and Baby Dump Pants still doesn't know what's what. Rebecca's going to address another person providing cover for Dexter Filkins tonight. It's really amazing that the Washington Post can call him out but our so-called 'independent media' plays dumb.

Changing topics, I'll note R. Jeffrey Smith's article on the latest in the legalization of torture. If you read the article, you'll note that Human Rights Watch is grossly ineffective. This is from Smith's "On Rough Treatment, a Rough Accord:"

Draft legislation to create a new system of military courts for terrorism suspects would allow prosecutors to introduce at future trials confessions that were obtained through "cruel, unusual, or inhumane" interrogations by the CIA or the military before 2005, but not afterward.
The legislation would also allow defense attorneys to challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable, a daunting task if the information consists of written statements from people the lawyers have no right to confront in court.

[. . .]
Many human rights groups and legal experts who parsed the bill yesterday said the White House had achieved most of its objectives in negotiations with dissident GOP senators, including John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and John W. Warner (Va.).
They said the bill's provisions would violate detainees' legitimate rights, conflict with Supreme Court decisions, and come back to haunt Washington when Americans in foreign custody are subjected to the same harsh interrogations and military trials.
"It replaces the old broken" military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court with "a new broken commission system," said Marine Corps Col. Dwight Sullivan, the chief defense counsel for the Defense Department's Office of Military Commissions. He said "it methodically strips rights" guaranteed by laws and treaties and appears to be unconstitutional.

Methodically strips rights and that's the military. Human Rights Watch, by contrast, pins their hopes on a speech John McCain gives tomorrow. They really are becoming a joke (this on top of their response to Israel's armed aggression this summer). Iraq? Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the 2700 mark for US military fatalities in Iraq looms ever closer (2697), the Defense Department learns (again) that the press makes the best lobbyist, and, as Democrats continue to run from Iraq, activists continue to speak out and organize.
Starting with peace news, Mima Mohammed (Los Angelse Times) reports on Helga Aguayo's statements regarding her husband, war resister Agustin Aguayo, who decided to self-check out September 2, 2006: "My husband has never broken a law and I am proud of him. He doesn't want to support the war -- he cannot do so conscientiously. He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister." Helga Aguayo was speaking Wednesday at Camp Democracy (which continues free and open to the public through October 1st) in Washington, DC. and stated that her husband will turn himself in but he will not go to Iraq.
Also reporting on war resistance and Camp Democracy, Tim Wheeler (People's World Weekly) covers war resister Ricky Clousing's speech from this past weekend where Clousing noted what he saw "an innocent Iraqi killed before my eyes by U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability" and notes some of the torture techniques he observed and how Bully Boy "is seeking legal cover. . . . He is seeking another loophole to continue what they have been doing." Ricky Clousing announced at the Seattle Veterans for Peace conference in August that he would be turning himself in after self-checking out. He did so and that military has charged him with desertion and the war drags on . . .
While the military gets all the money they can grab (that's at the top, it never flows down to the enlisted). AP reports that today $70 billion more for quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan were added to the trough "as they wrapped up talks on a $447 billion Pentagon funding bill. The additional war frunds would bring the total approved by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [. . .*] to more than $500 billion, with another installment likely to come next spring."
The bumper sticker reads: "Bully Boy illegal invaded Iraq and all I got was a mountain of debt."
"*"? AP feels the need to insert "since September 11, 2001" into the sentence for some unknown reason. Are they attempting to repeat the discredited "link" between Iraq and 9-11? Clearly Congress approved no war spending measures on September 11th. AP also notes that the Defense Department got what it wanted and AP ties it to those reports of an overstretched (economically) military. Again we ask the question of Thom Shanker and Michael R. Gordon's report (New York Times) today:"Is it news or is it fundraising?"
AP also editorializes with this: "Even opponents of the war tend to support the measure because it supports U.S. troops in harm's way." Actually, cutting off the spending would cut the war. But don't rock the conventional 'wisdom' boat, don't tip the boat over. Which is apparently the m.o. for Dems when it comes to the November elections. Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) reports that the big plan revolves around stressing the economy and ignoring Iraq: "In poll after poll, voters place Iraq well above the economy when asked which issue will most affect their vote this year. And when you combine concerns about the war with concerns about terrorism/national security, it's the economy that is 'a distant reality.' Yet Democrats keep returning to the same domestic-issues-uber-alles thinking that cost them the elections in 2002 and 2004. They can't really believe that people are more interested in raising the minimum wage, middle class tax relief, and college affordability than they are in who's going to keep them from being blown up, can they? The Dems are like a bunch of crack addicts who know that the stuff is killing them, but keep reaching for the pipe."
This as Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that James Thurman (US "Maj. Gen.") loosens his grip on reality (further?) and claims that attacks on civilians in Iraq are down. Well pay it forward, Thurman. America can't afford universal health care but can pay $500 billion (and counting) for wars? Turman also stated that, "As we clean up the streets, we find a city capable of starting to function properly." Street cleaners? That's what US troops are being kept in Iraq for? No, they aren't street cleaners and Thurman needs to work a little harder at his illustrations (working harder at capturing reality might cause a blood vessel to explode so we'll accept the fact that he's an Operation Happy Talker and move on.)
In the real world (which Thurman is welcome to visit), Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reminds: "The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says." The torture, the UN has stated, is being committed by a variety of groups including 'government forces.' Tim Reid (Times of London) reports that the White House takes offense to the UN report and denies it. We all await Condi Rice trotting out her "No one could have guessed" line yet again.
AFP reports, that in Baghdad, two bomb detector/defusers were killed when a bomb they were attempting to defuse exploded. Reuters reports a civilian dead from a roadside bomb in Latifiyaand sixteen wounded from bombs in Baghdad.
AFP reports that four Iraqi police officers were shot dead in Baquba. AP reports that attacks on mosques and homes resulted in four shooting deaths in Baghdad. China's People's Daily notes that four houses were set on fire in the attacks. Reuters reports one civilian shot dead in Kirkuk and that Nomass Atout shot dead "near his house in Diwaniya".
KUNA reports that 48 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today. AP reports a corpse ("blindfolded . . . bound") was discovered in Musayyib. Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Mosul and a woman's corpse found in Kirkuk. That should be 64 deaths reported, counting corpses, thus far today.
Returning to peace news, Paul Hogarth (Beyond Chron) reports, " About 25 activists gathered at the Office of Supervisor Chris Daly yesterday to display the Code Pink Peace Ribbon Quilt, and to kick off the Declaration of Peace Week of Action. The Declaration, which has been endorsed by over 180 peace and justice organizations throughout the country has three basic platforms: (1) bring our troops home now, (2) establish a plan to end the war in Iraq, and (3) prevent future U.S. invasions such as Iran, Syria or North Korea."

It was a pretty busy day. There was activism, there was fun (and activism is fun, but non-activism fun), Tracey and me were going to cook for everyone tonight, but at the last minute, we all ended up going to a party. It was a pretty nice party. I thought it might be stuffy, like the embassy thing we did last time in DC, but it was really fun. Now be sure and check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.