(updated below - Update II)
(1) For months, Harper's Scott Horton has been following and reporting on the story of Karl Rove's limitless crusade to destroy Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama about as closely as anyone can follow a story. Yesterday, Scott emailed to say:
You should alert your readers to watch 60 Minutes on Sunday for an extremely important piece. They will learn how at the instigation of Karl Rove, the Justice Department was turned into a political hit machine to destroy the reputation and ultimately imprison AL governor Don Siegelman on accusations which do not constitute, no matter how you parse it, a crime. . . .
It's an extraordinary, deep peek into a hopelessly corrupt Justice Department. They've been struggling to keep the lid on this story for two years. And on Sunday it is going to blow.
More details and background on tonight's 60 Minutes story are in this AP story here. Scott is a very smart and savvy commentator, not prone to hyperbole, so this piece will undoubtedly be worth watching. Scott's latest post on the Siegelman/60 Minutes matter is here (in which Scott, among other things, identifies several false statements in the AP story).
The headline leads to an Associated Press "news article" by the always-odious Nedra Pickler that packs every reprehensible and irresponsible journalistic device into one article. The headline: "Obama may face grilling on patriotism."
The article contains one quote after the next from right-wing polemicists accusing Obama of being unpatriotic. Josh Marshall noted last night that the article prominently features disgraced GOP operative Roger Stone as one of the central accusers, but just as bad, if not worse, it then goes on to quote this repulsive dialogue from Fox News' Fox and Friends:
"First he kicked his American flag pin to the curb. Now Barack Obama has a new round of patriotism problems. Wait until you hear what the White House hopeful didn't do during the singing of the national anthem," said Steve Doocy, co-host of "Fox and Friends" on the Fox News Channel.
"He felt it OK to come out of the closet as the domestic insurgent he is," former radio host Mark Williams said on Fox.
This is a "news article." And Pickler and AP wrote it by sitting in front of Fox News, writing down the most baseless and reckless accusations from the worst morons, and then turning it into a "news story" along the lines of: "Conservatives accuse Obama of X." That's how Drudge rules their world. He posts some completely irresponsible and scurrilous rumor; they then write a news story about how the rumors are circulating, and it then becomes mainstreamed.
Thus: some attention-seeking right-wing talk radio host on Fox News labels Obama a "domestic insurgent" and the Fox host suggests Obama is unpatriotic. Pickler writes it all down, gets some confirming quotes from GOP operatives, and then files a "news article" based on it. And now MSNBC, on its front page, is heralding the vital question: "Is he exposed?" For all the attention the dubious NYT story about McCain received, those tactics, and far worse, are par for the course in how "reporters" like Pickler demonize Democratic candidates in every national election. That a Democratic candidate is accused of being an unpatriotic subversive Terrorist by Fox News and the Roger Stones of the world isn't exactly "news."
(3) Chris Floyd has a superb post on what might be simultaneously the most consequential and most under-discussed news story: the ongoing, sprawling efforts of the U.S. to create permanent military hegemony in virtually every country in the Middle East. That, of course, is what leads to all of our tough guy warriors here, constantly sitting around, musing about how we should run the world. From Fox News' super-tough-on-defense Mort Kondrake yesterday, offering up a plan for how we can ensure that Iran is bombed this year:
The NIE is a total disaster for the United States. It has undercut the ability of the United States to get the Europeans to move on all this stuff.
And it has made it practically impossible for President Bush to have the United States launch an attack on the Iranian nuclear installations during his presidency, but it has not eliminated the possibilities that the Israelis will do it, because the Israelis really do regard this program as a threat to their existence.
And the United States probably would have to cooperate and let the Israelis over fly Iraq, whose airspace we control. But that would be a lot less and it would not require congressional approval. So that may happen in 2008.
That's really convenient -- and a total coincidence -- that we happen to control the airspace of Iraq (a totally free and sovereign country, thanks to us) and now can use that control to let the Israelis overfly Iraq on their war to bombing Iran. Think of all the great things we can do with our benevolent imperial control over the rest of those countries. Freedom is on the march.
(4) This is an amusing video of a guest yesterday on some Fox News program who had enough and unleashed an outburst about how Fox is a "parade of propaganda" and a "festival of ignorance," and then mentioned that there were a million dead people in Iraq as a result of our invasion. All sorts of extremely uncomfortable awkwardness ensued. I have trouble seeing how any self-respecting person could ever go on Fox without making at least some of those points.
(5) GOP Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia was on Bill Maher's show on Friday night and -- in addition to claiming that Barack Obama's patriotism was suspect because he won't wear a flag lapel or cover his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance (a total falsehood) -- also said, in defending Bush's terrorism policies: "We have not had a domestic attack since 9/11" (beginning at roughly 5:05 of the You Tube clip -- h/t reader JJ).
This is a point that has been made before, here and elsewhere, but it is just astonishing how we have all decided to forget that the anthrax attacks ever happened. Not only is it still a mystery who was behind them, but what's also a mystery is who lied to ABC News by claiming that government tests connected the anthrax to Saddam Hussein, lies that caused ABC News and Brian Ross to spend days broadcasting that extremely inflammatory (and totally false) claim (without any retraction) to the country. ABC News and Brian Ross, of course, know who was responsible for getting them to disseminate those extremely significant Saddam-anthrax lies, but they refuse to report that news.
All of that has been so thoroughly expunged from our collective memory that it's not only acceptable, but also mandated orthodoxy, to agree: "We haven't had a terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11." And what's most notable about that is that the anthrax attacks played as significant a role, if not more so, as the 9/11 attack itself in engendering the sustained hysteria in this country that led, and is still leading, to the abuses and radicalism of the next seven years. But now, it's like it never happened -- "thank God for George Bush: no terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11."
(6) Reader Paul Nystrom emailed to advise that he had a Letter to the Editor published in his local newspaper, The Salem News, regarding FISA and telecom immunity. Paul's letter was written in response to an Op-Ed in the same paper by Rick Barton, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006 against Democratic Rep. John Tierney and is running against him again this year.
Barton's Op-Ed attempted to smear Rep. Tierney as endangering Americans by opposing the Senate FISA bill using all the standard GOP fear-mongering talking points, and Paul's Letter to the Editor eviscerates every one of those arguments. I highlight this to underscore the fact that submitting such letters to your local papers, and especially submitting Op-Eds, can have a very substantial impact on how these matters are debated and understood, particularly where the submission is well-informed and well-argued. Many Americans still trust their local newspapers and have their opinions shaped by what they read there as much as, and often more than, national news outlets.