Featured Blog, I: Shock and Awe
Bush Launches Offensive Against Media
Peter Daou, Daou Report / March 23, 2006
As the Bush administration's Iraq fiasco spirals further out of control, a new phase of the war has begun: an all-out assault on the American media for simply reporting the news. The scope and audacity of this attack is breathtaking: on cue, a bevy of administration officials and rightwing talking heads has begun taking direct aim at the press, accusing reporters of fabricating the Iraq crisis.Media Matters chronicles the assault:
+ On March 19, Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CBS' Face the Nation and answered a question about the sagging support for the Iraq war by noting that "there's a constant sort of perception, if you will, that's created because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad."
+ During a March 20 press gaggle, White House press secretary Scott McClellan discussed the speech Bush would give later that day in Cleveland. McClellan said that the "dramatic images that people see on the TV screens ... are much easier to put into a news clip" and told reporters that the president would address the "real progress being made toward a democratic future."
+ In his speech to the City Club of Cleveland, Bush said he understood "how some Americans have had their confidence shaken." He continued: "Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens, and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq." Bush then talked about the town of Tal Afar, which he described as a "concrete example of progress in Iraq that most Americans do not see every day in their newspapers and on their television screens."
+ Later in the speech, Bush said: "The kind of progress that we and the Iraqi people are making in places like Tal Afar is not easy to capture in a short clip on the evening news. Footage of children playing, or shops opening, and people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an IED explosion, or the destruction of a mosque, or soldiers and civilians being killed or injured."
+ During a March 21 press conference, Bush said that "for every act of violence, there is encouraging progress in Iraq that's hard to capture on the evening news."
+ Later in the press conference, Bush claimed that he had presented "a realistic assessment of the enemy's capability to affect the debate. ... They're capable of blowing up innocent life so it ends up on your TV show. And, therefore, it affects the woman in Cleveland you were talking to. And I can understand how Americans are worried about whether or not we can win." Media Matters goes on to list a series of similar utterances from rightwing pundits and talk show hosts.The process wouldn't be complete if cable news outlets didn't jump on the bandwagon, and like clockwork, CNN and MSNBC have devoted a number of segments to the singularly absurd notion that the press is to blame for the mess in Iraq.Read the rest at the Daou Report...
Featured Blog, II: Froth and Awe
Got Beer? A Lifelong Love
Arthshastra/March 25, 2006
I’d be hard pressed to give you the exact year and age when this life long love affair started, but sometime between the 9 th and the 11 th grade, I had my first sip of beer and to flog a dead cliché - it was love at first gulp. Like a lot of other youngsters in small town India at that time, I started with a Kingfisher but pretty soon, like Naipaul visiting the whores in his youth, we settled for beers that gave most bang for the buck. We were naive and still finding our way around beers so we’d buy the ones that offered the most alcohol for the least amount of money. Terms like malt, single batch, ale, lager, fermentation, yeast and microbrewery were way in the future; right now we settled for some of the favorite beers of truckers in North India - brands like Bullet, Godfather and Hayward 5000 were staples. A little while later, the Wal-Mart of Australian beers - Fosters (a fact that we obviously did not know at that time and the marketing machine of Fosters that worked overtime had no intention of letting us know) came along and we indulged in that luxury every once in a while, imagining it to be the best beer in the world. Oh the naiveté and exuberance of youth! Neither Bombay, nor Chicago made me a beer sophisticate. In fact, in Chicago, I gulped down Budweisers by the six packs, again the marketing machine making me believe that I was having the “King of Beers.” It was not until I visited Belgium in the fall of 2002 and had my first gulp of a locally brewed Trappist beer that I fully realized what I had been missing all along. Trappist beers are brewed by Trappist monks who starting brewing these beers to fund their monasteries and their beer has a very distinctive taste compared to the mass produced beers. Of course, beer does not carry the romance and aura of wines, you don’t find any beer snobs ruining your evening by snickering at you when you cannot pronounce the name of that 1989 vintage from a godforsaken place in France. Read the rest at Arthshastra...