Florida Primary

Digby:

Now I realize that there are no delegates being awarded and maybe there won't be at the convention either. There are people talking about holding a new caucus later in the process so they do a mulligan in the state. And I also know that many people think Clinton is running some sort of scam and that she'll unfairly try to seat her delegates and that it's inappropriate for her to have a rally in Florida to celebrate "winning" etc, etc. Fine. That's all party politics and it's not what I'm talking about. It will be worked out one way or the other.

My point is that actual human beings voted today. If it is inappropriate for Clinton to declare victory it's also damned inappropriate for every gasbag on television to say that all these votes are completely meaningless. They may not add to the delegate count, but they were cast in good faith by American citizens and they should be treated with respect by these jackasses.

I have no idea how it would have come out with a full presidential campaign in the state -- probably differently in a dozen different ways -- but that doesn't mean the media are allowed to act as if the people's vote isn't worth taking seriously, even as they explain why there are no delegates being awarded.

I understand why the Obama campaign is saying that it was only Clinton's name recognition that propelled her higher vote tally. They may certainly be right about that. This is politics and it's fair for them to make that charge. But the Florida Democratic party actually worked to get their people out to the polls even if there wasn't a presidential campaign down there and they deserve at least a little bit of credit for getting so many people out under those circumstances. It's not the news media's job to make a judgment about whether they were right to do so. I have been voting for presidential primary candidates for decades where there was no primary campaign run in my state and while my vote may not have been decisive, I don't recall the news media derisively characterizing the primary voters of California as being dupes and fools for bothering to cast a vote in a state that wasn't being contested.

The contempt these elites hold for the people of this country is unparalleled. They are smirking and laughing and practically rolling their eyes, even as they report that more than a million Florida citizens cast their votes today.

Weblogs

The Index of Political Blogs. Christopher Ian Applegate’s qwghlm.co.uk. Xogij.blogs.com. Alternative Hippopotamus. Spy Blog: “This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.” Newspaper corrections examined at Regret the Error. The Observer Blog. Wind Rose Hotel: Mostly in Italian, with links to other Italian weblogs. Halfway Down the Danube: posts from Bucharest. We Make Money Not Art. Silt3. A collection of Microsoft Excel weblogs: Andrew’s Excel Tips, Automate Excel, Colo’s Excel Junk Room, Dick’s Daily Dose of Excel, Excel Pragma, J-Walk, The Planning Deskbook, van Gelder. R. Robot, the self-writing weblog. Bighappyfunhouse: excellent found photos.

War

Faces of the Fallen: dead American soldiers. Coalition casualty report at cnn.com. Another at lunaville.org. Costofwar.com. Peter Bergen on Laurie Mylroie’s influence on the decision to go to war. The Guardian’s Iraq timeline: 7/16/1979 to 1/31/2004 and 2/1/2004 to the present. Empire Notes weblog. More Iraq weblogs: Baghdad Burning, Back to Iraq, Salaam Pax and Raed, Juan Cole, Healing Iraq, and Kevin Sites. See also Sistani.org. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting’s Iraqi Press Monitor. See also The Iraq Blog Count.

Clear Channel Rallies and the Bush Administration

Paul Krugman on Clear Channel's sponsorship of prowar rallies (New York Times, 3/25/03):

Who has been organizing those pro-war rallies? The answer, it turns out, is that they are being promoted by key players in the radio industry -- with close links to the Bush administration. . . .

Experienced Bushologists let out a collective "Aha!" when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company's top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel's chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university's endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but a good guess is that we're now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy. As Jonathan Chait has written in The New Republic, in the Bush administration "government and business have melded into one big 'us.' " On almost every aspect of domestic policy, business interests rule: "Scores of midlevel appointees . . . now oversee industries for which they once worked." We should have realized that this is a two-way street: if politicians are busy doing favors for businesses that support them, why shouldn't we expect businesses to reciprocate by doing favors for those politicians -- by, for example, organizing "grass roots" rallies on their behalf?

Clear Channel Rallies

"Media Giant's Rally Sponsorship Raises Questions" (Tim Jones, Chicago Tribune, 3/19/03):

Some of the biggest rallies this month have endorsed President Bush's strategy against Saddam Hussein, and the common thread linking most of them is Clear Channel Worldwide Inc., the nation's largest owner of radio stations. . . .

The sponsorship of large rallies by Clear Channel stations is unique among major media companies, which have confined their activities in the war debate to reporting and occasionally commenting on the news. The San Antonio-based broadcaster owns more than 1,200 stations in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

While labor unions and special interest groups have organized and hosted rallies for decades, the involvement of a big publicly regulated broadcasting company breaks new ground in public demonstrations.

"I think this is pretty extraordinary," said former Federal Communications Commissioner Glen Robinson, who teaches law at the University of Virginia. "I can't say that this violates any of a broadcaster's obligations, but it sounds like borderline manufacturing of the news."

Don’t Let These Peace Protesters Confuse You

Conservative talk radio host organizes prowar rallies; Clear Channel Communications pays for them (Douglas Jehl in the New York Times, 3/24/03):

"Don't let these peace protesters confuse you," Glenn Beck, a conservative radio host from Philadelphia, told the crowd estimated at 10,000 . . . [in Glen Allen, VA on March 23]. "We know we're facing dark and terrible, terrifying times. But I tell you, we will look these times dead in the eye, and we will climb these stairs."

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Beck, whose three-hour program is heard five days a week on more than 100 stations, has helped promote many similar demonstrations under the banner of Rally for America. Some have been financed by radio stations owned by his employer, Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest owner of radio stations, in an arrangement that has been criticized by those who contend that media companies should not engage in political advocacy.

The rally near Richmond was paid for by WRVA, a local radio station that broadcasts Mr. Beck's program. Executives at WRVA, which is owned by Clear Channel, said they had decided to stage the event in response to calls from listeners, who in turn had been exhorted by Mr. Beck to seek venues for such rallies.

Dead People

On Al Jazeera's images of dead bodies and the western press: Tim Cavanaugh in Reasononline (3/24/03).

Since the beginning of the new Iraq war on Wednesday, the Qatari news network Al Jazeera has been showing images of corpses. . . . The station really hit paydirt late Friday and throughout Saturday. Al Jazeera provided some of the most shocking war images ever broadcast on television: A field of bodies after the American strike on the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group in northern Iraq, a blood-soaked emergency room at the same location, and most horrendously of all, a luxuriously-paced tour of civilian casualties in Basra. Among those, one will linger in this viewer's mind forever . . . It was the corpse of a boy with the top of his head blown off. The kid's face, while stiff and covered with dust, retains its human features, but beginning at the forehead the skull simply deflates like an old balloon, ending in an unsupported scalp that (with apologies for the mixed similes) resembles the loose hide of skinned animal. . . .

Al Jazeera photo of dead Iraqi child

The elements of Jazeera's total and terrible victory over its competitors are pretty basic: It treats news as an immediate and vital resource. Jazeera's reporters take great personal risks for exciting footage and stories. The station has rapidly attained core professionalism -- full coverage of press conferences, comments from all sides, and so on. It is welcome in areas where the western networks are not, and it is absolutely not squeamish about presenting any claim or image. . . .

To the extent that the Jazeera version of events presents a plausible case that America could lose the war, every extra day that the war takes to complete will make even victory look more and more like defeat. (In fact, given that current resistance appears to be coming as much from small bands of guerillas as from Iraq's regular army, and considering the near certainty that jihadists are now eagerly making their way into Iraq, it's no longer clear that the peace will look substantially different from what we're seeing right now.) The more CNN's coverage starts to look like Jazeera's, and the messier the war starts to look, the more it will embolden both opponents of the war and those who actually oppose America. Whether it will also reveal how thin domestic support for the war is remains to be seen: Americans may become more determined to fight as more dead soldiers pile up (though significantly, they will no longer claim to be fighting for democracy).

What We Know about Iraq

New York Times editorial: "Watching Iraq" (3/23/03):

What most of us know of Iraq we know from just the kind of television we are watching now. It's a nation seen over the correspondent's shoulder, or through the windshield of a fighting vehicle moving into a beige void. But in a way, America knows a great deal about Iraq. We actually know every inch of the country. United Nations inspectors have explored it in the ways that interest us most. Surveillance satellites are constantly watching overhead. We've been making fixed-wing surveillance flights since before the first gulf war. Perhaps in some declassified future, those photographs will serve the same purpose as the aerial photos the Luftwaffe took of England in the late summer of 1940. Now, they provide a clear snapshot of the country as it was, an archeological benchmark against which to measure all future change.

Media Failure in Buildup to War

" In Iraq Crisis, Networks Are Megaphones for Official Views" (FAIR, 3/18/03):

Network newscasts, dominated by current and former U.S. officials, largely exclude Americans who are skeptical of or opposed to an invasion of Iraq, a new study by FAIR has found. of all

Among the major findings in a two-week study (1/30/03=2/12/03) of on-camera network news sources quoted on Iraq:

  • Seventy-six percent of all sources were current or former officials, leaving little room for independent and grassroots views. Similarly, 75 percent of U.S. sources (199/267) were current or former officials.
  • At a time when 61 percent of U.S. respondents were telling pollsters that more time was needed for diplomacy and inspections (2/6/03), only 6 percent of U.S. sources on the four networks were skeptics regarding the need for war.
  • Sources affiliated with anti-war activism were nearly non-existent. On the four networks combined, just three of 393 sources were identified as being affiliated with anti-war activism-- less than 1 percent. Just one of 267 U.S. sources was affiliated with anti-war activism-- less than half a percent.