Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Signs of the Times

Three items:

1) The driving force behind the "punishment" of the Dixie Chicks was Cumulus Media, which lifted the ban in April, 2003. Being the biggest fish in the pond, Clear Channel Communications still gets the lion's share of the blame for that black-eye on radio broadcasts (and some of its stations did ban the Dixie Chicks), but it is only fair to point out that their finger-pointing is backed by the public record.

Still, their victories at the Grammys are another indication that there are other "power centers" in this society, and they want the boundaries respected. I think this is a lesson from last November that some political leaders have learned, and that some have yet to learn.

And it may also indicate the power of "NASCAR" voters was highly overrated.

2) NPR, bless 'em, is turning a critical eye on the reports of munitions from Iran being used in Iraq in a straight up interview with someone willing to put his voice behind his skepticism. As the New York Times reports, he is not alone:

The response from Congressional and other critics speaks volumes about the current state of American credibility, four years after the intelligence controversy leading up to the Iraq war. To pre-empt accusations that the charges against Iran were politically motivated, the administration rejected the idea of a high-level presentation, relying instead on military and intelligence officers to make its case in a background briefing in Baghdad.

Even so, critics have been quick to voice doubts. Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that the White House was more interested in sending a message to Tehran than in backing up serious allegations with proof. And David Kay, who once led the hunt for illicit weapons in Iraq, said the grave situation in Iraq should have taught the Bush administration to put more of a premium on transparency when it comes to intelligence.

“If you want to avoid the perception that you’ve cooked the books, you come out and make the charges publicly,” Mr. Kay said.
The NPR report is actually more skeptical than the NYT article. The latter bends over backwards to give the Administration more than it is due, even ending with this thoroughly pathetic plea:

“People have lost their moorings,” Mr. Zelikow said. He said the administration was trying to overcome public distrust by asking, in essence, “Don’t you trust our soldiers?”
Which can only be summed up as: "CLAP LOUDER!"

Bruce Reidel is not shrill, but he cuts the issue down to size: it's a question of evidence, and there simply isn't any. One of the three great lies is: "We're from the government. Trust us." Looks like a healthy skepticism has returned in some areas of public life.

Turn out the lights, George, the party's over.

3) NPR, again, is keeping track of the "toll of war."

One can certainly take one lesson from Karl Rove: stick to principle. Or at least, return to them when you stray. Which, yes, is what the Administration is still doing. But it is the principles they are sticking to which are failing them.

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