Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wish you were here

If you're in Michigan and you're reading this on Saturday afternoon, you are NOT here. Why? You're missing one helluva gig! Senator Carl Levin gets us fired up and ready to take on the war machine in the Sentate.

At the Blogger Caucus, Emptywheel demonstrates her ability to talk as rapidly with her hands as she live blogs from the Libby trial media room at Prettyman Courthouse.

And look who else made it to Michigan -- Brian Keeler, a.k.a. NYBri, here to talke about Blue Tiger Dems and The Albany Project. Wow, two DailyKos rockstars here in one room!

(Um, Emptywheel is still talking with her smokin' live blogging technique.)

And Senator Stabenow launches this bash with a collection of some of the finest Democrats this country has taking the stage with her, including Rep. Sander Levin, Rep. John Conyers, and Rep. John Dingell. Wow. Critical mass of progressive brain power here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Libby Trial: Closing Arguments

A shout out to folks popping in from the FireDogLake live blogging coverage of the U.S. v. Libby trial!

For the link to primer including glossary of terms, see link at the left, conveniently located under the shameless plug for FDL's live blogger Marcy Wheeler's book, Anatomy of Deceipt. Sales through that link support FDL.

May justice be served and the good guys win, for once.

EDIT: Some of the FDL regulars (or irregulars, as the case may be) have been chatting about placing bets on the outcome. Go ahead, lay your bets in comments. Is Libby guilty or not guilty? How many counts and which counts, if guilty?

I'll start: I think guilty on all five counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction.

Any male senior administration official who remembers more about a Miami Dolphins game than an attractive, blonde, deepest cover CIA agent with two babies at home needs a good whack along side the chops anyhow, at the very least.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Saving our heritage - saving the wild UP

This is part of the watershed above Big Bay, on the way to Marquette, only a handful of miles as the crow flies from the Yellow Dog Plains. The area has a diverse range of environments, from moist freshwater creek beds in deciduous forests to dry, sandy near-alpine-like conditions in higher elevations with older conifer growth and younger brushy areas developing into new jack pine stands.

And this is what I used to do as a kid, here in the same stream beds, looking for salamanders and tiny brook trout and crawfish and bugs as if they were gold nuggets. It's rare to run into somebody out here, and when you do, they are fishing, hunting, berry picking, logging, or heading back to town with whatever they caught, picked or logged.

I think this is Eagle Rock, only a stone's throw from the area where Kennecott Mines wants to mine for nickel sulfide. Not clear in this picture taken on a hazy afternoon is a large outcrop of bluestone and granite on which perch some conifers, reaching over a brushy patch covered with wild blueberry and ferns.

Noted with a "Drift Area" sign, this is one of the many logging roads that wind through the Yellow Dog Plains, the same kind of road that the Kennecott Mines trucks will use to remove the nickel sulfide.

These roads rut and wash out easily as they are nothing but soft sand and small sandstones; they are like washboards after a little rain and a little more traffic. During the summer they are extremely dusty; the trees adjoining the road become pink from dust hanging in the air. The dust could be kept down with calcium chloride, but what will that do to the environment?

This area is simply too fragile for mining; it hasn't fully recovered from the logging done over the last hundred years as it is. How long would it take to recover from a nickel mine with an extremely finite lifespan?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Breaching the barrier: Christy Hardin Smith on reporters' privilege

FireDogLake's Christy Hardin Smith had an excellent and highly educational post up this past Tuesday tackling Judy Miller, former journalist for The New York Times. You'll recall that Miller wrote a number of pieces that fueled the run-up to the Iraq War, based on information that was inadequate; if you don't recall Miller, you'll be reminded by this evening's news as she will take the stand today in the U.S. vs. Libby trial. Christy's post serves as an excellent backgrounder on Miller prior to her testimony today.

The concept of reporters' privilege has been discussed extensively because of Miller's jailing for refusing to testify to the federal Grand Jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Miller claimed reporters' privilege – a subset of the First Amendment protections of free speech – as well as a lack of release by her source, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. (Libby has been a target of of umbrella investigation, and is being prosecuted for crimes committed in the course of the investigation (5 counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction). Miller met with Libby several times prior to the discovery of Plame's outing, during which Libby disclosed Plame's identity and employment to Miller. While Miller never wrote about Plame, she maintained she had reporters' privilege and refused to testify about Libby's disclosures, ultimately going to jail for contempt of court until she received a release from Libby to testify.

My personal concern about Miller is that Miller claims a martyrhood for the cause of reporters' privilege. Miller conveniently ignored in her drama queen pleas for reporters’ privilege these important points:

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals took great pains to explore this matter after Miller was jailed, to the tune of an 83-page decision. It’s clear that the court saw something that was clearly a crime in the course of its review [note the number of redacted pages in the decision, to conceal classified content that the court assessed], and nothing to support Miller’s claim of privilege.

Miller tries so hard to justify her work, which in turn justified a fraudulent war; this cannot be seen in the same light as any journalist/editor to whom Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers. One furthered a crime and might have done so for Libby et al, the other worked to stop a war prosecuted illegally. Apples, oranges.

Having read Miller’s apologetics in the NYT (actually rushed out and bought a hardcopy, can't believe I spent hard earned money on it), I can’t help but wonder what the hell is wrong with Miller’s head. She wrote most of her explainer as if she wasn’t there, as if she was a detached observer watching a Miller-like clone interacting with Libby. Would love to have FireDogLake co-contributor and psychologist Pachacutec give her a thorough review for this reason while he is on site at Prettyman and in followup after her testimony.

Ultimately, Miller caused serious damage to the NYT, her coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War was so flawed, her persistent lack of discipline making it clear that the editorial staff had lost control -- and this, on the heels of the Jason Blair scandal as well. As a professional who must rely on media for research, I personally cannot use the NYT as a source; I cannot trust that their content is adequately vetted or that the editorial staff has pushed back at its journalists firmly for accurate and detailed reporting. It is for reasons like these, the failure of traditional media to be an effective, honest broker, and the persistent abuse of the public's trust, that citizen journalism realized in blogging – including the piece by Christy Hardin Smith on Judy Miller, and Marcy Wheeler's live blogging of the U.S. v. Libby trial – becomes a credible alternative to traditional media.

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