July 11, 2003

Matt Taibbi takes a look at the semantic evolution of the people attacking US troops in Iraq. They're variously called "loyalists," "remnants of ____," and, of course, "terrorists." But that's just the tip of the descriptive iceberg.

July 11, 2003

Not the Heaps of BS they called apple pie when they wanted to go to war, and not the coverup for which Condoleeza Rice pushed George Tenet onto his sword. Go to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo unimpeachable reporting on that impeachable offense. I'm talking about HBS, where Bush got his MBA. If he learned anything there, he's apparently keepin' it to himself.

On NPR's Fresh Air yesterday, Terry Gross had a fascinating conversation with Edmund Andrews, economics reporter for the New York Times, who came back from Iraq with mundane, incredible stories of apparently unforeseen economic crises and chaos that are turning Iraqis' lives upside down.

My favorites: the emergency $20 stipend paid to Iraqi civil servants causing wild swings in the dinar-dollar exchange rate. And near-riots when a shortage of small-denomination dinar bills leaves banks unable to make change. There's plenty more where these came from.

First, the BBC uncovers the truth behind the too-good-to-be-factchecked Saving Private Lynch story, calling it "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived."

Now, according to the Guardian, a BBC news program shows the Wholesale Looting of The Baghdad Museum story to be just as made up.

Question for media: When it's a Ba'ath party official playing you, do you still call it "news management" or is it just lying? Bigger question for media: Now that you've been demonstrably managed lied to by nearly everyone in this war, are you going to start demonstrating a scintilla of journalistic skepticism?

Billmon compiles and documents a list of US administration quotes on Iraqi WMD's. Additions continue in the comments (but I confess, I could only get through about 20% of them. It seems people ARE talking about something besides the Matrix

June 4, 2003

One man decides to up-and-go to Iraq and see it for himself. Check out his writings and photographs (via Kottke:

i decided to go, probably, during the second week of the war, when my frustration with the western media had hit a boiling point. it was during the second week that al-jazeera was banned from the NYSE and told by the british to censor its imagery. meanwhile their ratings were skyrocketing and they laughed through a 10-fold increase in viewers while being surreptitiously bombed in baghdad (by american shells). but mistakes happen, people dont get along and wasn't it a war, anyway?

Jeff "Many Irons in the Fire" Jarvis posts an interesting proposal: weblog up Iraq in the name of free expression and democracy.

An earlier post of Salam Pax's about discovering free internet access got him started thinking, you see, now he wants to create "a hundred Salam Paxes."

I'm sure the New Yorker won't complain. Get a subscription to Salam Pax's favorite magazine here. Hint: it makes a great, humanitarian gift.

Now some more folks are picking up on it, including Slate writer Paul Boutin and MSNBC weblogger Glenn Reynolds.

THIS sounds like a job for the Gates Foundation

Peter Maass redeems himself. It seems Salam brought some CD's to work, which, when combined with road songs from David O. Russell's Three Kings, makes one helluvan Amazon List:

"the best music imaginable for driving around anarchic Baghdad"

Turns out the Times Magazine had Salam Pax on the payroll, translating pizza orders for their Man in Baghdad, Peter Maass, but they didn't know it. That copy of the New Yorker mentioned in Rory's Guardian piece? It's Maass's. Looks like that "virtual felled forest of [warblog] postings" landed on Peter's head. And Nick's been sitting on the story for ages, poor guy.

Hmm. I wonder if Slate knows they have a column named Bloghdad?

Maybe it was the way Rory flaunted his expense account by overpaying for pizza. Maybe it was the promise of more back issues of the New Yorker, (Anthony Lane's X2 review gets a specific mention. Whose yer publicist, Tony? Day-amn!)

Whatever, it worked. The Guardian's Rory McCarthy meets, profiles, and signs Salam Pax to write Baghdad Blog for the paper. It'll be what Britons call a "fortnightly" gig. [putting that in cross-Atlantic perspective: less than Tina Brown, Columnist but far more than Tina Brown, Talk Show Host.]

My question, of course, if they're calling Salam's column Baghdad Blog, does that mean I can keep I think so. I think it's what's best for the Iraqi people. And besides, what kind of American would I be if my pre-war Iraq-related assurances and assertions didn't turn out to be hollow and wildly discredited?

[via TMN] Tim Judah, the eyes and ears of The New York Review of Books in Baghdad.

Amir, a man in his forties, seemed close to tears. "I have heard there is an underground prison here," he said. "Did you see it? Do you know anything about it?" Just behind us was the part of the prison that housed the gallows. He had not seen it yet, and I did not mention it.

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Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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