When last we spoke, I had completed a work-out at the Camp Al Asad gym - just like home but for the presence of weightlifters bearing M-16s. The plan had been to spend the rest of the day working out of the Public Affairs Office at Al-Asad, but to be on the safe side it was decided to go right out to the air terminal. We were flying Space 'A,' the military equivalent of stand-by, and it's always better to get there early.
In the waiting area, a number of dogs, accompanied by their military handlers, were in their travel kennels. When one would howl, the others would join in. Kind of eery, kind of homey. I made good use of the time in the terminal, pounding out a story for our sister site Cybercast News Service about the heroic work of the Combat Logistics Battalion surgical hospital.
It took ABC until just the ninth episode of its new Sunday night drama, Brothers & Sisters, to have its sole conservative character “grow” -- as they say of conservatives who move to the left -- from a pro-war right-winger to a critic of the Iraq war who declared it “a mistake.” The show evolves around the “Walkers,” a southern California family of two adult sisters and three adult brothers with Sally Field playing “Nora,” the liberal widowed matriarch who regularly clashes with daughter “Kitty,” the conservative half of a left/right daily TV show, played by Calista Flockhart.
On Sunday's episode, Nora was very upset by the Army's decision to recall her son, “Justin,” who had served in Afghanistan, to go to Iraq. Feeling guilty about her pro-war sentiments which may have influenced Justin to enlist in the first place, before an interview with “Senator Robert McCallister,” a California Republican played by Rob Lowe, Kitty plead with him to get the order rescinded. He refused, but she did him the favor during the interview of not asking about his divorce and rumors he had sex his family's nanny. Before the taped interview aired, she introduced it with an apology as she asserted: “I made a mistake in compromising the interview that you're about to see, and I made a mistake in continuing to defend a war that is in a desperate need of re-examination, re-examination which cannot come until we acknowledge that the war itself was a mistake.”
One of the big stories of last week was the buying frenzy over the limited number of the new PlayStation 3 consoles that were put on sale. There was a humorous political angle in this as well which was widely covered with the notable exceptions of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. An unpaid volunteer for John Edwards contacted a Wal-Mart store in Raleigh, NC and invoked the name of his boss in order to get first dibs on a PlayStation 3. Since Edwards has been in the forefront of slamming Wal-Mart recently his hypocrisy was especially glaring and resulted in this press release from that retailer:
As NewsBuster Tim Graham reported Sunday, the media were quite late in bringing up Congressman Jack Murtha’s (D-Pennsylvania) ethics issues, as well as his connection to Abscam in the late ’70s. Instead, such matters waited to come to the front pages until after the Democrats safely regained control of Congress. Quite surprisingly, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Howard Kurtz (who also writes for the Washington Post) completely agreed that the media dropped the ball on this issue, and grilled his guests about this on Sunday’s program. This segment began:
Since calling for a U.S. pullout from Iraq one year ago, Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha has drawn all kinds of media coverage for his stance. But after the election, when incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed the ex-Marine for next Majority Leader, stories suddenly popped up about Murtha’s relationship with lobbyists, and whether he had helped a company that hired his brother as a lobbyist. And suddenly, television was replaying a 26-year-old videotape from the Abscam scandal in which Murtha was offered a bribe by FBI informants posing as Arab sheiks.
Kurtz then asked the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page:
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell takes apart a Wall Street Journal op-ed by NBC chieftain Robert Wright, entitled "Federal Censorship Commission," warning that the threat of fines from the FCC has created a “climate of self-censorship,” an unmistakable “chill in the airwaves,” in which “the viewing public is the biggest loser.” In reality, the FCC moves extremely slowly (it's still puzzling over scenes on "NYPD Blue"), and the networks see them as a nuisance for their lawyers to bore to death with motions. Bozell writes of Wright:
He lauds his own talent at prediction, and how he warned in the same newspaper in 2004 that the titans of “creative integrity” in Hollywood would look less obscene than those who would urge the government to punish the broadcasting of obscenity. (How Orwellian: freedom is slavery, and opposing obscenity is obscene.)
For about a year, John Murtha was portrayed by the liberal media as a bold Marine hero of the anti-war movement. So why did they almost never mention Murtha's sleazy role as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam probe? And why is it important now? If the question was Murtha's fitness to be House Majority Leader, surely it was known that Murtha was running for that post before the midterm elections. The media withholding this story line until it fit with the timing of the Democratic Party's mainstream defines a liberal media bias. It was certainly considered bad form when our CNSNews.com wrote about it in January:
Since Murtha's Nov. 17, 2005, call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, one CNN anchor has called him "one of the most highly respected members of Congress," the Associated Press has referred to Murtha as "one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats," and ABC News has noted that he is "a decorated marine who served in Vietnam."
NBC's Today carried a series on faith this week, and finished it Thursday morning with two liberal journalists about a new website Newsweek is setting up on faith. It all sounded very much like soft-soap Episcopalianism, no doubt because the preacher on the set was Newsweek editor and Episcopalian Jon Meacham, along with Sally Quinn, a writer best known as the wife of former top Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. Ann Curry began by saying Meacham and Quinn "started a conversation about religion over lunch one day, and that discussion hasn't stopped." Curry continued:
"It's so interesting to think about how, just, what, 20 years ago, we would not speak about faith in America in any sort of big way. We talked about basically the separation of church and state meant that we didn't speak about church because we felt it was going to inflame and cause problems. What has changed? What has changed fundamentally about America that now lets us talk so much about it? In fact, have it influence policy in America. Sally."
We’re at Camp Al Asad, about 150 miles west of Baghdad in Anbar Province. We began our day with the famous Navy Seabees, the construction battalions that historically have gone ashore with the Marines to build what needs to be built. We spoke with Seabees largely from a reserve unit from Washington State. Most of the men work construction jobs in civilian life, and here they were getting the job done in conditions about as far as can be imagined from those of the Pacific Northwest. I also spoke with the Chief in charge of food for the unit. He mentioned that, in the constant pursuit of improvement, the Navy actually draws upon the expertise of the Culinary Institute of America from my home state of New York.
A couple of the men were from an Alaska reserve unit. One of them works as a firefighter/EMT in a gold mine in the Fairbanks area. Once a month he makes the 350-mile roundtrip to his unit in Anchorage – on his own dime.
Reading the Globe's Nov 18th piece about vice President Cheney, one can palpably feel their fingers being crossed, their wishes being cast into the wishing well, that Cheney is on the outs with this supposed "big demotion" the paper sees for his immediate future.
In short, will Rumsfeld's abrupt dismissal finally diminish Cheney's unprecedented dominance of Bush? Or did the always cunning vice president read the writing on the wall and decide that it was time for his good friend Rumsfeld to go?
And typically, as with every story about the VP, one quotient missing in the analysis is the president himself, prosaically fitting into the the Cheney-as-puppetmaster story line the MSM has created for him. (Though, now they want to cast James Baker in Cheney's puppeteering shoes)
They even want us to believe that Cheney somehow strong-armed Bush into the Iraq policy and the War on Terror as if 9/11 never occurred.
Newspaper investors are surely hoping that the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Peter Scheer never gets anywhere near the executive suite after his column last Sunday evaluating the state of newspaper industry.
In fact, something unusual must have been in the latte Scheer was drinking at the Chronicle when he wrote this about how to save the print newspaper business (HT Techdirt, which calls it the "Let Everyone Else Break News First" strategy):
What to do? Here's my proposal: Newspapers and wire services need to figure out a way, without running afoul of antitrust laws, to agree to embargo their news content from the free Internet for a brief period -- say, 24 hours -- after it is made available to paying customers. The point is not to remove content from the Internet, but to delay its free release in that venue.
It was a pretty funny “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO this past Friday, although not for the reasons the host would have preferred. Maher invited deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather on to discuss whatever he wanted with total impunity, and what ensued was a full-fledged Fox News hate-fest. However, that wasn’t the funniest part, for Rather actually had the gall to insinuate that FNC gets talking points from the White House, and was doing its darnedest to influence the elections that just transpired.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Honestly, I’ve had to use four boxes of Kleenex to dry off my laptop in order to post this article for your reading pleasure.
What's more embarrassing than making a basic math error live on national TV? Making that error while smugly trying to highlight an error made by a regular target who was actually right in the first place. Such was the case on Friday night's Countdown show as MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged as "jawdropping" the contention on the Defense Department's Web site that, under Donald Rumsfeld's leadership, the U.S. military has "liberated more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq." As Olbermann read from the tribute to Rumsfeld, he pointed out that the site's listing of 31 million Afghans and 27 million Iraqis as benefitting from this liberation add up to 58 million instead of 50 million, as if this were some embarrassing mistake, even though the site had actually estimated the number as "more than" 50 million. Before previewing his latest "Special Comment" attack on President Bush scheduled for Monday, Olbermann concluded: "And neither calculation includes anybody who's not really liberated yet, like from sectarian violence. The Pentagon clearly much better at hyperbole than it is at math." (Transcript follows)
The Friday broadcast network evening newscasts, seemingly with no self-awareness of the role of the traveling press corps, all focused on how in Vietnam President Bush was pressed about comparisons of the Iraq war to the Vietnam war -- a topic he commented on only when asked by a U.S. reporter. CBS was the most adamant in raising parallels, Bush's avoidance of service in Vietnam and how he is now “creating another” Vietnam. Katie Couric declared that Bush “couldn't get away from the inevitable comparisons between Iraq and the war America lost in Vietnam.” Over vintage video of the Vietnam war, Jim Axelrod asserted that the Iraq war “is starting to look more and more like this war. The parallels are plain.” Axelrod contended that “Mr. Bush's trip here was bound to fuel his critics who've never bought his explanation about how he managed to avoid military service in Vietnam. But Iraq raises the stakes and changes the focus from what he did during the Vietnam War to whether he's creating another one. On a just-released audiotape, President Johnson in 1966 shared his goals for Vietnam." Following audio of LBJ promising the U.S. would leave Vietnam “just as soon as you can have anybody that will guarantee stability," Axelrod intoned: "Mr. Bush's remarks today had an eerie echo as he spoke about Iraq."
On ABC's World News, fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas insisted "the war in Iraq shadowed President Bush today during his visit to Vietnam” as the Vietnam war “has drawn comparisons to America's experience in Iraq.” From Vietnam, Martha Raddatz echoed Couric: “For President Bush, the comparisons to his own war in Iraq were inevitable.” NBC anchor Brian Williams announced that “the topic of the current war followed” Bush “all the way” to Vietnam. David Gregory, in Vietnam, also used the “inevitable” characterization of the comparison made by journalists: “The White House tried to avoid reflecting on the war in Vietnam because of the inevitable comparisons to the Iraq war.” Gregory asserted that “the obvious parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is the American public's desire to find a way out,” and though the Vietnamese are still oppressed in a communist state, Gregory suggested the U.S. won: “But if there is a hopeful sign in the Vietnam of today, prosperous and western-looking, it is this -- that it is possible to lose the war but win the peace." (Transcripts, and a little bit on the morning shows, follows)
A book written by a highly-regarded philanthropy expert and Syracuse University professor providing statistical evidence that conservatives donate more money to charities than liberals regardless of income has just been published. As reported by Beliefnet.com (h/t to Drudge, emphasis mine throughout):
Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America -- and it's making him nervous.
The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.
In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services -- make conservatives more generous than liberals.
What’s the definition of bipartisanship? According to CNN’s Jack Cafferty, it’s completely supporting the Democratic agenda. On the Friday edition of "The Situation Room," the CNN host complained that President Bush, whose "arrogance" he decries, had the temerity to re-nominate John Bolton as UN Ambassador and still supports the terrorist surveillance program:
Jack Cafferty: "After the Republicans got the stuffing knocked out of them in the midterms last week, President Bush wanted to make nice. So he had these little sit-downs with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the new powers in Congress, and talked about how they were all just going to get along. That tired old phrase bipartisanship was heard over and over again, as it always is after somebody get’s dusted up at the ballot box....And as proof that [Bush's] arrogance was not lost in the election, he wants Congress to pass legislation legalizing the NSA spy program, the one that’s already been ruled illegal by a federal judge. That’s not going to happen either. Great idea though, right? You do something illegal, you just get your toadies in Congress to pass a law saying that it’s legal. Same thing they did with the violations of the Geneva Conventions."
Commuting can be dangerous for a conservative if the car radio is tuned into National Public Radio. On Wednesday night’s "All Things Considered," NPR anchor Michele Norris interviewed ultraliberal Henry Waxman, now returning to his perch as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. He claimed that his return meant an end to investigative politics: "And oversight ought to be done based on our responsibility, not our political point of view."
This is simply bizarre, and NPR should know it, and not let it go unchallenged. But Norris did.
I recall an example from 1997, when the Government Reform committee was investigating how the Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee accepted contributions from mysterious Asian donors. In the Weekly Standard, Matt Rees really captured how partisan Waxman was:
On Friday’s "American Morning," anchor Miles O’Brien characterized a group of kidnaped contractors, which included four Americans, as "mercenaries." The program, which airs on CNN, a network that has been severely criticized for airing terrorist footage of American soldiers being murdered, featured a segment on the activities and tasks of military contractors. Introducing reporter Ali Velshi, O’Brien said this:
Miles O'Brien: "In southern Iraq, more now on the search for four American security contractors, one Austrian, feared kidnaped. It happened in Nasiriyah where Iraqi troops have taken control of security, but there's reason to believe the contractors were stopped at a checkpoint manned by insurgents masquerading as the authorities. 'American Morning's Ali Velshi is here to give us some perspective. The big picture, you know, we call them contractors. In another era, we would call them mercenaries."
Ali Velshi: "That's right, they are paid armed forces. There are different kind of contractors in, in Iraq right now."
Washington-based Al Jazeera anchors Ghida Fakhry (2nd L) and Dave Marash (2nd R) are assisted with their microphones as they prepare for a live news bulletin on the first day of Al Jazeera's International English language service from Washington November 15, 2006. Arabic television station Al Jazeera launched an English-speaking channel on Wednesday to report world news from a Middle East perspective and challenge the dominance of Western media.