WASHINGTON - A spy-agency analysis released Thursday contends a second attack on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened, casting further doubt on the leading rationale for escalation of the Vietnam War.
Much as faulty U.S. intelligence preceded the invasion of Iraq, the mishandling of intercepted communications 40 years earlier is blamed in the National Security Agency paper for giving President Johnson carte blanche in the conflict.
There's more than one parallel here, and it goes to the blinders the AP is wearing when it reports on either war. The idea that America was going to go to war over the Gulf of Tonkin alone is absurd. Unless there was a much more serious threat, like the notion that Communists were going to overrun southeast Asia (which they did), a couple of bullet holes in the side of a ship weren't going to goad this country into a 10-year, 500,000-man commitment half a world away.
The media’s pessimistic holiday shopping forecasts fail to register with reality.
Don't miss my latest at the Free Market Project: Contrary to the media’s pessimistic forecasts for the Christmas shopping season reported by the Free Market Project in late October, strong retail sales this Thanksgiving weekend got the annual end-of-the-year buying bonanza off to a bang. In fact, the economic data available prior to this weekend looked so strong that the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, actually raised its sales forecast for 2005 holiday shopping from a 5 percent year-over-year increase to 6 percent.
Regardless of this upgrade in expectations by retailers themselves, and the fabulous start to the shopping season, the media continued to rain on everybody’s parade.
On this evening's (December 1, 2005) edition of Fox News' Hannity and Colmes, Alan Colmes misleadingly suggested that many or all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were "destroyed by Bill Clinton."
COLMES: ... And Bill Clinton and his pinpoint bombing in the Iraqi facilities in 1998 destroyed many of those weapons that President Bush and Cheney said were there.
GEN. TOMMY FRANKS (guest): I also want to point out, there was little doubt in David Kay's mind that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. I think we all know that he had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people.
COLMES: But they were destroyed by Bill Clinton.
Colmes did initially say "many" of Iraq's WMD were destroyed (a problematic claim in its own right), but his response to Gen. Franks clearly implied that Clinton's 1998 strikes eliminated Saddam's WMD. Unfortunately, Colmes echoes a common deceptive talking point. The whole truth? David Kay has stated that he believes that the 1998 Desert Fox strikes simply played a contributingrole in dismantling Saddam's chemical weapons. ("Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced -- if not entirely destroyed -- during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections." [link to Kay text]) Biological weapons and nuclear weapons are an entirely different matter. In Kay's 2003 speech, he mentions no such destruction of these weapons as the result of Desert Fox. (In fact, "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.")
After leading their evening newscasts with Democratic Congressman John Murtha’s call for a withdrawal from Iraq, the ABC and CBS shows on Tuesday skipped Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman’s disclosure that, after a recent trip to Iraq, he saw "real progress" and argued against withdrawing troops. The NBC Nightly News merely gave Lieberman a brief soundbite. But on Wednesday’s Tonight Show on NBC, Jay Leno raised the perspective of the 2000 Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate with Howard Dean, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Leno characterized Lieberman’s position as one which “more or less agrees with the President” as he pressed Dean: “How about Joe Lieberman now? Obviously a prominent Democrat....He came back, and he's been there a few times to Iraq. And he more or less agrees with the President, correct?" Dean, who dismissed Bush’s speech as “repetitive dribble,” began his answer: “Everybody gets to march to their own drummer in this party...” (Transcript of the exchange follows.)
"This week on 'After Words' journalist Mary Mapes explains her investigative story on George W. Bush's National Guard record that aired on 60 Minutes II. Her new book about the experience is titled Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power. Ms. Mapes tells her version of the controversy over the segment, and the ensuing internal investigation at CBS that led to Dan Rather's resignation as anchor of "CBS Evening News," and her own dismissal. She is interviewed by Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center."
The hour-long session, taped Thursday afternoon, airs Saturday, December 3 at 8pm EST and repeats Sunday at 6pm EST and 9pm EST on C-SPAN2. We'll have a live thread Saturday night. UPDATE, 3am EST Sunday: See this node for two video clips.
After rejecting overtures from CBS earlier this year, Katie Couric is being actively courted by new CBS News president Sean McManus, the L.A. Times reports:
While the 48-year-old morning host is contemplating the offer, sources
said, it's unclear whether she can formally negotiate a new job until
her NBC contract expires in May.
NBC News President Steve Capus said the network hopes to hold on
to Couric, who has been the face of the "Today" show for almost 15
years. He called the growing speculation about her next step
CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves had unsuccessfully tried to lure Couric
away last spring when Dan Rather left the anchor desk. Since then,
veteran Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has served as interim
anchor of the evening newscast, a stint he expected would only last a
few months, while network executives pondered how to remake the show.
When McManus replaced news President Andrew Heyward in October, he
announced that one of his immediate goals was to court new talent to
the network. Couric has been his top priority, sources said, with the
news president offering her "the moon" to come aboard.
If the question posed by the title of this post seems a little macabre, it nevertheless must be asked, thanks to either the FBI or Joel Hinrichs, Sr., father of the University of Oklahoma student who blew himself up just outside the school's football stadium during the OU-Kansas State game Oct. 1.
Hinrichs Sr. told The Sunday Oklahoman that, when he was informed by investigators Oct. 15 of an alleged suicide note left by his son, the FBI also showed him "photos of his son's headless body." (I can't provide a link to the Oct. 16 article because it is only available via a paid search of the paper's digital archives.) Hinrichs Sr. said he plans to cremate his sons remains when they are finally turned over to him by federal authorities.
But in the FBI's search warrant documents unsealed last week by a federal judge, we find a completely different description of the condition of Hinrichs' body following the explosion that killed him while sitting on a bench during the second quarter of the game.
CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night speculated about whether America has reached a Walter Cronkite Vietnam war assessment "tipping point" as Cooper set up a laudatory profile of anti-war Republican Congressman Walter Jones. After an ad break, Cooper went to Christiane Amanpour who asked French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin if he feels his anti-war efforts have now been "vindicated?" Cooper recalled: "On hearing Walter Cronkite say the war in Vietnam had reached a stalemate after the Tet offensive, President Lyndon Johnson famously said, 'If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Fast forward thirty-seven years, there's no Walter Cronkite to speak for middle America, but reporting from middle America, from a congressional district where support for the military and the President traditionally runs high, we do have CNN's John King." King described Jones' "dramatic transformation" against the war and highlighted a pro-war veteran as well as a retired Marine Colonel who declared: "I'm more convinced than ever that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be the Republicans' Robert S. McNamara." King then contended: "Such talk in a patriotic place like this is telling."
In the next segment of Anderson Cooper 360, Amanpour sat down with the anti-war de Villepin, who as "France's Foreign Minister, was way out in front voicing French dissent." Amanpour cued him up: "You obviously did not support it, and you raised many of the issues that are currently unfolding there right now. What do you think? Do you feel vindicated when you look at what Iraq is going through right now?" Amanpour soon relayed de Villepin's shot at violence in the U.S.: "And on France's fiery unrest, two weeks of rioting by French youths of African and Arab origin, de Villepin admits these people do face discrimination, but he downplays the violence compared to what's happened in the U.S." (Transcripts of both stories follow.)
Bill Moyers, the departed PBS host who has repeatedly condemned
the Bush Administration for its support of the Patriot Act for
allegedly being too intrusive in Americans' lives apparently has some
experience in the matter.
In a column released today, Robert Novak reveals
that during the 1964 presidential campaign while working for Lyndon
Johnson, Moyers asked FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to dig dirt on a
rival presidential campaign:
Even worse than "dirt collection," [federal judge Laurence Silberman] continued, was Hoover's
offering of Bureau files to presidents. He exempted only Harry S.
Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower from this use of FBI files, but said,
"Lyndon Johnson was the most demanding."
Johnson's aide Walter Jenkins was arrested for homosexual conduct in a
men's room during the 1964 campaign, Silberman said, LBJ aide Bill
Moyers directed Hoover to find similar conduct on Barry Goldwater's
staff. "Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files," he continued.
An "outraged" Moyers telephoned Silberman, he said, to assert that the
memo was "phony." "Taken aback," said Silberman, he offered an
investigation to publicly exonerate Moyers. "There was a pause on the
line, and then he [Moyers] said, 'I was very young. How will I explain
this to my children?'" "Silberman's account of our conversation is at
odds with mine," Moyers told me when I asked for comment.
Yesterday afternoon the Washington Post filed to its website a quick take on Bush's speech to the Naval Academy on Iraq, including the president's emotional quotation from a letter found on the laptop of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr, six months to the day after his death in a firefight in Ramadi.
"Reading from a letter written by a U.S. soldier on his lap-top computer before his death, an emotional Bush said America owes those who have died in Iraq to 'take up their mantle, carry on the fight and complete their mission.'"
By contrast, the Times online story from Christine Hauser made no mention of Starr's letter. Perhaps one reason why: As Michelle Malkin first learned, The New York Times quoted Starr's letter in a story last month, but managed to miss the point, leaving off the very part Starr's family and President Bush found significant.
Kudos to Washington Post columnist in reporter's clothing Dana Milbank today for his piece on the abortion debate outside the Supreme Court yesterday. It's not that it doesn't contain his usual liberal flavor, but that he quotes the protesters of both sides for readers to hear:
"Over 47 million of America's finest have fallen at the hand of Roev. Wade !" shouted Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "You're out here to kill kids!" another demonstrator, Joan McKee, shouted. The women from NOW answered the antiabortion taunts with pep-rally chants. "Pro-life? That's a lie! You don't care if women die!" And: "Racist, sexist, anti-gay. Right-wing judges, go away!"
Sometimes even Marxists get it right, and no, I'm not speaking of John Kerry. It was Karl Marx himself who famously said "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
To judge by his treatment at the hands of Matt Lauer this morning, John Kerry: Part Deux teeters on the brink of being dismissed as farce even by his quondam comrades in the MSM.
Kerry was in to offer his critique of Pres. Bush's speech of yesterday in which he laid out his plan for victory in Iraq.
When Kerry argued that "the insurgency has to be dealt with through a political reconciliation," Lauer cut him off peremptorily. "With all due respect," interrupted Lauer, not-so-subtle code for "not much respect is due." Lauer pointed out that "the President talked about the political process as well and laid that out in his plan for victory."
The Chicago-based organization - supported by several Protestant denominations that believe Christianity forbids all war-making and violence - has sent activists into war zones, including Bosnia and Haiti, since the late 1980s. It has about 160 members around the world and about a dozen in Iraq.
ABC’s Jessica Yellin, live on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, exploited First Lady Laura Bush’s tour of White House Christmas displays, cards and decorations to hit her with an emotion-laden inquiry about regretting the war in Iraq: “Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?" Mrs. Bush replied with how “every loss is too many” and said that “I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most.” Yellin followed up by continuing her agenda: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?" Yellin posed her serious questions about three minutes into Mrs. Bush’s descriptions of the cards and ornaments in the East Room. (Transcript follows.)
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
James Taranto begins his Opinion Journal piece today by reporting that the TV show "Journal Editorial Report" will not be discontinued after it leaves PBS. It will be moving to the Fox News Channel beginning in January. Its last PBS airing is December 2. This will no doubt annoy liberals who can't stand the Wall Street Journal's editorialists, but it's quite imaginable that those who like their PBS to be a complete liberal playground will say the Paul Gigot show is moving to its more natural home. It's good news that this smart show continues.
Now for the bad news: AdAge.com reports that U.S. News & World Report is dumping the "On Society" column by John Leo. (He will blog for the U.S. News website.) Your best Ken-Tomlinson-intrigue imitations are invited: is U.S. News taking Leo out of the magazine because he's been so strong in recent years at assailing liberal media bias and inaccuracy?
It will be liberal night tonight (Wednesday) on the late night shows, according to the guests listed on their Web sites: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is scheduled to appear on CBS'sLate Show with David Letterman, DNC Chairman Howard Dean is set to appear on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is listed as the guest for Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report will feature Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Editor of the far-left The Nation magazine. The slightly less liberal, but still liberal Detroit columnist/talk radio host Mitch Albom is scheduled to come aboard CBS’sLate Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
The Justice Department has criticized as misleading and inaccurate a Washington Post report about the FBI's expanded power to collect the private records of ordinary Americans while conducting terrorism and espionage investigations.
The Nov. 6 article detailed the dramatic increase in the use of "national security letters," a three-decade-old investigative tool that was given new life with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, a hundredfold increase over historic norms, the article said....
It’s easy to get sentimental when long-standing TV personalities bow out of the shows that made them a household name, whether it’s an entertainer like Johnny Carson or a news man like Ted Koppel, who just pulled the curtain on a 26-year career as host of ABC’s “Nightline.” His timing seemed perfect: after the retirement of Tom Brokaw, the self-immolation of Dan Rather, and the cancer death of Peter Jennings, the loss of Koppel’s nightly presence drew on fond memories of the so-called glory days of TV news. An era is finished.
Koppel is especially beloved in journalism circles as a symbol and a spokesman for substance in TV news. Saying goodbye on “Good Morning America,” Koppel declared, “I think the mission statement would be that our responsibility is to tell people what's important, not to stick our finger up in the air and test the winds to see what the public thinks is, is important.”