In a Politico interview yesterday, CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien provided some insight into herself. No, not in the part where she admits to cursing "all the time." It was her response to another question:
If you were the president of the United States for enough time to make only one executive decision, what would it be?
Improve public schools.
None of that preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States for Soledad. Or faithfully executing the laws. Or protecting our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Or serving as Commander in Chief.
Obama has had some real successes this fall. He did a masterful job of bringing together incredibly disparate positions to craft a strategy for Afghanistan. He put himself on the line and will probably come up with a reasonable health-care plan. He left Copenhagen with at least promises of cooperation from other world powers regarding climate change. But he is not getting credit that he deserves because he is being ill served by those around him who will not step up as needed and take the fall for him.
Real successes, heh? Obama's dithering on Afghanistan justifiably earned him criticism both here and abroad, where England's defense minister and others voiced their concerns. It's impossible to know if Obama's health-care plan, cobbled in backroom deals, is reasonable because so many specifics are still obscure. One thing we do know is negotiations weren't, as promised by Obama, aired on C-SPAN. Moreover, Obama failed to go over it line by line with members of Congress, another promise made and broken. Only in the mainstream media could Obama getting "at least promises of cooperation from other world powers regarding climate change" count as a success.
On this afternoon's CNN Newsroom, anchor Rick Sanchez briefly updated his audience on Rush Limbaugh's medical condition. He completed his comments with "We wish him well." Sanchez's good wishes didn't square with the Twitter messages that crawled at the bottom of the screen for his entire program.
Here is a sampling of the tweets he aired:
rush is an excuse for people to be vicariously racist. I have nothing good to say about him except "gotta love karma"
Rick can we get some answers on if rush's insur. will pay for his hospital stay if it is found out drugs were a part of this
I don't like to wish bad luck on people, but a 2010 without Rush's mouth going off would be fine with me
under yr new health plan Rush may pay higher premiums cuz of weight. Time to hit the treadmill and lose the weight Rush
May rush be worked on by a liberal democrat, feminist doctor who is pro gun control :)
Numerous police visits to his home, reported gunshots and screaming, attempted burglaries, loud arguments, reported assaults, whispers about having sex with young men. North Carolina state senator R.C. Soles certainly leads an interesting life. Soles is the Democratic caucus chairman in the Senate, but you wouldn't know that by reading today's dispatch from the Associated Press.
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor John Roberts talked with correspondent Jim Acosta about "the politics" of terrorism. Part of the exchange:
ACOSTA: There is plenty punting going on in Washington, John. Hearings on the Detroit scare are planned for early next month, and the top Republican on that committee has already said there should have been a big red flag next to the suspect's name, and there are plenty of other issues, such as Guantanamo. Republicans are saying the president should shelve his plan to close Guantanamo at this point, John.
ROBERTS: So, shelve Guantanamo, but, at the same time, the president is trying to get some of his key appointments filled. They're being held up. And some of the key appointments that are still vacant are ones that are absolutely essential when it comes to maintaining security at our airports and on our jetliners.
ACOSTA: That's right. Those men and women at the airport wearing the blue shirts that say TSA, they don't have a full-time, permanent boss at this point. The temporary head of the TSA is a holdover from the Bush administration and, right now, the - the current appointee from the Obama administration to take the head of the TSA, a man by the name of Erroll Southers, he is still waiting to - to get his appointment confirmed. He is currently the assistant chief for the LAX Police Department, the Los Angeles International Airport out there in California, and his duties are head of Intelligence and Homeland Security. But, at this point, that nomination is on hold by Jim DeMint, the very conservative Senator from South Carolina. He's opposed to unionizing - fully unionizing the TSA, something that Southers apparently wants to do.
On CNN Newsroom today, anchor Rick Sanchez talked about terrorism with Octavia Nasr, CNN senior editor for Arab Affairs:
SANCHEZ: And good, good, good, good, good, good. You see, this is a point that I'm trying to make, Octavia.
The terrorists weren't in Iraq. We know that now. There was really a small band of them along with the mujahedeen which became al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as we know. But we have known for 10 years now that these really bad terrorists, the guys we really should have been going after a long time ago, are in Yemen. We knew that a long time ago.
The assertion that Iraq was terrorist-free prior to our intervention has become an article of faith for liberals like alleged journalist Sanchez. Yet it conflicts with evidence, including evidence many liberals once found compelling. The Clinton State Department, for example, reported on Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999. Among its findings:
Iraq continued to plan and sponsor international terrorism in 1999. Although Baghdad focused primarily on the anti-regime opposition both at home and abroad, it continued to provide safehaven and support to various terrorist groups. . .
Since leaving the White House, he's logged millions of miles and visited dozens of countries on missions to wipe out diseases, mediate conflicts, advocate for human rights and monitor elections. He's built a legacy that few, if any, American ex-presidents can match.
Writer Greg Bluestein found a few observers to comment on the wonders of Mr. Jimmy:
Walter Mondale, his vice president, says that Carter took the political heat up front "so we could all be better off." Andrew Young, Carter's ambassador to the United Nations, says it might take a few more decades for historians to realize the impact of Carter's term in office.
"It took 100 years to understand Jefferson. It took 100 years for people outside the North to understand Lincoln. And it's got to take at least 50 years to understand Carter," says Young.
And Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University history professor who has written a book about Carter, says Carter's presidency may be more fondly remembered overseas than at home.
"Pick the country - they view him as one of the most successful presidents," said Brinkley. "He has helped America's image around the world because he's been able to make everyone trust him. And he earns that trust because he's honest"
How does someone qualify for description as an "eminent politician" by the New York Times? Being very, very liberal seems to help.
Today on its Web site, the newspaper reports "Percy Sutton, Eminent Politician, Dies at 89." Mr. Sutton maintained a long list of liberal bona fides. In a book last year he was quoted:
"I like the fact that my family was a family of protesters. I like the fact that some of them were Communists."
He also spoke of his satisfaction of "being in jail with Stokely Carmichael and other revolutionaries." In the December 14, 1972 issue of Jet Magazine (page 32), Sutton acknowledged it would be nice to be mayor, but "I don't think that New Yorkers are ready for a person with my liberal views and for someone with the color of my skin."
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor Carol Costello advanced a theory on who's responsible for the Let's Make a Deal environment permeating the Senate as it stumbles to completion of a health care bill. Here is part of her exchange with CNN political analyst and GOP strategist Ed Rollins:
COSTELLO: Might (the) Republicans blame in part themselves for this, because none of them were going to vote? Didn't they sort of force Senator Reid's hand in making some of these sweetheart deals?
ROLLINS: Senator Reid could have made a sweetheart deal with the Republicans months ago. They could have knocked down walls and let insurance companies deal across state lines. There are a lot of things that Republicans...
COSTELLO: But the public option is out --
Yes, if only those intransigent Senate Republicans has been more accommodating, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, expanded Medicare coverage to “individuals exposed to environmental health hazards recognized as a public health emergency in a declaration issued by the federal government on June 17," and other special considerations wouldn't have been necessary.
Anchoring CNN Tonight, correspondent Erica Hill reported the findings of a new poll:
While Democrats and the president may be cheering the bill's passage, a majority of Americans still oppose the Senate plan. According to a CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, 56 percent say they are against the measure. Now that's a slight shift actually in favor of the plan from a weeks ago. When as you can see opposition was as high as 61 percent, 42 percent support the plan, that number also up at six points.
And when asked for the effect the health care bill would have on their own family, 34 percent of respondents thought it would change things for the better, 37 percent thought it would make things worst. While 39 percent said it would have no effect. And when you figure the sampling error, almost works out to even across the board.
The responses to the second question total 110 percent, an unlikely result. Unless, of course, the poll were taken in Chicago by federally funded ACORN operatives. That doesn't appear to be the case. The actual poll question (#23) and results:
On its Web site, GQ Magazine asks the burning question, "Has the Capital Gotten Cooler Under Obama?" The magazine says yes and no. But when it comes to Barack Obama and Co., you'll be relieved to know that the answer is a resounding YES!! In a slide show, we learn that Obama is "our best-dressed prez since JFK. When he goes tieless, Ahmadinejad should take notice." On Obama in jeans, "the loose fit seems presidential."
Also lookin' good to GQ is Joe Biden: "The veep has terrific style. He deftly mixes colors and patterns with his shirts and ties, and his superb Hickey Freeman suits fit impeccably." Senator John Kerry (D-MA) "looks best when dressing like the patrician he is. Super 180s suits and Hermès ties—senators ought to look senatorial." Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is "groovier than his usual banker attire would suggest. . . He goes for cool detail, like green ties on Saint Paddy's. And he has a thing for Panama hats." Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) has "a sharp eye for detail and a suave color sense."
Representative John Conyers (D-MI) is a "clotheshorse" who is "a lifetime sartorial achiever." Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) "can match sartorial splendor with Sean Combs and purples with Prince. . . " We're told of Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY): "The dapper former roommate of Jon Stewart could almost pass for European." And who wouldn't want to pass for European? When it comes to speechwriter Jon Favreau, "Obama's golden boy of letters epitomizes style's new wave in D.C."
The Obama Administration isn't the only government-funded entity campaigning against Fox News. "NPR reporter pressured over Fox role" headlines an article by Josh Gerstein on Politico's Web site. It begins:
Executives at National Public Radio recently asked the network’s top political correspondent, Mara Liasson, to reconsider her regular appearances on Fox News because of what they perceived as the network’s political bias, two sources familiar with the effort said.
According to a source, Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the network’s supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. The NPR executives said they had concerns that Fox’s programming had grown more partisan, and they asked Liasson to spend 30 days watching the network.
At a follow-up meeting last month, Liasson reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming and planned to continue appearing on the network, the source said.
And they say a woman scorned can be merciless. Eric Burns once served as the host of Fox News Watch. It's reasonable to assume he won't be working there again any time soon. In a December 2 Huffington Post article, "If I Still Worked at Fox News...," he describes it as "the right-wing partial-news-but-mostly-opinion network."
A great deal of his bile, however, is directed at Glenn Beck:
Actually, Beck is a problem of taste as well as ethics. He laughs and cries; he pouts and giggles; he makes funny faces and grins like a cartoon character; he makes earnest faces yet insists he is a clown; he cavorts like a victim of St. Vitus's Dance. His means of communicating are, in other words, so wide-ranging as to suggest derangement as much as versatility.
He is Huey Long without the political office.
He is Father Coughlin without the dour expression.
On CNN Saturday Morning News today, anchors Betty Nguyen and T.J. Holmes reported on a U.S. senator who nominated his girlfriend to serve as a federal prosecutor earlier this year:
HOLMES: Well, it is something -a player, a name that a lot of people normally might not know a whole lot about, from a state that most people don't know a whole lot about. He's been important in the health care debate.
NGUYEN: That is true.
HOLMES: Senator Max Baucus, out of Montana, he is a key player on a Senate committee that has been putting together some health care legislation. News coming out that he actually nominated his current girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position, while the two were involved. They are both divorced here. So that is not an issue and not accused of breaking up each other marriages.
NGUYEN: Yes, there was no affair or anything like that at all.
On August 28, CNN Newsroom anchor Rick Sanchez shared disturbing information with his viewers:
A CNN source with very close to the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to me today that threats on the life of the president of the United States have now risen by as much as 400 percent since his inauguration, 400 percent death threats against Barack Obama -- quote -- "in this environment" go far beyond anything the Secret Service has seen with any other president.
On yesterday's CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips shifted to "Bad Boys" mode:
Lenders, lenders -- what you gonna do when they come for you? Call it an early Christmas present for people on the edge of losing their homes. The Obama administration cracking down on mortgage companies.
We'll tell you about it.
After the break:
PHILLIPS: Well, from your health (ph) to your home, the foreclosure crisis shows no signs of letting up, so the Obama administration is trying to fight back.
"Unemployed, Underemployed Look to Jobs Summit for Help" is posted on ABC News's Web site today. Authored by senior Washington correspondent John Cochran, the piece is notable in that nothing in it supports the headline. Cochran writes:
Boosting confidence is at the top of President Obama's list at the Jobs Summit he is scheduled to host on Thursday. The invitation list includes business leaders, mayors, academics, and experts from the green jobs sector.
They will consider many proposals to boost the economy including:
The day before Thanksgiving brought encouraging news on unemployment. CBS News.com reported "New Jobless Claims Plunge to 466K." Investors.com headlined "Jobless Claims Dive To 466,000." CNN Money.com issued a special report titled "Jobless claims plummet to 14-month low." And the Financial Times included a link to the Calculated Risk blog article "Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decline Sharply."
Such good news, reported widely throughout the media, doubtless gave hope to many Americans. If some of them wished to attribute this dramatic turnaround to Barack Obama's stimulus program, so much the better. The truth, however, is that improvement in the number of jobless claims was less than electrifying. The numbers touted in the media are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market. Set that aside, and the numbers are not nearly as rosy. As DOL's Employment and Training Administration reported:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 543,926 in the week ending Nov. 21, an increase of 68,080 from the previous week.
In today's Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Mary Mitchell elevates talk show host Oprah Winfrey to a new level:
You might not think you're going to miss Oprah, but you are. There are stories that only Oprah can do, and there are things that only Oprah and God can make happen.
Mitchell's adulation for Oprah is shared by many in the mainstream media. From early shows devoted to male-bashing through attacks on free enterprise and limited government to her campaigning for Barack Obama's election, Winfrey has burnished her liberal credentials.
In bracketing Oprah with God, however, I wonder why Mitchell didn't include Obama, as in "There are things that only Oprah and God and the Federal government under the unparalleled leadership of Barack Hussein Obama can make happen."
On today's American Morning, anchor Kiran Chetry engaged Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele in a discussion of the Democrats' health care bill. Citing a recent CNN poll, she claimed that a majority wants "some kind of public option":
CHETRY: I know one of the things that Republicans are very much against is the public option. And this is a huge hurdle that has to pass. This would mean that the government would have a government-sponsored insurance plan competing with private insurers. And that's a very controversial move.
But our latest CNN poll shows that 56 percent are now in favor of some sort of public option. What is that telling you, as Republicans go out there and talk to their constituents...
STEELE: Well, it doesn't...
CHETRY: ... about the need for some sort of affordable insurance?
STEELE: Well, it's a nice poll. I like to see how the question was asked to the people, because that number tells me that they don't know exactly what it is. When you say some kind of public option...
When outrage erupted this week over a government panel's recommendation that women have fewer mammograms, health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius was prepared with the Obama administration's favorite talking point: It's all Bush's fault. Appearing Wednesday on CNN's The Situation Room, Sebelius told anchor Wolf Blitzer:
This panel was appointed by the prior administration, by former President George Bush, and given the charge to routinely look at a whole host of services to make sure that new preventive services which had benefit were being looked at by health care providers and that things that they felt did not have as much benefit as we move forward were also looked at by health care providers.
Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) continued the theme on Friday as reported by Politico:
“The recommendation by this medical panel has been rejected by virtually everyone, including the current administration,” Durbin said. “They were appointed by President Bush.”
Yesterday, CBS News.com's Political Hotsheet blog reported on "Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and the Politics of the Health Care Vote." It notes:
The focus is also on some Democrats with doubts, notably Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Nebraska's Ben Nelson, who aren't up but do represent very red states, and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, who is, and could face a tough test in 2010.
The piece later states that Nelson:
has cast many a conservative vote in representing a state that, while historically willing to send Democrats to the Senate, is nonetheless firmly Republican overall.
Many a conservative vote? According to interest group ratings compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2008 the American Conservative Union assigned Nelson a rating of 16. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a rating of F. Nelson received a 100 from the liberal AFL-CIO for 2008 and an A for 2007-2008 from the liberal National Education Association. For 2007, Nelson racked up a 5 with Americans for Tax Reform.
On today's CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips went after the kids who supposedly bully a 10-year-old boy who refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance because homosexual marriage isn't widely accepted. Some of his classmates allegedly call him names. Phillips's weapon of choice was name calling:
And a message to you boys who are bullying Will, shame on you. It's obvious you are jealous that Will is smarter and more well spoken than you are. Hopefully one day you will grow up and realize that you were being the wads, dork wads.
Phillips didn't say how she knows that Will is smarter and more well spoken than his purported tormentors. On Monday, she reported that Will is "a terrific kid." So what makes him so smart and terrific?
Today on its Web site and in its printed version, the Chicago Tribune reported on the large crowds greeting former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on her book tour. More than a thousand enthusiastic admirers greeted her Wednesday in Grand Rapids. Another thousand were already in line at 7:00 a.m. today for a book signing scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in Noblesville, Indiana. Hundreds more gathered in line hours ahead of her appearance at a Ft. Wayne Meijer store.
The vision of Sarah Palin being cheered by so many common people in such common towns as Grand Rapids and Ft. Wayne and in such common venues as a Meijer store must be just too much for the deep thinkers at the Chicago Tribune. Palin Derangement Syndrome kicked in. Bad. They had to provide their own version of what's happening.
"All this rightist hoopla is all so predictable," writes the newspaper's former national editor, Charles Madigan. In the first part of the piece he decries criticism of Barack Obama's how low can you go bow to Japan's emperor and anti-Obama sentiment from the right:
Their congressional caucus, their blurting mouthpieces, their nattering nabobs of neocon nonsense, their Limbeckians (sounds like Jonathan Swift, doesn't it?) their addled and confused tea baggers, their Michelle Backmanians, they are all coming from the same place, a losers fantasyland where there is no reality other than what they think.
On CNN Saturday Morning News today, anchor Betty Nguyen interviewed a psychiatrist about Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 and wounded 30 others in a shooting spree Thursday in Fort Hood, Texas. She began by delving into possible reason for Hasan's actions:
NGUYEN: Dr. Paul Ragan, a psychiatrist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder joins me now from Nashville. Dr. Ragan, let me ask you this. Are the Ft. Hood shootings the action of someone who might have suffered from PTSD?
DR. PAUL RAGAN, SPECIALIZES IN POST-TRAUMATIC SYNDROME: I think actually that's fairly unlikely. Dr. Hasan just finished a two-year fellowship at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress and he had only been an independent Army psychiatrist for about four months. That is at an operational base. So for him to have been suffering from PTSD I think is highly unlikely.
[*] OBAMA: Please, everybody, have a seat. Let me first of all just thank Ken and the entire Department of the Interior staff for organizing just an extraordinary conference.
I want to thank my Cabinet members and senior administration officials who participated today. I hear that Dr. Joe Medicine Crow (ph) was around, and so I want to give a shout out to that Congressional Medal of Honor winner. It's good to see you.
Ah, the dangers of giving shout outs without a teleprompter. Crow is not a Medal of Honor recipient. As noted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society:
On her segment of CNN Newsroom this morning, anchor Heidi Collins asked business correspondent Christine Romans about Senate action on extending yet again unemployment benefits:
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're right. And Heidi, all of those things that you mentioned are incredibly important to your money and all of them could affect you very, very near-term here. This extension of the unemployment benefits, it would be the third.
The Senate has passed it. It goes to the House. It's expected to be voted on and passed very, very quickly here. Because, remember, your Congress member and your senator, they are being inundated in their offices with questions from people saying, wait, how am I going to survive when this check runs out? Seven thousand checks running out every week.
It would be a 14-week extension nationwide, 20 weeks of unemployment. More unemployment benefits for the states with 8.5 percent unemployment or more. And this would be paid by a two-year extension of an existing -- existing tax on employers. So this would be paid for by a tax on employers.
It would not come out of your pocket and my pocket. But it would be the third extension here, Heidi. And it's critically important. Like I said, so many people are losing their unemployment benefits right now. Some 200,000 have lost their jobless benefits just as the Senate has been negotiating this.
Last month it was school children merrily singing the praises of Barack Hussein Obama. Mmm. Mmm. Mm! Today it's a Chicago Sun-Times article by writer Mary Houlihan headlined, "Political junkie still 7 years from voting, calls for Obama: Lorenzo's calls for Obama land him on HBO." Begins Houlihan:
Lorenzo Rivera may be only 11 years old, but he knows more about politics than many adults.
The Chicago fifth-grader proves just how much in the new documentary "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama," where he is filmed making campaign calls on Obama's behalf in 2008.
In the movie, debuting at 8 p.m. Tuesday on HBO, filmmakers Amy Rice and Alicia Sams capture Lorenzo, only 9 at the time, handling a call to a confused voter with a calm and grace belying his young age.
Later in the article, Houlihan reports that the calm and graceful Lorenzo's father just happens to work for U. S. Senator Roland Burris (D-IL). Quite a coincidence there.
Do you want the public option that could make health insurance more competitive and cheaper, because it's looking like we may get it in some form at this point. Here's who else is going to be speaking in just a little bit, Senator Harry Reid is about to announce his position on this. I asked you this same question, by the way, a little while ago. How you felt about public option. You know, I've got to tell you, the numbers seem to show right now, it's about 61 percent in favor.
That 61 percent figure came from a recent CNN poll. He could have, but didn't, cite another poll, one mentioned recently in The Hill:
Polling experts, however, have documented that many people don’t know what a public option is, and that small changes in language can cause poll results to vary widely. An August poll by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates showed that only 37 percent of those polled correctly identified the public option from a list of three choices.