The federal government proposed sweeping new guidelines on Thursday that could push the food industry to overhaul how it advertises cereal, soda pop, snacks, restaurant meals and other foods to children.
Citing an epidemic of childhood obesity, regulators are taking aim at a range of tactics used to market foods high in sugar, fat or salt to children, including the use of cartoon characters like Toucan Sam, the brightly colored Froot Loops pitchman, who appears in television commercials and online games as well as on cereal boxes.
The New York Times on Friday finally deigned to review the movie “Atlas Shrugged,” based on the novel by Ayn Rand, a heroine to libertarians and objectivists in particular. New critic Carina Chocano (like the rest of the critics, who weighed in two weeks ago) was scathing on the movie’s flaws and clearly disdained its politics: “A Utopian Society Made Up of Business Moguls in Fedoras.”
Could anyone have guessed, way back when it was published in 1957, that “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s grandiloquent doorstop of a masterwork, would one day reach the big screen as high-camp comedy? Because stilted prose and silly plotting notwithstanding, Rand’s unrelentingly popular book has exerted a powerful ideological hold on the culture, an influence that has only intensified in recent years with the emergence of the Tea Party. Still, for unintentional yet somehow boring hilarity, the novel can’t touch the cinematic adaptation, which shifts the action to 2016 and presents Rand’s ham-fisted fable of laissez-faire capitalism as something C-Span might make if it ever set out to create a futuristic, proto-libertarian nighttime soap. In the 1980s.
Steinhauer’s profile, while not overtly hostile, contained no less than eight ideological labels to describe the “conservative” West, not including the first word of the headline, while his comments on feminism and support for Israel were labeled “incendiary.” This from a newspaper that constantly refers to the truly incendiary Al Sharpton as a “civil rights activist.” A sampling:
But the most compelling part of Representative Allen B. West of Florida is his own biography, there for all to see: an African-American Tea Party activist Republican congressman and ally of hard-right Israelis who, after his beloved career in the Army ended under a cloud, defeated the sitting Democrat in a largely white, politically polarized district here and quickly became one of the right’s most visible spokesmen.
Mr. West’s popularity among conservatives goes far beyond South Florida. He was chosen to give the keynote speech in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and is frequently featured on the Fox News Channel and in other conservative settings where he enjoys explaining, reiterating or unleashing any number of incendiary remarks concerning what he often calls “the other side.”
Thursday’s New York Times lead editorial, “A Certificate of Embarrassment,” dealt with President Obama authorizing the State of Hawaii to release his long-form birth certificate. The editorial writers commit the same error its media reporter Brian Stelter did, falsely stating the rumor “was originally promulgated by fringe figures of the radical right,” when in fact it was initially circulated via email by Hillary Clinton supporters in April 2008, as noted by Politico on April 22.
With sardonic resignation, President Obama, an eminently rational man, stared directly into political irrationality on Wednesday and released his birth certificate to history. More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life.
The disbelief fairly dripped from Mr. Obama as he stood at the West Wing lectern. People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.
President Obama authorized the state of Hawaii to release a copy of his long-form birth certificate, resulting in massive media attention and a front-page splash by New York Times reporter Michael Shear on Thursday, “Citing ‘Silliness,’ Obama Shows Birth Certificate.”
But a Times media reporter wrongly suggested the “Birther” theories only erupted after Obama became president, among conservatives, when in fact they first circulated during the Democratic primaries, stirred up by supporters of Obama rival Hillary Clinton.
Classified dossiers of detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison released by Wikileaks were naturally splashed on the front of Monday’s New York Times, which had editorialized in strong terms for the closing of the Cuba prison. Reporters Charlie Savage, William Glaberson, and Andrew Lehren filed “Details of Lives in an American Limbo.”
(In February 2009, Glaberson let two hard-left groups he called "human rights groups" ridicule a Pentagon report saying there was no mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay.)
From Monday's lead story:
A trove of more than 700 classified military documents provides new and detailed accounts of the men who have done time at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, and offers new insight into the evidence against the 172 men still locked up there.
Military intelligence officials, in assessments of detainees written between February 2002 and January 2009, evaluated their histories and provided glimpses of the tensions between captors and captives. What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution, and the leaked files show why, by laying bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal.
Paul Krugman, economist turned left-wing folk hero. New York magazine’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells talked with the once respected-economist turned hack New York Times columnist about “What’s Left of the Left,” a title which at least positions Krugman accurately as a left-wing opinion leader who draws cool economics graphs that prove the perfidy of Republican policy (whether or not he once agreed with those same policies). Krugman continued to bash Rep. Paul Ryan as setting American "on a glide path to a much harsher society."
For the first two years of the Obama administration, Krugman has been building, in his columns and on his blog, not just a critique of this presidency but something grander and more expansively detailed, something closer to an alternate architecture for what Obamaism might be. The project has remade Krugman’s public image, as if he had spent years becoming a chemically isolate form of himself – first a moderate, then an anti-Bush partisan, and now the leading exponent of a kind of liberal purism against which the compromises of the White House might be judged. Krugman’s counterfactual Obama would have provided far more stimulus money and would have nationalized Citigroup and Bank of America. He would have written off Republicans and worked only with Democrats to fashion a health-care reform bill that included a so-called public option. The president of Krugman’s dreams would have made his singular long-term goal the preservation of the welfare state and the middle-class society it was designed to create.
The front of the New York Times Sunday Week in Review features a think-piece by the paper’s foreign policy maven David Sanger, “Halfway In With Obama.” The subhead: “In Libya, America lets others command. By letting allies pick up the burden, is its credibility on the line?”
Sanger was a harsh critic of Bush’s foreign policy philosophy, mocking the president as an incurious George overseas, so his blunt lack of confidence in Obama’s Libya intervention is significant.
When the battle for Libya seemed to be slipping into stalemate last week, the British, French and Italians sent “military advisers,” a phrase that to much of the world suggests the first step on the slippery slope to ground forces.
President Obama offered up his administration’s favorite weapon: armed Predator drones.
Not even the light sections of the New York Times Sunday paper offer an escape from politics. In “Social Q’s,” his Sunday Styles column on modern etiquette, Philip Galanes got political when answering a question from Amanda from Grand Island, N.Y., criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for teacher bashing during his recent battle to reduce the influence of public-sector unions.
Q: I asked one of my professors if he would write a letter of recommendation for an internship I was applying for. He did, and I thanked him. And I got it. Am I supposed to thank him again? I don’t know the protocol.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump, acting like a presidential candidate, is garnering attention by latching on to the “birther” issue -- the discredited notion that President Obama was not born in Hawaii but in another country, thus making him ineligible for the presidency. The New York Times ran a poll April 22 that asked: “Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States, or was he born in another country?” The Times then broke down the results out for Republicans (but not for independents or Democrats): 45% of Republicans answered Obama was born elsewhere, 33% said he was born in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Times has yet to bring up a 2006 poll showing more than half of Democrats believed Bush was complicit in the 9-11 attacks.
Times liberal columnist Charles Blow pounced on Saturday: “It further exacerbates a corrosive culture on the right that now celebrates the Cult of Idiocy -- from Glenn Beck to Michele Bachmann -- where riling liberals is more valuable than reason and logic, and where intellectualism and even basic learnedness are viewed with suspicion and contempt.”
The New York Times’s coverage of Easter Sunday was sparse, but the paper did mark the Christian holiday in its own inimitable way, by spotlighting anti-traditional gay rights activism.
Reporter Liz Robbins was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan on Sunday morning to hear Archbishop Timothy Dolan delivers his Easter homily to nearly 3,000. St. Patrick’s also marked the “finish line” of the Easter Day parade. But her story Monday, “A Sermon Of Rebirth, And a Rally For Rights,” was pre-occupied by a tiny band of protesters in support of gay marriage, “A small group of about 25 people stood while temperatures soared near 80 degrees.” For Robbins, two dozen people standing outside in “near 80 degree” heat (was it really that onerous?) was worth both special mention and 364 of the story’s 634 words.
In Florida, New York Times reporter Lizette Alvarez buttered up Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida (aka Superwoman) the new head the Democratic National Committee, in Monday’s “In a Life Filled With Firsts, One More.” In case there weren’t enough superlatives in that headline, the subhead had another: “Energetic Florida Congresswoman to Be Democrats’ New Leader.”
By contrast, in March Alvarez suggested new Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott was in over his head, a political “novice” with a “go-it-alone style” that “irritated” or “annoyed” even his fellow Republicans.
Stop Spending Cuts or People Will “Starve to Death”
“I stopped eating on Monday and joined around 4,000 other people in a fast to call attention to congressional budget proposals that would make huge cuts in programs for the poor and hungry....These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts -- they’d barely make a dent -- will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now.” – Food writer Mark Bittman in a March 30 op-ed, “Why We’re Fasting.”
“What causes the lack? Imprisonment, torture, being stranded on a desert island, anorexia, crop failure....and both a lack of aid and bad distribution of nutrients. Some (or much) of both of these last two stem from unregulated capitalism and greed.” – Bittman on his blog at nytimes.com, March 31.
It was a tiny item in the New York Times -- a brief at the bottom of page B14 of Tuesday's sports section, under Lacrosse: “Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused three Duke players of raping her in 2006, was charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend.” The man died two weeks after Mangum stabbed him, and Mangum has now been charged with murder.
The Times may prefer to forget that name, but it was far more interested in Crystal Mangum back in 2006. More than any other media outlet, the Times trumpeted her rape accusations against three Duke lacrosse players, accusations that quickly fell apart in a mass of contradictions and shifting stories.
New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner and reporter Jennifer Medina summarized on Wednesday the outcry after the dramatic reversal earlier this month by Judge Richard Goldstone. The judge authored the notorious "Goldstone report" for the United Nations Human Rights Council, blaming the state of Israel, but not the terrorist group Hamas, for making targets of civilians during the three-week Gaza war in 2008.
In an April 3 op-ed for the Washington Post (one rejected by the New York Times), Goldstone admitted that the data vindicated Israel’s concerns about his report: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a moderate Republican and conservative tweaker who is leaving his post as President Obama’s ambassador to China, is considering a Republican presidential run, according to New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, whose flattering profile of Huntsman graced Wednesday’s paper: “He’s Done Working for Obama. Now He May Challenge Him in ‘12."
Three months before President Obama nominated Jon M. Huntsman Jr. as ambassador to China, Mr. Huntsman arrived here to introduce himself to three dozen influential Republicans and talk politics with them over dinner at the Palmetto Club.
Mr. Huntsman, then serving his second term as governor of Utah and prospecting for his political future, worried aloud that Republicans were growing out of touch with a generation of Americans. If the party wanted to win national elections again, he argued, Republicans needed to broaden their appeal to young voters, Hispanics and independents.
The New York Times's chief economics writer David Leonhardt has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
The prize committee praised Leonhardt for “his graceful penetration of America’s complicated economics questions.” The White House and congressional Democrats are huge fans as well, emailing around his previous defenses of programs like Obama’s stimulus. However, the paper's Public Editor chided the Times in January for placing Leonhardt's neo-liberal commentaries promoting Obama-care on the front page, which gives them the imprimatur of objective news.
As documented by Times Watch, Leonhardt's "graceful penetration" generally involves digging into citizen's wallets for even more federal tax money.
After relegating to page A16 the stabbing slaughter of five members of a family of Israeli settlers on March 12 at the hands of Palestinians, the New York Times mustered front-page sympathy for Vittorio Arrigoni, a pro-Palestinian activist murdered in Gaza by a fringe Islamic group. Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner reported from Gaza for Saturday’s front page, “Killing of Pro-Palestinian Activist In Gaza Deals a Blow to Hamas.”
For Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian pro-Palestinian activist who friends said fought peacefully for justice, the end was as violent as it was incongruous.
On Saturday, New York Times metro reporter Richard Perez-Pena treated as a serious breach of decorum a relatively mild metaphor New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie used in front of reporters in “This Time, Christie’s Tough Talk Draws a Wave of Criticism From Democrats.” The text box: “The governor uses violent imagery while talking to reporters about a state senator.” Yet the Times has almost completely ignored much harsher and explicit “violent imagery” used by Democratic politicians against Republicans.
Using harsh terms to attack his critics has been a regular feature of Gov. Chris Christie’s 15 months in office, and Democratic officials, wary of his and the voters’ wrath, have usually offered only a muted response.
But this week, when Mr. Christie, a Republican, used violent imagery in talking about a Democratic lawmaker -- a widowed grandmother, to boot -- Democrats saw an opening, criticizing him en masse and demanding an apology.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s latest Sunday magazine column, “Team America,” asks in the subhead: “Less than a decade after invading Iraq, the U.S. has rediscovered its missionary spirit. Should we be troubled by this?” Keller is not completely on board with Obama on what’s shaping up as “regime change” in Libya. But he also claimed that as editor he doesn’t take stands for or against wars, whether they are “old” wars in Iraq or “new ones in Libya.” A 2007 speech suggests differently. Keller wrote on Sunday:
Eight years ago, when I was an Op-Ed columnist for this paper, I aligned myself with something I called the I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club -- baby boomers whose distrust of foreign intervention, forged during the bloody mess of Vietnam, was tempered by the noble rescue of Bosnia and Kosovo, leading to a grudging sympathy for the invasion of Iraq. I’m sure the Bush administration did not need permission from the East Coast pundit chorus to go to war, but it was a high-water mark of the missionary impulse.
As editor of The Times, I don’t take stands for or against wars, old ones in Iraq or new ones in Libya, lest my opinions be mistaken for the guiding doctrine of our news coverage. But it’s fair to say the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan underscores the value of a certain humility about our ability to shape history.
Once again, the Times falsely described a “nasty” anti-Cleland campaign ad by Chambliss, this time claiming it was “picturing Mr. Cleland with Osama bin Laden.” Has anyone at the Times ever actually watched the ad?
Days after President Obama called for forming a bipartisan group in Congress to begin negotiating a $4 trillion debt-reduction package, the parties have not even agreed to its membership. Yet six senators -- three Democrats, three Republicans -- say they are nearing consensus on just such a plan.
The group’s oldest members -- Senator Richard J. Durbin, 66, a progressive from Illinois who counts the Senate’s only socialist as a friend and ally, and Senator Saxby Chambliss, 67, a genial Georgia conservative whose nasty first campaign left lingering bad feelings among Democrats, and who is a confidant of Speaker John A. Boehner -- illustrate that even with the mounting federal debt intensifying the partisan divide over spending and taxes, the severity of the fiscal threat is forging unlikely alliances.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof joined the “tax me, please,” brigade in his Thursday column that is sure to win him new fans the day before tax day: “Raise America’s Taxes.”
President Obama in his speech on Wednesday confronted a topic that is harder to address seriously in public than sex or flatulence: America needs higher taxes.
That ugly truth looms over today’s budget battles, but politicians have mostly preferred to run from reality. Mr. Obama’s speech was excellent not only for its content but also because he didn’t insult our intelligence.
There is no single reason for today’s budget mess, but it’s worth remembering that the last time our budget was in the black was in the Clinton administration. That’s a broad hint that one sensible way to overcome our difficulties would be to revert to tax rates more or less as they were under President Clinton. That single step would solve three-quarters of the deficit for the next five years or so.
So would cutting spending levels to the Clinton era, for that matter.
While previous attempts at reform of Medicare by Republicans were eviscerated in the Times as “big Medicare cuts” or (just this week) a “shrinking” of the program, the paper greeted Obama’s own vague proposals with benign, soothing words like “overhaul” or claims that Obama was merely looking for Medicare “savings.” Thursday’s headline insisted Medicare and Medicaid would be “spared” and the text by reporters Mark Landler and Michael Shear described Obama as only proposing “changes to social welfare programs” and to “strictly limit the growth of Medicare and Medicaid.”
New York Times critic Mike Hale’s review of an HBO documentary on the evils of guns, “Gun Fight,” is colored with his liberal perspective. Hale is never hesitant to work in his liberal political opinions into his reviews. He clearly favors left-wing public affairs series like Frontline, and has embraced European-style nationalized health care as clearly superior to the U.S. version (until Obama-care, anyway).
Barbara Kopple’s engrossing, frustrating documentary “Gun Fight” -- it’s not liable to inspire happy thoughts in people on either side of the gun-control debate -- begins with eerie cellphone video footage taken during the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007, and the aftermath of that rampage provides the film’s emotional ballast.
Ms. Kopple, who in the past has demonstrated her sympathies for labor unions (“Harlan County U.S.A.” and “American Dream,” both Oscar winners) and the Dixie Chicks (“Shut Up and Sing”), gives plenty of time in “Gun Fight” to people who believe that the limits on an American’s right to own and carry a gun should be few or none. ....
But some of the labeling was overheated: “A secretive evangelical Christian organization that some say has a right-wing agenda.” When the Times says “some say,” it almost always means “liberals say,” and indeed, Oppenheimer’s source, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) tends to target conservatives with their complaints.
The Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who was finally captured on Monday, defied nearly everybody: the United States, the European Union and the African Union. But right to the end, Mr. Gbagbo had defenders in the West, and they notably included several prominent conservative Christians.
It's becoming a habit. The New York Times's chief economics writer David Leonhardt once again called for higher taxes in his column on the front page of Wednesday's Times, especially on “the rich,” in the name of deficit reduction (and also because, hey all civilized countries do it). Wednesday A1, “Do-Nothing Congress as a Cure.”
It’s as if tax increases were a mere technicality in any deficit-reduction plan. In reality, finding a way to raise taxes may well be the central political problem facing the United States.
As countries become richer, their citizens tend to want more public services, be it a strong military or a decent safety net in retirement. This country is no exception. Yet our political culture is an exception. It has made most tax increases, even to pay for benefits people want, unthinkable.
New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye is the latest Times reporter to defend government spending, this time on a tiny but "life-affirming" radio station threatened by the Republican budget ax - public radio station WMMT in Whitesburg, Kentucky: “A Regional Radio Voice Threatened From Afar.” The story was accompanied by a cutesy sidebar, “88.7 on Appalachia’s Dial,” describing such original programming as “Holler to the Hood,” “which plays hip-hop aimed at the growing prison population in the region.” Sounds vital. Only one problem: The funding is being challenged by "the rise of the Tea Party and with anti-earmark, budget-cutting fervor gripping the nation’s capital."
Seelye handed the mic to a lefty from the “private Community Action Council,” a “private” group that nonetheless gets 95% of its money from the federal government.
The sound and fury of last week’s budget debate came down to a dollar figure that some members of Congress could have covered by writing a personal check.
Elective abortions for poor women in the District of Columbia -- a central bargaining chip in the deal -- have cost the city $62,300 since August, city officials say.
In a national budget that is measured in trillions of dollars, that might not seem like much. But for this city, which raises $5 billion in tax revenue each year but does not have the final say over how to spend it, the compromise -- which restores a ban on the use of local taxpayer money for abortions -- served as a bitter reminder of its powerlessness.