On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos highlighted House Democrats’ opposition to any troop increase in Afghanistan on budget grounds, but did not address the inconsistency of this position, since most of these congressmen support spending hundreds of billions on health care “reform.”
Before bringing up the budget issue, Stephanopoulos preemptively apologized for President Obama’s upcoming speech on Afghanistan. After guessing that it was going to be 30-40 minutes long, the anchor continued that Obama “needs that much time because this is a very difficult speech.” Just before this, the ABC anchor acted like the President himself was going to be the sole author of the speech: “I was just talking to a couple of White House aides. They say the President is actually going to begin writing the speech today. He hasn’t begun writing yet. He just made the decision [on the troop increase] the other night.”
Speaking with Brookings Institution analyst Michael O’Hanlon on Tuesday about President Obama’s upcoming decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith worried: “...how much is this going to cost him on the Left? Because I’m – I’ve got this sense that there will be people on the Left of President Obama who are not pleased by this.”
Despite representing a liberal leaning think tank, O’Hanlon dismissed the political concern: “Of course that’s right, Harry. But I think the real risk is if the war isn’t won. You know, the Left won’t like this, but if in a year we can see progress, people will forget their original doubts and they’ll be glad there is an exit strategy emerging ahead.”
Prior to Smith’s discussion with O’Hanlon, White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the soon-to-be-announced war strategy and pointed out: “A new CBS News poll shows 69% of Americans think the war is going badly. And only 36% believe more U.S. troops would make things better.” A clip was then played of another Brookings analyst, E.J. Dionne, who lamented: “We’ve been at this since 2003. We have spent a lot of money, we’ve lost a lot of lives. When does this end?” He mistakenly confused the start of the Iraq war with that of Afghanistan, which began in 2001.
At this point, there should be little doubt that there is a concerted attempt underway to use the war in Afghanistan as a justification for punitively taxing high earners.
Last weekend (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the New York Times discovered that wars cost money. It cited Wisconsin Democratic Congressman David Obey's concern that funding the Afghanistan effort at the level requested months ago by General Stanley A. McChrystal would "devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had."
Thursday, as reported by AFP (noted last night at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), House Democratic heavy-hitters Barney Frank, John Murtha, and (no surprise) Obey announced the "Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010," an income-tax surcharge that overwhelmingly targets high-income earners.
Now Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin has weighed in. Bloomberg dutifully carried his water, as seen in this graphic containing the first four paragraphs of the report:
You've got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly "discovered" last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.
Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that's not the point. Their proposal's purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.
In what appears to be the opening round of a rearguard action against what leftists used to call "the good war" (only because they felt they needed to pretend they had pro-war bona fides to make their anti-Iraq War arguments look stronger to the general populace), the New York Times's Christopher Drew reported last Saturday for the Sunday print edition that sending more troops to Afghanistan as General Stanley A. McChrystal has requested might cost tens of billions of dollars.
While President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.
I believe that the comment (bolded) could be seen as shining a less than flattering light on the president's mindset:
Obama arrived on the base 3:19 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time), and received a rousing welcome from 1,500 troops in camouflage uniforms, many holding cameras or pointing cell phones to snap pictures.
"You guys make a pretty good photo op," the president said.
Does anyone think that a similar comment by Bush 43 would have escaped establishment media criticism? Let's see if this Obamism slides by without criticism.
Earlier in the report, Kornblut noted that Obama's Afghan dither continues:
Citing an interview the President gave to White House correspondent Chip Reid, at the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: “An outraged President Obama says heads may roll when he returns from Asia, telling CBS News he’s furious over leaks about Afghanistan.” The leaks in question have highlighted the administration’s inaction on the war.
Rather than press the President on why he has failed to make a decision on Afghanistan, in the taped interview, Reid explained: “I asked the President if he’s as angry as Defense Secretary Robert Gates about all of the leaks coming out of his administration about the Afghanistan deployment decision.” Obama replied: “I think I’m probably angrier than Bob Gates about it....For people to be releasing information during the course of deliberations, where we haven’t made final decisions yet, I think, is not appropriate.” Reid followed up: “Is it a firing offense?” Obama responded: “Absolutely.”
After the interview clip, co-host Maggie Rodriguez was glad to see the President putting his foot down: “Good to hear that he has a zero tolerance policy on the leaks. That is no joke.”
The latest CBS News poll shows that Obama only has a 38 percent approval rating on his handling of Afghanistan, perhaps that is why the network is running defense for him.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, New York Daily News Washington correspondent James Meek related President Obama’s visit to the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan war dead at Arlington National Cemetery: “Now, cynics may say this was just an Obama photo-op. But they weren’t there looking him in the eye. I saw a man fully carrying the heavy burden of command on a weighty day.”
In an article Meeks wrote for the Daily News on Thursday, he used harsher terms to denounce any “cynics” critical of Obama’s visit: “If they’d been standing in my boots looking him in the eye, they would have surely choked on their bile. His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.” To use such a personal experience to promote the current administration and attack critics seems rather cynical.
In the Sunday Morning piece, Meek almost poetically described the President’s appearance at the section of the cemetery reserved for Iraq and Afghanistan war dead: “I was in Section 60 that morning when he made an unscheduled stop before huddling with his war council on sending more GIs into harm’s way. In a bone-chilling drizzle, he and the First Lady walked through the rows of gleaming white headstones. I saw the President embrace grieving widows, mothers, and battle buddies tending to the graves of loved ones. He asked about each one.”
In an interview published November 11 at Salon.com, titled, "Woody Harrelson on war, death, LBJ and Obama," by Andrew O'Hehir, actor Woody Harrelson, who stars in the new film, The Messenger, recounts his conspiracy theory that America invaded Afghanistan not because of the 9/11 attacks, but because Chevron wanted to overthrow the Taliban and build an oil pipeline. Harrelson:
The guys from Chevron went in and met with the Taliban and realized those guys just weren't in control enough. That's why they wanted to oust them. Otherwise it's an absurd concept: You're going to war because a guy from some other country, a Saudi, is living somewhere in the mountains?
Harrelson, known for being anti-capitalism, continued: "It's a foreign policy gone way wrong. But that's how it always is. American foreign policy has always been not about spreading democracy, but about spreading capitalism."
He also made known his concerns that Barack Obama could become another LBJ because of an unwillingness to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and opined that while JFK was "one of our last great Presidents," Jimmy Carter "was pretty great, too."
News that President Barack Obama is demanding new Afghanistan options and answers, after months and eight meetings with top officials on General Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops, led ABC anchor Charles Gibson to express exasperation Thursday night: “What new questions are there to be asked after all this time?”
CBS and NBC, however, weren't so dubious. Though Katie Couric painted “a long, drawn out process,” Chip Reid assigned gravitas to Obama as he asserted Obama “has been agonizing over this decision” and “recently immersed himself in the agony of war.” Reid touted: “That the President is so thoroughly researching such a critical decision is a good thing, according to CBS News national security consultant Juan Zarate.” Reid acknowledged that “there's great danger, he [Zarate] says, if it looks like uncertainty.”
Journalists, though, are making Obama look more deliberative than uncertain. ABC's Martha Raddatz assured Gibson that Obama “has four options in front of him” and “he wants to combine those options...to find the best option.”
On last night's "Rachel Maddow Show", the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh commended President Obama for taking the reins in Afghanistan. Hersh stated that Presidents must decide their own war strategies. But in the early stages of the war in Iraq, Hersh was a leading critic of similar actions by the Bush administration. Hersh's hypocrisy suggests he is more concerned with the political implications of military policy than strategic ones.
"Lincoln did not let McClellan write a report on how to win a war against the South," Hersh told Maddow, in reference to Gen. George McClellan, initially the top general for the Union during the Civil War. Hersh was offering a historical perspective on why Presidents should not rely on military commanders to form strategy--McClellan was a disastrous general, after all (video embedded below the fold).
Forget Ford Hood and investigating the so-called "terror" connections of Nidal Hasan.
Yours truly has come across something the current crowd running our government might see as even more sinister. The Obama administration, the FBI, the Justice Department, and, most importantly, the White House's speech police simply have to get on this right away.
You see, General David Petraeus visited the Air Force Academy last week and may have uttered a word once thought to have been stricken from all speeches and discussions relating to military matters.
Interviewing Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith cited a cause of the shooting at Ft. Hood: “...the Iraq war, the escalation in number of cases of post traumatic stress disorder...the more people go back to these fields, these theaters of war, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, it multiplies the incidence of these kinds of things occurring.”
Smith went on to ask Shinseki: “Is the Army and is the Veterans Administration really equipped to deal with this flood of a problem?” The VA secretary responded: “Veterans Affairs employs 19,000 mental health professionals to address things like PTSD and TBI and depression. And some of the other mental health issues that come up from time to time with exposing people to the high stress, high dangers associated with combat.” The shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, never served in combat nor had post traumatic stress disorder.
As reports of the Fort Hood shooting began to pour in yesterday, numerous news outlets neglected to mention that the shooter is a Muslim. Either the potential import of this fact was completely lost on these journalists, or they omitted the shooter's Muslim affiliations out of a concern for political correctness.
CBS and NBC both omitted the shooter's faith in their East Coast feeds last night, as reported by Brent Baker. The Los Angeles Times left key facts out of its report, published at 9:46 EST (which has since been edited), even though other other media outlets had reported them. Among these was that shooter Nidal Malik Hasan was Muslim, and that he had previously expressed on an Internet forum affinity for suicide bombers.
The Associated Press reported at 8:15 EST that Hasan had "come to the attention" of Army officials at least six months ago for these Internet posts.
Interviewing Mitt Romney on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith alluded to the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district and the success of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman: “There’s a battle going on right now for the soul of the Republican Party. Conservatives say there’s no room for moderates there. Will this tactic save or kill the Republican Party?”
Romney argued: “Well, the Republican Party has always had a lot of voices and we are going to continue it be a big tent party. The New York 23rd race had a very anomalous situation.” Smith could hardly contain his smugness: “That’s not a big tent.” Romney replied: “I disagree with you. You look across the elected Republicans in Congress and Governors offices, they represent a pretty wide perspective of issues.”
With Democrats poised to potentially suffer across-the-board electoral losses on Tuesday and health care reform continued to be stalled in Congress, one wonders why Smith is not more focused on the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.
Bloggers and their readers have "joked" about the New York Times being the official house organ of the Obama White House. Maybe it's not a joke.
Earlier this month (as seen at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), several bloggers caught the Times making significant changes to its initial coverage of Chicago's humiliating loss of its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, and of President Obama's involvement in that loss. The first Times report by Peter Baker was fairly harsh, questioning the President's judgment in getting involved, while citing his slipping poll ratings.
After Times organ grinder -- er, reporter -- Jeff Zeleny got a hold of the story, most of the harshness went away, as did Baker's original story. All of a sudden, at the same URL, there was no reference to tarnished presidential prestige. A dismissive assertion that the embarrassment "would fade in a news cycle or two" appeared. There was also a mention of Obama's 25-minute meeting with Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal that was not in the original. The reference to falling poll numbers also disappeared.
Well, the Times has just pulled a similar stunt in its coverage of President Obama's Wednesday night/Thursday morning visit to Dover Air Force Base. Once again, Jeff Zeleny is involved.
Almost six years since he coined the phrase Bush Derangement Syndrome, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer is accusing Barack Obama of having the same malady.
On Fox News's "Special Report" Tuesday, Krauthammer called out the President's constant negative references to his predecessor saying, "There is something truly disgusting about the way he cannot refrain from attacking Bush when he is being defensive about himself."
The topic under discussion at the time was the rising casualties in Afghanistan, and how Obama seems intent on deflecting blame to someone who has been out of office for ten months (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Hot Air):
Last Wednesday, former vice president Dick Cheney received the Keeper of the Flame award from the Center for Security Policy in Washington, where he denounced President Obama for dithering on Afghanistan. This sent several left-wing columnists and radio hosts into a rage. But there’s rage, and then there’s the wild ravings of host Mike Malloy, who was thinking Cheney was a baby-eater:
Cheney, by the way looks very ruddy; I couldn't get over that like he must have feasted on a Jewish baby, or a Muslim baby; he must have sent his people out to get one and bring it back so he could drink its blood, because that's what somebody like Cheney does to get that ruddy look.
On Sunday’s CBS Evening News, political analyst John Dickerson brushed aside criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney that the Obama administration was “dithering” on Afghanistan: “...it puts Cheney out there as a kind of boogie man the administration can point to. He’s not terribly popular outside of conservative circles...in some ways, Dick Cheney is a gift for the White House.”
Dickerson, who is a contributing writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, has also filled in for Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer twice in the last six months, on the October 18 and July 5 broadcasts. He was responding to a question from Sunday Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell, who cited Cheney and wondered: “Are you hearing other sentiments out there along those lines?” Dickerson claimed: “Well, there’s been some elite opinion about the pause in the President’s thinking.”
An October 9 CBS News poll showed that there was more than simply “elite opinion” on the subject: “President Obama has a slide in his approval ratings on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. In April, 58 percent approved of his handling of the conflict; by August, that number had fallen to 48 percent. In the most recent survey it has hit its lowest level yet, 42 percent.” An October 18 ABC News/ Washington Post poll placed public approval of the President’s handling of Afghanistan at 45 percent, with 47 percent disapproving of his handling.
Three weeks after their gushing praise of President Obama's meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the media have taken a cue from the lack of action that followed.
It was a good run while it lasted.
Word from the conflict became more dire almost by the day as Obama's cabinet squabbled. The American media, having sensed Afghanistan could be lost without action, chose to cover for their favorite president and begin the process of mentally preparing the public for defeat.
The Washington Post published a perfect example of the new meme in Howard Kurtz's column on October 23. Kurtz attacked Republicans as "armchair quarterbacks" for their criticism of Obama's stalling and said it was "rich" of Dick Cheney to demand a new plan. As for what that plan might be, Kurtz's Vietnam defeat song sounded all too familiar:
Though its $1.4 trillion red-ink result was mostly known well ahead of its final issuance, the Treasury Department either conveniently got its year-end accounting work done in time for a Friday afternoon release of the final Monthly Treasury Statement, or held it until that time. Last year's report was released on Wednesday, October 15.
The final statement shows receipts of $2.105 trillion, "outlays" of $3.522 trillion, and a "deficit" of $1.417 trillion. That is $962 billion higher that last year's "deficit" of $455 billion.
The terms "outlays" and "deficit" are in quotes for reasons I will explain in this post.
There is good news and bad news about the reporting on the results by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger. The good news is that after at least three months of obsessing over how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were contributing to the massive increase in this year's "deficit" compared to fiscal 2008 when they have been almost completely if not totally irrelevant (here, here, and here at NewsBusters; here, here, and here at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger correctly dropped them from the discussion. Of course, that means he was repeatedly wrong to cite those wars or even defense spending as a whole as a contributing factor in the first place. But don't wait by the phone for Martin's apology.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith glossed over President Obama’s indecision over sending more troops to Afghanistan by describing it this way: “...there are so many moving parts in this part of the world. And here is President Obama in this long contemplation about what to do next in Afghanistan with our troops.”
Smith discussed the war in Afghanistan with the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, who was equally happy to mask Obama’s inaction in thoughtful terms:
He’s really got his own dynamic in Afghanistan and I think you’re going to see everything slow down on decision making. In part because of the winter, there’s no real urgency to get more troops in right now. Also the administration has already signaled they want to see what happens internally in Afghanistan, whether there’s new elections, more important, what kind of government is formed. So I think the administration’s going to hold back sending more troops for quite a while.
Einstein said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” That may be so, but it certainly is the definition of stupidity. Which is why the behavior of Obama administration and congressional liberals is so puzzling.
Wasn’t the Obama administration supposed to be populated by the elite of Ivy League intelligentsia, each cabinet secretary brighter than the last? Just weeks after the election, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos swooned "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." Newsweek called Obama economic adviser Larry Summers “brash and brilliant” and part of “a team of Harvard and Yale types whose SAT scores have not been equaled since the Kennedy administration.”
The infusion of blue gray matter into Washington was going to calm the economic waters, create entire new “green” industries and maybe usher in a golden age for D.C.’s art-house movie theaters. Heck, Obama even tapped Hillary (“World’s Smartest Woman”) Clinton to be Secretary of State.
In 2006, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz found that NBC correspondent Richard Engel had strong political feelings: "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist." That pacifist opinion is still surfacing, Kurtz reported Monday, although he didn’t recall the sentence from 2006:
Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, has kicked up a fuss with some decidedly pessimistic comments on the war in Afghanistan.
"I honestly think it's probably time to start leaving the country. I really don't see how this is going to end in anything but tears," Engel said last week on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He added: "The idea of going in to nation-build and win hearts and minds, I think, over the long term is kind of a loser."
That there has been little love lost between posters and commenters here at NewsBusters and CBS correspondent Lara Logan over the years is not exactly a secret (see previous NB posts by yours truly, Brent Baker, Kyle Drennen, and just warming up).
I don't know what has happened in past couple of years (or is it months?) to knock some sense into Logan ("good war" Afghanistan vs. "bad war" Iraq? Motherhood and/or marriage, even if as a result of seamy circumstances?). But her clear-headed, passionate, alarming interview with CBS News's Bob Orr about the situation in Afghanistan is a must-see (HT Hot Air). In the process, she leaves a number of leftist myths and fantasies, including the rubbish about how pursuing war aggressively only helps the enemy in their recruiting, in shreds on the floor.
Following an interesting back story about our Secretary of Defense's apparent intent to water down what Obama ultimately got to see, the Logan interview goes from about 1:35-8:30 of the YouTube video (don't waste your time with what follows, which is about a Ralph Nader book).
Even Barack Obama’s fan club on NBC’s Today were stunned at the President’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-host Matt Lauer found it baffling: “We’re less than a year into the first term of this president and there are no -- I'm not trying to be, you know, rude here -- no major foreign policy achievements, to date.”
Meet the Press moderator David Gregory felt the need to point out the “left-leaning” impulse of the Europeans who christened Obama as the world’s leading peacemaker for 2009: “This is a lot more about tone than it is substantive accomplishment. In many ways, this is a European body who is more left-leaning, certainly, and opposed to the administration of George W. Bush.”
Lauer followed up: “So, what you're saying in some ways and, again, not to be rude here or sarcastic, that in some ways he wins this award for not being George W. Bush?”
Between his daily radio show and nightly television program on MSNBC, which boasts of itself as "the place for politics," Ed Schultz somehow managed to miss the news of President Obama's ambivalence about "victory" in Afghanistan.
A caller to Schultz's radio show on Monday told Schultz of this, but Schultz wasn't buying (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: Do we send 40,000 more troops in? Brian, what do you think?
CALLER: You know what? I heard someone say we're not in it to win, we're not in it for victory. And I was stunned when I heard that, so ...
SCHULTZ: Well, what do you mean we're not in it for victory?
Hard-left "anti-war" protesters – so far to the left that they’re protesting Barack Obama – were awarded the top left of The Washington Post on Wednesday. This "event" protesting the eighth anniversary of war in Afghanistan not only topped page one, it covered about 75 percent of page A6, including four color photographs.
The headline was "For Antiwar Protesters, the Cause Isn't Lost: But Will D.C. Rally Spark Groundswell?" Post reporter Eli Saslow softly implied it wasn’t going well, that "this time the organizers believed they could revive the beleaguered anti-war movement, once such a force in U.S. policy. The next 48 hours would put their optimism on trial."
If there was a journalistic award for beating around the bush, Saslow and the Post could win it. After 25 paragraphs, Saslow finally revealed that the Post’s idea of news judgment isn’t based on numbers: the reporter counted...176 protesters.
For the second night, CBS devoted time in its “Afghanistan: The Road Ahead” series -- which consumed the entirety of Tuesday's CBS Evening News -- to stressing how the decision to go into Iraq undermined success in Afghanistan. Lara Logan, CBS's chief foreign correspondent, rued “the U.S. allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora mountains” and then, in endorsing the view she credited to “many,” she contended:
What many here see as the gravest error of all: Afghans were wary as the U.S. turned its attention to invading Iraq. And they were right. Everything from reconstruction and aid to the fight itself suffered as the U.S. shifted its resources and its focus away from Afghanistan and the commitment it had made to the Afghan people. Not surprisingly, Afghan support for the war began to fade.
Unaddressed: President Barack Obama is wavering on that commitment since he's now resisting General Stanley McChrystal's recommendation for a big troop increase to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban while Vice President Joe Biden is advocating an air strike-centered approach which will leave Afghan citizens in danger.