Liberal Democratic strategists reading today's Washington Post are probably taking notes, preparing talking points for a future which may hold a Republican Congress in the cards.
"British women to bear budget pain" cried the page A6 headline. "Report says austerity plan mostly cuts into women's livelihoods," added the subheader for London-based Post staffer Anthony Faiola's story.
Faiola noted that "[t]he Fawcett Society, a leading women's rights group here, filed an unprecedented complaint with the nation's high court this month, arguing that the government failed to consider the effect on women of its leaner 'emergency budget.'"
At no point did Faiola find a critic to allege that the social welfare system in Britain itself was "sexist" or at least that it victimizes poor Britons, particularly women, by creating a culture of dependency on the state.
Those who don't believe that high taxes on the rich don't influence economic activity or economic behavior, which of course includes many in the establishment press, are going to have a tough time explaining away this brief item that's being reported in the Associated Press:
Tour officials hampered by UK tax rules
European Tour officials are in talks with the British government over tax rules which they say could deter leading golfers from playing in the Ryder Cup in October.
Players competing in the match between Europe and the United States at Celtic Manor, Wales, could be seriously affected by new rules issued by the customs and revenue agency, which can now tax foreign sportsmen and women not just on prize money earned but on sponsorship and endorsements.
Mitchell Platts, the European Tour's director of public relations corporate affairs, said Tuesday the tax rule was "seriously hampering our efforts."
Great Britain has a new coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and what a mess it is as they face is the largest budget deficit in Europe. Where, oh where, will they cut the budget? Horror of horrors, one obvious target is funding for the arts “in the land of Shakespeare.” When the the Empire is so broke National Health Service is refusing people hip replacements, it's probably not a good idea to suggest it's more important to fund the ballet.
Especially when the government-bankrolled ballet is “The Spirit of Diaghilev.”
Anthony Faiola of The Washington Post reports the usual line we hear in America about arts funding, that taxpayer monies provide artists with “independence,” and all that blather. But then he quite seriously maintains that government is a “beacon for controversial pieces, such as one staged last year at Sadlers Wells in which” – are you ready for this? – “the pope sexually abuses an altar boy through an interpretive dance.”
So there was Robert Gibbs on the White House lawn, defending to Mika Brzezinski the letter from the Obama administration saying it favored a compassionate release of the Lockerbie bomber over a prisoner transfer. Oh, wait. That wasn't the White House press secretary—it was Chuck Todd. Sorry about that. But when you view the video I think you might forgive my error. Todd certainly came across like a paid administration flack . . .
In the course of his conversation with Mika on today's Morning Joe, Todd labelled "outlandish" the depiction by the Sunday Times of London of the US position as "double-talk." As Mika continued to press the case, suggesting the US could simply have expressed its implacable opposition to any form of release, Todd complained that it was "easy to back-seat drive" the Obama admin's handling of the matter. Perhaps most laughably, Todd defended the Obama admin's "delicate" diplomacy by claiming "any administration" would have done the same and raising the what-if of another country trying to tell our government what to do. You mean, like Pres. Obama's moves to close Gitmo and take other measures weakening US national security because other countries have complained about them?
President Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick – a controversial advocate of socialized medicine and of government rationing of health care, particularly for the elderly – as head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs has so far received no attention on ABC’s World News or on the CBS Evening News, while the NBC Nightly News on Thursday devoted just 38 seconds to the President’s controversial move that circumvents a possibly bruising Senate confirmation hearing, barely touching on the nature of Berwick’s beliefs and their possible implications for the elderly. Broadcast network morning newscasts have similarly shown little to no interest in the subject. CNN’s The Situation Room devoted a full story to the appointment on Wednesday, but did little better than NBC in informing viewers of the significance of Berwick’s beliefs.
By contrast, FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on Wednesday relayed to viewers that Berwick has not only advocated the type of socialized medicine that currently limits access to health care in Britain – favoring a non-free market system based on wealth redistribution – but he has also spoken in favor of government limiting access to some health care procedures for the elderly in favor of younger patients.
FNC correspondent Jim Angle filled in viewers on how the elderly would be treated under a system Berwick might advocate:
Antonia Senior of The Times of London revealed her extremist position in favor of abortion in a June 30 column. Senior bluntly admitted that the intentional killing of the unborn was a cause she would be willing to die for, and while acknowledging it was "taking a life," she labeled it was a "lesser evil," for, in her view, "you cannot separate women's rights from their right to fertility control."
The British journalist, is the personal finance editor for The Times, began her column with outlining the extent to which abortion is a core issue for her. Senior noted that in the Tower of London, there's an "interactive display that ask visitors to vote on whether they would die for a cause." After eliminating dolphins and even her own country of England as potential choices, she continued that she "could think of one cause I would stake my life on: a woman's right to be educated, to have a life beyond the home and to be allowed by law and custom to order her own life as she chooses. And that includes complete control over her own fertility."
Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds employed sarcastic irony this morning when he wrote that "Obama’s hate speech is promoting violence against BP." Well, it's at least clear that the blame game out of Washington isn't helping the situation.
Reynolds is referring to a report from TV station WREG in Memphis about an incident involving property damage at a local BP station, and other instances that have occurred in other parts of the country (video is at the link):
Bullets Shatter Glass at BP Gas Station
(Southaven, MS) -- Windows at the BP Gas Station on Highway 51 at Custer Drive were shot out overnight. Folks who work at the store believe the suspects were expressing anger over BP and how it's handling the oil spill.
"I believe that would be the reason," said Alex Saleh. "We don't have any enemies." He said nothing was taken from the store after the windows were destroyed.
On Tuesday’s Larry King Live on CNN, a pre-recorded interview with Mick Jagger was shown in which the English musician talked about his decision to leave his home country in the 1970s to escape the 90 percent marginal tax rates of the time on high-income earners. After noting that he had made bad financial decisions in his earlier days of success, he recounted: "We had to leave England to acquire enough money to pay the taxes because in those days, in England, the high tax rate was 90 percent, so that's very hard. ... You made 100 pounds, they took 90. So it was very difficult to pay any debts back. So when we left the country, we would get more than the 10 pounds out of 100. You know, we might get 50 or something."
After King asked if he was "held in low regard in your mother country for leaving it," Jagger explained that, unlike in America, successful people are "resented" in most countries, including England:
On his PBS show, Charlie Rose usually begins with a snappy soundbite of the long interview to come. With New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on Thursday night, there was this stunning clip at the show's top:
You know, Charlie, for 60 years you could say being a political leader was on balance about giving things away to people. That's what you did most of your time. I think we're entering an era -- how long it will last I dare not predict -- where being in politics is going to be more than anything else about taking things away from people. And that shift from leaders giving things away to leaders taking things away, I don't think we know what that looks like over time.
Put aside for a moment that governments (half-solvent ones, at least) take away as much as they give. Friedman and Rose were discussing the recent British election, where the candidates all talked about the "pain" of government living within its means.
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported on Conservative Party leader David Cameron becoming the new British prime minister, but downplayed the political shift: "Cameron is a conservative in the British sense. In favor of gay rights, a green agenda, and the welfare state."
While in American conservative terms Cameron would certainly be considered a moderate, for Britain, the swing from 13 years of rule by the liberal Labour Party to a Conservative becoming head of state was quite significant.
Palmer cited more evidence of Cameron's supposed liberalism: "In fact, in his victory speech, addressing the huge challenges facing debt-ridden Britain, he even paraphrased John F. Kennedy." A clip was played of Cameron declaring: "One where we don't just ask, what are my entitlements? But what are my responsibilities? When we don't ask where, what am I just owed, but more, what can I give?" Calling on people to not simply rely on government entitlements hardly sounds like a liberal tenet.
On Thursday's Morning Joe, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell appeared and seemed to agree with Britain's Prime Minister that a voter he met was a bigot. Discussing Gordon Brown's April 28 comments, which were caught on a live mic, Mitchell defended, "And what he said is not actually that offensive...I mean, it was an honest opinion." [Audio available here.]
Even the fellow panel members on the mostly liberal MSNBC seemed shocked. Guest Sam Stein of the left-wing Huffington Post recoiled, "Really? To call her bigoted?"
Mitchell repeated her charge: "Well, she was decrying immigration and in a lot of people's views, that is a bigoted stand." Fill-in host Savannah Guthrie didn't seem to agree, asserting that this wasn't something you do "when you're trying to reach out to the working class."
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
As unusually cold temperatures in America of late have been making liberals scramble to fit the conditions into global warming theory, viewers of Friday’s CBS Evening News were informed by host Katie Couric that Britain is also enduring record winter conditions as the United Kingdom is experiencing "its longest cold spell in nearly three decades." The news brief was accompanied by a satellite image of the currently snow-covered island nation.
Below is a complete transcript of the item read by Couric from the Friday, January 8, CBS Evening News:
Correspondent Richard Quest made a frivolous attempt to tie the bad economy to men’s fashion on CNN’s Newsroom program on Tuesday. Quest proclaimed that pinstriped business suits are “old-fashioned...and out of touch with reality....because they are the pinstripe of bankers.” He continued that if you wore such attire, “you may be mistaken for one of those bankers reaping bonuses.”
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the CNN correspondent just before the bottom of the 1 pm Eastern hour, noting that “the global financial crisis has taken a toll everywhere, including men’s suits. That old business stand by, the pinstripe- well, it’s being hit especially hard.” Phillips turned to Quest, who immediately started joking around with his colleague. One might have guessed that Jeanne Moos, the network’s usual purveyor of light reports, was away on a late summer vacation, so they got the British correspondent to stand in for her.
In a Friday story headlined "Britons Fault Health Service, Until Someone Else Does," Times London correspondent Sarah Lyall singled out Republican criticism of British health care, citing tiny protests, larger Twitter campaigns, and exercised editorials in The Economist magazine about "irresponsible distortions" by conservatives in America.
While Britons love to complain about waiting lists, disparities in treatment, "infection-breeding hospitals" and "top-heavy bureaucracy," they are seemingly unanimous in opposition to Obama critics:
They are furious, for example, that the health service is being held up as an example of the failures of socialized medicine by Americans opposed to President Obama’s health care proposals. On Wednesday, several dozen people rallied in front of the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, holding up pro-N.H.S. signs.
On Friday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez implied that the president of Conservatives for Patients Rights was lying about how “under the British health care system...health care has become so scarce that mothers are now forced to give birth to babies on sidewalks.” A woman in the UK did deliver on a sidewalk recently, but Sanchez complained, “As...you might expect, that statement went unchallenged.”
The CNN anchor made this accusation 18 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Just before this, he used the occasion of a new “attack ad” from Conservatives for Patients Rights to re-air the bulk of his August 6 interview with the organization’s president, Rick Scott. Sanchez questioned the credibility of the ad: “It makes the questionable charge that health care reform will raise your taxes on everything- everything, it says- and it comes from a group whose track record, as revealed on this newscast, is dubious.” In his view, CPR is “dubious” because their president Scott “does not really seem to want the government getting in the way of his profits....He got rich beyond imagination, while his health care chain was ripping off the federal government. And remember? Scott admitted to me that his company paid a record fine of $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare.”
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Jennifer Griffin informed viewers that the Obama administration has once again snubbed the British government, as the administration transferred a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the British protectorate of Bermuda without first consulting the British government as protocol requires. Substitute anchor Chris Wallace raised the issue:
Let's talk about the Bermuda part of the story because Bermuda is a British protectorate. We supposedly have a special relationship with the U.K., but we didn't talk to them, we didn't inform them about our deal to put the Uighurs there.
Griffin described the administration's faux pas as "stunning":
The CBS Early Show continued its usual fawning over Michelle Obama as co-host Harry Smith declared: "They couldn't come from more diverse backgrounds. One grew up in Chicago. The other grew up with a silver spoon...this new royal odd couple, the First Lady and the Queen."
Correspondent Sheila MacVicar reported on the First Lady’s relationship with the Queen: "It’s a friendship that began in April with this encounter between Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Mrs. Obama. A meeting so congenial that at a later reception, as they apparently compared their shoes, the two embraced. That meeting ended with a request from Her Majesty that the First Lady keep in touch. And apparently she has, by letter and phone."
MacVicar went on to describe Michelle Obama’s latest visit with the Queen while in Europe last week: "They spent three hours in the palace and its gardens, including the Queen's new vegetable patch. That's one interest both share. And that is forging a new friendship, helping to keep the trans-Atlantic relationship very warm indeed. In fact, a source with excellent royal connections tells CBS News that the Queen has told members of her family that she adores Michelle Obama and that she hopes she gets to see her again soon."
There is little argument that the British press is doing a better job than its U.S. counterparts covering the Obama administration's less than perfect performance.
If the reactions of Nile Gardiner and James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's blanket criticism of British journalism are any indication, UK reporters are also more willing to stand up for themselves instead of filing toothless complaints and letting veiled threats go by without blowback.
First, via Howard Kurtz, here's the fine whine from Associated Press reporter, President of the White House Correspondents' Association, and Democratic operative Jennifer Loven about the Obama administration's penchant for anonymous, "on background" briefings:
Amy Davidson of the New Yorker should take up bowling or gardening because history doesn't seem to be her thang, if you will.
In the aftermath of Barack Obama's own false historical reference of famed WWII era English Prime Minister Winston Churchill made during Wednesday's press conference, Davidson jumped to her keyboard to further garble history with an April 30 blog post on her Close Read blog at the New Yorker website.
On Wednesday, Obama made a reference to an "article" he was reading "the other day" wherein he discovered that during WWII Prime Minister Winston Churchill supposedly said "We don't torture." (Transcript of Obama's remarks) The following morning, Davidson praised Obama for his sentiment and waxed envious over the "very good" article from which Obama gleaned the tale.
There is only one little problem with the whole thing: Churchill NEVER said the line that Obama claimed he said. And further, the "very good article" that Davidson praised was erroneous to say so.
This means Obama was wrong, the article was wrong and so was Davidson's blog post.
One would think that The New York Times is purposefully putting American's in harm's way with its latest travel section vacation suggestion. If it isn't doing it on purpose, it certainly is acting almost criminally negligent over its reader's safety abroad. Back on March 22, the Times suggested that Americans vacation in Deptford, one of England's most dangerous, crime infested areas. And why would the Times want to send Americans into such a seedy and dangerous place? Because it's "hip," man. What else?
The suggestion by the NYTimes for American tourists to visit Deptford brought all manners of jaw-dropping, guffaws from the British press this week. The disbelief is thick over there because Deptford has some of the highest crimes stats in the country -- the tenth most violent according to Britain's Home Office -- and Britons simply cannot fathom why The New York Times would willingly send Americans unawares into the heart of such violence and crime.
During the 7:00 p.m. hour of Saturday’s CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon pushed the view that Barack Obama should try to emulate European gun laws as a way of reducing gun violence in America as he discussed the subject with four guests. During an interview with former FBI agent Gregg McCrary, who expressed support for an assault weapons ban, Lemon suggested Obama learn from the Europeans: "The one person who can probably weigh on this and may have the most influence is the President. Since he's over there in Europe now, and they're, you know, they're not perfect, but it seems that their gun laws seem to be at least working in a way that ours are not."
While Lemon tried to sound nonpartisan at times – once declaring, "We're just trying to find a solution here. No one is on one side or the other. We just want a solution" – and seemed to try to quell accusations of partisanship and liberal and conservative labels, at one point he seemed to single out conservatives to chide for criticizing liberals for advocating more gun control:
Every time we do something on gun control, it always boils down – when it comes to the e-mail, at least – that I get, we get as a response, it's a conservative issue or it's a liberal issue. "Liberals want to ban guns and take away my rights," conservatives say, "this is my right." But no one has the right to terrorize and kill people. And you heard the FBI agent say, people are being killed. Not conservatives or liberals.
In the brief "Closing Arguments" segment on Wednesday's "Nightline," ABC's Terry Moran credulously repeated the White House contention that Barack Obama didn't bow to the King of Saudi Arabia last week at the G-20 summit. As video of the incident played, Moran narrated, "He sees King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Goes in for the hello. There's a hand shake. Obama bends at the waist. But was it a bow?" [Audio available here.]
He then recited, "The White House called it a lean, pointing out the King's shorter than the President." Inviting people to respond on his Twitter page, Moran wondered, "So, tonight, we ask you, was it a bow and do you care?" A search of @TerryMoran responses on Twitter shows a healthy number of people somewhat incredulous at the host's lack of skepticism. DesigningDi instructed, "Are you blind? Of course he's bowing. Don't play stupid!"
Friday’s CBS Early Show continued its fawning coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama in Europe as co-host Harry Smith gushed over the First Lady: "I mean, there's a kind of just raw realness about her. That session with the schoolgirls yesterday...People were in tears." Smith made the comment while talking to executive editor of thedailybeast.com, Tina Brown, who had her own words of praise: "Michelle is so authentic, and so real, and so today, and so, you know, J. Crew, and the whole price point thing and not designer clothes..With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there's a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. But there's also -- I mean she's almost like overtaking Oprah, I think, as the kind of inspirational 'it' girl at this point." [audio available here]
Later, Smith dismissed criticism that Michelle Obama had broken protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth: "This whole touching of the Queen and everything else, in the end, the Queen says, 'let's please stay in touch.' Whatever affront, or perceived affront, was completely trumped by the fact that those two people charmed the Queen's socks off." Brown agreed: "They completely charmed them. And the Queen wouldn't have taken any offense at that...she's also, I think, getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point. You know, when she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids wearing those pearls, it was like, ‘oh, my God, it’s Di time all over again.’"
Former Democratic political operative-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" to tout what a "star" Michelle Obama became during the trip to the G-20 summit in London. After being asked by co-host Chris Cuomo about the decision by the President to take his wife, the "This Week" host effusively responded, "That turned out to be a no-brainer, didn't it, Chris? I mean, Michelle is a star."
Comparing the First Lady to another family much-loved by the liberal media, he continued, "Again, much like Jackie Kennedy on her first trips overseas with President Kennedy, she is doing so well for the President, for the country right here." Speaking of how the President did at the summit, he opined, "But the President did a good job of managing expectations going into the summit. So, that what they came out with seemed like a victory." Isn't that essentially saying that journalists allowed themselves to be spun by the President and his team?
"Good Morning America" reporter Yunji de Nies continued to fawn over Michelle Obama on Friday, lauding how the First Lady shared her "Cinderella story" with a girls school in London. An ABC graphic for the segment opined, "Michelle Wows Europe: First Trip Big Hit." Recounting the positive reception the speech received, de Nies cooed, "But it was her personal touch that made the biggest impact."
Tina Brown, liberal commentator and former editor of the New Yorker, was featured to rhapsodize, "I don't see any misstep from Michelle Obama on this trip. She really excited everybody. She's done it right." Of course, de Nies made no mention of Brown's left wing political views. Sounding more like a PR representative, the GMA correspondent asserted, "She [Michelle Obama] leaves the U.K., no longer a stranger, but, now, a friend."
Throughout George W. Bush's presidency, insults were doled out repeatedly about the commander-in-chief and that was just a fact of life for the highest-ranking public official in the land. However, now there's a new president, there seems to be a different standard on how you talk about a president.
CNN's Rick Sanchez, the host of the 3 p.m. hour of "CNN Newsroom" on April 2 took offense to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh described a flowery praise of President Barack Obama by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"Well, some folks are naturally graceful, some not so much," Sanchez said. "By that measure alone, radio yacker Rush Limbaugh is the polar opposite of our Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. Now, you can just disagree with Barack Obama on his leadership, perhaps his policies. But it's hard not to at least acknowledge the ease with which America's 44th president handled himself in London on a global stage, even among royalty."
Two journalists appearing as guests on CNN on Wednesday and Thursday praised “mighty Michelle” Obama for being “stylish,” “successful,” and for showing “an interest in wanting to reach out to people who may feel they’ve been disenfranchised or held at a distance from the power structure.”
Eighteen hours later on Thursday’s American Morning, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan tried to sell how Mrs. Obama could aid her husband on the international stage: “[She] helps people to get more of a human sense of the administration. And also, I think that for many people, there was, to some degree, a sense of being closed off to the rest of the world or closed off to those who are kind of outside of the mainstream by other administrations. And I think this is a way of trying to build those bridges in a way that is very non-confrontational.”
At the top of the 3:00PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O’Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O’Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."
Later, O’Donnell compared Obama to Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break... Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."