During the year-end awards edition of his weekly syndicated chat show, Chris Matthews asked his panel to vote on the “Dangerous Despot” of 2006, and then listed the nominees: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, Venezuelan boss Hugo Chavez, Iran’s nuclear-seeking threat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly!
“How in the hell did this guy get in there?” Matthews asked in mock surprise as O’Reilly’s face popped up next to America’s worst enemies. “How did he get in there?”
Later in the same discussion, BBC Washington Correspondent Katty Kay pointed out “there’s a despot missing from this crowd, too, and that’s [Russian President] Vladimir Putin," who is suspected of ordering the killings of political opponents.
“We bumped him for O’Reilly,” Matthews interjected, eliciting laughter from the rest of the panel. “What do you think?”
The passing of President Ford has New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof fantasizing about the ignominy that President Bush's obituary will heap on him for his handling of Iraq. In what Kristof claims to be "the holiday spirit," he offers W ten suggestions to rescue his legacy. After all, what says "holiday spirit" more than dreaming about someone's death?
You can read all ten suggestions here if you've anted up to the Times, but for those loath to lard the Times' coffers, let me focus on two of Kristof's recommendations:
"Seriously engage Iraq’s nastier neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and renounce permanent military bases in Iraq. None of that will solve the mess in Iraq. But these steps will suggest that you are belatedly trying to listen and are willing to give diplomacy a chance."
We haven't listened to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Sure we have: he wants to develop nuclear weapons and erase Israel from the map. For starters. And just why should we renounce the prospect of bases giving us the ability to defend American interests in the most volatile region of the world?
Tom Brokaw took the occasion of the ceremonies attending the death of President Ford to take shots at the foreign policy of both Presidents Ford and Reagan. Speaking with Chris Matthews on MSNBC during the 6 PM ET hour, Brokaw observed: "President Ford and Henry Kissinger, fairly I think you can say, were over-infatuated with the Shah of Iran. Iran was an important launching pad for the United States should a war with the Soviet Union break out. It was also the source of great oil [sic], but there was already at that time very strong evidence in Iran that there was an Islamic uprising that eventually overthrew the Shah of Iran."
The Shah fell largely because Jimmy Carter abandoned him. Is Brokaw saying the US should have jumped earlier on Ayatollah Khomenei's bandwagon?
..... On Saturday, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, increasing international pressure on the government to prove that it is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
..... Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the U.S. and European nations suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
That's "funny." Here's an AP story from December 11 by Alicia Chang, AP Science writer, about potential global cooling that might occur as the result of a nuclear war that says:
Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":
Media: Keith Olbermann wants a raise (despite still remaining in fourth-place). The champion of the people is gunning for $4 million a year. TV reporter Max Robbins says CNN is purportedly interested in hiring the left-wing commentator but I doubt that.
"Why did CNN and MSNBC give air time to David Duke? What purpose did it serve the viewers?" Media columnist Jon Friedman asks today. Easy answer: Because to them, Duke represents two useful commodities: 1) he pisses people off, and 2) he represents what the right "really" thinks about race, in the view of the average liberal producer (HT: TVN).
Of course, when it comes to racists, if you're a non-American willing to bash President Bush, it earns you a suck-up interview in Time magazine and such accolades from that same magazine as "global Everyman," "champion of the dispossessed.
Politics: Illinois senator Barack Obama is being hyped so much, but if he's smart he won't believe it, John Fund argues.
Tennessee governor Phil Bredensen is under fire for putting a "young Muslim woman" on his official Christmas cards. Apparently it was some sort of goodwill gesture gone horribly awry.
Check out the top ten politically incorrect words of 2006.
For those who enjoy watching a well-known racist and unapologetic anti-Semite get beat up by a television anchorman, CNN’s “The Situation Room” was the place to be Wednesday. Host Wolf Blitzer invited former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke on to discuss the Holocaust conference in Tehran, and the fireworks started immediately. After being introduced, Duke came right out of his corner, and attacked Wolf (must-see video available here):
Well, first off, Mr. Blitzer, I resent the introduction you made of me. You mentioned the Ku Klux Klan 11 times. That was over 30 -- well, 30 years ago in my life, and since that time I got elected to the House of Representatives, I became -- and I received a full doctorate, I have been a teacher, I have one of the best selling books in the world.
And you interview many former communists in governments all over the world and you don't introduce them by saying former communist and certainly not 11 times. I think you're biased because you're a former lobbyist for AIPAC. You're a Jewish extremist, supporter of Israel, so you want to bias anyone who criticizes Zionism.
Nice way to start an interview, wouldn't you say? Blitzer then asked, “Well, do you hate Jews?” Duke responded:
Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday. The senator from Kansas:
Endorsed the ISG report and appeared to strongly support negotiations with Iran and Syria.
Called for a timetable for US withdrawal.
Spoke approvingly of a Bidenesqe division of Iraq into three ethnic regions.
Declined to swing at the softball host Chris Wallace lobbed at him regarding Mitt Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gay rights.
Seemingly described himself as a "compassionate conservative."
Invited by Wallace to comment on the ISG report, Brownback was surprisingly supportive: "I think [Pres. Bush] really should look at these recommendations very seriously as well. And it seems to me that what Baker-Hamilton provides us is a chance to kind of reset the table and get a bi-partisan buy-in and not just a bipartisan buy-in, a global buy-in to what we can do to move forward in Iraq and get our troops out of harm's way and out of the sectarian violence. I think this is an important moment, like senator Dodd identifies as well"
Slim pickings indeed. Perhaps we need to start looking for inanimate objects (e.g., 1982 - The Computer; 1988 - Endangered Earth), symbolic people (1950 - American Fighting Man; 1956 - Hungarian Freedom Fighter; 2003 - The American Soldier), or groups of people (1960 - US Scientists; 1966 - 25 and Under; 1969 - The Middle Americans; 1975 - American Women; 1993 - The Peacemakers; 2002 - The Whistleblowers). The list of all previous winners is here.
Perhaps YouTube, online forums, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and online media should be the Thing of the Year: The Shadow Media. Of course, Time would be writing about its own likely eventual demise, but it would fit.
Perhaps in an attempt to surpass even David Gregory for most egregious bias, CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux derided President Bush as a "Kool-Aid" drinker who won’t admit failure in Iraq. In a report for the Friday edition of "American Morning," the White House correspondent discussed Bush’s news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In additional fits of bias, Malveaux, described the President’s frustration at the lack of progress in Iraq as "the closest you'll get from this president to admitting failure" and noted that "for Mr. Bush, it's not easy to admit mistakes." But nowhere did Ms. Malveaux make her editorial point more clear, that Iraq is a total failure and Bush is in denial, than when she drew an allusion to Jonestown and the infamous mass suicide by Kool-Aid:
Suzanne Malveaux: "President Bush and his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have stood shoulder to shoulder on the Iraq war since the very beginning. Critics calling Mr. Bush 'the cowboy' for stubbornly leading the charge, and Mr. Blair 'the poodle' for obediently following. But three years since the U.S. invasion, the two are still adamant their Iraq mission is sound. President Bush didn't just drink the Kool-Aid, he made it. But perhaps now it's a little less sweet."
Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif seemed to take the advice from Howard Dean: Whenever someone challenges you, blame the "Fox News propaganda machine." On Wednesday night, Zarif spoke at a forum at Columbia University. Several students challenged him on issues from support of Hezbollah, nuclear ambitions, suppressing dissent, and denial of the Holocaust. The frustrated Zarif retorted, "my friend don’t consume whatever is fed by Fox News." The crowd reacted with laughter and some scattered applause.
This was not the first time the Iranian government, like the Democrats, blasted Fox News. Back in March, Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Sotanieh attacked Fox News. A left wing blogger chose to side with the Ayatollahs. I thought liberals hate theocracy. I guess I was wrong. The entire transcript is below.
How do you know the Iraq Study Group's suggestion of reaching out to Iran is in trouble? When of all people a leading MSM light like Matt Lauer approvingly cites leading neo-con Richard Perle to shoot down the idea.
The Baker-Hamilton duo was making the TV rounds this morning. Appearing on 'Today,' it wasn't long into their chat with Matt that he hit them with this:
"Let's talk about this idea of reaching out to the people in the neighborhood - Syria and Iran. Richard Perle said recently that 'talking to Iran about Iraq will be seen throughout the region as an indication of American weakness."
To drive home the point, 'Today' displayed a graphic with Perle's photo and the language cited above.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman declared that the insurgency in Iraq has been defeating the U.S. military for the past four years during an interview Wednesday with Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer. While making the argument that there is no "two to three year" solution for the violence occuring in Iraq, Friedman declared victory for the insurgents:
Thomas Friedman: "...I don't believe myself that there's a two to three year solution where we just train a few more troops. The issue isn't training, Diane. After all, who's training the insurgents? Nobody. They're doing just fine. They've basically been defeating the U.S. military for the last four years."
On Monday’s "Situation Room," CNN reporter Jeff Greenfield discussed the possibility of American losing in Iraq and whether it would turn out to be such a terrible thing. He began by describing several historical military defeats, including Vietnam, and, according to Greenfield, many of these examples seemed to lead to positive outcomes. It’s fitting that host Wolf Blitzer introduced him by noting that the reporter was "contemplating the ‘L’ word."
Greenfield: "In one view, such setbacks encouraged America’s adversaries to be more bold in their assaults. But over time, another picture emerges. Less than 20 years after the fall of Vietnam, the Soviet Union literally ceased to exist. More than half a century after China became communist, the U.S. is economically, at least, a partner. And America's biggest companies see China not as a threat, as but a huge market. And Vietnam? It embraces an American president and American investments. As for Iraq, the turmoil there almost surely means that the ambitious goals of the invasion, a stable, functioning democracy are beyond reach. But if the United States chooses to engage and chooses, as well, to talk with nations in the region like Iran and Syria, that course will likely trigger a profound debate, perhaps even reaching into the next presidential campaign. And what would that debate be about? More than anything else, one key question: Would this engagement tell the world that the United States has become weaker--or wiser?"
Did you know that Americans don't want to "live next door to a Muslim", or that Americans want all Muslims to "carry special identification", or that it is but "Ignorance" that is seen as a "Key Problem" to these foolish American's "hatred" and misperceptions?
Reuters knew, if you didn't. And they are happy to let us all know about it, too.
It all stems from a Radio host misusing his audience to make a point that Americans are no different than the Germans who turned a blind eye to Hitler's "Final Solution" against Jews during WWII.
On his November 28 program, CNN's Lou Dobbs accused a major American corporation of sponsoring terrorism. But in leveling his charge, Dobbs didn't bother to give viewers a balanced perspective on American exports and business dealings in foreign countries that, to say the least, are not the nicest neighbors on the geopolitical block.
But while it's understandable to be critical of American companies doing business in Syria or Sudan, how exactly does selling cars and trucks to civilians in those countries amount to "bankrolling" terrorism?
My full article is available at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site. Before the election we documented Dobbs's bias in favor of liberal Democratic policies in his self-appointed defense of the average Joe in what he believes is the Bush administration's "War on the Middle Class."
The media’s fascination and love affair with Jimmy Carter apparently have no limits. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewed the ex-president on Tuesday’s "Situation Room" and cited his knowledge and experience of dealing with Iran:
Wolf Blitzer: "You know a lot about Iran. You spent the last 444 days of your presidency focusing in on the American hostages."
Jimmy Carter: "I remember that."
Blitzer: "I know. I remember it very well. I think everyone who was alive remembers it, as well. This is a regime -- basically, the same people who were in charge then, who took over for the shah, are still in charge right now, led by a supreme ayatollah, who has been meeting today with Talabani, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met yesterday with Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq."
Blitzer may remember the event, but it’s unclear if he recalls the botched Carter rescue attempts, including one that left eight U.S. servicemen dead. If he did recollect the event, the CNN anchor certainly didn’t bring the subject up.
On November 27, 2006, the media stepped up their demands for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq by officially naming the incursion a civil war. While questioning their motives, Americans must also be extremely concerned with how quickly these same voices will demand our military be sent back in a humanitarian effort to halt the inevitable post-retreat genocide.
Amid all the seemingly principled antiwar discussions that have transpired the past several years, one issue has been shamelessly and immorally absent: if American troops leave Iraq too soon, one of the largest mass-murders of innocent people in history might ensue.
As the guest on Wednesday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Ted Koppel ribbed host Jon Stewart for not ridiculing President George W. Bush over his trip to Vietnam and then Koppel offered his own sharp-edged joke about it. Koppel scolded Stewart, "I'll tell you what I have been thinking: I can't believe you haven't done anything on George Bush in Vietnam." Koppel then delivered his wisecrack: “Thirty-five years ago, he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam. And now, he's going to Vietnam to stay out of Washington.” That generated loud applause and laughter from the audience in the Manhattan studio, as well as hearty laughter from Stewart, and Koppel chuckled at his own one-liner.
Seconds earlier, Koppel delivered another politically-loaded quip: "Remember the joke before -- it wasn't that much of a joke -- before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we used to say in Washington, 'we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, we still have the receipts.'" That prompted Stewart to express bafflement with why Koppel's news agenda isn't shared more widely: "This is the thing that always befuddles me and you and I have this conversation all the time: Why isn't that joke the lead of every news story about Iraq? You know, the context that we sold them all those weapons, why isn't that more prominent in all this?" (Partial transcript follows)
A few weeks ago on the Right Angle TV show I host, my guest was Barry Strauss, the brilliant professor of history and the classics at Cornell University. Our conversation focused on his recent book, "The Trojan War", which one reviewer has described as so authoritative "it may well preempt future historians from ever trying to improve on it."
Toward the end of the show I invited Prof. Strauss to comment on whether he saw any parallels between the fall of Greek and Roman civilizations and the situation in the West today. While eschewing sweeping generalizations, the professor did observe that one sign of a civilization in decline is its disinclination to believe in itself coupled with a loss of will to fight for its survival.
During the Friday edition of "The Situation Room," CNN’s Jack Cafferty summarized an international poll that showed many Europeans think President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than North Korea. He solemnly intoned that the results show "just how low the United States image has sunk." After reading the survey, Cafferty asked his audience this question:
Jack Cafferty: "...What does it mean when our closest allies think that President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than either North Korea or Iran?"
"Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer had an answer:
Blitzer: "It means we got a serious problem internationally."
I DVD'ed Olbermann overnight to check just how fawning a performance he would put in with his guest Barack Obama - whom FCC regulations require me to describe as "the rising star of the Democratic party." When it came to Olbermann's sycophancy, I wasn't disappointed. After accusing Republicans of "terrorizing" Americans, the MSNBC host continued:
"proposing an alternative course for American politics, one that replaces fear with - of all things - hope, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and his new book, The Audacity of Hope."
I experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu this morning while reading an AP article entitled "Iran Blames U.S. for N. Korea Nuke Test." I could swear that I had already read this same blame-America analysis somewhere else. That sent me scrambling back to my report on the piece by LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks, "A Good Week for the Axis of Evil" contained in my NB item of yesterday [but please don't read just yet]. And sure enough, I found language there that closely tracked the statement from Tehran.
So, let's have a little fun. I'll set the two statements out below, and you try to guess. Which was issued by the Men of Mahmoud, and which by a homegrown member of the Blame America Brigades? Answer below.
Not the smallest bird doesn't fall but liberal pundits blame it on George W. Bush. A refreshing change of pace this morning, then, in the person of Thomas Friedman, who writes that the major responsibility for avoiding future international catastrophe lays not at the feet of the current occupant of the White House, but in Moscow and Beijing.
In the subscription-required The Bus Is Waiting, Friedman propounds the theory that a nuclearized N. North Korea and Iran will inevitably induce a string of countries across Asia and the Middle East developing atomic weapons of their own.
To prevent this, Friedman asserts that it is necessary for:
Tuesday's Washington Post carries one of those editorials disguised as a "news analysis" headlined "Bush's 'Axis of Evil' Comes Back to Haunt United States." The writers displayed their liberal stripes by quoting only Democrats and Clinton staffers. Reporters Glenn Kessler and Peter Baker began:
Nearly five years after President Bush introduced the concept of an "axis of evil" comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the administration has reached a crisis point with each nation: North Korea has claimed it conducted its first nuclear test, Iran refuses to halt its uranium-enrichment program, and Iraq appears to be tipping into a civil war 3 1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion.
Michael Moore, darling of the American left, is also a big hit in Islamic fundamentalist quarters. We already knew that Osama likes him, now, we learn that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a big fan.
Following his infamous speech to the United Nations, Ahmadinejad held a few receptions for Iranians and Iranian-Americans as well as the media. His translator while he was in this country wrote an account of Ahmadinejad's itinerary:
The following morning, Mr. Ahmadinejad held a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, again at his hotel, with American academics and journalists. Earlier, he had expressed some interest in having Michael Moore attend, and although attempts were made to reach him (even by myself, since I was asked), they were unsuccessful. I was seated between Gary Sick (of Columbia University) and Jon Lee Anderson (of The New Yorker), and three hot issues were covered: nuclear power, Israel and the Holocaust.
Assessing the anti-U.S. rants at the UN from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, Maher and actor Bradley Whitford contended President Bush's policies have legitimized the criticism of an arrogant U.S. abusing its power. Maher proposed: “Even though these guys are bad in a lot of ways, it is also true that the substance of what they said -- that the U.S. is a bully, that we want to rule the world with threats and bombs, that we're imperialistic -- what I thought was, you know, this is a speech I've heard over the years many times by tin horn dictators at the UN against the U.S. It's just that now it strikes a lot of people as true.” Whitford, formerly part of the cast of The West Wing, and now a star on NBC's new Monday night drama, Studio 60: On the Sunset Strip, charged that “lie after lie after lie” from the administration has caused “an inappropriate over-reaction” to terrorism “so that these idiots, these crackpots seem to be justified” in their criticisms.
The BBC has obtained evidence that Israelis have been giving military training to Kurds in northern Iraq.
A report on the BBC TV programme Newsnight showed Israeli experts in northern Iraq, drilling Kurdish militias in shooting techniques.
Kurdish officials have refused to comment on the report and Israel has denied it knows of any involvement.
From that point forward the story is literally riddled with assumptions about how other countries and the rest of Iraq will react, without a single quote or attribution from anyone who supposedly will object. Examples throughout the article's text (scare words in bold):