Less than two months after receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, the President is proposing a huge increase in war spending.
Despite his campaign pledges to the contrary, Obama's new budget calls for expenditures associated with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to increase to levels only ten percent below the average of former President George W. Bush's last two years in office.
Given the media's anti-war predilections, it's going to be fascinating to see how the following numbers revealed by Politico a few hours ago will be reported in the coming days:
First of all, let me wish you a happy and prosperous New Year, and I want to thank you all for reading this column and letting your thoughts be known by responding.
Whether your reaction to what I write be pro or con, it's always good to know what's on your mind, and I sincerely hope that you will continue to do so.
There is a great frustration abroad in America these days and goodness knows we have enough to be frustrated about; the economy, the two wars we are fighting, people walking unimpeded across our border from Mexico, a country that for all practical purposes is being controlled by a ruthless drug cartel.
The closing of businesses, the loss of jobs and the relentless cruelty of Islamic terrorists around the world all add up to a myriad of serious problems facing America today.
Although you will not hear it articulated in the mainstream media, I think what's bothering Americans more than any other single subject is the fact that we've lost control of our government.
With the demise of the Editor and Publisher this week, many media commentators are nostalgic for the hard-nosed trade journalism the newspaper industry publication often engaged in. E&P's strength was always in its core mission of reporting news industry trends. In its latter years, like a number of other outlets, it began to stray off-course into garden-variety, hypocritical leftist media criticism.
Greg Mitchell, E&P's editor since 2002, consistently called for newspapers to print more opinion in their coverage of major world events. Most notably during the Israel-Hamas conflict early this year, Mitchell lamented that media outlets were not taking sides.
"[A]fter more than eight days of Israeli bombing and Hamas rocket launching in Gaza, The New York Times had produced exactly one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists, and two op-eds," he complained at the Huffington Post.
On Fox's Nov. 22 "Fox News Sunday," former "Special Report" anchor and Fox News senior political correspondent was dead spot on target in many regards when it came to criticizing the tack President Barack Obama has taken with his foreign policy gestures.
First, Hume reflected on how Obama reacted on his trip to Asia last week. He noted that Obama was in a tough position, having to rely on borrowed Chinese money. However, "embracing weakness" was not the proper way for Obama to represent the country in Hume's view (emphasis added).
"Look, the president is in a weaker position than he might have been, not least because his policies have contributed mightily to the immense amount of new borrowing that's being done, much of it from the Chinese," Hume said. "So now you have the Chinese even worried about the size of the health care plan. That is unfortunate. But this president seems quite willing to embrace weakness as a position for the United States. I mean, the bowing and scraping that we see -- Saudi Arabia we saw it. We saw it on this trip in Japan."
Uniquely among Wednesday’s broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson informed viewers that the Israeli navy earlier in the day intercepted a record quantity of weapons supplied by Iran and destined for Hezbollah, in violation of a United Nations resolution forbidding the arming of the Lebanon-based terrorist group. Host Gibson set up the report: "Israeli navy commandos today seized a ship off the coast of Cyprus. Israel's defense ministry says it was loaded with tons of weapons bound for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. It is the largest cache of weapons ever interdicted by the Israelis, who say the arms came from one source: Iran."
Correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood opened his report by relaying that the quantity of weapons seized was enough to "keep the Islamic radicals of Hezbollah fighting for a month." And as he concluded the report, he also gave credibility to the conservative view that Iran should not be trusted in negotiations over its nuclear program: "Today's interception won't substantially reduce Hezbollah's military power, but it strengthens Israel's warning to those trying to negotiate with Iran – including the U.S. – it can't be trusted."
After President George W. Bush employed the words, "You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists," addressing a joint session of Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks – as the President prepared for the impending war in Afghanistan – liberals eventually treated those words with consternation as if the blunt declaration reflected poorly on America. But pro-democracy activists in Iran seem to like a similar message, as a group of protesters in Iran called on President Barack Obama to support their cause, chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you’re with them or you’re with us!"
Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News correspondent Ali Arouzi – stationed in Tehran – showed a clip of anti-government demonstrators chanting their message to President Obama, as he translated their words into English. During a report that focused mainly on the government-orchestrated anti-America protest organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Arouzi also passed on the activities of anti-government activists: "On a day when anti-American sentiment runs high, the opposition was looking for support from President Obama, chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you're with them or you’re with us."
CNN’s Iranian-born chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour interviewed one of the leaders of the militant group which stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days for her “Amanpour” program. The interview, along with that of one of the hostages, is set to air this coming Sunday.
Wednesday’s Newsroom program previewed the upcoming episode of Amanpour’s program 12 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, playing clips from the correspondent’s interviews with Jon Limbert, one of the employees of the embassy who spent more than a year in captivity, and Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, a leader of a group which supported Ayatollah Khomeni and held the Americans captive.
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.
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?”
The Globe's subheadline at the story's web page is revealing:
US funds dry up for Iran rights watchdog Obama White House less confrontational
.... But just as the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center was ramping up to investigate abuses of protesters after this summer’s disputed presidential election, the group received word that - for the first time since it was formed - its federal funding request had been denied.
“If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it," said Rene Redman, the group’s executive director, who had asked for $2.7 million in funding for the next two years. "I was surprised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television."
Many see the sudden, unexplained cutoff of funding as a shift by the Obama administration away from high-profile democracy promotion in Iran ....
With a beaming Mr. Obama standing next to him, Mr. Medvedev signaled for the first time that Russia would be amenable to longstanding American requests to toughen sanctions against Iran significantly if, as expected, nuclear talks scheduled for next month failed to make progress.
China will not support increased sanctions on Iran as a way to curb its nuclear program, a government spokeswoman said Thursday. Although China has generally opposed the use of sanctions, the announcement is sure to complicate President Obama ’s efforts to impose tougher penalties on Iran, should international talks over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, scheduled for Oct. 1, fail to make headway.
Even if China had supported sanctions - and Obama may yet find concessions to bring them on board - there's no particular reason to think Russia would abide by them.
In a somewhat schizophrenic report on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, White House correspondent Chip Reid proclaimed President Obama is: "still the darling of the international community. Warmly welcomed by a world that grew weary of President Bush’s brash go-it-alone style." But also admitted: "But with scant progress on a long his of issues, the question now is what does he have to show for it?"
Anchor Katie Couric opened the segment by asking Reid: "Can the President be anything other than the center of attention? Can he do more with that?" Reid replied: "He sure would like to be, Katie. You know, at every international summit he has attended he has been the most popular person in the room. But now many people are asking what good is popularity if it doesn’t lead to concrete results?" After denouncing President Bush’s "brash style," Reid praised Obama for his "sharp departure" which " has recommitted the United States to working with the U.N. and engaging the world."
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
"President Obama reeling back the Bush administration's plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, instead opting for a new system he says is better equipped to fend off an Iranian threat," "Fast Money" host Melissa Lee said on her Sept. 17 show.
NewsBusters previously documented a claim made by NBC News correspondent Richard Engel on the June 22 Countdown show on MSNBC that the apparent murder of 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan during a crackdown by Iranian government forces, and the possibility that she will become the visual symbol for her country’s pro-democracy movement, was reminiscent of the Mohammed al-Dura video of September 2000 which, at the time, was claimed to show a Palestinian boy being shot and killed by Israeli troops. But, while evidence has mounted over the years that the al-Dura video was likely a hoax, Engel and host Keith Olbermann both spoke of the al-Dura "shooting" as if the event were not in dispute, and Engel recounted to viewers that Palestinians see the event as a "symbol of injustice" perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians. Engel: "I was thinking more, remember Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who was shot in Gaza in his father’s arms and who became a symbol of injustice? I think this is a similar moment."
The pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) recounts on its Web site that after the group's executive director, Andrea Levin, on June 25 sent a letter of complaint to Engel -- which was also copied to NBC News President Steve Capus -- requesting that NBC revisit and "clarify" Engel's assertions, Capus sent a letter of response accusing CAMERA of "taking a cheap shot" at Engel, even suggesting that the pro-Israel group was not "truly dedicated to advancing journalism," as the NBC News head did not revise Engel's claims about the al-Dura case. Capus, as quoted by CAMERA on its Web site: "If you were truly dedicated to advancing journalism, you would be going out of your way to praise Richard for his work – rather than taking a cheap shot." The NBC News head went on to praise Engel as "a non-biased, dedicated journalist. NBC News considers itself lucky to have him."
On Monday’s Hannity show on FNC, actor Jon Voight accused the press of "protecting" and "covering for" President Obama by not giving enough coverage to dissatisfaction with the President’s economic policies, including the anti-tax TEA party protests:
But the press, the press brought him in, and now they want to make sure that nobody topples the throne, it seems. So they don't report anything that will interfere with his policies. But when the news is biased, it can, you know, it can control the people in a dangerous way. We see what's going on in Venezuela, and we're shocked. We're shocked to see Hugo Chavez closing down the, the opposition media. We're shocked when we see what's happening to the truth in Iran. But this same thing is happening in our country right now. The Obama regime is controlling the press. They protect him, they cover for him, and they don't want the truth to come out that there is this dissatisfaction, that people are waking up, and it's being expressed in these TEA parties.
He also charged that Obama had been dishonest in promising to protect Israel, and that the President had a "cunning ability" to push his policies through Congress without proper debate:
A search of Nexis shows that, from June 13-20, the Washington Post printed about 39 articles and columns pertaining to the fraudulent June 12 Iranian election, including nine page A1 stories. Some of the front page stories dealt with the Obama administration's response to the developments, such as Glenn Kessler's June 18 piece, "U.S. Struggling to Right Response to Iran."
Fast forward nearly a month later to July 15. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton essentially tells the Council on Foreign Relations that the right response is to nag Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Obama administration's determination to sit down with him.
Yes,the Iranian protests may have temporarily "shifted" the push for direct talks with Iran, but President Obama's offer still stands. After all, Clinton noted, the Obama foreign policy shop is committed to "a more flexible and pragmatic posture" with Iran.
Keeping in mind that the Iranian election is still hotly disputed inside that country -- opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi won't concede to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- reporting the story on the front page of the next day's paper could reasonably be expected. Failing that, a story in "The World" section (pp. A8-A13) would also be appropriate.
Yet the Washington Post today did neither, failing to carry the story. Here's how CNN.com reported Clinton's remarks in a story filed the afternoon of July 15 (emphasis mine):
One has to wonder if working for the Washington Post fits the Obama definition of a "shovel-ready" job given the paper's penchant for burying the lede.
Deep within his July 9-filed story "Protesters Clash With Police in Iran," Washington Post Foreign Service correspondent Thomas Erdbrink noted a very interesting development bearing implications on the Obama administration's foreign policy regarding Iran and handling of the global war on terror.
The last six paragraphs of Erdbrink's 18-paragraph story -- which ran in the July 10 print edition on page A12 -- note how the theocratic regime in Tehran praised the Obama administration for its relative silence on the Iranian election aftermath just one day before the U.S. government released Iranian detainees captured two years ago in Iraq (emphasis mine):
In a passionate Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning ("Silence Has Consequences for Iran"), former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar who, in case anyone cares, serves on the board of WSJ parent News Corp., says that "It would be a shame .... if our passivity gave carte blanche to a tyrannical regime to finish off the dissidents and persist with its revolutionary plans."
Shaking off passivity requires visibility. America's media establishment almost across the board is providing very little. The Associated Press and the New York Times reports exist, but their distribution is dwarfed by the death of a pop star and a governor's infidelity.
Here are useful comparisons (all searches were done at Google News at about 8:45 a.m. for June 23-27, limited to USA sources):
Editor's Note: The following was originally posted to Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog on June 24. Perhaps of greatest note to NewsBusters readers is Tapson's reporting on the pronouncements of Daily Beast contributor and UC Riverside professor Reza Aslan that "There is no such thing as Sharia."
While Iranian-American protesters packed streetcorners in Westwood last Saturday afternoon in support of the revolution currently playing out in the streets of Tehran, an historical drama about stoning in Iran got underway at the Los Angeles Film Festival mere blocks away.
For the few who don’t know by now, The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s bestselling book, which relates the true story of a woman in a remote Iranian village, in the years after the 1979 Khomeini revolution, who is falsely accused of adultery and stoned to death by a mob desperate to cleanse themselves of this affront to their collective honor and to their religion. It’s not only a gripping story in its own right, but it shines a harsh spotlight on the almost unimaginable reality that the barbaric punishment of stoning still exists in the Iranian law code, despite a largely nominal 2002 moratorium, the result of pressure from Western human rights groups.
(Full disclosure, even though I’m not reviewing the film here: I’m close friends with the filmmakers Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh, I provided Mpower Pictures with a bit of research on the project, I’m friends with other cast and crew and producers associated with the film, and I think stoning is bad. So don’t take my word for it when I say SorayaBig Hollywood’s John Nolte will be the most important, affecting film you’ll see all year. Instead seek out the multitude of reviewers who recommend the film, including and then see it for yourself.)
Following Saturday’s screening was a panel discussion, not so much moderated as simply hosted by Iranian novelist Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling The Kite Runner, who personally selected the film for the L.A. Film Festival. The panel also included Soraya’s writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh, starring actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Dr. Reza Aslan, billed as an Islamic scholar.
On Monday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, as host Keith Olbermann and NBC News correspondent Richard Engel discussed the apparent murder of 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan by Iranian government forces as part of the crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, and the possibility that she will become the visual symbol for her country’s pro-democracy movement because her death was recorded, Engel brought up the infamous Mohammed al-Dura video clip from September 2000 and claimed that the Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli troops – as if this story were not in dispute – even though many who have examined the case closely over the years believe not only that the boy was not hit by Israeli bullets, but that the video purporting to document his shooting and death was likely a hoax.
The exchange from Monday's Countdown show, in which both Engel and Olbermann assumed the al-Dura story to be undisputed:
KEITH OLBERMANN: To the point of Neda Soltan, I don’t know that there’s ever been a revolution, or even a near revolution, that did not have an identifiable face, a martyr, you think of everything from Tiananmen Square to Lexington and Concord-
RICHARD ENGEL: I was thinking more, remember Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who was shot in Gaza-
OLBERMANN: Yes, yes.
ENGEL: -in his father’s arms-
ENGEL: -and who became a symbol of injustice? I think this is a similar moment.
“President Obama's response to the government crackdown has been criticized by some Republicans as timid,” Katie Couric noted on Wednesday's CBS Evening News as she featured a retort: “Today, in an exclusive interview with CBS News, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to his defense saying he believes the protestors understand the tough position the President is in.”
Following a single soundbite from Blair, Couric plugged more on the Web: “For more of my extended conversation with Tony Blair, you can go to our Web site at CBSNews.com.”
While conservatives like National Review’s Kathryn Lopez were unimpressed by President Obama describing the shooting of student protester Neda Soltan in Iran as merely a "problem" – like having to stand in line for concert tickets? – the New York Daily News supinely painted Obama as emotionally distressed: "DEATH THAT BROKE HIS HEART," screamed their front page headline.
Inside, reporter Helen Kennedy at least acknowledged that Obama had toughened his rhetoric, contrary to his odd insistence at yesterday’s press conference that he’s been absolutely consistent in his Iran rhetoric:
President Obama dramatically toughened his criticism of Iran's crackdown on election protesters Tuesday, paying emotional tribute to slain student Neda Soltan and declaring the U.S. "appalled and outraged" by the violence.
"I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost," he said.
When Harry Smith interviewed Pres. Obama earlier this week, I noted that his idea of "speaking truth to power" was to suggest Bo the dog was out of control. But when Smith had a Republican in his sights this morning, the mild-mannered Early Show host suddenly went Rambo. Raising his finger, Smith scolded Mitt Romney for pointing out that Pres. Obama's response to the Iranian repression fell far short of Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" reproach to the Soviets.
On Tuesday’s Newsroom program, CNN correspondent Carol Costello harkened back to the 1970 incident at Kent State University, where National Guardsmen shot rock-throwing protesters and bystanders, and made it a possible equivalent to the recent murder of Iranian student Neda. Costello pondered the effect of the Neda murder video on the Iranian protests, and flashed a famous photo from the 1970 shootings [audio clips from the report are available here].
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the overall theme of Costello’s report: “By now, you’ve probably heard about Neda, the young Iranian woman that was gunned down in Tehran. Well, in death, she’s become quite a symbol of countless Iranians demanding new elections. The question now: will the memory of Neda help make that happen?” After giving some details into the college student’s death, the correspondent described the international reaction to it: “It seems the whole world now knows Neda and aches for her- and why not? It watched her die.”
Costello subsequently played a clip of Iranian author Azar Nafisi’s reaction to the Neda death video. She then proposed her question about the impact of the video: “It’s difficult to say right now, though, if this image of Neda will change everything. We know that pictures sometimes do. Many believe this shot taken at Kent State of a student gunned down after a Vietnam War protest helped end the war, yet this video of a lone student standing up to Chinese tanks did not end communism in China.”
The protesters admire our freedom, but they are appalled--and insulted--by our neocolonialist condescension over the past 50 years. The reformers, and even some conservatives, consider Ahmadinejad the George W. Bush of Iran--a crude, unsophisticated demagogue, who puts a strong Potemkin face to the world without very much knowledge of what the rest of the world is about. This was an anology [sic] that came up in interview after interview, with reformers and conservatives alike.
Klein doesn't explicitly reference the "axis of evil" remarks in then-President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address as an offense, although he quite probably has it in mind. Yet a review of the relevant passage from that speech shows Bush was dead-on and arguably eerily prophetic about the iron-fisted repression that the world is witness to presently on the streets of Tehran (portion in bold is my emphasis):
"Obama's intelligent speech in Cairo has had a big impact in the Muslim world, and it is obvious that it is his presence in the White House – far more than any BBC broadcast – that is giving hope to the demonstrators in Tehran...I do not believe it could possibly have happened had John McCain been elected...Who knows whether [the Iranian protestors] will succeed, but we can safely say that the BBC and Barack Obama have done more to change Iran than Fox News and George W Bush."
So wrote London's mayor in an astonishing display of Obama Derangement Syndrome Monday.
During an interview with President Obama, Harry Smith asked about recent criticism by Dick Cheney and President Bush: "Leon Panetta intimated that the former Vice President was playing politics with national security issues. The former President has intoned his own displeasure with some of your policy changes. I think they feel like some of the things that you've done, in fact, are treacherous."
Smith failed to provide any direct quote of Panetta’s comments, made during an interview for The New Yorker, in which the CIA director declared: "I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue...It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics."
Instead of asking Obama why a member of his administration would make such an outrageous statement about a former vice president, Smith simply mentioned that Panetta accused Cheney of "playing politics with national security issues."
Contrary to the claims of many liberals, at least some of Iran's anti-government protesters are anxious for Barack Obama to lend American support to their cause. An Iranian student interviewed on CNN’s American Morning on Monday pleaded for the world, and President Obama by name, to become more active in assisting the protests against the Islamic regime in Tehran: “International community....especially, I ask President Barack Obama directly...this government is a huge threat to global peace....We need your help international community. Don’t leave us alone.” [Audio from the segment available here.]
Near the end of the interview, anchor John Roberts asked the student, who went by the first name of Mohammed alone, for the specific demands of the protesters: “Are the students seeking regime change? Are they looking to bring down the Ayatollah and completely change the form of government there in Iran, or are you looking for- as has been suggested- more civil rights, more freedoms, within the context of the existing regime?”
Without any sort of prompting, Mohammed first addressed some of the major controversies involving the Iranian regime: “For about three decades, our nation has been humiliated and insulted by this regime....We are peaceful nation. We don’t hate anybody. We want to be an active member of international community. We don’t want to be isolated....We don’t deny Holocaust. We...do accept Israel’s rights. And actually...we want severe reform on this structure. This structure is not going to be tolerated by the majority of Iranians. We need severe reform, as much as possible.”