One can hardly imagine a newspaper running a headline that suggested a fascist society like Nazi Germany had its good points. Yet the New York Times has carved out a side industry in headlines that suggest a bright side to Communist tyranny in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
The latest came attached to art critic Holland Cotter’s 1,700-word review of “Ostalgia,” an exhibit of Soviet and post-Soviet art at the New Museum in Manhattan, splashed along the top fold of Friday’s Weekend Arts section: “When Repression Was a Muse.” “Ostalgia” is a coinage for the strange cultural nostalgia for Communism (i.e., inferior but somehow endearing cars like the East German Trabant) felt by some East Germans who found it hard to cope with the freedoms, opportunities, and responsibilities of a more capitalist society.
It was 16 degrees warmer in my upstate New York town this morning than it was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If any further portent of the apocalypse is necessary, consider that on his MSNBC show this evening, Cenk Uygur compared Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan . . . and clearly came down on the side of Ronaldus Maximus.
The subject was Egypt. Uygur played the clip of Reagan's immortal "tear down this wall," and contrasted it with Obama's wan words on the need for "orderly transition" in Egypt.
Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC’s World News on Wednesday informed viewers of display items for the National Archives planned for next month’s commemoration of President Reagan’s 100 th birthday. Anchor Diane Sawyer recounted that Reagan had made "handwritten changes" to his 1983 speech in which he called the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire." Sawyer:
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, substitute co-host Russ Mitchell announced that "the lame duck session of Congress could hand President Obama yet another victory" with possible passage of the START nuclear arms treaty. Moments later, Mitchell declared that "The President seems to be on a hot streak."
Mitchell got analysis from Republican strategist Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. Bartlett hardly offered an opposing viewpoint, as he completely agreed with Mitchell's assessment of Obama: "It's a great streak he's on. He's on a hot streak....this is a narrative now that the President can stitch together going in to the new year....they've got a lot to crow about going into the new year." The headline on-screen throughout the segment read: "Obama's Rebound?; President Scores Political Victories During Lame Duck Session."
It seems that Eliot Spitzer's mind is still in the 1980s, as he twice stated on Thursday's Parker-Sptizer on CNN that the new START Treaty was with the Soviet Union. Spitzer trumpeted "the all-important START Treaty, that will finally cement a nuclear disarmament agreement with the Soviet Union," and then noted that the treaty would deal with the "nuclear warheads that are pointed by the Soviet Union at us" [audio available here].
The former New York governor and co-host Kathleen Parker led their 8 pm Eastern hour program with the current affairs of the lame-duck Congress. Spitzer highlighted the recent Gallup poll that found that only 13 percent of American approve of the job the legislative body is doing, and bemoaned how "for the past couple of hours, they have been spending your tax dollars in a debate about- and I don't know how else to say this- how they're going to debate."
After Parker replied that the House debate was specifically about extending the current tax rates, her CNN co-host focused his attention on the Senate and made his first gaffe about the START Treaty. Parker must not have caught his error, as she didn't correct him:
A useful guideline in evaluating the significance of a national security-related news story first revealed by someone in the establishment press is whether other media outlets pick it up. If they don't, it's probably significant.
Hey, it's the Friday after Thanksgiving, a classically slow news day. So let's have some fun. For months I've been fascinated by the TV commercial for DirectTV. The focus is a man we instantly understand to be a Russian billionaire businessman/mobster. "Opulence: I has it. I like the best" he explains, as the commercial opens. And sure enough, he's surrounded by the flashiest things—and women—that money can buy.
With no Morning Joe to bust today, I was catching up on some House episodes I'd DVR'ed, and during an October number, up popped the commercial. Just for fun, I decided to play it in slow motion, to see if there were interesting details I might have missed. Right away, I noticed for the first time that in the background of the opening shot, you see live dogs playing poker, in a re-creation of the famous poster.
But it was an image toward the end that really caught my attention. One of the two women seated on the sofa with our mobster passes him a jewel-encrusted TV remote on a tray. But the remote is sitting on a pyramid of . . . six gold bars. Wait a second, I thought. Aren't gold bars very heavy? View video and stills after the jump.
David Gregory is clearly concerned that if Republicans don't vote in favor of the START treaty with Russia, President Obama's international image, as well as American prestige abroad, will be damaged.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Gregory asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "Is this going to potentially be a problem with the president not being able to get what he wants on the world stage because of Republicans?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour on Sunday again gave national U.S. television exposure to a liberal reporter with the London-based Financial Times as she brought Ed Luce, the newspaper’s Washington Bureau Chief and former Clinton administration operative, aboard her This Week roundtable. Luce declared the world would react “with deep horror, I think, but also some amusement,” to a presidential bid by Sarah Palin and charged Republican opposition to START shows “there's a greater hatred of Obama than there is a love of American national security.”
Echoing the standard liberal spin about how President Barack Obama just failed to effectively communicate his great achievements, Luce argued that “if GM had gone bankrupt and large portions of it had been closed down, we could have lost several hundred thousand jobs.” He then despaired: “The administration's communications effort on this has been absolutely abysmal. It's quite extraordinary to me how they haven't put this forward more forcefully and how the public still doesn't see just how different a kind of bailout this was than the Wall Street bailouts which remain deservedly unpopular.”
While we focus our scrutiny on President Obama's domestic agenda nightmare, we'd best not take our eyes off another big ball: Obama's frantic effort to get the New START ratified during the Senate's lame-duck session.
As usual, Obama is engaged in a full-court press, pretending that there is some urgency to formalizing this ill-conceived nuclear arms treaty with Russia, when the sole urgency is the upcoming change in the Senate's partisan composition.
To his credit, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl announced his opposition to a vote on the treaty this year, which sent Obama into overdrive. He dispatched Defense Secretary Robert Gates to buy off Kyl's opposition with an illusory promise to spend an extra $4 billion on nuclear programs.
Rush has spent a considerable portion of today's broadcast ripping into this article by Christine Stapleton of Cox Newspapers, and rightly so, for the first three of the four opening paragraphs that follow:
Despite the warnings of Dick Cheney, George Will, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the Russians are not drilling for oil off Cuba. Neither are the Chinese. In fact, no one — not even Cuba — is drilling for oil off Cuba.
The pesky and persistent rumor, bubbling back up with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is still nothing more than a pesky and persistent rumor — aired in 2008 by former Vice President Cheney (who got the misinformation from conservative columnist Will), repeated on Fox News and recently revived by conservative radio commentator Limbaugh, who told his listeners 10 days after the spill: "The Russians are drilling in a deal with the Cubans in the Gulf. The Vietnamese and Angola are drilling for oil in the Gulf in deals with the Cubans."
However, as oil from BP's exploded well continues surging from the Gulf floor and washing onto Panhandle beaches, the rumor is poised to become fact.
On NBC's Today on Friday, White House correspondent Chuck Todd preemptively dismissed any criticism of President Obama referring to "Twitters" during a joint press conference with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev on Thursday: "It turns out he didn't misstate it. It was written incorrectly in his prepared remarks."
During Todd's report, a clip was played of Obama noting how in a visit to California's Silicon Valley, Medvedev went to "visit the headquarter of Twitters." Obama simply placed an 's' after the wrong word. Rather than let the minor gaffe stand, at the conclusion of the report, Todd made to sure to explain the typographical error to viewers: "You did not mishear. The President did say the word 'Twitters,' plural." Despite Obama's inability to correct the remarks off the cuff, Todd solely blamed a White House staffer for the mistake: "A speechwriter falling on his sword on that one."
Todd quickly changed the subject to a similar gaffe made by President Bush: "...it did bring back memories of President Bush one time referring to those 'internets.'" The media was certainly never quick to come to Bush's defense after a verbal misstep.
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, during the show’s regular "Reality Check" segment, FNC host O’Reilly seemed to pick up on a NewsBusters item which highlighted ABC’s Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts defending Mexican President Felipe Calderon using his speech in Congress as a forum to criticize Arizona’s effort to enforce laws against illegal immigration. In their defense of Calderon on Sunday's This Week show's Roundtable segment, the the two ABC News veterans brought up past American Presidents criticizing communist dictators in China and the Soviet Union.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the "Reality Check" from the Monday, May 24, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC:
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air asks a good media question: why doesn't anyone care about the Soviet archives? He refers to a Claire Berlinski article in City Journal. But for media watchers, the strongest possible revision would come in the reputation of one Mikhail Gorbachev, Time's Man of the Decade, the one they called the "commissar liberator," the "communist pope and the Soviet Martin Luther," and on and on. Some files suggest he was ruthless and cavalier about human life. What a shock:
The narrative among popular academics and media is that the Soviet Union collapsed out of a too-generous sense of glasnost and perestroika, with Mikhail Gorbachev as the benevolent national leader whose love of freedom inadvertently ended the Soviet empire. The documentation of the Kremlin’s activities and transcripts of Gorbachev’s own conversations put an end to that mythology. For instance, Berlinski quotes this passage from Politburo minutes of a discussion of the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989:
Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.
Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands...So what?
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."
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos reported live from Russia on Monday and Tuesday and, despite devoting 32 minutes to interviewing the country's President and other officials, never once brought up the hundreds of journalists who have been died mysteriously in the country over the last 17 years.
On Monday, Stephanopoulos did challenge President Dmitry Medvedev on Iran, sanctions and other topics. But, on Tuesday, he conducted a softball interview, touting, "As a teenager, Medvedev saved for months to buy Pink Floyd's The Wall. You have a deep love of heavy metal. Where did that come from?"
He also parroted White House spin about Medvedev and Barack Obama: "...You can tell from my interviews with the two presidents that Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev like each other a lot. That may be because they're a lot alike."
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Monday couldn't help but laugh at Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's obvious joke about George W. Bush. Stephanopoulos was in Russia to cover the signing on of a nuclear arms reduction treaty and offered this softball to Medvedev: "What do you make of Barack Obama, the man?"
The Russian President joked, "He's a very comfortable partner. It's very interesting to be with him. The most important thing that distinguishes him from many other people, I won't name anyone by name, he's a thinker. He thinks when he speaks." Not holding back, the former Democratic operative turned journalist laughed.
He then quipped, "You had somebody in your mind, I think." Medvedev added, "Obviously, I do have someone on my mind. I don't want to offend anyone."
Peace through strength - that was former President Ronald Reagan's method of achieving sound foreign policy as leader of the free world. Reagan was able to win the Cold War by showing the Soviet Union the United States could have both guns and butter.
However, President Barack Obama has recently declared he would take a different approach to foreign policy, particularly in the area of nuclear proliferation. The President announced earlier this week he has worked out a deal to significantly reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles in an agreement with Russia. This has drawn the ire of many conservatives, but that has MSNBC's Chris Matthews perplexed.
Matthews, the host of "Hardball," complained on his April 7 program about Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., being outspoken on Obama's decision to give into potential adversaries on the nuclear issue and claimed that contrary to what history would suggest about former President Ronald Reagan, Bachmann was going against the ideas of Reagan.
According to IBD, the Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) alleged in a new report "that England's Hadley Centre for Climate Change and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the U.K.'s two top climate research outfits, had improperly selected climate data from Russia."
IEA's Andrei Illarionov said the think tank's analysis found that temperature data in Russia used by Hadley-CRU was limited to 25 percent of Russia's stations and left out almost half of the country's land mass.
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."
Tom Brokaw made an appearance on this morning's edition of Morning Joe this morning, plugging his interview with the former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Brokaw was, of course, reporting from the historic Brandenburg Gate this morning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Brew Crew were gathered in their studio with national security expert Dr. Richard Haas, discussing such weighty subjects as the American response to the fall of communism, the geopolitical advantages and disadvantages of that event, and so on. And which of these subjects did Brokaw use to segue into the subject of his interview?
The Wall Street Journal's editorial today on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is excellent, as would be expected, and gives credit where credit is due:
In the debate over who deserves credit for causing the Berlin Wall to collapse on the night of November 9, 1989, many names come to mind, both great and small.
There was Günter Schabowski, the muddled East German politburo spokesman, who in a live press conference that evening accidentally announced that the country's travel restrictions were to be lifted "immediately." There was Mikhail Gorbachev, who made it clear that the Soviet Union would not violently suppress people power in its satellite states, as it had decades earlier in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. There were the heroes of Poland's Solidarity movement, not least Pope John Paul II, who did so much to expose the moral bankruptcy of communism.
And there was Ronald Reagan, who believed the job of Western statesmanship was to muster the moral, political, economic and military wherewithal not simply to contain the Soviet bloc, but to bury it.
[Editor's note: For more on the media's pro-Communist bias in the waning days of the Cold War, read "Better Off Red?", MRC's new study looking back 20 years ago to the fall of the Berlin Wall]
In the editorial's second-last paragraph, the Journal reminds us of an alleged journalist who was so blinded by his partisan disdain for any Republican in power that he refused to acknowledge what had become clear years earlier, and of the risk-averse weenies who tried to talk him out of delivering the signature line of what is probably his most famous speech (bold is mine):
There's little doubt that at hand is an ongoing effort by the Obama White House to marginalize the Fox News Channel - especially after the administration attempted to leave Fox out of the White House pool last week. That is something conservative columnist Cal Thomas said is eerily comparable to Cold War tactics of the old Soviet Union.
On the Fox News Channel's Oct. 24 "Fox News Watch," Thomas alluded to an Oct. 21 column he wrote, which he compared what the Soviets did with radio signals that penetrated the Iron Curtain to deliver a message of freedom from Western Europe - they jammed them.
"I wrote a column on this, this week - if I can promote myself and my own column," Thomas said. "I likened it to what happened during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union especially tried to jam the signals of the Voice of America and Radio Europe, other entities that were trying to pump truth into the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries, the so-called captive nations."
On Thursday, FNC viewers got to learn of a little known diplomatic faux pas on the part of President Obama, as the administration announced on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland that America would back out of the plan for a missile defense shield previously worked out with Polish President Lech Kaczynski. On Special Report with Bret Baier, host Baier showed an interview with the Polish president who did not seem happy with President Obama’s foreign policy decisions.
Kaczynski signaled his belief that the deal he had worked on with the Bush administration was important to his country:
I thought that the August 2008 deal, I considered that to be a success. I worked very hard to bring about the deal, to make it successful. I would like to be honest with you, and I will just say that I did everything I could to just finalize the deal. I cannot say I was happy. It was a very important deal for us.
Baier then brought up the bad timing of the Obama administration’s announcement:
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.
On today's Morning Meeting, host Dylan Ratigan gathered his loyalist liberal media friends to deride Sarah Palin's recent speech to investors in Hong Kong, wherein she made the observation that government programs often create new problems, which are then tackled by eager politicians with what else but even more government programs.
First, in the interest of fairness, it must be noted that the guest from the Huffington Post and Vanity Fair, Vickie Ward, barely uttered a word in the entirety of the segment.
That's because she was laughing.
Here's what caused Ward's giggle-fit:
RATIGAN: I want to go to Andy Barr at Politico. Palin on health reform. This one made a little bit less sense. But I feel like it's very indicative, Andy, of certain aspects of right-wing talking points which look to demonize the government inherently, as opposed to looking at government as a tool that can either be abused, misused, or screwed up. Right? And so that rhetoric is evident here. [reading] 'It's common sense that government attempts to solve problems like the health care problem will just create new problems.' Now, forget the nonsensical aspect of that.
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.
Despite devoting almost the entire Good Morning America program on Tuesday to Michael Jackson, ABC could only find three minutes for a hard-hitting Jake Tapper interview with Barack Obama. And even though co-host Diane Sawyer promised at the close of the piece, "And we'll have more of the President's interview with Jake Tapper later in the broadcast," the segment never returned.
Tapper, who was in Moscow to cover Obama's summit with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, quizzed, "Whether it's this summit with President Medvedev, or anything else, can you point to any reason why you're encouraged that your approach to Iran and North Korea is the right approach?"
Tapper also highlighted Vice President Biden's admission that the administration "misread how bad the economy" was when the stimulus was being crafted. He then skeptically asked, "If the diagnosis was, was wrong, how can you be sure that the prescription, the stimulus package, was right?"
TASS probably couldn't have done it better. And NBC correspondent Jim Maceda seemed to be channeling that Soviet Russia official state-run news agency in his glowing account of Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's heavy-handed dealings with some small businesses. Putin was, he said, "combating Russia's deep recession hand-to-hand."
"Over the past decade, Vladimir Putin's morphed into more roles than a Hollywood star," Maceda said. "From Boris Yeltsin's shy obedient yes-man to the imperious leader, the action man, bomber pilot, artist and lately the people's prime minister combating Russia's deep recession hand-to-hand - harassing a supermarket manager for marking up pork prices."