It's turning out to be quite a day for pugilistics. Earlier, I noted how Hillary threatened to "deck" her opponents. Now, just about a month to the day after the holiday is observed by the Brits, Brit Hume celebrated a personal Boxing Day of his own. On this morning's Fox News Sunday, the FNC DC managing editor landed some heavy body blows on Chuck Hagel and John Kerry.
On a long drive home from a Indianapolis this weekend, I had the dubious pleasure of listening to a CBS news break at the top of the hour on a talk station and in one of their reports on Saturday's anti-War protests the verbiage used to report the gatherings was so slanted that it was startling and was so obviously intended to make it seem much greater than it really was that it wasn't even funny.
Reporter Jim Taylor started his report saying "A nation says no to war ..." as an introduction to the story of the goings on in Washington.
A "nation" says no? A few protests equates the the whole nation, CBS?
Did anyone really believe that Nancy Pelosi's recent whirlwind visit to Iraq was truly the "fact-finding" mission she billed it to be? I doubt it. But just in case there are some credulous folks out there, here's proof that rather than trying to find facts, Pelosi wanted to promote a political agenda.
Have a look at this video clip from her January 26th visit. Exactly two minutes in, Pelosi, seated with Jack Murtha, is speaking with the young female Army
soldier who is seen facing the camera. Here is the exchange:
Young Army Soldier: "I'm a 96 Bravo Intel Analyst. I work as a Sunni analyst in a fusion cell."
Nancy Pelosi: "Let's talk about the intelligence that got us into the war. That would be interesting to start with."
It's not uncommon for an interviewer to tell a guest offering orotund pronouncements that he's sounding "like a candidate." But Meredith Vieira took that one giant step further this morning, informing renegade Republican Chuck Hagel that he was sounding downright "presidential."
Of course, nothing sounds more presidential to an MSMer's ears than defeatist criticism of the war in Iraq and by extension of the current occupant of the White House. But when it came to the key question, Hagel, far from flashing presidential timber, equivocated like a garden-variety pol.
Vieira: "Senator, at this point, do you believe we are fighting and dying for nothing?"
Hagel immediately went into bob-and-weave mode: "Well, I think the Congress needs to take a look at it and each member of Congress needs to go on the record and need [sic] to address the issue in a very clear way so that they can go back to their constituents and say yes I either support an escalation to put 22,000 more troops in the middle of a sectarian civil war, or I don't."
The headline conveys the obvious impression that our troops are fighting Iraqi soldiers and not terrorists/"insurgents."
Based on the story that follows, the headline is obviously false.
Bryan thought the headline at the original story had been updated, but that turns out to have been incorrect. Yours truly tipped him, and he noted, that the story is still there in all its ignominy. What's more, he noted, by reviewing Google News results, that the false headline, even if corrected now, has spread around the country and around the world. Further supporting the Pandora's Box nature of the AP's journalistic malpractice, here's a regular Google search on the headline (in quotes) showing that it still generates thousands of hits. And even though most of underlying linked stories appear to have different titles now, some (like this one) still have the original.
Has there been any phrase that has been so used and abused by the Democrats as they seek to give themselves cover? But in one fell 'slip', Chuck Schumer gave away the game this morning: the claim to support the troops is a sham. Supporting the troops is merely something to be figured out later. It's an afterthought, to be addressed after Democrats, with some Republican support, rush through a resolution telling our troops that the mission for which they are putting their lives on the line is not just meaningless but absolutely antithetical to our nation's interests.
David Gregory interviewed Sen. Schumer on this morning's "Today."
Gregory: "The Vice-President is dismissive of this [resolution] effort yesterday saying it's not going to stop the president, and in fact he goes further, saying this will be detrimental to the troops on the ground."
Schumer: "Absolutely not, and I think it's going to be shown, when this resolution comes up, and it is non-binding, my guess is that not only are we going to get a vast majority of Democrats to vote for it in one form or another, but close to a majority of the Republicans. And that is going to shock even Vice-President Cheney."
Gregory: "But how can the public really buy the Democrats support the troops but don't support the mission? How can you do both?"
Schumer: "Well, that's the difficulty. A resolution that says we're against this escalation, that's easy. The next step will be how do you put further pressure on the administration against the escalation but still supporting the troops who are there? Andthat's what we're figuring out right now."
In response to president Bush's State of the Union Address, the Washington Post's main criticism (by reporter Glenn Kessler in the "news" section, not the editorial page) seems to be that Bush doesn't understand who "the enemy" is in the Global War on Terror. Yet as the Post proceeds to knock what they perceive as Bush's simple minded rhetoric with today's news article they only reveal it is they, rather, that has no idea who our enemies are.
In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.
The headline was "President's Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed." The Post's conception of "flawed" is just as ill considered as they imagine the president's to be and their analysis adds up merely to mirror the conception held by many Europeans.
Once again, a National U.S. paper "arguably" chooses sides with Europe's interests over that of America.
Add Keith Olbermann to the list of congressmen, intelligence officials and others to manifest an embarrassing unfamiliarity with the players in the civil strife in Iraq. On tonight's Countdown, Olbermann was trying to make the case that "recent claims from the president that Iran is providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq . . . is proving . . . suspect . . . The Bush administration is providing scant evidence to support the claims."
And what evidence did Olbermann provide to support his claim? "The Los Angeles Times [is] reporting that journalists traveling with US troops in Iraq have failed to see these extensive signs of Iranian involvement. A recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents uncovering only a single Iranian weapon among dozens of arms caches." [Emphasis added].
Loyal NB readers might recall that on the eve of President Bush's recent address on the new way forward in Iraq, I had the chance to participate in a conference call for bloggers with White House press secretary Tony Snow and Brett McGurk of the National Security Council.
With the State of the Union Address just a few hours away, Tony Snow - after a long day making the media rounds - organized a similar event in which your faithful NewsBuster again took part.
I had a chance to ask a question this time around, and chose to focus on recent events in Iraq. After referring to the headlines that have been made by the recent arrest of some 600 militiamen in Iraq, I noted a lesser-publicized report that the Iraqi army had arrested a senior aide to Moktada al-Sadr, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji. He was arrested last Friday in a raid on a Baghdad mosque near Sadr City.
I asked Snow whether those events signal that we have in some way turned the corner in obtaining the willingness of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in going after Shia militias, and if so, how have we been able to achieve this?
One of the common themes emanating from the media in recent years is that the world and the Middle East were much safer places before America invaded Iraq in March 2003. In their view, all of the geopolitical problems began that very month, and prior to that point, the earth was a happy place whose citizens all got along like two-year-olds in a sandbox.
Unfortunately, this position hypocritically and absurdly ignores what happened eighteen months earlier in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., as well as the hatred for America and its allies as depicted in the cartoon to the right published in a Bahrainian newspaper on June 10, 2002, fully nine months before America invaded Iraq.
For those interested, the Jewish caricature in the cartoon is demanding that the Bush caricature say “I Hate the Arabs!” In response, Bush is replying, “I hate the Arabs, I hate the Arabs!”
Gee, I wonder whom Hillary had in mind when she blamed her bad image on "radio and cable TV" this morning? She didn't quite name Rush, Hannity et al. as the "evildoers," but there was no mistaking the object of her disaffection.
The comment came in the course of a "Today" interview with Meredith Vieira. Meredith began with a slow-pitch softball, asking whether Hillary believes the public has stopped listening to President Bush. Hillary allowed that "there's a great discouragement about the president's leadership."
But Meredith maximized the MPH with her next question:
"Many voters still have this very negative opinion of you, and some of the words that are used to describe you are not very kind." As Vieira beginning ticking off the awful adjectives: "strident, cold, scripted, phony," Hillary burst into this political season's most insincere laughter.
Meredith took note of Clinton's feigned frivolity: "You're laughing at that. Advisors have said that they want to humanize you. Why do people seem to have that perception of you after knowing you for 15 years."
One of my correspondents on my own site, Publius' Forum, has been trying to clear up a wretched email that was sent to one of our boys in Iraq refusing him service and telling him he should "pull out of Iraq".
Fox News has picked up this story that I have been watching for a few days. I've been trying to ascertain if it was real or another example of an internet hoax -- sometimes it isn't easy to tell these days -- but I think I can safely say it is real at this point. It has been rather hot news in Wisconsin over the last 48 hours, too.
The question is, will we see it farther and wider? Will the MSM pick up this story of our solder being ill treated by Discount-Mats.com, a Muslim owned, Wisconsin based floor mat company?
Army Sgt. Jason Hess, stationed in Taji, Iraq wanted to purchase a few floor mats for use in his station in Iraq and emailed the Wisconsin based floor mat company to ask if they would ship to an APO address in Iraq?
There’s so much to find offensive about Fareed Zakaria’s article in this week’s Newsweek that it’s tough to know where to begin. Put simply, the piece stated rather strongly that President Bush is responsible for a declining rate of democracy around the world.
Of course, one study that Zakaria cited to prove this premise “points out that 2006 was a bad year for liberty, under attack from creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, a coup in Thailand, massive corruption in Africa and a host of more subtle reversals.”
Zakaria never addressed what President Bush did to advance creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, the coup in Thailand, and the massive corruption in Africa. Instead, he reported the following (emphasis mine throughout):
I'd say Bill Kristol nailed it on this morning's Fox News Sunday. And while his comments were directed at Democrats, they're equally applicable to the MSM IMHO, making them NB-worthy.
Kristol: "People are being too complacent or forgiving to the Democrats: 'Oh, it's politics; one of them has a non-binding resolution and another one has a cap.' It's all totally irresponsible. It's just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he's sending over troops, and the Democratic congress, either in a pseudo-binding way or a non-binding way is saying: 'it won't work -- forget it! You troops, you're going over there on a pointless missions. You Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we're going to pull the plug." It's so irresponsible . . . You really wonder: do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. . . Do they want this to succeed or not?"
The AP has published a story today about the grand opening of the first McDonald's outlet with a drive-through window in China. It opened yesterday in Beijing to rave reviews from its first customers.
Apparently, the fast food chain is growing by leaps and bounds in the communist enslaved nation. McDonald's China CEO, Jeffery Schwartz is quoted in the AP piece about the company's growth in the Red Nation. "It's huge. It's a real priority for the global company because of the potential growth in China...We think drive-throughs are a big part of this."
And, when you read the AP's story everything seems upbeat and glowing about McDonald's growth and future opportunities in China." It's all good", as they say. And, it is no surprise that the AP's business writer, amusingly named Joe McDonald -- no I am serious, that IS his name-- was so aglow over the heightened business opportunities for the McDonald's chain.
In the course of her recent Los Angeles Times column, Rosa Brooks wrote this about the levels of electricity and oil production in Iraq:
"Before the U.S. invasion, the . . . residents of Baghdad used 16 to 24 hours of electricity each day. Today, thanks to us, they thriftily make do with about six hours of electricity a day . . . Oil production is still well below prewar levels."
Alarms went off for me when I read Brooks' claims. They were largely at odds with what I had learned when I interviewed in Baghdad in November the directors of the electricity and oil sectors of the Gulf Region Division of the Army Corps of Engineers - the people responsible for overseeing the reconstruction of those elements, among others, of Iraq's infrastructure.
Chris Matthews and John Fund had something of a nuclear showdown on this afternoon's Hardball. Matthews' current kick is worrying that President Bush might launch an attack on Iran without congressional authorization. In that context, talk turned to Saddam's nuclear program and that of North Korea.
Diane Sawyer didn't go totally Katie Couric on Nancy Pelosi in her exclusive interview aired on GMA this morning. The ABC host stopped just short of any "you go, girls." But neither did Sawyer call Pelosi when, twice, the new Speaker washed her hands of responsibility for the most pressing issue of the day.
When Sawyer asked if the Dems would turn off funding for the surge, Pelosi responded:
"Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm's way. But we will hold the president accountable; he has to answer for his war. He has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this; it's a tragedy, it's a historic blunder."
Here's Hillary's idea of diplomacy: bend to her will, or she'll put your life in danger. And that's how she treats our allies.
Yikes. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, let me try to send a message to Hillary's handlers: emergency personality makeover required! A couple more appearances as angry and unpleasant as this morning's on Today and Hillary's odds of winning the Dem nomination will be as slim as those she accorded to that of the surge succeeding.
The strategy for Hillary's conversation with Matt Lauer was transparent. Because her substantive position on Iraq is not as anti-war as that of Obama or Edwards, Hillary sought to compensate, in appealing to Dem primary voters, by sounding angrier about our policy than either of her rivals. From that perspective, you might say: Mission Accomplished. This was Hillary, rhetorically speaking, packing an M-4, grenades slung, knife between teeth.
But at what cost to her likability? Don't voters have to be able to warm up to a candidate? Yet Hillary hovered barely above absolute zero.
Beyond her tone, her message was about as cold-blooded as you can get. Twice she suggested threatening to cut off funding for the personal security of Iraq's leaders. As Hillary put it: "I don't think we should continue to fund the protection for the Iraqi government leaders or for the training and equipping of their army unless they meet certain conditions."
This was no idle threat. It was clearly a key element of Hillary's plan, one she repeated later:
"I [suggest] putting leverage on them and saying 'you know what, we provide security for the members of this government, we're cutting funding for that.'"
Keith Olbermann is scared. Not by the threat of terrorism in the United States. But at the notion that "24" might be raising Americans' awareness of the threat. And he has singled out NewsBusters for the role it has played in highlighting the issue.
Olbermann devoted a Countdown segment this evening to "24", suggesting that its two-night, four-hour season opener should have been sufficient to "scare or outrage you." Incomprehensibly, Olbermann complained that the show depicted various terrorist suicide attacks "not in places where these things already happened, but in a country called the United States of America." Is it possible that Keith Olbermann has forgotten 9-11?
On Tuesday, jury selection began in the trial of Lewis Libby. And "Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman couldn’t resist spinning this occasion into an attack against President Bush. Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He does not, however, face prosecution for publically outing Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. However, through sloppy phrasing and omission, Shipman encouraged the assumption that this is yet another example of the Bush administration’s misconduct. The most brazen example is the GMA reporter’s description of the "original crime":
Claire Shipman: "Prosecutors are trying to show that Libby lied to investigators about conversations he had with reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, the undercover agent who was outed. Libby blames a faulty memory. And in classic Washington style, Libby isn't in trouble for the original crime, outing Plame, but, rather, the, quote, ‘the cover up,’ according to the prosecutor."
No government official has been charged with revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. So, how can there be an "original crime?"
What's become of multiculturalism? Isn't it an entrenched tenet of liberal dogma that all cultures are to be "celebrated" as equally worthy? Yet in recent weeks I've noticed a countervaling trend in the liberal establishment. Western values are exalted, as here and here. Then, even Thomas Friedman, bien-pensant hero of the foreign policy establishment, indulged in some negative Arab stereotyping that would have had the PC police screaming had the author not been, well, Thomas Friedman.
Today comes another certified MSMer, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, suggesting that Iraqis might be fundamentally different from Americans, so much so that what they require is a brutal dictator. Muses Cohen in his column of today, Our Tunnel Vision .
As everyone knows and Andrea Mitchell has confirmed, Chris Matthews is no liberal. Don't let the fact that he describes the goal of the impending Iraq surge as "ethnic cleansing" fool you.
Matthews discussed the impending surge into Baghdad on this evening's Hardball with David Ignatius of the Washington Post and Gary Berntsen, the former CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora.
Said Matthews, speaking of the role of US troops:
"If they are forced to do patrol duty in the streets of the Sunni areas where they are expected to basically be part of the ethnic cleansing because they will be shooting at Sunnis, they are going to get shot back at."
"Do you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?"
This is one of the questions President Bush faced from "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley on Sunday’s program. Pelley also cited the same "Military Times" CBS’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod cited on the January 11 edition of the "Evening News," which shows more miltiary troops now disapprove of the President’s handling of the war in Iraq, and was highlighted by Brent Baker here on Newsbusters. However, when John Kerry and John Edwards and their wives were jointly interviewed on the program on July 11, 2004, correspondent Lesley Stahl did not mention a CBS poll that showed war veterans supporting President Bush for reelection by a large margin, and that poll was significant in that veterans were a group that Senator Kerry was actively courting.
When CBS launched their blog Public Eye in Sept. of 2005 they claimed it would give us "the journalists who make the important editorial decisions at CBS News and CBSNews.com" and that those journalists "will now be asked to explain and answer questions about those decisions in a public forum."
While the jury might be out on the success of their task, we can certainly wonder at their ability to step away from themselves to render balanced judgment. Especially in the case of their recent story, "Biased In Both Directions", where they declare that the MSM is reporting "in the middle" where it concerns stories about Iraq.
James Carroll, whose Boston Globe columns might be viewed less as reasoned discourse and more as auto-therapy for his famous rift with his father, predictably turns his MLK, Jr. Day piece into a condemnation of all things American.
Vietnam was at the root of his split with his father, as Carroll documented in God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us. So Carroll naturally drags a Vietnam/Iraq analogy into his piece: "like Bush, Johnson was presiding over a lost war." Of course, if there was a lesson of Vietnam it's that we lost it because we lost the political will to win it.
Has Chris Matthews surged and accelerated his war against President Bush? Did the MSNBC host and analyst refer to the Commander-in-Chief as "evil"?
In the course of Matthews dialogue with Lester Holt, guest-hosting on this morning's "Today," Holt raised the possibility that President Bush might choose to expand the war into Iran:
Holt: "The president of course has stepped up language against Iran for its interference within Iraq. He sent a naval aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf. If he makes this now against Ahmadinejad, if Ahmadinejad becomes the 'poster thug' in this case, does that increase support for the war?"
Matthews: "Well, the president may well choose to widen the war for political reasons . He may do it for military reasons. We do have our troops under assault in Iraq and he has to protect the troops. And if there is Iraqi [sic, presumably Iranian] involvement in the other side he has to take steps. The danger is we might cross the border into Iraq [sic, again surely referring to Iran], therefore triggering a reaction from Iraq, from Iran rather, and then we go to war with Iran. And I think the President might well want to do that. Who knows what evil lurks? But the fact of the matter is that the American public may never get a say in this. The Congress may never get a say in it."
It's not enough to embrace defeat in Iraq. The United States should preemptively capitulate to Iran too. That's not Noam Chomsky's latest fevered pronouncement, nor the impassioned plea of Cindy Sheehan at the gates of Gitmo. It is the opening paragraph of a column in this morning's Boston Globe by Robert Rotberg. And who is Rotberg? Former President of Lafayette College, former professor at MIT, now Director of Harvards's Kennedy School Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution.
"The only way to promote sustainable peace, stability, and order in Iraq is to forge an unholy alliance with Iran -- and accept Iran's dominant influence in the Middle East. Only by accepting Iranian hegemonic pretensions, odious as they are, can the United States extricate itself somewhat honorably from Iraq."
In case we missed the point, here's how Rotberg concludes his column:
"Churchill mobilized the English language and sent it into battle." - Edward R. Murrow
Give Frank Rich credit for this: he doesn't run from his theater-critic past. Like a mirror-image Churchill, the man now paid by the New York Times to think great thoughts rather than to laugh till he cries mobilizes theater metaphors in his pay-per-view, anti-war opus of this morning, He’s in the Bunker Now.
Rich begins by informing us that President Bush has morphed from Harold Hill in "The Music Man" into Willy Loman from "Death of a Salesman." And we all know what that means.
Cal Thomas had the line of the night on this evening's Fox News Watch. Here's how the conservative commentator explained Americans' dissatisfaction with progress in Iraq:
"Part of the problem here is we have Desert Storm with the 100-hour war. Everybody came home. There were victory marches, General Schwarzkopf leading. The press was full of stories: 'we finally got the Vietnam monkey off our back.' Now we're used to the very quick action. It's not going to happen, except thank goodness Jack Bauer is coming back to make it happen on '24' - that's what we're waiting for."