If once is an aberration, and twice a trend, what's three times?
The first time Joe Biden told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that he was "praying," it got my attention. By the third time - using the variant "I pray to God" - I was thoroughly curious. Then something happened at the end of the interview that might provide a clue as to Joe's sudden bout of religiosity.
By the way, Biden claimed to be 'praying' in response to various pieces of evidence that Wallace confronted him with suggesting that, at long last, the security situation in Iraq might be improving. Biden repeatedly responded that he was 'praying' that Wallace was right, all the time suggesting that in fact there was no real reason for optimism.
Remember George H.W. Bush? The one who was derided by the MSM for his lack of toughness? The man Newsweek put on its cover with the sneering headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor"?
Scratch all that. As per this morning's “Today” show, it turns out H.W. wasn't a wimp at all. Not only was he a 'diplomat', above all he was someone who knew how to successfully fight a war in Iraq.
What caused “Today” to catch a bad case of SORS: Sudden-Onset Revisionism Syndrome? It's that old truism at work: the MSM is willing to praise a Republican who is out of power . . . for purposes of bashing one still in office.
”Today” used the occasion of W's visit to his father's home in Kennebunkport this weekend to raise the question "Like Father Not Like Son?" Narrating
On this evening's Hardball, Matthews pleaded with Buchanan to take back the Republican party from neo-conservatives. In closing an earlier segment with guest Joe Biden, Matthews had taken a shot at neo-cons: "Unfortunately we have been carried into Iraq by the dreams of the ideologues."
When Buchanan came on, Matthews took that same notion one step further:
"Pat, when are the traditional conservatives in this country who believe in less government, less role in the world, like yourself, though you might be more extreme than some, George Will, Bill Buckley, when are you guys going to retake your party from the neo-conservatives and stop these overseas campaigns?"
Has Tucker Carlson ever heard of the Marshall Plan? Seriously. The question arises in light of Carlson's show-closing diatribe this afternoon. Tucker was irate that, "now that Israel is done pummeling Lebanon, Uncle Sam wants to help clean up the mess. Your hard-earned tax dollars will include $42 million to help Lebanon's military prepare for deployment in the southern part of the country, rebuild schools and help mop up an oil spill off the Lebanese coast."
He continued: "Here's the question - if the United States was so opposed to the physical destruction of Lebanon, so opposed that we would pay for the reconstruction of Lebanon, why did we allow Israel - and we did allow Israel - to use American arms to pummel Lebanon. Maybe it was a good idea, maybe it wasn't. But the fact that we are paying for the clean-up suggests we were against it in the first place. And if we were against it in the first place, why didn't we do something about it? Good question!" [If Carlson did say so himself].
The Boston Globe is not a media outlet known for its sympathetic view towards fundamentalist religious types. Everyone is aware of this. The Globe coverage of fundamentalist religious types is never particularly positive. Iran is a repressive fundamentalist theocracy. Everyone knows this.
But this morning, the Boston Globe has rapturous praise for the repressive fundamentalist theocrats in Tehran. In this front page story, the Globe manages to praise the freedom and openness of a regime that won't let women go out in public without having their heads covered.
The white-coated scientists at Tehran's Royan Institute labor beneath a framed portrait of the turbaned, bearded supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the head of a state that enforces strict religious rules governing everything from how women dress to what kinds of parties people throw.
But in the cutting-edge field of human embryonic stem-cell research, the scientists work with a freedom that US researchers can only dream of: broad government approval, including government funding, to work on the potent cells from early-stage embryos that researchers believe hold the promise to cure many diseases.
When the New York Times originally broke the story of the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program, the rest of the media leapt to the bandwagon, and immediately began referring to President Bush's "Domestic Surveillance Program." One of the forums where this has been particularly egregious is CBS' The Early Show. Well, the last 7 months and all of the discussion has done nothing to change the view of the program held by CBS. There were two separate comments in a 30-second news snippet from Tracy Smith that were either inaccurate or incomplete, and, of course, they were inaccurate or incomplete in a manner that made the program sound worse than it is.
The first was the continued mis-labeling. The program is not, despite the mainstream press' continued insistence, a "domestic" surveillance program. The NSA is not monitoring American's domestic calls without warrants, or at least, if they are, that has not been made public. That's not what the program being talked about covers. The NSA is monitoring overseas communications of suspected terrorists and terrorism supporters. If some of those communications are into the United States, they're continuing to monitor. That doesn't make the conversations "domestic."
If not quite from the grave, the decision by one of Jimmy Carter's judicial appointees, striking down the NSA terrorist surveillance program, was an unwelcome blast from past. Call it Carter's Revenge. Malaise Redux. The spirit of Desert One lives.
That this was a political decision more than a legal one is evidenced by the intemperate language of the opinion itself: "There are no hereditary kings in America," harumphed Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, in a case filed by the ACLU. [An exception to Taylor's no-hereditary-kings rule: the Sulzberger dynasty that is . . . the New York Times. Hat tip to NB poster Jack Bauer. See details in comments below.]
If I ever knew that Chris Matthews' brother Jim Matthews is the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, I had forgotten. Chris manifestly has not, and on this evening's Hardball peevishly berated a Republican guest who had the temerity to remind him of that fact.
After interviewing Dem Congressman Jack Murtha, Matthews had Murtha's Republican challenger Diana Irey on as a guest. Before getting into substance, Matthews testily alluded to the fact that Irey's campaign manager had sent Matthews a press release with proposed questions for Murtha. First on the list:
"How hard is it for you knowing that Jim Matthews just appeared two days ago with your opponent Diana Irey to cut the ribbon at her volunteer HQ in your hometown of Johnstown?"
On Wednesday's Countdown show, while reporting on a recent Zogby poll which found that more Americans can name two of Snow White's dwarves than can name two of America's Supreme Court justices, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took the opportunity to joke that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are "Dopey and Grumpy." The Countdown host also took a shot at President Bush by bringing up Bush's failure to name world leaders in a pop quiz during an interview with Boston TV journalist Andy Hiller in November 1999, and suggested to comedian Mo Rocca that Bush's lack of knowledge is to blame for "current world affairs." Olbermann: "Can you think of any consequences at all that could have stemmed from that candidate's level of knowledge? Is that being reflected at all in the current world affairs?" (Transcript follows)
David needs the umbrella to complete his Neville Chamberlain impersonation. In an Op Ed in today's Washington Post David Ignatius applauds the disastrous UN-brokered ceasefire:
The Lebanon war was damaging for Israel, the United States and, most of all, Lebanon itself. But it may have taught everyone a lesson that will be immensely important to the future of the Middle East: The solutions to the big problems that afflict the region are not military but political.
Meanwhile, the same edition of the Post reports Hezbollah's continued refusal to disarm. It's painfully obvious that Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon without destroying Hezbollah will mean even greater suffering and bloodshed when the West finally decides to deal with the problem.
One of the interesting evidences of bias in the mainstream press is the way that all political discussions tend to be written from the point-of-view of "what do the Democrats need to do to win?" This New York Times "analysis" is just the latest example. All of the factors that you'd expect to see from a PR firm trying to help Democrats get elected are present.
Introductory paragraph framing the issue from the Democrats' perspective? Check.
After being outmaneuvered in the politics of national security in the last two elections, Democrats say they are determined not to cede the issue this year and are working to cast President Bush as having diminished the nation’s safety.
Those mean-spirited Republicans. They're all about the politics of hate. And now this! Can you imagine, calling a political opponent an "evil, authoritarian, crypto-fascist puppet master"? Wait a sec. That wasn't a Republican. It's a Huff Poster describing Dick Cheney.
Oh, and for good measure he calls President Bush "a smiling, dry alcoholic with sadistic tendencies."
The author in question is Larry Beinhart, who, as per his web page, is a member in good standing of the liberal establishment: Fulbright Fellow, novelist and screenplay writer, written for Newsday, LA Times, International Herald Tribune, Esquire. Couple Emmys.
Nearly two week ago, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell suggested hard-line Communist Raul Castro really did have a soft spot for capitalism.
has been in charge of the military and the economy,” Mitchell explained
to the August 2 “Today” show audience, calling Fidel’s younger brother “politically hard-line but more open than his brother to free
enterprise, including foreign investment.”
She might be on to something, after all.
prosecutors in Miami were prepared to indict Raul Castro as the head of
a major cocaine smuggling conspiracy in 1993, but the Clinton
Administration Justice Department overruled them, current and former
Justice Department officials tell ABC News,” ABC’s Brian Ross and Vic Walter reported on August 14.
of the photographer's comment (it appears that Denton's original is
gone, but that another commenter reposted it within his own comment;
scroll down to "Andy Levin Fri Aug 11 09:54:08")
i have been working in lebanon since all this started,
and seeing the behavior of many of the lebanese wire service
photographers has been a bit unsettling. while hajj has garnered a lot
of attention for his doctoring of images digitally, whether guilty or
not, i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one
case where a group of wire photogs were coreographing the unearthing of
bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to
position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put
in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these
photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no
manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and
this itself is a bigger ethical problem.
In an article on Fidel Castro, his health, and his visit from Venezuelan Fidel fan Hugo Chavez, the Associated Press noted that "birthday articles in state-run newspapers extolled his virtues." The implication is that state-controlled papers aren't apt to be truthful, much less objective.
So what's the AP's excuse? In the very same article, AP reporter Anita Snow informs us that:
"News of Castro's illness made Cubans uneasy about the future, but a series of upbeat statements from government officials have helped calm a public facing up to the mortality of the island's longtime leader. 'What happiness I received!' exclaimed resident Margot Gomez after seeing Sunday's newspaper during a morning walk in Havana. 'Long live Fidel and long live the revolution! He knows what to do to convert setbacks into victories!'
Last week, I documented here the way CNN leaned over backwards for balance in a story. In the wake of the Seattle Jewish Center shooting, it equated the fear of Jewish-Americans of similar incidents . . . with the fear of Hezbollah supporters of being unfairly accused.
Although it wasn't nearly so egregious, Fox News Channel's Anita Vogel [seen here in a file photo] just engaged in some over-reaching herself in the name of balance. She narrated an otherwise solid segment on 'fauxtography' and other ways in which the media and Hezbollah supporters manipulate the news. The segment included an interview with star blogger Charles Johnson, founder of Little Green Footballs, who played a key role in outing the smoky Beirut-skyline bit of fauxtography.
But then, searching for balance where there really is little or none to be had, Vogel claimed that the Israeli government also manipulates the news:
"But we need to keep in mind, there are other ways foreign governments control the media. The Israeli government exercises control over the media during wartime, like prohibiting them from reporting on real-time rocket strikes and places in northern Israel where officials are visiting due to safety concerns."
You wouldn't have known either their names or backgrounds had you relied on the Today show this morning for the information. According to the wife of one of the suspects, the men's families come from Jerusalem.
According to NBC reporter Janet Shamlian, who narrated a segment on the situation, those facing terrorism charges are "three Texas men."
Were New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert hangin' in the Hamptons this weekend? Exchanging ideas at a chic cocktail party with ocean views? You might think so, judging by their columns this morning in which they sound such similar themes.
Compare Krugman: "The Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited."
With Herbert: "Will [Americans] continue to fall for the political exploitation of their fears of terrorism?"
Other annotated excerpts, first from Herbert's column, Aiding Our Enemies [subscription required. Note to readers: despite my reluctance to patronize the NY Times, I broke down and subscribed over the weekends. I subscribe, read and report back, so you don't have to!]
"The catastrophic war in Iraq, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands, was a strategic mistake of the highest magnitude. It diverted our focus, energy and resources from the real enemy, Al Qaeda and its offshoots."
You might have thought they had gone the way of the dodo bird. But as per a sighting on today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer web site, there are still defenders of communism out there in the Western press.
It doesn't take much to offend liberals' exquisite sensitivities. The latest? Referring to Islamofascists as . . . Islamofascists. Chris Matthews got the ball rolling on this evening's Hardball. But Charlie Rangel upped the ante to the max, managing to impugn Christians and Jews in the bargain. Fortunately, GOP Congressman Dan Lungren had the guts to call Rangel on it.
Matthews got things started by challenging Lungren: "Would you include Hezbollah in that group [of Islamofascists]? Would you include Hamas, they are they enemies of Israel. Are they also enemies of ours? Are they also fascists because they have a dispute with Israel? Anybody who is against us is a fascist now."
Rangel sent things to the moon a bit later with this line: "You take Islamic and you call them fascists, you call them radical. You never called Hitler a Christian fascist. This is insulting to an entire religion."
Apparently stung by criticism of his comments on last night's Hardball, Brian Williams has responded with a clarification at the Daily Nightly, the in-house blog of the NBC Nightly News. In doing so, Williams seems to have coined a new phrase, claiming to have been 'aggressively misunderstood' by his critics.
As noted here, on last evening's 7 PM Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Williams about the latest terror plot members who were "people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us."
Responded Williams: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
Shortly after 9:00 this morning, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer introduced a report on the potential political ramifications of plot that was foiled by the British yesterday. Her introduction was questionable, but not necessarily offensive:
Here we are, a day after this plot's uncovered, and already the focus has turned to politics, and who gets the credit for this terror bust, and was it the US War on Terror?
MSNBC reporter Kevin Corke then reported from Texas. He had some political analysis, all of which was fairly straightforward and non-controversial. He reported on the President's comments from yesterday, and the fact that he's been in pretty constant contact with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At no point during the report did he report on the President doing, or quote the President, or any member of his administration saying, anything that could be construed as a partisan political statement. Nothing. It was a straight news report, and everything that was reportedly said or done was related strictly to the arrests and the ongoing war.
It comes like a punch to the gut, at times like these, when our leaders blatantly use the nation’s trauma for political gain.
Profound words, from the NY Times. And, of course, we all remember when they said that. They've pointed out how the Democrats have attempted to use the trauma of every dead American soldier for political gain. They've criticized John Kerry and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They've excoriated John Murtha and Ned Lamont. Attempting to score political points on the flag-draped coffins of American servicemen. It's reprehensible behavior, and the NY Times has rightly called them on it.
Oh, wait - no they haven't. As a matter of fact, if memory serves, they've actually played that same tune themselves. So, what, exactly, are they talking about in this editorial today? Who do they think is "blatantly us[ing] the nation's trauma for political gain" if it's not the Ned Lamonts of the left? Why, it's Ned Lamont's opponent, Joe Lieberman!
Those burly hawks of the Boston Globe are at it again. With a Landis-like testosterone rush, the Globe's editorial this morning, Tarring the majority, rips George H.W. Bush for failing to have taken out Saddam at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm. Or as the Globe so sneeringly put it:
"The weakling-in-chief who failed to oust Saddam Hussein in 1991 was not a Democrat but the first President George Bush."
Yes, we all remember those rousing Globe editorials urging the first war against Iraq. And who can forget the glorious martial strains of its editorial opus "On to Baghdad!" at war's end? Or not.
Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" surely intended to praise the heroism and selflessness of our various service people. But he employed at best an awkward, at worst an inappropriate and offensive manner of doing it.
On this evening's 7 PM ET edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews mused about the UK-born terrorists whose plot was foiled today:
"Here we have maybe 24 people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn't that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in these attacks?"
Williams [appearing from London's Heathrow airport]: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
Quick Take: Reuters' initial reaction to the UK airliner bomb plot arrests was to tie it to Tony Blair and Israel's actions in Lebanon. A later story, perhaps in response to blog criticism of the original, added the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "reasons." Nowhere is the idea that Islamic Jihadism, independent of day-to-day events in the Middle East, is involved. More important, and worse -- Articles containing speculation gone wild are allowed to go out disguised as "objective" news pieces.
Here, from The Washington Post at 2:13 AM (article saved to my hard drive to guard against the "memory-hole effect) are three paragraphs from a Reuters story on the UK airliner bomb plot arrests (paras 9, 10, and 11):
Following the arrests, security at all British airports was increased and additional security measures put in place for all flights.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under strong criticism at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.
The security alert comes 13 months after four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network on July 7 last year.
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
There is a noteworthy MSM tendency to downplay the gravity of terrorist acts by suggesting that they are local, home-grown incidents rather than forming part of international conspiracies. A recent example was the MSM's treatment of the Seattle Jewish center shootings in which a Muslim-American killed one woman and injured several others.
To his credit, NBC terrorism expert Roger Cressey wouldn't let Matt Lauer sing that song when he tried it on this morning's Today show in connection with the just-disclosed plot to blow up in mid-Atlantic flights originating in the UK.