The Iraq Study Group's recommendations are about to be released. Think about it: what should be the media's focus? I'd say attention should center on what those recommendations are, and whether if implemented they would advance - or impair - US interests in Iraq.
But that's not the MSM's focus at all. From the cover of Newsweek to the Today show, the concern is not whether the recommendations are good, but only whether President Bush will accept them.
In the course of Matt Lauer's interview of former Bush chief-of-staff Andy Card, 'Today' flashed the Newsweek cover shown here. When Card began
Give New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof credit for a couple things. First, he is as far from an armchair pundit as you can get, having been virtually everywhere and put himself on the line innumerable times. Check his bio. Second, he makes no bones about what he is proposing in Iraq in his pay-per-view column of today. "Cut and walk" isn't my gloss; it's Kristof's headline.
That said, Kristof's column reads like something that might have been written by warm 'n fuzzy Stuart Smalley, the SNL character Al Franken hilariously immortalized before deciding he had serious things to say.
On Monday’s "Situation Room," CNN reporter Jeff Greenfield discussed the possibility of American losing in Iraq and whether it would turn out to be such a terrible thing. He began by describing several historical military defeats, including Vietnam, and, according to Greenfield, many of these examples seemed to lead to positive outcomes. It’s fitting that host Wolf Blitzer introduced him by noting that the reporter was "contemplating the ‘L’ word."
Greenfield: "In one view, such setbacks encouraged America’s adversaries to be more bold in their assaults. But over time, another picture emerges. Less than 20 years after the fall of Vietnam, the Soviet Union literally ceased to exist. More than half a century after China became communist, the U.S. is economically, at least, a partner. And America's biggest companies see China not as a threat, as but a huge market. And Vietnam? It embraces an American president and American investments. As for Iraq, the turmoil there almost surely means that the ambitious goals of the invasion, a stable, functioning democracy are beyond reach. But if the United States chooses to engage and chooses, as well, to talk with nations in the region like Iran and Syria, that course will likely trigger a profound debate, perhaps even reaching into the next presidential campaign. And what would that debate be about? More than anything else, one key question: Would this engagement tell the world that the United States has become weaker--or wiser?"
'Today' invited John Murtha in for a victory lap this morning, and the Dem congressman from PA responded with breathtaking megalomania seasoned with anti-Americanism. Calling America "the enemy" in Iraq, he preened over having been "way ahead" and demanded the US now "take my advice."
NBC's invitation came in the wake of the leak of a Donald Rumsfeld memo floating the idea of redeploying American troops from Baghdad and other cities to safer areas in Iraq or Kuwait, where they would act as a “quick reaction force.”
Boston Globe columnist James Carroll is no mere defeatist. In the clash of civilizations between West and Islamic East, he doesn't simply believe the West can't win. In his mind, it doesn't deserve to win. With open arms, Carroll embraces Eurabia.
In The Twain Begin to Meet, Carroll begins by citing Rudyard Kipling's famous "East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." He ends by welcoming what he describes as "the power of Europe's new hope -- the twain meeting at last."
In between, he observes that "Europe became 'Europe' in the first place only in response to a challenge from Islam. . . . [I]t was the external contest with Islam that gave Europe its internal cohesion. The psychological mechanism is basic: Group identity follows from group threat."
Jawa Report: Main Insurgent Group, Ansar al Sunna, Decapitated in Iraq
Here they aren't:
Google News Search, sorted by Date, Nov. 27 - Dec. 2, on *Baghdad sniper captured* (NOT in quotes) -- Jawa Report's are the only relevant listings (darn, how did he get into Google News?).
Google News Search, sorted by Date, Nov. 27 - Dec. 2, on "Ansar al Sunna" (in quotes) -- Jawa Report is there. There is a Washington Post report that has the Ansar al Sunna news at the ninth paragraph of a story that is not only primarily about the possible finding of the remains of a downed F-16 pilot, but that also gives no clue in the headline that any additional news is in the article. As of when the search was done (3 PM on Saturday), all other articles listed were either foreign publications or smaller US web sites that track military matters.
When the MSM wants to be particularly nasty toward President Bush, it breaks out the references to his dissolute younger days. Witness this week's 'Time' cover story 'Can Bush find an exit?,' which manages a two-fer in the genre: a reference to W's hard-drinking past and an allusion to him as nothing less than a drug addict.
The story's very first lines:
"George Bush has a history of long-overdue U-turns. He waited until he woke up, hung over, one morning at 40 before giving up booze cold. He fought the idea of a homeland-security agency for eight months after 9/11 and then scampered aboard and called it his idea. But Bush has never had to pull off a U-turn like the one he is contemplating now: to give up on his dream of turning Babylon into an oasis of freedom and democracy . . . "
Did you know that Americans don't want to "live next door to a Muslim", or that Americans want all Muslims to "carry special identification", or that it is but "Ignorance" that is seen as a "Key Problem" to these foolish American's "hatred" and misperceptions?
Reuters knew, if you didn't. And they are happy to let us all know about it, too.
It all stems from a Radio host misusing his audience to make a point that Americans are no different than the Germans who turned a blind eye to Hitler's "Final Solution" against Jews during WWII.
While they don't address each other explicitly, you might say that Jeff Jacoby's and Frank Rich's dueling columns on Iraq this morning reflect a civil war among American pundits. On the one hand, Rich of the New York Times, who in Has He Started Talking to the Walls?:
Claims Pres. Bush is "completely untethered from reality."
Accuses him of "flouting democracy at home."
Suggests that "a timely slug" administered to the commander-in-Chief by Jim Webb might have been a good thing; and
Casts as an "illusion" the notion "that America can control events on the ground."
And in this corner, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. In Fighting To Win in Iraq, Jacoby catalogues Jim Baker's history of foreign policy flops, including:
How do you know when you've gone overboard with political correctness? When even the liberal panelists of Fox News Watch chide you for it. Host Eric Burns normally stays above the fray. But for some reason, on this evening's show he chose to criticize US Airways for removing from one of its flights six imams whose actions had made other passengers uneasy.
Said Burns, introducing the segment: "There were two stories in the news this week about religion. First, Pope Benedict in Turkey tried to encourage tolerance between Catholics and Muslims. Second, a story of tolerance of U.S. Airways and Muslims - there wasn't any - as six Muslim religious leaders, or imams, were recently yanked off a US Airways flight for no apparent reason other than that a passenger thought they were behaving strangely. Jane, I wonder if the moral of these two stories is first that the media are not at all captivated by this Pope . . but they are captivated by stories that seem to show that anti-terrorist policies sometimes go too far."
It would be political malpractice for Democrats to hand the microphone for their weekly radio address to someone whose remarks didn't advance the interests of their party. And sure enough, the transcript of left-wing preacher Jim Wallis's talk of today reveals nothing that wouldn't comfortably fit in the mouth of Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.
Wallis might coyly call himself "non-partisan," but does that oblige the CNN-AP to follow suit? Yet in its story on Wallis's address, AP-CNN referred to Wallis as "non-partisan" and tried to bolster that view of him by adding that "the religious leader has been openly critical of Democratic politicians." Perhaps as a matter of the Dems' overly-partisan form. But as a matter of substance, Wallis's views are indistinguishable from those of the liberal mainstream of the Democratic party.
The gist: those mean Republicans are trying to tar the rising star of the Democratic party [legally-mandated descriptor] by making malign associations with his moniker. The GOP's latest mischief - letting people know that the middle name of the junior senator from Illinois is "Hussein."
Bunk. Any possible shock value in the Barack Hussein Obama handle has already largely faded. And this being a nation that likes to see itself as open and accepting, I'd say that, should he stay in the race, by election time his name will be an absolute advantage. Predicted opening line at the 2008 DNC Convention - if it comes to that - "I am an American. And my name is Barack Hussein Obama." Cue the wild cheering on the floor as Katie Couric gets all misty up in the booth.
CENTCOM is one of the five geographically-defined unified commands within the Department of Defense. With responsibility for 27 countries including Iraq, CENTCOM is commanded by Gen. John Abizaid.
Perusing CENTCOM's weekly online newsletter today, I noticed a tab labelled "What Extremists Say." I clicked on it, hoping to catch up on the latest pronouncements by Keith Olbermann, George Soros, perhaps Michael Moore.
But no, it turns out that CENTCOM had another kind of extremist in mind, folks like the al-Fajr Information Center, who have put out their first issue of a new magazine “Technical Mujahid,” electronically distributed to password-protected jihadist forums. No word if MoveOn.org has taken out any advertising space.
Ever wonder what makes Keith Olbermann such a fine journalist? Well, according to the former sportscaster, it’s the fact that he doesn’t "make the facts up" like Rush Limbaugh does.
PBS host Jim Lehrer trumpeted his objectivity in a more creative way. Using a food analogy, the anchor deemed himself the "flavor of neutrality." (Just a thought, but where do the liberal flavors originate? Ben and Jerry's?)
Perhaps longing for the "good old days," NBC News chose no less an authoritative source than Matt Lauer to announce that the situation in Iraq is a civil war. Maybe NBC is attempting to recreate the famous "Cronkite moment"?
Interestingly, this same network that is so eager to declare a civil war, has, at times, been hesitant to label Hezbollah a terrorist group.
'Today' continued this morning its campaign of promoting the Baker-Hamilton slo-mo surrender. Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell left little doubt as to her inclinations with this mini-editorial in the guise of a report:
"Americans might well be asking today after all the high-profile summits this week on two continents 'is the administration any closer now to an exit strategy for Iraq?'"
Noting that "time is running out and options limited," Mitchell wanted to know whether President Bush is "ready to change policy before events overtake him?" She then launched into a description of the policy changes to be proposed by the Baker-Hamilton Study Group.
Yesterday, I noted here the pride of place 'Today' accorded Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, to trumpet his abjectly bleak view of Iraq. Haas confirmed Meredith Vieira's assessment of his position: "You do not believe that there is anything about the situation that is winnable, I take it." He added that Iraq would be seen as a "colossal foreign policy failure."
All this sets the stage nicely for the forthcoming, much-leaked recommendations of the Baker Study Group, which effectively will be calling for a slow-motion retreat and surrender.
Enter John Podhoretz. In his NY Post column of today, Podhoretz excoriates both the Study Group's members and its recommendations. Excerpts:
For the second consecutive year, CBS seized upon the opportunity to view the White House Christmas decorations to ambush First Lady Laura Bush with questions about Iraq. However, when CBS interviewed first lady and Senator-elect Hillary Clinton in 2000, Jane Clayson ignored policy questions and instead highlighted Mrs. Clinton’s accomplishments and inquired about Mrs. Clinton’s favorite Christmas traditions.
On Thursday’s "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm portrayed Iraq as hopeless and was dismayed that U.S. troops are not being withdrawn:
"And can you offer them words of comfort and hope as I think many of them were hoping that perhaps with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that maybe we would begin a gradual pullout of troops but yet, once again we hear today that our troops will be there indefinitely."
On his November 28 program, CNN's Lou Dobbs accused a major American corporation of sponsoring terrorism. But in leveling his charge, Dobbs didn't bother to give viewers a balanced perspective on American exports and business dealings in foreign countries that, to say the least, are not the nicest neighbors on the geopolitical block.
But while it's understandable to be critical of American companies doing business in Syria or Sudan, how exactly does selling cars and trucks to civilians in those countries amount to "bankrolling" terrorism?
My full article is available at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site. Before the election we documented Dobbs's bias in favor of liberal Democratic policies in his self-appointed defense of the average Joe in what he believes is the Bush administration's "War on the Middle Class."
It's hard to be a sunny optimist when considering the situation at Iraq. Things are tough, no doubt. That said, was Today, the show whose NBC News parent famously declared "civil war" earlier this week, giving us a fair-and-balanced view of matters this morning when the only expert we heard from expressed the most unalloyed pessimism on Iraqi prospects?
Meredith Vieira interviewed Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and former principal adviser to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. At the end of their conversation, Vieira summed up Haas's views this way: "You do not believe that there is anything about the situation that is winnable, I take it."
The media’s fascination and love affair with Jimmy Carter apparently have no limits. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewed the ex-president on Tuesday’s "Situation Room" and cited his knowledge and experience of dealing with Iran:
Wolf Blitzer: "You know a lot about Iran. You spent the last 444 days of your presidency focusing in on the American hostages."
Jimmy Carter: "I remember that."
Blitzer: "I know. I remember it very well. I think everyone who was alive remembers it, as well. This is a regime -- basically, the same people who were in charge then, who took over for the shah, are still in charge right now, led by a supreme ayatollah, who has been meeting today with Talabani, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met yesterday with Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq."
Blitzer may remember the event, but it’s unclear if he recalls the botched Carter rescue attempts, including one that left eight U.S. servicemen dead. If he did recollect the event, the CNN anchor certainly didn’t bring the subject up.
On November 27, 2006, the media stepped up their demands for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq by officially naming the incursion a civil war. While questioning their motives, Americans must also be extremely concerned with how quickly these same voices will demand our military be sent back in a humanitarian effort to halt the inevitable post-retreat genocide.
Amid all the seemingly principled antiwar discussions that have transpired the past several years, one issue has been shamelessly and immorally absent: if American troops leave Iraq too soon, one of the largest mass-murders of innocent people in history might ensue.
I felt myself cringing from the very beginning of Maureen Dowd's column this morning. You had a dread sense of where the story was headed when Dowd opened by writing "Nick Rapavi’s family and friends described him as a tough guy with a selfless streak. He’d wanted to be a Marine since high school, and his dress uniform had a parade of medals for heroism in Afghanistan and Iraq, including a Purple Heart." Sure and sadly enough, Dowd informed us that "the kid described as being 'full of life' died Friday in Anbar Province, the heartless heart of darkness in western Iraq, the hole-in-the-desert stronghold of the Sunni insurgency and Al Qaeda fighters."
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes," CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan insisted the US had been defeated in Iraq. During an interview with General John Abizaid, the top US Commander in Iraq, Logan asserted, "We hear very little about victory in Iraq these days. We hear a lot about how to manage the defeat." It appears Ms. Logan suffers from selective hearing. While many Democrats and some Republicans talk about Iraq as a lost cause, sources such as Senator John McCain and White House officials still insist victory is not only possible, it is imperative.
General Abizaid dismissed Logan’s claims, and maintained that "defeat" was her word not his. However, Logan persisted in proclaiming that the United States had been beaten.
I actually have a soft spot for Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, finding her among the most even-keeled of the morning news show hosts. But again this morning she evinced a tendency to get star-struck in the presence of a big name, and wound up lavishing praise on Jimmy Carter and his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, which depicts Israel as a second-rate South Africa from the bad old days.
Roberts actually began with what amounted to a DNC disclaimer:
"Now to your book, which many people find surprising, that you come down a little hard on Israel and that there have been key Democrats who have distanced themselves a little bit from your view on Israel. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [jumping the gun there just a tad, Robin] said it is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionizes ethnically-based oppression and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously. What is your response to that?"
My antenna went up when Matt Lauer opened this morning's "Today" with these words: "Good morning. Civil war. A bloody weekend of sectarian clashes in Iraq and no sign it's letting up."
"Civil war"? I was certain I hadn't heard Today employ the term before. And sure enough, Lauer shortly thereafter declared: "For months the White House rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war. For the most part news organizations like NBC hesitated to characterize it as such. After careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted and what is going on in Iraq can now be characterized as civil war."
Lauer later brought in retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey to make the case for the change in terminology.
A man poured gasoline on himself on November 3rd and on the side of the road on Chicago's Kennedy Expressway he lit himself on fire. It caused a traffic jam, but little else. In fact, no one even knew who the suicide was for several days until a friend of his got a letter sent him by the dead man just before his final day.
And still, few cared.
It turns out this was supposed to be some kind of anti-war statement akin to a Buddhist monk's self-immolation in Saigon during Vietnam. Sadly, this protester didn't seem to know that statements don't mean very much unless someone actually hears them.
The man, an activist named Mark David "Malachi" Ritscher, left a rambling manifesto-like web page purportedly explaining his actions that does little but show his rather unbalanced mental state. As Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper put it, the web message "comes across as intelligent, passionate, bitter, angry, disoriented -- and disturbed".
Putin's Russia poses a potentially serious threat to the United States. But America lacks the moral standing to confront it. That was the view expressed by Ellen Ratner on this morning's Fox & Friends. Ratner, the short, liberal side of 'The Long & the Short of It' duo [seen here in file photo], expressed little doubt that Putin's government was behind the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
Ratner: "I think that there's no question. If I were a betting woman it would be 100% Putin and Russia, it's just their operation and they have the means to do it."
She continued: "We have got to take a very good, careful look at Russia. We're in Iraq where you have sort of a ragtag group of insurgents. And we're not focusing on the Russians that have over 5,000 nukes [and other WMDs] . . . Unfortunately, we're in business with these guys, we need their oil."
That's when Ratner asserted that America's alleged moral failings limited its options:
"I don't know what we should do except that we are not in a great position because we don't have the moral standing given what we're doing in Iraq."
And here I thought I was joking. Yesterday, I closed this item on Maureen Dowd's column - in which she longed for an Iraqi dictator to whom to surrender - by wondering whether we should "look for Dowd to pop up in Baghdad sometime soon, leading a 'Bring Back Saddam' movement?"
But the appeal of bringing back Saddam is apparently no laughing matter in liberal circles. In today's Los Angeles Times, New Republic editor Jonathan Chait - he of "Bush Hatred" fame - has written a column entitled, yes, "Bring back Saddam Hussein." I kept reading for a clue that this was a Swiftian modest proposal. It never came. Chait apparently means it. Excerpts:
Maureen Dowd: law-and-order fan? And here I thought liberals like to pose as champions of human rights . . .
But consider Dowd's idea of an Iraq solution: find brutal dictators to whom we can surrender and who will impose "law and order." Working model: the US capitulation to the Communist dicators of Hanoi.
The title of her subscription-required column of this morning, No One to Lose To, says it all. Dowd's biggest regret is, yes, that there's no obvious thug, or thugocracy, to whom to surrender. Dowd approvingly quotes Neil Sheehan, a former Times reporter in Vietnam who wrote “A Bright Shining Lie” as saying:
“In Vietnam, there were just two sides to the civil war. You had a government in Hanoi with a structure of command and an army and a guerrilla movement that would obey what they were told to do. So you had law and order in Saigon immediately after the war ended. In Iraq, there’s no one like that for us to lose to and then do business with.”