A classic MSM damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't moment on this morning's "Today". Tim Russert declared that when it comes to his surge-or-not-to-surge decision on Iraq, President Bush is in "a lose-lose situation."
According to Russert, if the president proceeds with the surge, the Dem-controlled Congress will hold hearings with experts "and they will give the president a very difficult time on the surge capacity."
Continued Tim: "On the other hand, if the president decides not to go forward with the surge of American troops, many members of his conservative base, particularly the neo-conservatives who have been supporting this war, will be agitated with him."
It goes without saying that if you're the Commander-in-Chief, among the first people whose criticism you'd want to take into account would be . . . Hollywood movie stars. At least, that would seem to be Chris Matthews's opinion.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton appeared on Wednesday’s The View to discuss politics and the re-release of her book, It Takes a Village. While there was some cheerleading for the 2008 Democratic presidential frontrunner by co-hosts Joy Behar and Rosie O’Donnell, for the most part, there seemed to be a great deal of restraint on all sides during Clinton’s two segments. Asked about a potential run for the White House, Clinton again said she was thinking about it "trying to sort all this out." On the war in Iraq, Clinton only got one challenging question in regards to her support of a "phased redeployment," from co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck:
Senator Hillary Clinton: "....So, if it's not going to change the mission, if it's not going to be a different strategy, I don't see where putting more troops will make a difference."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "Do you think pulling them out too early will–would equate to–sometimes I think of it as, you know, not finishing all of your antibiotics. Okay, there’s a problem there."
Hasselbeck: "So if you pull out too early, will that create more chaos?"
Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
On this afternoon's Hardball, the old lawyer's adage rose up and bit Chris Matthews hard: never ask a witness a question to which you don't know the answer. Matthews's guest was retired Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro, Chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. Matthews's substance and tone left no doubt that he wanted his questions as to the availability of sufficient troops to pacify Baghdad, and the advisability of using Guard and Reserve troops as part of such a "surge," answered in the negative.
Matthews: "Do we have the troops to dramatically increase our complement of troops in Iraq, sir?"
Punaro: "Absolutely. Between our active military and the number of troops we have in the Guard and Reserve, should the Commander-in-Chief, on the advice of the combatant commanders in the field and with the concurrence of the Congress make the decision that we want to increase the size of the force in Iraq, we certainly have the ability to surge those forces."
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":
Could multiculturalism be on its way out at the New York Times? Yesterday, one columnist extolled classically Western Hellenic values over those of historical Judaism. Today, another columnist flatly asserts that freedom is "a distinctive product of Western civilization."
In the subscription-required God's Gift, Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson criticizes the Bush administration for formulating its Iraq policy on the "erroneous assumption . . . that freedom is a natural part of the human condition."
Continued Patterson: "A basic flaw in the approach of the president and his neoliberal (a k a neoconservative) advisers was their failure to distinguish Western beliefs about freedom from those critical features of it that non-Western peoples were likely to embrace."
Nigerian terrorists got free ink in the Baltimore Sun while the company that employs their victims, Shell Oil, got nothing, not even an acknowledgement from the Sun's reporter that the group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
One country’s terrorist menace is one Baltimore Sun reporter’s insurgency.
In his December 18 article, “Paying the price for resistance,” Sun foreign reporter Scott Calvert gave readers a snapshot of a “violent insurgency that has forced a 20 percent to 25 percent cut” in Nigerian oil exports.
It has been widely speculated that President Bush will call for an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq as part of his new war strategy. Though no changes have been officially announced, ABC's Dan Harris on Good Morning America Monday predicted gloom and doom in terms of public support for the war. Introducing a live report from reporter Jonathan Karl at the Pentagon, Harris prognosticated that this new policy would be 'very unpopular':
Dan Harris: "And now to the expected surge of U.S. troops in Iraq. As Robert Gates is sworn in today as the new defense secretary, thousands more Americans may soon be headed into the war zone. This could be a very unpopular policy, and ABC's Jonathan Karl is standing by at the Pentagon this morning. Jonathan?"
It was such a cheap play to the left-wing peanut gallery that it doesn't even pay to be disgusted. Discussing the "Time" magazine person of the year choice on "The View" this morning, yenta-in-residence Joy Behar blurted out:
"You have to put like a Hitler type. Like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something."
When some in the audience began to jeer, Behar broke into a huge, mock-surprised smile, as if to say "what's wrong with that?"
Editor and Publisher seems hardly able to hold back their excitement over the possibility that someone has found proof of the existence of the mysterious "Captain Jamil Hussein" who the Associated Press claimed as a source for the supposed burning of 6 Sunni Iraqis in retaliation for the depredations of that sect on their Shi'ite neighbors.
How do you know the Iraq Study Group report is dead? When on this evening's Fox News Watch conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton declares its "total evaporation" and the most aggressive liberal panelist doesn't bother to deny it.
"I think the most interesting thing has been the total evaporation of the Baker-Hamilton commission as a force in American politics. Of all people Laurence O'Donnell at the Huffington Post had a headline: 'Rush Limbaugh Is Right,' about the report, saying it is a formula for surrender. And whether you like it or not, Neal, Bush is not going to surrender Iraq."
A bloody civil conflict between distinct Muslim factions that has left thousands dead and many more displaced. Should America be involved? For the MSM, the obvious answer is 'no' if you're talking about Iraq. None of our business. A quagmire. We can't referee a civil war. Get out now.
But Darfur, another bloody conflict between warring Muslim groups? Well, that's different. Not only can and should we be involved, but, we're blithely informed, "this is one we can fix."
What's the difference? As more than one commentator has observed, liberals are all in favor of American intervention - so long as we have no national security interest at stake.
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” - Winston Churchill
In the course of a Boston Globe column today in which she calls for a referendum in Iraq as to whether the US stays or goes, Ellen Goodman writes:
"Today we have nearly 3,000 American deaths, and by one estimate 650,000 Iraqi deaths."
Ever the environmentalist, Goodman dutifully recycles the findings of a report published in the Lancet magazine on civilian deaths in Iraq. This study, prepared by two anti-war partisans, has - as I noted here back in October - been thoroughly debunked. See more recently this piece which among other things quotes "Hot Air" thusly:
Liberal New York Times columnist Frank Rich was among friends during his appearance on Wednesday’s edition of The View. While co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Rosie O’Donnell were nowhere to be found during the segment, Joy Behar and Barbara Walters allowed Rich to promote his book, which Walters herself said "tears the Bush White House apart." While Walters did pose one challenge to the writer’s assertion that the Iraq war cannot be won, most of the questions directed to the columnist would not be considered so tough.
Walters began the interview with the Times columnist with this glowing introduction:
Barbara Walters: "Every Sunday, millions of people turn to New York Times columnist Frank Rich to hear his views on everything from politics to pop culture. That's how important his opinions are. Not everybody loves his opinions, and in his new book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, he absolutely tears the Bush White House apart. This is a book that is such fascinating reading."
The bravest and most patriotic of Americans, those who see first hand what goes on in Iraq, can see the liberal bias in the media. On Monday’s Hannity and Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity recounted from his recent trip to Iraq that many in uniform there feel the media paints a grimmer picture than the reality on the ground. Hannity first offered this comment when talking with Oliver North reporting from Ramadi, Iraq.
Sean Hannity: "You know Colonel, one of the things without fail, wherever the secretary went, he was greeted like a rock star. I mean, the troops love him. And the one theme that kept coming back to me, and they watched TV regularly, they’ve had Fox News on almost everywhere I went, is that the media was not portraying this accurately, and they did mentioned, quite often, the disdain and the disgust at the portrayal of, of their efforts and the politics that’s going on behind here in America. I assume that, this now your eighth trip to Iraq, you’re hearing a lot of the same thing."
Good-natured advice to reporters making headlines by exposing the ignorance of government officials on national security matters: keep your facts straight yourselves.
There's been a rash of stories in recent days about the shocking ignorance of various government officials when it comes to bread 'n butter facts about the war on terror. First there was a report by Lisa Myers of NBC revealing how little some top FBI officials knew about various terrorist groups and leaders.
Just in the last couple days, Jeff Stein the National Security Editor at Congressional Quarterly, has been getting a lot of play with his story of similar ignorance on the part of incoming House Intelligence Commitee Chairman Silvestre Reyes [D-TX]. Reyes didn't know that Al Qaeda was a strictly Sunni group, nor did he have command of the basics about Hezbollah.
What’s the best way to cover the story that the incoming Democratic House Intelligence Chairman flunked a reporter’s current events quiz? Well, if you’re the producers of CNN’s "American Morning," you devote five minutes to the subject and spend half the time discussing examples of Republicans flubbing such quizzes. Reporter Bob Franken filed two reports for the Tuesday edition of "American Morning" and seemed downright embarrassed to be reporting the fact that Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes incorrectly responded to a correspondent’s question of who, Shiite or Sunni, primarily comprise al-Qaeda. (Reyes believed the answer to be Shiites.) Franken alternately asserted that the House member must now be aware of "snarky reporters," "treacherous reporters" and claimed that Reyes had been given a "rude welcome." Perhaps to make up for even mentioning the subject, the CNN reporter spent two and a half minutes, out of a combined five total, discussing Republican goofs. At 7:15am, co-host Soledad O’Brien introduced Franken, and set the "we-don’t-want-to-cover-this" tone:
Soledad O’Brien: "In Washington, D.C., Democrats are getting a little taste of what it's like to be in charge on Capitol Hill. Along with the perks of power comes the gotcha moments. The incoming House Intelligence Chairman is the current victim as he flunks an important test. ‘American Morning’s Bob Franken live in Washington for us this morning with details. Good morning."
Saturday's New York Times obituary for Jeane Kirkpatrick, President Ronald Reagan's envoy to the United Nations, was written by Tim Weiner and draws on Weiner's background as the paper's liberal defense reporter during the 1990s.
Weiner takes a mostly positive look at Kirkpatrick's life and influence at the U.N., but can't resist inserting his own liberal foreign policy slant.
"At the United Nations, she defended Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983. She argued for El Salvador's right-wing junta and against Nicaragua’s left-wing ruling council, the Sandinistas."
I almost did a double take when reading this editorial knowing it came from the Washington Post. Kudos to the staff of the editorial page for printing something very politically incorrect about deceased former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and acknowledging the horrible truth that Fidel Castro, the aging communist ruler of Cuba, has not been sufficiently denounced.
Castro-worship (and really Fidel is just a cipher for any leftist dictator) is an amusing thing. I once encountered a college professor who was so enamored of him, he even defended Castro's systematic murders and imprisonments of gay Cubans, despite having previously denounced the right for being anti-gay just weeks before. The further irony was, that this guy taught ancient political philosophy and history and yet was forever going on about how wonderful Fidel was.
And now to the excerpt:
It's hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves
behind the most successful country in Latin America. In the past 15
years, Chile's economy has grown at twice the regional average, and its
poverty rate has been halved. It's leaving behind the developing world,
where all of its neighbors remain mired. It also has a vibrant
democracy. Earlier this year it elected another socialist president,
Michelle Bachelet, who suffered persecution during the Pinochet years.
..... now the WashPost has printed another article on the city, this time an upbeat one. What gives? You guessed it.The second one was reported from Ramadi. Case closed, thank you very much. Unfortunately, it's little solace knowing how few journalists ever leave their safe little hovels in Baghdad hotels or Washington, D.C.
Kaus doesn't think "upbeat" accurately describes the WaPo article, which is actually an AP dispatch by Will Weissert. I agree; I'd call it "even-handed."
But there's a larger point, which is that an actual named AP reporter has reported from something other than a "safe little hovel," and from Ramadi no less.
Why? I have to wonder if AP is responding to the current controversy, by doing things it would probably never admit to doing, and certainly would never attribute to having been done because of outside influence. Specifically:
Was it a planned one-two punch? On Saturday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich declared that "we have lost in Iraq." Today, in The Time Is Now, his Times colleague Bob Herbert flatly calls for surrender. No conditions, no time-table. As Herbert starkly puts it: "it is time to pull the troops out of harm’s way."
Herbert says "it is wrong to continue sending fresh bodies after those already lost." He raises the "moral question" of justifying "the lives that will be lost between now and the final day of our departure." But Herbert ignores another looming moral question: the lives that will be lost if we hastily retreat.
Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday. The senator from Kansas:
Endorsed the ISG report and appeared to strongly support negotiations with Iran and Syria.
Called for a timetable for US withdrawal.
Spoke approvingly of a Bidenesqe division of Iraq into three ethnic regions.
Declined to swing at the softball host Chris Wallace lobbed at him regarding Mitt Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gay rights.
Seemingly described himself as a "compassionate conservative."
Invited by Wallace to comment on the ISG report, Brownback was surprisingly supportive: "I think [Pres. Bush] really should look at these recommendations very seriously as well. And it seems to me that what Baker-Hamilton provides us is a chance to kind of reset the table and get a bi-partisan buy-in and not just a bipartisan buy-in, a global buy-in to what we can do to move forward in Iraq and get our troops out of harm's way and out of the sectarian violence. I think this is an important moment, like senator Dodd identifies as well"
How does Jimmy Carter know when he's outstayed his welcome on the international stage? When even Jane Hall, the genial liberal of Fox News Watch, suggests it's time to turn him out to pasture. Carter's latest book, an anti-Israel diatribe incitingly entitled "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" brought this evening's panel together - in criticism of the 39th president.
Lefty Neal Gabler took the first shot, noting the way Carter went after Jewish critics of his book: "he's criticizing book reviewers of his book for being too Jewish, which I think is very odd."
Said conservative commentator Cal Thomas: "Carter has pretty much enjoyed a free ride on the Middle East because of Camp David and the great media celebration of that. I think it's time to confront him a little more about the content of his ideas."
But it was the normally mild-mannered Jane Hall who got off the line of the night:
Sure, the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group might be largely useless. But hey, check out all the wonderful consensus - and cue another chorus of Kumbaya! That, in a nutshell, is the message of the Boston Globe's editorial of this morning, Presidential Ingratitude.
"Whatever might be questioned in any particular recommendation of the report, the bipartisan spirit and consensus-building purpose of the Iraq Study Group deserve grateful praise from the president, not a defensive rejection."
"The Iraq Study Group may not have come up with all the right answers; in their pursuit of unanimity, they may have settled for split-the-difference compromises where only one straight path makes sense.But in their bipartisan spirit of cooperation, they gave Americans a much-needed reminder of how statecraft once was conducted."
Guest hosting this afternoon's Hardball, Mike Barnicle claimed to decry the politics surrounding the Iraq Study Group's report. But when it comes to political cheap shots, does it get much lower than this comment by Barnicle himself?
"Since the report was issued, I think 19 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Does anybody really think about that at the top level here today in terms of the report? Is it all just the politics of it?"
What is it about leaving a network gig that makes news anchors even more biased? Ex-host Tom Brokaw told a "Harball" audience that Barack Obama is a "rock star," lavished praise on Jon Stewart, and claimed that Ronald Reagan neglected "Mother Earth."
Speaking of NBC stars who suck up to environmentalists, Matt Lauer recently encouraged Al Gore to run for president and "save the planet." Way to stay objective, Matt!
The "Today" anchor continued his global warming obsession in another segment, lauding actor Leonardo DiCaprio for "standing up to get people thinking" about the issue. (Funny, I don’t recall the "Today" host complimenting many pro-life activists for "standing up.")
Lobbying for global warming can be tiring work, as NewsBusters editor Matthew Sheffield noted when he pointed out that CNN host Miles O’Brien fell asleep during recent hearings on the subject.
This week, the "mainstream" media continued lobbying for a complete acknowledgment of total failure in Iraq. "Time" magazine likened the Iraq Study Report to a drug intervention. Discussing the same subject, "Hardball" guest host Mike Barnicle wondered if President Bush is "delusional," " isolated" or "stubborn." Those are certainly some great options to chose from!
NBC is so giddy to report on Bush’s failures in Iraq, they’ll even spin the truth. On Friday’s Today,Ann Curry and Tim Russert deeply implied their shared beliefs on an incompetent, stubborn, and increasingly isolated Bush administration. Curry inquired, "just how extraordinary were the events of this week?"
They got so carried away in their Bush bashing, Tim Russert strayed from the truth claiming, "a new secretary of Defense says, no we’re losing in Iraq."
However, what incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates actually said was that the United States is "not winning but, not losing." As fellow news analyst Michael Rule noted, CBS misquoted Robert Gates as well. The entire transcript is below.
Ann Curry: "Tim Russert is NBC's Washington bureau chief and the moderator of Meet the Press. Tim, good morning."
Perhaps in an attempt to surpass even David Gregory for most egregious bias, CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux derided President Bush as a "Kool-Aid" drinker who won’t admit failure in Iraq. In a report for the Friday edition of "American Morning," the White House correspondent discussed Bush’s news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In additional fits of bias, Malveaux, described the President’s frustration at the lack of progress in Iraq as "the closest you'll get from this president to admitting failure" and noted that "for Mr. Bush, it's not easy to admit mistakes." But nowhere did Ms. Malveaux make her editorial point more clear, that Iraq is a total failure and Bush is in denial, than when she drew an allusion to Jonestown and the infamous mass suicide by Kool-Aid:
Suzanne Malveaux: "President Bush and his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have stood shoulder to shoulder on the Iraq war since the very beginning. Critics calling Mr. Bush 'the cowboy' for stubbornly leading the charge, and Mr. Blair 'the poodle' for obediently following. But three years since the U.S. invasion, the two are still adamant their Iraq mission is sound. President Bush didn't just drink the Kool-Aid, he made it. But perhaps now it's a little less sweet."
Al Gore's not just a father of the internet. Not merely a savior of the planet. He's also a venerable psychotherapist. Ask Ann Curry.
'Today' opened its show this morning with a clip of a British reporter snidely asking President Bush, at his joint press conference yesterday with British PM Tony Blair, whether he was "in denial" over Iraq.
Curry kept the psychoanalysis going with this comment-in-the-guise-of-a-question to Tim Russert:
"This has got to be a tough time for this president. We heard earlier on this program from Al Gore, earlier this week, his recommendation to the president not to take all of this personally. Is there a sense in Washington that the president is having such a tough time with this personally that it's making it difficult, it's affecting his judgment, over what to do next in Iraq?"