from Baghdad this morning, and continuing a theme that MRC's Brent Baker spotted last evening, NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams let a
cat out of the bag that could leave some serious scratch marks on
MSM/DNC calls for stopping the surge and withdrawing US troops from
Iraq. Williams said that US troops:
"are also aware, especially in the outposts, that it's
the Iraqi people who are very reluctant to see the Americans go,
because in many cases that's what's keeping the peace in town."
We'll see how the electorate decides, but there's no doubt who won the "Today" show primaries this morning. For the Dems, it was Barack, and among Republicans, Rudy.
Narrating the segment on the political duel between Obama and Hillary in Selma, Alabama this weekend, Andrea Mitchell portrayed Obama as having authentic appeal, while picturing Hillary resorting to heavy-handed political tactics.
Consider Mitchell's opening line: "On the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the historic clash over voting rights in Selma, Alabama, Barack Obama was supposed to be the main attraction, until Hillary Clinton, slipping in the polls to Obama among African-Americans, decided to come." Translation: a sinking Hillary tries to steal Barack's limelight. Not very flattering.
As Mitchell mentioned that Hillary had brought Bill because of his "enormous popularity with black voters," a clip rolled of a woman literally squealing in excitement and delight as Bill walked by in the parade. But doesn't that highlight Hillary's relative weakness as much as Bill's strength?
After stating that "Obama answered critics who say his mixed ancestry makes him not black enough," Mitchell rolled a clip of Obama speaking in a preacher's cadence as he told a church gathering: "don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody walked."
Compare and contrast Obama's strong -- versus Hillary's screeching -- pulpitperformances here.
It's a bit early for a Passover Seder, but Tim Russert recited his own version of the Four Questions on this morning's Meet the Press. Not once, not twice, but four times Russert put questions to Jack Murtha clearly designed to provoke the anti-war congressman into taking a verbal swing at Vice-President Cheney. Murtha refused to rise to his host's bait. Russert began by displaying Mr. Cheney's recent statement [displayed below]. Palpably fishing for an irate, headline-grabbing response, he put this provoking question to Murtha:
"How does it feel to be linked with Al-Qaeda by the Vice-President?"
Did Maureen really mean to call Hillary "feral"? As in: "a domestic animal that has returned to the wild and lives without human attention"? Is there something about Hillary that brought to Dowd's mind the famed razorback from the senator's erstwhile state of Arkansas? In any case, we'll take Maureen at her word. In Where’s His Right Hook? this morning, Dowd describes Barack Obama as being "bullied" by "the feral Hillary." Yikes.
Dowd reports on a recent interview with Obama, to whom she variously refers as "Obambi" and "Barry," and lets us know she found herself, sitting across from him, feeling like the "nun [in the "Bells of St. Mary"] who teaches a schoolboy who’s being bullied how to box." So Obama brings out the protective nun in Dowd. I don't recall a woman ever mentioning that she felt like a nun in Bill Clinton's presence.
Dowd clearly has her doubts as to whether Obama has the requisite toughness as either candidate or leader:
Ever heard of the Wise Men of Chelm? They are the well-intentioned but foolish residents of an imaginary Jewish village, and the object of humor that stretches back 500 years. Here's one story. One of the "wise men" is sent to a neighboring village to bring back a horse. On the way home the horse wanders off and is lost. "Schlemiel!" remonstrate the townspeople with him. "Don't you know you have to lead the horse back on a rope?"
A week later the same man is sent off to bring back a slab of butter. Learning from his mistake and taking the advice to heart, he drags the butter all the way home along the dusty road on a rope.
The Wise Men are still with us. They might be gone from Chelm, but continue to populate academia and the MSM. One resident popped up on the pages of the Boston Globe this morning. Andrew Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. In Rescinding the Bush Doctrine, Bacevich calls for Congress to learn from the errors of President Bush's ways in Iraq, and "focus on averting any recurrence of this misadventure." And just how would the well-intentioned professor rope in our foreign policy and prevent it from wandering off, so to speak? By formally and legislatively renouncing the use of preventive war. Specifically, Bacevich calls on Democratic leaders to "offer a binding resolution that makes the following three points":
First, the United States categorically renounces preventive war.
Second, the United States will henceforth consider armed force to be an instrument of last resort.
Third, except in response to a direct attack on the United States, any future use of force will require prior Congressional authorization, as required by the Constitution.
It's a tried and true tactic of interest groups seeking to influence public opinion -- and legislative policy -- on a controversial issue. Find the most sympathetic individual case you can, and get the media to focus on that, rather than on the broaders merits of the matter. A prime example of the phenomenon was on display today at Good Morning America. Congressman Marty Meehan [D-MA] has introduced legislation that would repeal the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy, with the result that gays would be able to serve openly in the military. Hearings are scheduled to begin soon.
ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper narrated a segment on Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva [ret], described as the first member of the US military seriously injured in the Iraq invasion, losing a leg and part of a hand. In conjunction with the debate on the bill, Sergeant Alva publicly announced, apparently for the first time today, that he is gay.
Tapper interviewed Sergeant Alva at the offices of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. Later in the segment, we heard from Dixon Osburn of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, another gay rights group that focuses specifically on gays in the military. It seems likely that one or both of these groups have identified Alva as a spokesman, then took his story to ABC, which ran with it.
If there were any doubt as to the degree to which the MSM loathes and distrusts President Bush, it should be dispelled by the performance of Sy Hersh on today's Hardball and the way he was applauded by Chris Matthews. At the end of Hersh's appearance, Matthews put this question to the investigative reporter:
"What's your biggest worry in the world? Is it Iran? Is it this administration going to war with Iran? Is it a civil war in Iraq? Is it Musharraf's inability to fight the Taliban on his own soil? What's your biggest worry?"
Without a hint of balance, Robert Kuttner of the Boston Globe thinks he has it all figured out -- 20 months before the election -- that the GOP candidates cannot win, while the Dems are the right ticket as he tries Taking stock of the 2008 field.
Naturally, his is another gusher for Barack Obama. But, he starts his piece in one way or another ripping each and every one of the GOP candidates, or those who would vote for them, before saying how "strong" the Dems field of candidates is.
Here are the results of his analyzing of the GOP field:
Is there any canard against President Bush more tired than the notion that he ignores the Establishment Clause, or as his liberal critics tend to put it, the "separation of church and state"? Maureen Dowd offered a classic exemplar of the criticism on this morning's Meet the Press, telling Tim Russert that: "W has sort of merged church and state while trying to keep them apart in Iraq."
Russert didn't ask Dowd to substantiate her assertion. But when Bush antagonists are pressed for proof, they typically point to the president's Faith-Based Initiative and the manner in which the W incorporates religious themes in his public pronouncements. But as has been documented, Pres. Bush has in fact invoked religion much less explicitly than many of his predecessors, including liberal icon FDR. In his D-Day prayer, for example, Roosevelt stated, among other things, that "with Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy." I defy Dowd or others sharing her view to provide an example of Pres. Bush coming anywhere close to FDR in suggesting that God is on our side. As for the Faith-Based Initiative, it incorporates a variety of safeguards specifically designed to prevent violation of the Establishment clause, including the following:
If NBC wants to support the effort of Joe Biden and Carl Levin to adopt a new resolution undercutting the 2002 version that authorized President Bush to go to war against Iraq, let it put Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann out there to make the case. But please don't misrepresent to the public what that 2002 resolution [full text here] said.
On this morning's "Today," NBC reporter John Yang asserted the following:
"That 2002 measure allowed the president to go after weapons of mass destruction and topple Saddam Hussein. There were no weapons and Saddam's been executed."
Whether intentionally or not, Yang misrepresented the scope of what the 2002 resolution authorized the president to do. Here is the verbatim text of the section of the 2002 resolution setting for the the authorization:
"24" is just a TV show. But in her Los Angeles Times column of today, America Tortures (yawn), Rosa Brooks cites the actions of the show's characters -- and the American public's reaction to them -- as evidence of the way in which we have become inured to U.S. government-sponsored torture. In doing so, Brooks unwittingly raises another, more interesting issue.
Writes Rosa: "If you need any more evidence that the American public has gotten blasé about torture, consider the hit Fox action drama '24.' The show featured 67 torture scenes during its first five seasons, and most of those depicted torture being used by 'heroic' U.S. counter-terror agents." Note Brooks' placement of scare quotes around "heroic." For the enlightened folks of the liberal media elite, Jack Bauer is no hero -- he is best viewed as a torturer. But Brooks leaves an important question unanswered.
With Hillary and Barack flailing away at each other, third-man-out John Edwards turned up on this morning's "Today." But while claiming he wanted to stay above the fray, he certainly came close to calling Hillary dishonest, all the while laughing off the notion that he might be.
Norah O'Donnell played a clip of Edwards saying: "We need a leader who will be open and honest with you, and with the American people. Who will tell the truth. Who will tell the truth when they've made a mistake."
Wow. John pulls off a reverse "open and honest" with a double-twisting "tell the truth." Wonder whom he might have had in mind?
When Meredith Vieira interviewed the ex-senator from North Carolina a moment later, she wasted no time in putting the question to him: "in addition to the comments we heard from you criticizing Senator Clinton for not taking responsibility for her vote authorizing the war, you also said yesterday 'we need a leader who is honest, open and decent.' Are you suggesting at all that Senator Clinton is not honest, open or decent?"
As I discussed here, yesterday's clash between Hillary and Barack Obama was perhaps the most bitter and open infighting between Dem presidential candidates in many an election cycle. Particularly given that it was comments by David Geffen quoted in a column by the New York Times' own Maureen Dowd that touched off the fracas, you would have thought the Times would have gone out of it way to highlight the intra-Dem battle. So . . . how did the New York Times portray the matter in its headline this morning? In Both Parties,2008 Politeness Falls to Infighting.
That's right, this isn't a problem unique to Dems. "Both parties" have suffered a failure of "politeness." Now it's true that over the last couple days, John McCain has taken verbal shots at Vice-President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and also criticized the Bush administration on the environment. But those were substantive critiques of policy. In contrast, Geffen's comments, with which Obama pointedly chose not to disassociate himself, could not have been more personal, calling the Clinton couple liars and Bill "reckless."
The Times furthered the moral equivalency with this helpful chart, documenting the barbs aimed by the respective Dems and Republicans.
Nothing for the MSM like dumping a little pre-emptive cold water on the Bush administration and the situation in Iraq. Introducing his interview with Vice-President Cheney this morning, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl claimed:
"It would appear that the British announcement [of a partial withdrawal of forces from Iraq] is bad news for the Bush administration, but in the first official reaction from the United States, Vice-President Cheney told ABC News that he thinks that the announcement is actually good news -- a sign of progress in Iraq."
ABC then ran the clip of VP Cheney making his case: "I look at it, and what I see is an affirmation that in parts of Iraq things are going pretty well. I talked to a friend who just the other day had driven from Baghdad down to Basra [in the Shia-dominated south], seven hours. Found the situation dramatically improved from the way it was a year or so ago. Sort of validated the British view that they have made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore afford to reduce their force levels."
Talk about creating a false dichotomy geared to discrediting a policy! The AP has generated a doosie in theirs titled "Rural America bears scars from Iraq war" and subtitled "Nearly half of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq came from a small town".
Their main thrust is that small towns are somehow seeing their sons fall on the field of battle in "unfair" numbers.
Across the nation, small towns are quietly bearing a disproportionate burden of war. Nearly half of the more than 3,100 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq have come from towns like McKeesport, where fewer than 25,000 people live, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. One in five hailed from hometowns of less than 5,000.
At first blush this might seem to be alarming. But, when one lets that first emotive rush fade and allows a little common sense to be applied to the situation, it doesn't seem so outrageous. The fact is, youngsters from rural areas are simply far more prone to joining the military in the first place and always have been. So it is a natural matter of strict statistics that more from those areas would fall in battle. After all, there are more of them.
So, what we are left with is a naked, emotive effort to cause some sort of outrage over the perceived unfairness of this statistic, even as there is no "fair" or "unfair" component to it. It is simply a fact.
When it came time to pass an anti-war resolution, the Democrats were no better than a bunch of timid pre-teens on Halloween. That was the view Matt Lauer expressed in a colloquy with Tim Russert on this morning's "Today."
Lauer: "The Democrats in the Senate failed to pass this vote so they could even debate this Iraq strategy and there's even some who are talking about possibly bringing up the idea of revoking the 2002 authorization to go to war. If they can't pass a kind of symbolic vote, how do they ever have the kind of strength to do something more serious?"
Russert agreed that "it's going to be very difficult."
Matt wasn't done: "Looking at what happened in the House . . . over the weekend, basically the House did pass this resolution saying they oppose the surge in troops, but put yourself in the position of Joe and Mary Smith, living somewhere across this country right now, and you've watched these politicians for more than a month talk about passing a symbolic vote. Does it amount to little more than them ringing someone's doorbell and running away?"
It might actually be worth the price of admission to Paul Krugman's column this morning to observe the amusing manner in which the New York Times columnist wriggles around in a trap of his own making regarding Hillary's vote to authorize the Iraq war. On the one hand, he wants her to apologize for it, and so must criticize her for not doing so. On the other, he hastens to make the limits of his criticism perfectly clear. He's not lumping her in with those awful, intransigent Republicans. Certainly not. Krugman wouldn't want to damage the presumptive Dem candidate . . . nor bring down The Wrath of the Clinton upon his hoary head.
And so Krugman spends most of his column, the ostensible purpose of which is to lament Hillary's inflexibility, lambasting Republicans for their unbending nature, all the while being careful to observe that Hillary is, well, perhaps a teeny bit like them -- but not too much, mind you!
President Bush and VP Cheney are "pathologically incapable of owning up to mistakes."
"Karl Rove turned refusal to admit error into a political principle."
"George Bush . . . suffer[s] from an infallibility complex."
"Dick Cheney is a 'megalomaniac.'"
"Senator John McCain . . . appears to share the Bush administration’s habit of rewriting history to preserve an appearance of infallibility."
"As for Rudy Giuliani, there are so many examples of his inability to accept criticism that it’s hard to choose."
In a statement obtained by this NewsBuster, a senior Bush
administration official has disputed a New York Times article, Jailed 2 Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans that suggests
that the review process for detainees held by the U.S.
military in Iraq
is inadequate. The Times story is anecdotal, telling the story of Laith al-Ani,
an Iraqi Sunni who was released by U.S.
authorities last month. According to the Times story, "people like
Mr. Ani . . . are being held without charge and without access to tribunals
where their cases are reviewed."
Without responding to the specifics of Mr. Ani's case, the senior Bush
administration official told me that "the facts of our detention system
belie the themes of this article. We follow well-established standards of
review that go well above and beyond what the law requires. And we do so
in the face of a ruthless and determined enemy."
He offered the following overview of the review process:
Would you be proud of yourself if your works were commemorated for helping put in power a murderous Communist who has killed thousands upon thousands of his own people over a 40 some year reign of terror?
When the fights against the Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista began in the late 1950s, Fidel Castro was just one of several guerrilla fighters trying to vie for followers and publicity. Castro was just a nut in the wilderness with few followers, though, until Herbert Matthews and the New York Times came along.
Interviewing anti-war Senator Russ Feingold this morning, Good Morning America weekend co-host Bill Weir offered his interpretation of the mid-term election results and virtually taunted Democrats for being insufficiently aggressive in confronting President Bush:
"Do you hold your party responsible, not only for the authorization, but for the seeming inability to muster a unified front to fight the president on this, to get what you want, and apparently what the American people wanted with the mid-term elections, and end the war?"
On this afternoon's Tucker Carlson show, an MSNBC consultant flatly called President Bush a recovering substance abuser. Guest host Joe Scarborough took things a giant step further, seeming to analogize evangelical Christians with such substance abusers.
Joe Scarborough substituted for Tucker Carlson on the latter's MSNBC show today. Discussing President Bush's upbeat mood, despite congressional opposition and the tough slogging in Iraq, Scarborough asked MSNBC consultant Craig Crawford "what's this guy got to be cocky about?"
Crawford: "I would point to the history of anyone recovering from substance abuse. No, seriously. There is a body of thought that those in recovery, like he is, become very absolute about blacks and whites. There's no middle ground. You either take that substance or you don't."
Scarborough: "As a guy who has grown up in an evangelical church, you could also say that about certain people of faith. A lot of people are more pragmatic, but there're some people that go in those church pews, and it's black or white, right?"
Crawford: "Sure, yeah!"
UPDATE 02-20-07: Joe Scarborough has contacted NB to express his very strong objection to this item, which he described as "deeply offensive and intellectually dishonest," claiming it suggested that he is anti-Christian. Said Mr. Scarborough: "the fact that I mocked Craig Crawford with a laugh for suggesting Bush was a substance abuser and then suggested it might be his faith instead that makes him see the world in black and white does not mean I compared the two. Seeing things in black and white is not a negative [in Christianity]." Added Mr. Scarborough: "The fact I am writing a book about how Christians are slandered by the mainstream media and American culture makes your remarks all the more maddening."
Here is a refreshing change of pace. According to Editor and Publisher, New Mexico Radio station KSFR has made a new policy to eschew usage of newswire stories based on quotes from "unnamed officials" or other unattributed sources.
News director Bill Dupuy sent the following message to his news staff:
Effectively immediately and until further notice, it is the policy of KSFR's news department to ignore and not repeat any wire service or nationally published story about Iran, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia or any other foreign power that quotes an "unnamed" U.S. official.
What we have suspected and talked about at length before is now becoming clear. "High administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity," "Usually reliable Washington sources," and others of the like were behind the publicity that added credibility to the need to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq.
The mainstream media loves war veteran members of Congress -- when they’re opposed to the Iraq War. As reported by Newsbusters, in November 2005, when Congressman and Vietnam War veteran John Murtha came out against the Iraq War, the network news broadcasts touted his opposition as well as his service.
That has never been the case for Congressman and Vietnam prisoner of war Sam Johnson. Earlier this week, Johnson spoke out in favor of the war and against the anti-surge resolution. Congressman Johnson gave an emotional press conference with his retelling of the events of that era.
Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX): “Words can't fully describe the unspeakable damage of the anti-American efforts against the war back home to the guys on the ground. When they pulled the funds for Vietnam, we were still POW's and we thought we were going to be there forever.”
I have been watching the "reportage" on the regrettable incident of a teenaged killer's rampage in a Utah shopping mall with mounting interest. In nearly every story of this crime the fact that this youngster is from a Muslim background is either muted or ignored altogether.
The AP, for instance, avoids identifying the boy as a Muslim in all their stories that I saw. In one, they merely identify the region in Bosnia in which he lived as the "northeastern enclave where up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in 1995" but do not even speculate as to the boy or his family being Muslims. It is all rather dutifully avoided. In another story, the AP doesn't even use the word Muslim at all.
It goes without saying that we wouldn't want to provoke such a person -- it could harm his self-esteem. Unfortunately, President Bush doesn't seem to have gotten the message. But thank goodness for David Gregory. As luck would have it he turned up at today's White House press conference to convey the message to the president: stop provoking poor Mahmoud!
Gregory began by observing: "A lot of critics say that you are using the same quality of intelligence about Iran that you used to make the case for war in Iraq . . . and that you are doing that to make a case for war against Iran. Is that the case?"
Blogs such as NewsBusters are an "incredibly important" news medium whose influence will only continue to grow, a senior U.S. military official said today. Speaking from Baghdad, Major General William Caldwell, senior military spokesman in Iraq, made the remarks in the course of a conference call with bloggers in which this NewsBuster participated.
Said MG Caldwell in closing remarks: "Thanks for what you all do. I've just been amazed. I had no idea ten months ago what an incredible addition you all are in helping tell what's going on and providing information. You're an incredibly important news medium, that from what I've seen is just growing in importance from last May until now, and will only continue to do in the future."
CNN’s Bill Schneider suddenly feels the resentment of foreign leaders preaching policy to Americans. Of course, it’s a conservative blasting a liberal U.S. politician. Australian Prime Minister John Howard explained why terrorists are rooting for Barack Obama.
Howard: "He’s a long way from being president of the United States. I think he’s wrong. I think that would just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory."
Senator Obama shot back
Obama: "I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.
In keeping with their constant quest to saddle the USA with the fault for the growing unrest in he Middle East, the Washington Post has unleashed another article, replete with some efforts to blame-the-USA-first, titled "Across Arab World, a Widening Rift".
In the first paragraph, writer Anthony Shadid illustrates the traditionally intertwined nature of Egypt's Sunni and Shiite communities showing us how they have so easily coexisted in the recent past but quickly gets to the warnings of the danger of the Shiites "rising".
Naturally, this is the fault of the USA who has left Arabs with a sense of "powerlessness and a persistent suspicion of American intentions." The rise of unrest is also blamed on the "United States and others for inflaming it".
Should Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ever make it to America, he will feel right at home in the faculty lounges of America's universities and the executive suites of the MSM. For this morning, he gave the Iranian version of a slogan near and dear to the hearts of the aging campus activists of the 60s and 70s who are to be found there: Make Love Not War!
In segments broadcast on today's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer continued her interview of Ahmadinejad. Quizzed by Sawyer about his country's nuclear ambitions, he replied:
"We believe that the time is now over for nuclear weapons. It's a time for logic, for rationality and for civilization. Instead of thinking of finding new weapons, we are trying to find new ways to love people."
Right on, Mahmoud! Let me to introduce you to Ms. Hilton, here -- she may have some ideas.
View video here. Be sure to check out Diane's eyebrow raise when that wild 'n crazy Mahmoud mentions his hunt for new ways to love.
From the moment Tom Matzzie, the Washington director of Moveon.org, turned up on this afternoon's Tucker Carlson, something just didn't feel right. Matzzie just didn't fit the Moveon mold. There was no whiff of the angry zealot about him, no sense that Tucker was one misstep away from witnessing a meltdown. Mattzie came across as one more pleasant-enough fellow with a DC organizational gig. Someone who might even have fit in an outfit as conventional and boring, say, as the 2004 John Kerry campaign. Which is precisely where, as the record reveals, Matzzie did spend the last presidential season, working as the Kerry-Edwards director of online organizing.
Matzzie was on to discuss the issue of whether, from the perspective of the left, Hillary needs to do a full-frontal mea culpa for her 2002 vote authorizing the war in Iraq. Carlson began by playing the clip from this past weekend in New Hampshire of a man at a campaign event solemnly informing Hillary that until she admits to a "mistake" on the vote, he and other like-minded people aren't going to hear all the other "great things" she's saying. Hillary trotted out her shopworn line about having "taken responsibility" for her vote -- whatever that means -- while claiming that "the mistakes were made by this president." The specific issue at hand aside, I would encourage people to view the video of Hillary's remarks. Her tone, and her tendency to blame others, are unappealing, and underline her shortcomings as a candidate.
When Carlson asked "why can't Hillary Clinton just apologize?", I fully expected Matzzie to enthusiastically agree. But, au contraire,MoveOn's man responded "I don't think it's about apologies; I think what people really want to hear is how Senator Clinton is going to help get America out of Iraq."