On Thursday’s Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, host Maddow devoted a considerable chunk of her show to the story of convicted murderer Humbarto Leal Garcia's execution in Texas, and Republican Governor Rick Perry’s refusal to delay the execution to give Congress more time to pass legislation to address how the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations should be applied to such cases.
Garcia, who in 1994 raped a 16-year-old girl and then strangled her and crushed her skull with a 35-pound piece of asphalt, was sent to prison in 1998 but did not discover until two years later that he was supposed to be legally entitled to ask for help from the Mexican consulate in his defense.
(Note: This article earlier erroneously claimed that the Vienna Convention does not seem to demand that authorities inform a foreign national of the rights contained in the treaty when, in reality, the treaty does contain text making this demand of authorities.)
New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes was with the president in El Paso, Texas, inspiring Latino voters for his 2012 reelection by pushing Congress to hack a "path to citizenship for illegal immigrants." It’s a long shot in a Republican-controlled Congress, on an issue Obama did not press when the Democrats had big majorities in the House and Senate, but those points were buried in her 1,100-word story Wednesday, "In Border City Talk, Obama Urges G.O.P. to Help Overhaul Immigration Law."
President Obama came to this border city on Tuesday to argue that he is doing his part to crack down on illegal immigration, and that Republicans must now join him in overhauling the nation’s immigration laws for the millions of workers already here illegally.
GOP Gov. Rick Perry, who refuses to commit to Times-approved tax hikes, endured several stories from McKinley during his 2010 re-election battle cheering for his Democratic opponent. On Friday, McKinley again sounded more like an editorial writer than an objective reporter:
It is hard to overstate the budget-cutting furor that has gripped lawmakers in this capital, where the Republicans who control the Legislature and all statewide offices believe voters sent them an iron-clad mandate last year to shrink the size of government.
But the Texas government was already a relatively lean operation after years of conservative fiscal policies. So when the Texas House passed its budget bill last weekend, the depth of the cutbacks necessary for the Republican majority to stick to its promise of no new taxes became clearer. It was not a pretty picture.
A New York Times reporter who came under fire from the paper’s executive editor for his “cringe-making” and “ham-handed” reporting on a young rape victim in Texas returned to the story for Tuesday's front page: “3-Month Nightmare Emerges in Rape Inquiry.”
Keller criticized Houston Bureau Chief James McKinley’s March 9 story in his March 27 column for the Times Sunday magazine, giving it special place among various Times embarrassments “Between Ivana’s brassieres and W.M.D.’s are cringe-making one-offs like the ham-handed article that led some readers to think we were blaming the 11-year-old victim of a monstrous gang rape in Texas (the only way to make amends was to order up a whole new story)....”
McKinley’s initial story generated some reader outrage for seemingly being more concerned over the future of the young men being accused then of the rape victim herself, and with insensitive comments like this: “Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands – known as the Quarters - said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.” Well, one cheer for editorial transparency on the part of Keller.
Appearing as a guest on Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, Whoopi Goldberg - co-host of ABC’s The View - complained that bloggers disseminate inaccurate information about her without the need to "fact check," and that "they poop on you and they walk away." Goldberg: "But a blogger can say endless stuff. They don't have to fact check. ... And then that is picked up and made into some other story on another station, and it becomes the truth. See, I think fact outweighs assumption. So if you have facts in your hands, then you can talk, then you can have a conversation... People just, they poop on you and they walk away."
After asserting that she has said "not one thing" on ABC’s The View that she regrets saying, Goldberg soon added, "And I've gotten flack for what I felt was fact as opposed to someone's speculation."
But Goldberg has her own history of helping spread misinformation on The View. Last May, she and other co-hosts repeated the distorted claims of a left-wing organization in Texas which alleged that conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education were trying to downplay or eliminate references to slavery in its grade school history curriculum. On the Monday, May 17 show, Behar misinformed viewers with sarcasm: "Remember that thing called the 'slave trade'? Remember that? Okay, it turns out, what you learned was all wrong. Because it wasn't some evil buying and selling of human beings. It was simply called 'Atlantic triangular trade.' That's what they want to call it now. It's called revisionism. People do it about the Holocaust, and now Texas wants to do it about our country."
Moments later, Goldberg chimed in, "I’m sorry. Slavery was slavery. You can’t recall it." Instead of reading out the actual wording from the curriculum plan, panel members seemed only to refer to third-party accounts of the proposed changes.
And in April, the panel on the View helped feed the misinformed hysteria over Arizona’s effort to enforce federal immigration laws as some of her co-hosts assumed the new state law would require racial profiling and targeting of Hispanics, failing to convey that Arizona law enforcement would only check immigration documents of suspects who have been detained for some other reason. Goldberg acted more as moderator on this occasion and was not as outspoken as other co-hosts in making assertions about the new law, but she did not challenge the claims of her co-hosts and seemed to assume they were accurate. Goldberg, from the April 26 The View:
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, news reader Erica Hill used loaded liberal terms to describe a Texas pro-life event that Sarah Palin attended on Wednesday: "Palin shared the stage in an anti-abortion rights rally with Texas Governor Rick Perry."
Hill touted how despite making no announcement to make a 2012 presidential run, Palin "was looking an awful lot like a candidate," adding that the appearance with Governor Perry represented "a dream ticket for some tea party supporters." However, after playing a brief clip of Palin, Hill noted how "A just-released Associated Press poll finds of all the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, Sarah Palin is the most polarizing."
Former president George W. Bush can’t even put exhibits in his own presidential center without offending some easily frightened leftists. New York Times reporter Michael Brick handed some at Southern Methodist University in Dallas a megaphone to complain about the megaphone Bush used to address rescue workers from the rubble of the World Trade Center in moving fashion three days after the attacks in “Opening of Exhibit on Bush Reopens a Campus Rift.” Let's pick things up at paragraph three:
But now Mr. Bush is bringing out the bullhorn.
“Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” an exhibit set to open this weekend on the campus of Southern Methodist University, prominently features the handgun taken from Saddam Hussein and the loudspeaker used to address rescue workers at the World Trade Center in September 2001.
The choice of mementos, emphasizing some of the more controversial foreign policy aspects of the Bush presidency, has reinvigorated opposition to the center’s presence at the university.
“It’s the approach they’ve taken all along; it fits their worldview,” said the Rev. William K. McElvaney, a professor emeritus of preaching and worship at the university. “It’s a tragedy for S.M.U. to hitch its star to this.”
The new opening exhibit, some Methodist leaders said, provides a disturbing first glimpse into the presidential center’s priorities.
As the Texas State Board of Education worked to complete its once-every-ten-year revision of the curriculum for the state’s schools in May, much of the mainstream media promoted complaints and distortions from the left – many originating with the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network – about the nature of the changes in the guidelines and how they would effect textbooks that might end up in other states. One of the more incendiary distortions was that the conservative-leaning Texas Board of Education was trying to downplay or ignore the existence of slavery in America’s history as some on the left claimed that the term "slave trade" was being renamed "Atlantic triangular trade" thus removing the word "slave" or "slavery" from the curriculum. Joy Behar of ABC’s The View and of HLN’s Joy Behar Show went the furthest in slamming the board of education as she charged on the May 17 The View that "It's called revisionism. People do it about the Holocaust, and now Texas wants to do it about our country." She soon mockingly declared: "You know what, next they'll be burning books. Next step, burn books."
NBC’s Rehema Ellis mentioned the issue on the NBC Nightly News on two consecutive nights, on the May 22 show charging, "And the expression 'slave trade' would be changed to the 'Atlantic triangular trade.' Some critics see that as a move to deny slavery," while ABC’s Dan Harris on the May 21 World News asserted, "Here are some of the things the conservatives tried and failed to do: Have the President called by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, which some called an attempt to raise questions about his faith, and even rename the 'slave trade' as the 'Atlantic triangular trade.'"
But CNN’s T.J. Holmes deserves credit because he actually took the time to inform viewers of the wording in question, first as he, on the May 22 CNN Saturday Morning, hosted a debate between NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and Jonathan Saenz of the Liberty Institute, with the CNN anchor revealing that the new wording still used the word "slavery" as he posed a question to the NAACP president. Holmes: "I want to make sure, because I read this thing as well and I did see 'Atlantic triangular trade' in there, but then in the next, almost couple of words I saw the word 'slavery' ... Now, what is the issue with that that you call it a 'triangular trade' and then you're still talking about slavery and you used the word ' slavery'? What's the issue?"
MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Tuesday attacked new standards being adopted for history textbooks in Texas as "odd" and mocked that the state would now be teaching "education by Wikipedia." Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune appeared as a guest and fretted that the school board includes "a conservative, arch conservative bloc."
Todd recounted the changes being made to the curriculum, including "the idea that our Founding Fathers may not have intended a separation of church and state...how government taxation and regulation can serve as restrictions to private enterprise."
Todd derided the story, saying, "...The more you look into it, the odder it gets." He noted that the rise of the conservatism in the '80s would be highlighted and later marveled, "So, is this, essentially, education by Wikipedia? I mean, because, Wikipedia is...when a majority, it seems, accept what the version of a story that might have happened?" [Audio available here.]
The Texas state school board gave final approval Friday to controversial social studies standards that minimize the separation of church and state and say that America is not a democracy but a "constitutional republic."
Really? The second point is ludicrous to describe as "controversial." The U.S. system of government is not direct democracy but a representative republic regulated by a constitution, hence a "constitutional republic." As to the first allegation in Birnbaum's lead paragraph, this writer did some homework and found the actual text of the newly-approved standard in question, which applies to government courses:
Examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America and guaranteed its free exercise by saying that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and compare and contrast this to the phrase “separation of church and state.”
The notion that that standard "minimize[s]" the notion of "separation of church and state" must be read into the text of the actual newly-approved standard, it certainly isn't logically concluded from it.
Later in the article, Birnbaum insisted that "the new standards... draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis's and Abraham Lincoln's inaugural addresses." Here's the actual language of the newly devised standard:
ABC and NBC rushed to get stories onto the air Friday night delivering left-wing talking points against the new social studies curriculum guidelines passed by the Texas State Board of Education, as both portrayed conservative Christians as the enemies of accurate history. Reality wasn’t good enough for ABC, which framed its lead story around “Rewriting History?” and saw no liberals in the “big controversy,” yet also tried to discredit the conservatives by highlighting “some of the things the conservatives tried and failed to do.”
ABC’s Dan Harris fretted “the new standards require that textbooks mention pillars of the conservative movement, like the Moral Majority the National Rifle Association, and the Contract with America with no liberal counter balance.” Harris, acting as more of a prosecutor than a journalist, then ran archived clips of him demanding from board chairman Don McLeroy:
- What do you say to people who say that you are, in essence, imposing your political and religious views on school children?
- If the Founding Fathers really wanted this to be a Christian nation, why is there no mention of Christianity or Jesus in the Constitution?
Instead of citing any other examples of awful new guidelines, Harris went to ones not added: “Here are some of the things the conservatives tried and failed to do: Have the President called by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, which some called an attempt to raise questions about his faith, and even rename the slave trade as the Atlantic Triangular Trade.”
New York Times reporter James McKinley Jr. was in Austin to cover a controversy over school curriculum in Texas, with conservatives on the state Board of Education trying to soften the liberal tone of the state's textbooks and include more records of conservative accomplishments. His Thursday story, "Texas Conservatives Seek Deeper Stamp on Texts," was positively sodden with "conservative" labels, yet he managed to ignore a radical leftist group featured in an accompanying photo.
The article included two photos accompanied by a caption (including the one above, by Jack Plunkett of Associated Press): "Diana Gomez, center, and Garrett Mize, right, and other University of Texas students rallied against conservatives at a State Board of Education meeting Wednesday in Austin, Tex. The board's chairman, Gail Lowe, left, is one of the conservatives."
Though McKinley was sufficiently attuned to get the names of Gomez and Mize, he didn't bother to identify the group they were involved with, even thought a close look at the sign Gomez was holding makes it obvious. In the bottom right corner was the phrase "MEChA." As in the "Chicano" nationalist movement MEChA, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, translates as the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann singled out Texas to mock the religious beliefs of the state’s residents during one of his regular "Quick Comments." He began the segment by mocking the majority of Texas residents: "A mind may be a terrible thing to waste, but if you waste 15 million of them, apparently you get Texas."
After detailing statistics which show that most Texans did not realize that dinosaurs became extinct before humans existed, or that only about half believe in human evolution, Olbermann seemed to lament that he could not use the statistics to attack Republicans exclusively since the numbers are similar among members of both major parties: "I’d love to be able to pin this on political affiliation, but it’s almost a tie – 51 percent of Democrats said they either never go to church or only go once or twice a year; 45 percent of Republicans said they either never go to church or only go once or twice a year."
Below is a complete transcript of the second "Quick Comment" from the Monday, February 22, Countdown show on MSNBC:
A Monday New York Times story from Houston by Texas-based reporter James McKinley Jr., "Taking Texas Primary Even Further to the Right," focused on Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, whose reputation took a hit when she played coy in a radio interview with Glenn Beck on a question about 9-11. Medina responded with the thought that "the American people have not seen all the evidence there." That's flirting with 9-11 Trutherism: The idea, which has taken hold on the paranoid left, that the government under President George Bush had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks but did nothing to stop them.
While Medina later backtracked in a written statement, she deserves little sympathy for her initial outburst, whether it represents her true beliefs or if she was just making a cynical appeal to the paranoid right. But McKinley stacked the deck against Texas Republicans with his loaded labeling practices, tarring the party's candidates for governor as "far right."
Some days it is hard to be a neophyte far-right candidate in a governor's race, even in Texas, where Republicans vying for the party's nomination try to outdo one another to prove their conservative credentials.
New York Times reporter Michael Brick went to College Station, Texas, to preview a college visit by Barack Obama today commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first President Bush's "Points of Light" volunteer organization.
In the condescending "At A&M, a Dance of Decorum for Obama Visit," Brick posed fears that campus conservative activists at Texas A&M might embarrass themselves and their college with their "unchecked fervor," which "can be a raw and fearsome thing." Last year, you see, "the Young Conservatives embarrassed the university by throwing eggs at a picture of Mr. Obama."
Brick is being awfully protective of Obama. If defacing a picture of a president is an automatic embarrassment to a university, then every big college in America should be red-faced, since posters of Bush as Hitler were pretty much de rigueur at any decent campus protest. But the Times never showed any concern for campus hatred of Republicans.
The government is continuing to encroach on freedoms more and more in the name of climate change. Case in point: An ordinance that went into effect June 1 stating if you sell your home in Austin, Texas and you fail to get a clean energy "green" audit, you will likely face criminal charges.
According to an ordinance passed by the Austin City Council in November 2008, any home 10 years or older will require an "Energy Conservation Audit. Failure to comply - criminal charges as explained by the local community-owned electric utility:
What if I sell the house without having an audit?
Non-compliance with the ECAD ordinance is a Class C misdemeanor. Reported violations will be forwarded to the City of Austin Legal Department for review and action.
Terry Mattingly at Get Religion found a story by Terri Jo Ryan in the Waco Tribune-Herald that may be the just the first signal of another saddening, secularizing trend: the sensitivity police changing the name of Saint Patrick’s Day. It might be offensive to someone, somewhere to discuss saints or great Christian missionaries like Patrick:
Faith and begorrah, is nothing sacred?
Some folks are trying to transform the name of Tuesday’s holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to "Shamrock Day."
Card shops have banners proclaiming the occasion; the Disney Channel is using the term; and some places in this country have changed the name of their community celebrations of Celtic heritage to the "nonoffending" terminology.
Just as I finish a piece laughing at DailyKos for claiming that it is conservatives that feel they have to "create their own alternate reality" because of their "rigid ideology," I find a story out of The Austin American-Statesman where the DailyKos forced that paper to pull a story that had a mildly satirical take on last weekend's Netroots Nation conference in Texas. Apparently, the DailyKos folks didn't like The Austin American-Statesman's "reality" so the Kossacks flooded the paper with their insistence on creating a new one.
The original article by the Statesman's Patrick Beach knocked the nutrooters for the so-called "surprise" Gore visit, said it turned into a "faint-in," and that their general feeling was "terribly self-confirming," among other snippy comments... fun, but snippy. The general tone of the piece was that of amusement at how seriously the nutrooters took themselves. And, even more galling to said nutrooters, this story was the front page editorial of Sunday's edition. (Original, Google cached version of Beach's piece.)
This did not sit well with the nutrooters in question.
Let's say the year is 2006 and you're the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. A story breaks that you "received donations from an Alabama contractor" but you flatly deny it has anything to do with "a $2.6 million no-bid contract for the company in a national defense bill."
There's no doubt, particularly given the media's Republican "culture of corruption" meme that year that your party registration and chairmanship of the intel committee would be front-and-center when reporting the story.
But fast forward two years and that's precisely what the El Paso Times withheld from readers in the case of hometown congressman Silvestre Reyes. Rep. Reyes (D-Texas) has chaired the Intelligence Committee since Democrats regained the majority in the House of Representatives in January 2007, yet neither his influential post as chairman nor his Democratic party affiliation were mentioned by reporter Ramon Bracamontes in an April 16 article (h/t Peter DeNitto).
Bracamontes cited a Reyes statement denying allegations of impropriety:
Yesterday, Gateway Pundit noticed what he called an "Uh-Oh... This wasn't supposed to happen" event for presidential candidate Barack Obama:
An amazing article appeared in the mainstream news today. McClatchy actually reported that Obama's church merges Marxism and Christian Gospel and preaches that the white church in America is the Antichrist because it supported slavery and segregation.
That they did. But how did they headline it, and how many McClatchy newspapers actually ran the story?
Margaret Talev's Thursday, March 20 description of the fundamental doctrines of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) does get right to the point. Talev even goes so far as to question the candidate's motivations for his involvement with the church.
Most importantly, which I why I've bolded the related text, Talev notes that while TUCC's radical and racist philosophies will survive the Rev. Wright's retirement, their continued presence will not deter Obama from continuing to attend:
In rural parts of the country, it happens from time to time; a person appears uninvited on someone's property, and the landowner tells them that "elsewhere" is a better place to be. Typically these confrontations are benign in nature, even when on occasion either the property owner or the trespasser turns out to be armed.
Such was the case in Texas this past weekend when a Danish reporter wandered into the yard of an elderly Texas woman, and she shooed him off, a gun apparently in hand.
CNN's Ed Henry made quite a big deal out of the incident, promoting it as a near "international incident" writing in the lede that the Dane came "this close to getting shot."
In another example of the belt-tightening of the old media, NBC has announced that they will be closing two of their long standing news bureaus. Gone will be the Chicago and Dallas bureaus to be replaced by "regional hubs."
Insiders tell TVNewser the current NBC News global news gathering system is in for an overhaul. Sources tell us a 9am ET conference call among News division execs and the bureau managers will announce that the current system will be replaced with regional hubs covering large areas of the U.S. and, in some cases, the world.
TVNewser reports that the Chicago office will now answer to the New York office and Dallas will report to Atlanta. No word on how many jobs are to be lost, but it is certain that some will go away.
Terri Burke, former editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, has been named executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
Burke, 56, will begin work at the ACLU of Texas on Tuesday. Her duties will include lobbying, fundraising, administering the organization and communicating with the public.
Burke said her new job seems like a continuation of her work in the newspaper business.
"I wanted to be a journalist because I thought journalism was a way to further the democratic process," Burke said. "At its heart, journalism is about the First Amendment. All my life, I've been interested in those kinds of issues."
I will suggest that no one in Old Media will think of Burke's move as the least bit odd.
Funny, that's not how they saw it in 1998 when the late David Brinkley retired and became a spokesman for a large corporation.
Past articles document the media’s bias against Castle Doctrine, insinuating that this enhanced self-defense law impedes investigators and handcuffs prosecutors,1 or that the right of self-defense originated with Castle Doctrine.2
Laura Whitley of ABC Houston affiliate KTRK covering a recent self-defense story where Rodney Shamlin was shot by homeowner Gary Southworth, wrote:
It is no secret that Air America is a favorite of most if not all the liberal denizens of many newsrooms. In Austin today, Austin Statesman reporter W. Gardner Selby cemented that reputation in his/her publicity piece on Air America's demise in Austin, Texas. Wrote Selby,
Air America seeks another home in Central Texas, but nothing is imminent, Kaufman said. He'd welcome tips at firstname.lastname@example.org. "If someone can point me in the direction of someone more amenable to picking up our format, I'll take all the help I can get," Kaufman said.
I am aware that the liberal media will do virtually anything to try to counteract the conservative dominance of talk radio, but for a supposedly neutral reporter to publish the liberal talk radio's contact information along with a barely-disguised plea for someone to add Air America to their radio lineup strikes me as somehow beyond the pale.
New York Times reporter Gretel Kovach reported on the tragic shooting death in Dallas of Jeffrey Carter Albrecht, the keyboard player for Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, in "Musician Is Killed For Banging On a Door." But unwittingly or not, that headline (killed for banging on a door -- talk about harsh Texas justice!) suggested the shooting was an overreaction, and Kovach's article further politicized the issue from the second sentence on.
A Texas rock musician was shot to death here early Monday by a neighbor who fired through a closed door, thinking he was scaring off a burglar.
The incident occurred just three days after a new law took effect strengthening the right of Texans to use deadly force to protect themselves and their property.
For a long time, the San Antonio Express-News was unique, not in its predictably liberal editorial page or in its port-skewing news coverage. No, instead, it was one of the few American newspapers to have two editorial cartoonists, one liberal and one conservative.
That is no longer the case. Under pressure to cut jobs and staff in the midst of the overall decline of print media, Express-News editorial page editor Bruce Davidson decided that the paper should drop conservative cartoonist Leo Garza, a fixture at the paper for over 20 years. Liberal cartoonist John Branch will remain on the staff.
You'd think that given the Express-News's posture of demanding accountability from government and (other) businesses, that it would be consistent and respect the "public's right to know" what prompted this politically charged decision. Alas, no such explanation seems in the offing for us plebs.
The State of Texas easily has the highest execution rate in the United States. That is part of the reason why you "don't mess with Texas." And why is it exactly that Texas stands alone in implemeting the death penalty? According to Reuters, the answer is evangelical Christians.