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Ed Driscoll

Monthly Archives: September 2009

The ‘Bam Who Fell To Earth

September 28th, 2009 - 2:38 pm

Back in July I described the positively celestial coverage that Newsweek had bestowed upon The Won, and wrote:

nr_parody_cover_6-09Last month, Evan Thomas declared [Obama] “standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God.” This week, as Ed Morrissey paraphrases with gusto, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend writes, “You know who’d make a great Pope?”

The parody Newsweek cover that National Review’s art department designed last month (and reproduced at left) is looking, if anything, understated these days. Obama’s no longer “Better than FDR”, he’s positively papal. I didn’t know Obama was Catholic; As someone who placed himself on styrofoam Olympus last year, I assumed he transcended earthly religious castes.

Like Icarus though, Obama has crashed and burned in at least one Newsweek journalist’s eyes. Spotting a story by Howard Fineman titled, “The Limits of Charisma: Mr. President, Please Stay Off TV”, Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters writes:

How do you know when an extraordinarily liberal politician is failing badly?

When extraordinarily liberal journalists like Newsweek’s Howard Fineman not only notice, but are willing to write about it AND get their critique’s published.

Adding insult to injury, in Fineman’s most recent column, he expressed concern that “[u]nless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he’s not going to be reelected.”

* * *

To be sure, losing Howard Fineman is not anywhere near as serious for Obama as losing Walter Cronkite was for Lyndon Johnson.

However, with each passing week, more and more liberal journalists are realizing what those that didn’t drink Obama’s Kool Aid knew when he first threw his hat into the ring in 2007: this is a completely inexperienced politician with absolutely no track record of legislative success.

As Fineman noted, “Never much of a legislator (and not long a -senator), Obama underestimated the complexity of enacting a major “reform” bill.”

Hey Howard: where were you when candidate Obama’s detractors were pointing out his astounding lack of legislative accomplishments and just how green he was as a senator?

Oh, that’s right — you were aiding and abetting his White House run by not bothering to report such insignificant details.

Nice of you to tell your readers now almost eleven months AFTER Election Day; you and your editors should be so proud of your journalistic expertise.

As the Professor likes to ask, who were the rubes? Or as one journalist noted a few years ago:

A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don’t mean the Democrats. I’m talking about the “mainstream media,” which is being destroyed by the opposition (or worse, the casual disdain) of George Bush’s Republican Party; by competition from other news outlets (led by the internet and Fox’s canny Roger Ailes); and by its own fraying journalistic standards.

– Howard Fineman, in 2005.

Update: “Rule of Thumb #1 for President Obama:  When Howard Fineman starts looking fondly back to the Reagan administration, you know you’re in trouble.”

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“Good Luck In Getting It Right This Time”

September 28th, 2009 - 11:52 am

Hugh Hewitt pens a memo to Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN, regarding his network’s coverage of Iran’s efforts to aquire the bomb, and reminds him, “There isn’t a bigger story or a more important one. Good luck in getting it right this time. Your choice very likely to be the only thing you will ever be remembered for”:

Congratulations on the approach of your fifth anniversary at the helm of CNN/US. What a great moment during which to exercise leadership over one of the most important media platforms in the world. It may be “the most busted name in news” in the eyes of many, but the reach of CNN’s programming is still vast. It remains the default network for center-left elites who cannot abide the buffoonery that MSNBC has sunk to, and even those of us who watch Fox News with great regularity are still checking in on Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and a few others.

There’s lots to criticize, of course, with the refrains from the center-right as familiar to you as the chorus from “American Pie.” (Please, no more fringe extremists held up as “representing” conservatism generally or Tea Party activists specifically.) While fixing these flaws would increase your audience and your credibility on many issues, these are small points compared with the looming world crisis. What really matters right now is that CNN get the Iran story right and that you not become the Geoffrey Dawson of the new millennium.

You no doubt know of [Geoffrey] Dawson and his shameful record of abetting the appeasement of Neville Chamberlain throughout the ’30s from his post as editor of the Times of London, in its day the most powerful news platform in the world. Dawson emerges as a loathsome character in the pages of William Manchester’s “Alone,” the narrative of Winston Churchill’s wilderness years from 1932 to 1940.

At every turn, Dawson supported and encouraged the British leadership that refused to confront Hitler. “Appeasement became evangelical,” Manchester concluded. “[I]ndeed, for some the line between foreign policy and religion became blurred.” Dawson was one of the doctrine’s pre-eminent preachers, blocking contrary voices from the pages of the Times, cheerleading Chamberlain every step along his ill-fated way.

The question now is whether the mainstream media, and specifically CNN, are going to revive Dawson’s role on the world stage or work to avoid such another disastrous abdication of the media’s job to report the world as it is, not as the Left — and more specifically, the forces of appeasement — would like it to be.

Klein (who inadvertently gave PJ Media its name in attempting to defend former employee Dan Rather) replaced Eason Jordan at the helm of CNN. Jordan was happy to shill for Saddam Hussein. Why should we expect anything different from his successor?

Chicago And The Olympics: Is The Fix In?

September 28th, 2009 - 10:28 am

Byron York questions the timing — and the priorities — of President Obama’s upcoming overseas jaunt:

With growing pressure for decisions on life-or-death issues in Afghanistan and Iran, this morning the White House announced that President Obama will soon travel to…Copenhagen. Obama will be in Denmark for just a few hours — he leaves this Thursday and returns Friday — which is just enough time to make a pitch for Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. He’ll be following First Lady Michelle Obama, who is also going to Copenhagen as part of the promote-Chicago team.

Ramesh Ponnuru believes that the fix is already in — Chicago Is Getting the Olympics”:

Some people seem to think that the president is taking time away from more important things to go to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago to get the 2016 games. They’re wrong. He is taking time away from more important things to go get the credit for bringing the Olympics to Chicago. Does anyone seriously believe that the president would take a quick trip to Copenhagen with the possibility of coming back empty-handed? If the president is going, it’s because he knows that Chicago has already won. He’s going.

And dissent on the matter may or may not be patriotic, but silencing it? “Hey, it’s the Chicago way,” Michelle Malkin adds.

Update: “Given the metaphysical certainty that there’ll be massive corruption involved in Chicago’s handling of the games and the equal certainty that righty blogs like this one will rub The One’s face in it, how bright was it of him to get involved in this in the first place?”

Meanwhile, the Exurban League has the Obalympics 2016 logo all set to go — it’s shovel camera-ready!

As James Taranto writes in the latest edition of “Best of the Web Today”:

On Sept. 10, we wrote (with respect to the Van Jones story) that we thought Hoyt would write something along the lines of: “The Times was a beat behind on this story. To some readers, this suggests liberal bias. I see no evidence of this.” We added: “We’ll buy Times public editor Clark Hoyt a drink if he doesn’t say something to that effect when he weighs in on the Jones story.”

But he didn’t say he doesn’t think the problem was liberal bias. In fact, given Hoyt’s history of pooh-poohing liberal bias in his own voice, we’d say he pointedly did not say so in this case. He said Jill Abramson (who, as co-author of “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” doesn’t have a liberally biased bone in his body–ha ha) didn’t think the problem was liberal bias. This is a huge difference.

Clark, we owe you a drink. Just email us to collect.

Here, though, is the most priceless bit of the Hoyt column:

[Abramson] and Bill Keller, the executive editor, said last week that they would now assign an editor to monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies. Keller declined to identify the editor, saying he wanted to spare that person “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.”

The Obama administration, as we noted Wednesday, was supposed to usher in a new era of transparency in government, Instead we find ourselves in a new era of opacity, not only in government but in the media. The New York Times now employs secret agent editors.

In a triumph of understatement, Clay Waters of Newsbusters adds, “Public Editor Admits NY Times Slow on ACORN — Not First Conservative Media Story NYT’s Ignored.”

Related: Ann Althouse asks, “Is it wrong for me to wait too long before writing about what the NYT public editor has written about why the NYT took so long to write about the ACORN story?”

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Dispatches From Redneck Nation

September 28th, 2009 - 1:57 am

Since the start of this blog way back in 2002, we’ve been watching a curious trend being pushed by far left academicians for a return to separate but equal education.

We’ve already looked at segregated college dormitories, and separate but equal graduations. What’s next on the list? Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan, quotes on his blog from a piece in the Arizona Republic, which notes “The Tucson School board is calling for a two-tiered form of student discipline. One for Black and Hispanic students; one for everyone else”:

With the goal of creating a “restorative school culture and climate” that conveys a “sense of belonging to all students,” the board is insisting that its schools reduce its suspensions and expulsions of minority students to the point that the data reflect “no ethnic/racial disparities.”

From the section of the 52-page plan titled “Restorative School Culture and Climate”: “School data that show disparities in suspension/expulsion rates will be examined in detail for root causes. Special attention will be dedicated to data regarding African-American and Hispanic students.”

The board approved creating an “Equity Team” that will oversee the plan to ensure “a commitment to social justice for all students.” The happy-face edu-speak notwithstanding, what the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) board of governors has approved this summer is a race-based system of discipline.

Offenses by students will be judged, and penalties meted out, depending on the student’s hue. TUSD principals are being asked to set two standards of behavior for their students. Some behavior will be met with strict penalties; some will not. It all depends on the color of the student’s skin. It is an invitation to chaos.

As Michael Graham noted in late 2002, when he was promoting his remarkably prescient book, Redneck Nation:

In 1948, Strom Thurmond was a politician obsessed with race. The modern American liberal is obsessed with race. Strom Thurmond thought schools and courts should treat citizens differently based on their skin color. Liberal supporters of, among other things, race-based admissions policies and hate-crime laws agree. Strom promoted the “multicultural” view that institutions like Jim Crow and segregation might appear irrational or unjust to outside agitators, but they were a perfect fit with southern culture.

* * *

Having fled these attitudes among my rural southern neighbors, I know live in a modern, liberal America where Ivy League colleges are building segregating housing because “race matters.” I actually heard one modern defender of segregated public schools (blacks-only academies) say “black people learn differently from white people.”

And of course, it was only last year that a certain prominent spiritual leader was telling his audience in a nationally-televised speech precisely that last point:

He was trafficking in stereotypes, though to a p.c. theme to which few could object. But soon, Wright’s speech turned more serious. More subtly separatist. More Afro-centric.

He claimed these differences were genetic (imagine Charles Murray trying to pull this off!). European-Americans have a “left-brain cognitive, object-oriented learning style. Logical and analytical,” explained Wright, whereas blacks “learn not from an object, but from a subject. They are right-brain, subject-oriented in their learning style. That means creative and intuitive. The two worlds have different ways of learning.”

The logical conclusion of Wright’s words was that whites and blacks should be schooled separately, but he did not expand on the point. What was important is that whites and blacks inhabit different spheres — two worlds, in fact. And now we were at the nut of Wright’s message.

As Graham noted in 2002, “Gee, I haven’t heard that since I was 12 — from a klan member!”

Polanski To Applebaum To Kurtz

September 28th, 2009 - 1:12 am

It’s not exactly Tinker to Evers to Chance, and the last player has yet to come up to bat, though I’ll certainly be curious how he’ll respond if he does. But let’s review the roster.

First up, as Ed Morrissey writes, “More than 30 years after his arrest and trial for statutory rape and sodomy of a 13-year-old girl, director Roman Polanski may have to face the music for his crime and his flight”:

Switzerland arrested Polanski on his way to receive an award from the Zurich Film Festival, surprising him and his French collaborators, who have kept Polanski from getting extradited to the US for decades.  They plan to send Polanski back to Los Angeles as soon as the US completes its extradition request (via HA commenter Mr. Joe):

Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police for possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities said Sunday.

Polanski was flying in to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old around the world since 2005.

“There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming,” ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. “That’s why he was taken into custody.” …

The Swiss statement said Polanski was officially in “provisional detention for extradition,” but added that he would not be transferred to U.S. authorities until all proceedings are completed. Polanski can contest his detention and any extradition decision in the Swiss courts, it said.

It’s not clear from the AP report whether the Swiss acted on an old outstanding arrest warrant, or whether the US had renewed efforts to arrest Polanski.  If it’s the former, then Barack Obama has a dilemma on his hands.  He gets a lot of support from the Hollywood community, who regularly lionize Polanski as a misunderstood genius.  They have long demanded that the US drop its charges against Polanski and allow him to return freely into the bosom of Hollywood.  Will he demand extradition or have to publicly admit he’s not interested in pursuing Polanski?

If the US renewed the warrant, it seems that Obama has already made the decision — and it would be the right decision, regardless of what the American film industry says.  As Bill Wyman wrote last February in Salon,  Hollywood has tried to sell the statutory rape as some sort of misunderstood love story.  They tried again last year in the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. The reality is that Polanski drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13-year-old girl.

Curiously involved in this story is Anne Applebaum, the author of the justly celebrated Gulag and many fine op-ed columns. Mark Hemingway writes:

Anne Applebaum’s invaluable contributions to the anti-communist canon give her a free pass on a lot of things as far as I’m concerned. But her item over at the Washington Post blog, “The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski,” is really beyond the pale. Objectionable content aside, her failure to disclose an obvious conflict of interest makes it particularly egregious.

What conflict of interest? The one that Patterico describes thusly:

In an earlier post I noted substantial inaccuracies and omissions in a post by Washington Post pundit Anne Applebaum in support of Roman Polanski. (For example, she said Polanski fled during his trial; in fact, he pled guilty and fled before his sentencing.) But I think this is worth its own post: Applebaum failed to mention that her husband is a Polish foreign minister who is lobbying for Polanski’s case to be dismissed:

In Polanski’s native Poland, President Lech Kaczynski and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said they would appeal to US authorities to drop proceedings against Polanski.

The PAP news agency said Sikorski was consideri[ng] a direct appeal to US President Barack Obama to end ‘once and for all’ the proceedings against the filmmaker.

Radoslaw Sikorski is married to Anne Applebaum:

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate. . . . Her husband, Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer.

Applebaum failed to mention this little fact.

So at the same time that she was giving readers a fact-challenged screed in support of Polanski, she was failing to disclose that her husband was a Polish official who was lobbying for Polanski’s freedom.

I work for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, which is seeking Polanski’s extradition; that is no secret to anyone who reads this blog (nor is it a secret that I do not speak on behalf of my office on this blog). By contrast, it is not well known to Applebaum’s readers that her husband is a Polish official actively involved in the effort on Polanski’s behalf.

This is reminiscent of the episode where Linda Greenhouse repeatedly reported on the facts of a case in which her husband was involved. The New York Times’s ombudsman opined that Greenhouse should have disclosed that connection.

This is no different. Applebaum should have disclosed this connection.

So what, if anything, will the Washington Post’s own in-house media critic have to say about all this, especially after his rather sanctimonious recent take on the Post’s lack of coverage of ACORN? Over to you, Howard!

Related: Hollywood veteran Roger L. Simon has some thoughts on “Roman’s Arrest: A View from Los Angeles.”

More: “AP Accidentally Publishes IM Conversation Speculating That Polanski Arrest Was Related To UBS.” And elsewhere, “L.A. Times Defends Monster Child Rapist Roman Polanski.”

Related: LaShawn Barber writes, “Uncovering this kind of thing is one of the reasons people blog. Back in the day, you had to find undisclosed conflicts of interest going through hard-copy documents (if you lacked personal knowledge), then calling the newspaper and/or sending a letter to the editor. Nowadays, a few minutes on Google and a blog will do.”

The Blogosphere At Parity

September 28th, 2009 - 12:44 am

At The Next Right, Patrick Ruffini sees a “Rising Rightroots and Declining Netroots Now at Parity (or Better)”:

Lost in the hubbub about the tea parties, the health care town hall protests, Joe Wilson, and the ACORN sting is the outcome of a long-simmering meta debate about the vibrancy of the grassroots right and its capacity to organize online. Along with a slew of other bad political indicators, the perception that the GOP might be stuck in a permanent Luddite rut reached its peak with the election of Obama and the role the Internet played in his victory.

Nearly a year later, not only have things turned around, but they’ve done so faster than anyone could have dreamed or imagined in those post-election doldrums.

First, hundreds of thousands of people showed up, flash mob-like, at Tea Parties not even three months after Obama Nation reached its apogee with the inauguration. The left was caught flat-footed and stammered that it must have been the creation of Fox News, although Fox News existed in the latter Bush years and during the McCain interlude and was unable to conjure up a similar display of enthusiasm in that period.

In August, the rightroots gained further velocity with the health care protests. This was significant in that it was the first head to head match with OFA and the unions, and it was no contest.

The third key moment came when Joe Wilson was able to raise as much (if not more) money than his Democratic opponent after the “You lie!” outburst. The left’s immediate rallying around Rob Miller was a textbook netroots play, aided by ready-made infrastructure (an ActBlue page ready to accept contributions without crashing and display real-time feedback). For a Republican — especially one deemed to be on the “wrong” side of a PR war — to have been competitive in money raised with a netroots Democrat is something that simply would not have happened in the Bush years. This is especially striking given that Markos, Stoller, Bowers et al. made money raised for candidates the sine qua non of the netroots, an outgrowth of the left’s 1970s era obsession with countering “big money” in politics.

Finally, the O’Keefe/Giles video bust of ACORN — the right’s biggest media coup since Rathergate — showed the right to be getting its sea legs in investigative journalism, a space virtually patented by the left in recent years.

What we seem to be witnessing is the Feiler Faster Thesis in action, with a robust grassroots opposition to Obama, aided by the Internet, taking shape far more quickly than anyone could have predicted, and comparatively speaking, in a far more timely fashion than it took the left to gets its act together against Bush.

One sign of parity? Bill Clinton is sounding like Oliver Stone once again.

As we’ve noted before, one of the nice byproducts of social media such as Twitter is that it’s exposed the bias running throughout the staffers at legacy news organizations that still (sometimes at least) cling tenuously to holding aura of the penumbra of being “objective.” The latest example? The curious dissembling that Brent Baker spots from a Washington Post managing editor after letting it all hang out on Twitter:

A few weeks ago Washington Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti rued in this tweet via his Twitter account: “We can incur all sorts of federal deficits for wars and what not. But we have to promise not to increase it by $1 for healthcare reform? Sad.” Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander cited the tweet in a Friday night blog post about how the newspaper has issued new guidelines, on the use of social network sites, which state “nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment.” That forced Narisetti to close his Twitter account. Alexander recounted:

Narisetti said today he now realizes that his tweets, although intended for a private audience of about 90 friends and associates, were unwise. They were “personal” observations, he said. “But I also realize that…seeing that the managing editor of The Post is weighing in on this, it’s a clear perception problem.”

On his defunct Twitter page, as captured by Google, Narisetti declared, as if he’d buy this contention from any politician (say, Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and his 1989 college thesis over which the Post has obsessed): “My tweets have nothing to do with my day job.”

Odd, isn’t it, among liberals, that “the personal is political” — until it isn’t.

Is Obama The Next Woodrow Wilson?

September 27th, 2009 - 4:07 pm

Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote, “If you are confused by the first nine months of the Obama administration, take solace that there is at least a pattern. The president, you see, thinks America is a university and that he is our campus president. Keep that in mind, and almost everything else makes sense.”

At Big Government, Frank DeMartini charts the similarities between Obama and the original academician turned president:

At the end of last week, I was watching President Obama’s speech before the United Nations. I must admit it was given with eloquence and was quite moving. However, for the most part it was rhetoric and the dreams of an idealistic man in Fantasyland. I do not want to really beat a dead horse, but as stated in my last article about the ideology of liberals, President Obama’s foreign policy completely ignores reality. It is almost delusional. Obama dreams about everything being utopian, but ignores the writings on the wall. And, in the process he insults our trusted ally Israel by demanding it stop building settlements without requiring the Palestinians to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

The speech was also very Wilsonian. I could imagine the words of Woodrow Wilson pitching the League of Nations to the United States Congress after the end of World War One. The League of Nations “is a definite guaranty of peace. It is a definite guaranty by word against aggression. It is a definite guaranty against the things which have just come near bringing the whole structure of civilization into ruin. Its purposes do not for a moment lie vague. Its purposes are declared, and its powers are unmistakable. It is not in contemplation that this should be merely a league to secure the peace of the world. It is a league which can be used for cooperation in any international matter.” In fact, parts of President Obama’s speech today mirrored these themes exactly.

The American Congress did not buy the sales job of Wilson and did not ratify the Versailles Treaty. America was not a member of the League of Nations. The League of Nations failed and the bloodiest war in the history of mankind resulted. As a result, for the most part, history looks at Woodrow Wilson’s presidency as a failure.

Wilson was an idealist and President Obama is an idealist. In fact, the two men have quite a lot in common. They are both of the extreme left and considered Progressives. And, there is much more.

Woodrow Wilson and Back Obama were both educated in elite Northeastern Ivy League Schools. Wilson was a graduate of Princeton; Obama a graduate of Harvard. They were both lawyers who did not practice for an extended period of time. And, most importantly, both became President with very little governmental experience. Wilson was in the midst of his first term as governor of New Jersey. Barack Obama was in the middle of his first term as a Senator from Illinois. And, both became President because of circumstances beyond their control: Wilson because of a split in the Republican Party during a three man election and Obama because of the crash of the economic system six weeks before the election.

A century of progress separates the two mens’ circumstances, but needless to say, there’s another trait that to some degree, both Wilson and Obama share.

Life Amongst The Nattering Nabobs

September 27th, 2009 - 1:37 pm

Just found, via John Podhoretz at Commentary, that the first Republican to break what we would now describe as the Gray Lady’s red state color barrier passed away today:

William Safire, who died today, was a breakthrough figure—the first professional Republican ideologue of his time to become a mainstream fixture in journalism. Indeed, when he was hired by the New York Times to write a column after his tenure as a speechwriter and intimate of the president in the Nixon White House, the shock and horror with which his new position was viewed in the Times newsroom and in the journalistic corridors of Washington were unprecedented in their ferocity. Safire himself said that people would barely look him in the eye in his place of employ for years.

A trend that continues in MSM newsrooms to this day. The latest issue of Newsmax quotes this exchange between Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, when O’Reilly asked Beck, then-newly arrived at Fox, what life was like at CNN, his former employer:

Do you know what a pariah I was? The [CNN] management  was always very good, but going around what I called ‘the pit of despair,’ the people in the newsroom that are just typing…

I was walking through the newsroom one time and [a reporter] looked up and said, ‘yuhhck!’

I said, ‘That’s not necessary.’ And she said, ‘Oh, you expect it.’ And I said, ‘I do — and isn’t that sad?’

Just another day amidst the nattering nabobs of negativism.

Update: Orrin Judd has a lengthy round-up of obits and related links under a very Safire-esque title: “Heavenly Hosts Hasten Hack.”

World Wars, Then And Now

September 27th, 2009 - 1:07 am

Victor Davis Hanson compares and contrasts the Pacific Theater of World War II with the President Obama’s implementation of the War On Terror Man-Caused Disasters:

Footnote on World War II

There are plenty of inexplicable things about WWII, especially the Pacific “second” theater. If one were to examine in depth the First Marine Division, it is almost inexplicable that a mere few months after Pearl Harbor it could go head-to-head with battle-hardened Japanese brigades in Guadalcanal, without adequate air and naval support, and beat the Japanese on their own turf. Where did such men come from? For the answer about the Old Breed, read E.B. Sledge.

And where in just a few months, by say late 1943, did all these brilliant designs and new planes come from? The Hellcat, Corsair, Helldiver, Lightning, erc, that were not just as good as Japanese head-start models, but suddenly far better? How did an American aeronautical industry, without wartime experience, design and produce the world’s best fighters (cf. the Thunderbolt and Mustang) in less than 30 months? And more amazingly, how does a peacetime country in a little over two years begin to produce hundreds of B-29s and an entire fleet of Essex carriers ex nihilo? It’s quite inexplicable. Each time I restudy the Pacific theater it become even more mysterious, absolutely inexplicable. I wish only that Obama had not spent his Sundays lapping up liberation theology from Rev. Wright but had read instead With the Old Breed, Guadalcanal Diary, or Goodbye, Darkness to understand why his country is what it is, and why it ensures him such a forum of respect and influence.

Footnote on Guantanamo

Now that Obama’s has apparently broken his promise and won’t close Guantanamo within the year, a kindergarten question arises: did he think Bush/Cheney dreamed up a Stalig to torture people and win them leftwing hysteria?

Is it just possible that after 9/11 they quickly learned there were no good choices in dealing with the epigones of Mohammed Atta—they were neither criminals to be tried nor soldiers in uniform to be accorded the Geneva protections (as Eric Holder once himself chest-thumped)? In such a nether world, Guantanamo was always a bad choice among worse alternatives. That is proven by Obama’s failed nine-month long quest to dream up something better. Now that Guantanamo has no more campaign value, Obama apparently has thrown the old Close the Gulag under the bus too.

Yet Obama did a lot of damage in the meantime, demagoguing the facility and besmirching the careful work of those who must guard the sort of people who, as we saw the last week in the U.S., are trying to kill us.

Read the whole thing.™

OK, Who Programmed That Into The TOTUS?

September 26th, 2009 - 9:55 pm

One of the bloggers at Ace of Spades writes, “Of all the things I’ve heard this president say, this may be the single most shocking and enraging:”

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One of the commenters there notes, “I hope he’s also equally disinterested in victory in 2010 and 2012.”

Oh no — unlike the real thing, for the left, elections are the highest form of the Moral Equivalent of War.

Update: And speaking of which, “Video Unearthed [of Candidate] Obama Blasting McCain And Bush For Taking Their Eye Off The Ball In Afghanistan.”

Promises, expiration dates, etc.

At the American Spectator, Robert Stacy McCain writes:

“Yes, we are concerned about what people are saying on the blogs,” a Kentucky law enforcement official said Saturday night, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The murder of Bill Sparkman in Clay County, Ky., has caused bloggers to engage in widespread speculation about the motive for the killing. Sparkman was employed part-time conducting a Census Bureau survey.

The 51-year-old man’s body was found Sept. 12 in the Hoskins Cemetery, about 10 miles east of Manchester, Ky. in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The Associated Press reported that witnesses said Sparkman’s body was nude and gagged, with a rope around his neck, his federal identification duct-taped to his neck and the word “fed” written on his chest.

The Kentucky State Police are coordinating the investigation of Sparkman’s death. Trooper First Class Don Trosfer, based in the agency’s London, Ky., Post 11 is the official spokesman for the investigation, but was unavailable for comment late Saturday.

Another law-enforcement source, not authorized to speak about the case, said state and local officials are working closely with the FBI on the investigation. Internet gossip is a source of concern, he said.

“You’d be surprised what some of these morons write on the Internet . . . that they wouldn’t say to somebody’s face,” the official said in a brief telephone interview.

That last quote sounds more than a little reminiscent of the remarks from Major Ed Bush, public affairs officer for the Louisiana National Guard to Reason magazine debunking some of the more lurid rumors pumped out by, to coin a phrase, both legacy and Internet morons, during the early days of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

Reason: On Sept. 1 there was a report that perhaps a Chinook helicopter at the Superdome was fired upon before daybreak. Do you know whatever became of that, was that true, where does the report come from specifically, etc.?

Bush: Huh! I was at the Superdome for eight days, and I don’t remember hearing anything about a helicopter getting shot at at the Dome.

Reason: That’s … interesting.

Bush: Oh, not really. There’s a whole bunch of [laughs] stuff out there that never happened at the Dome, as I think America’s beginning to find out slowly.

So what’s going on with the Sparkman case? Beats me, but as the Professor writes, “As with the NBC email controversy, why not find out actual facts?”

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Great Moments In Cognitive Dissonance

September 26th, 2009 - 5:50 pm

I’ve been a big fan of Jack Shafer‘s media columns at Slate, but the title of this piece, “Two Cheers for Andrew BreitbartSometimes it takes an outsider to show the press corps the way” is curious.

So what makes Breitbart an “outsider”? This is the media where former New York Times editor Howell Raines famously said, that his paper’s diversity efforts “have made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse.” Are journalism’s politics that monolithic that any apostasy means you’ve “blacklisted yourself?”

That’s Roger L. Simon’s phrase for how Hollywood works, but thanks to the Internet, journalism is now much more decentralized a product. And in no small part, thanks to Breitbart.

In other words, journalism is something you do — it’s not a title given to you by a guild. Since the mid-to-late-1990s Breibart:

  • Worked behind the scenes at the Drudge Report since its early days.
  • Co-authored Hollywood Interrupted.
  • Helped launch the Huffington Post.
  • Distributes online news feeds of all the main wire services.
  • Partnered with an online TV service.
  • Pens a weekly column for the Washington Times.
  • Launched two of his own Internet salons, Big Hollywood and Big Government.

In contrast, during that same period, much of traditional journalism went backwards. They attacked newcomers such as Drudge and the Blogosphere. They used forged documents to attempt to bring down one president and were so badly in the tank for one candidate in 2008 that 90 percent of the public can see it.

As ABC’s Michael Malone wrote in October of 2008:

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a manner that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it’s because we don’t understand what their motives really are.  It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide – especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50:50.

Furthermore, I also happen to believe that most reporters, whatever their political bias, are human torpedoes . . .and, had they been unleashed, would have raced in and roughed up the Obama campaign as much as they did McCain’s.  That’s what reporters do, I was proud to have been one, and I’m still drawn to a good story, any good story, like a shark to blood in the water.

So why weren’t those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign?  Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors.  The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages.  They are the real culprits.

Why?  I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one:  Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry.  The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent.  Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared.  Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb.  The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures.  Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play.  Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here.  After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway – all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself:  an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.  With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country . . .

In contrast, Breitbart and his affiliates have exposed corruption in ACORN and the National Endowment for the Arts — and that was just in the past two weeks.

So what does the former home of Woodward & Bernstein have to say? First they attempted to discredit Hannah Giles by way of her father. (Pay no attention to the background of Carl Bernstein’s parents of course.) Then Howard Kurtz adds:

The labeling debate is pointless. It was ideologically driven reporting. [As opposed to the Post's coverage of the 2006 and 2008 elections? -- Ed] It was two activists using deception to try to make an organization look bad — all the more reason for skepticism.

But the pair hit paydirt. The ACORNers’ behavior was nutty. Who offers advice about pimping out 13-year-old girls? What planet were these people living on?

Did O’Keefe and Giles produce a fair and balanced story that included how many ACORN offices rejected their scheme? No. They released the worst stuff. But they’ve never hidden their motivation. Nor has their ally and Web guru, Andrew Breitbart, whose company was also named in the ACORN suit.

I don’t put much stock in the argument that mainstream journalists should have done something like this. People may think we’re whores, but we don’t look good in the getup. Plus, lying is a firing offense at many news organizations.

Huh. And yet Diane Sawyer still has a job at ABC, after bluffing her way into the rubble of the World Trade Center with a hidden camera on the evening of September 11th, 2001. 60 Minutes has been on the air for over forty years doing one hidden camera sting after another. And five years before he was fired from CBS, Dan Rather told Bill O’Reilly — with a remarkably straight face –”I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things”:

O’REILLY: I want to ask you flat out. Do you think President Clinton’s an honest man?

RATHER: Yes, I think he’s an honest man.

O’REILLY: Do you? Really?

RATHER: I do, I do.

O’REILLY: Even though he lied to Jim Lehrer’s face about the Lewinsky….

RATHER: Who among us has not lied about something?

O’REILLY: Well, I didn’t lie to anybody’s face on national television. I don’t think you have.

RATHER: I don’t think I ever have. At least I hope I never have.

O’REILLY: No. How can you say he’s an honest guy then?

RATHER: Well, cause I think he is. I think at core he’s an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing that anybody would say so. But I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.

As Matt Welch recently noted:

Your mileage will vary, but for my money the most entertaining part of the ACORN undercover video sting–which, dollar for dollar, has been the most impactful piece of journalism this year (that I’m aware of anyway)–is watching Respectable News Outlets approach the controversy with radiation-resistant tongs.

After numerous quotes from MSM gatekeepers as they remove the ACORNs from their fundaments, Welch adds:

These gatekeepery examples of pretzel logic are by no means monolithic–see Jon Stewart, or Ken Silverstein at Harpers, for example. But they illustrate a tendency that’s been mostly dominant since long before Matt Drudge published information about Monica Lewinsky’s dress: Newspapers, especially those with national aspirations, still lack the ability to process or even talk about news that emanates from frowned-upon pockets in the great media ecosystem. And in hiding behind the shield of News Judgment, they all too frequently advertise the fact that theirs is being proven inadequate.

On the other hand, Kurtz and Shafer are models of  Lou Grant-era old-school journalism compared to this wag at the Huffington Post and his not-so-tacit Godwin’s Law violation: “First They Came For ACORN…”

Update: Star Trek had its “Emergency Manual Monitor” set, located above atop the Enterprise’s engine room. To scan the Blogosphere, Michelle Malkin writes that the New York Times has launched its “Opinion Media Monitor” — also known as He Who Must Not Be Named:

So, get this: The Times has now assigned an anonymous editor to “monitor opinion media” so the effete journalists don’t get caught flat-footed again. But they won’t identify the editor because they don’t him or her getting e-mails from the public (heaven forfend) and they don’t want him or her getting feedback, criticism, or tips from the blogosphere (the MSM must be shielded from the angry mob). Snort:

Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, agreed with me that the paper was “slow off the mark,” and blamed “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio.” She and Bill Keller, the executive editor, said last week that they would now assign an editor to monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies. Keller declined to identify the editor, saying he wanted to spare that person “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.”

Despite what the critics think, Abramson said the problem was not liberal bias.

“Not liberal bias,” eh? Then how to explain the institutional refusal of the Times — Hoyt included — to address directly and openly the paper’s own complicity in covering up the ACORN story before Election Day?

For the benefit of the Times’ anonymous Opinion Media Monitor, whoever you are, here is what your paper’s belated coverage of ACORN is still missing — reprinted from my Sept. 16 blog post, “What’s missing from the New York Times coverage of ACORN.” I’m going to make your job easier by reprinting the entire post so you don’t have to spend any precious energy clicking on the link:

Read the whole thing.

Update: Don Surber quips, “Times assigns editor to watch Fox News.” Can’t the Gray Lady just add the RSS feed from Media Matters to her My.Yahoo page?

Update: Glenn Reynolds posits, “Andrew Breitbart is an ‘outsider’ despite his years in media because he doesn’t run with the herd of lemmings. That’s all.”

Heh, indeed.™

PJM Political — Now With 2/3rds More Cowbell!

September 26th, 2009 - 11:28 am

Now online, it’s the big show:

obama_cowbellJoin host Steve Green of VodkaPundit.com for a snapshot of Washington and beyond:

Tune in here to listen.

Quote Of The Century

September 25th, 2009 - 10:03 pm

Well for this week at least. Just click.

Filed under: Muggeridge's Law

Actual headline written by someone at Agence France-Presse: “Bill Clinton basks in role of world savior.”

(H/T: Jim Geraghty)

Update: CNN also speaks sycophancy to power:

“Often times, a kiss is just a kiss, but when you’re a former president planting one on your wife, the secretary of state, it can garner a lot of attention,” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer gushed as he introduced a story by colleague Jill Dougherty in which the latter enthused that after a “brief public display of affection” before an audience at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Democratic power couple were “off, separately, to change the world.”

Wait — I thought Obama was changing the world. If Bill and Hillary are also changing the world, will they change it in ways that aren’t approved by The Won? Will Billary’s changes undermine the One’s changes? Change divided against itself cannot stand!

Or so we can hope.

(Bumped to top.)

In his column at Reason, John Stossel writes, “Every reporter has political beliefs. The difference is that I am upfront about mine”:

The long list of bad results that have emerged from well-intended regulation ought to dim reporters’ enthusiasm. But it hasn’t.

I admit that my guiding political and economic philosophy—libertarianism—now shapes my reporting, in this way: It prompts me to ask questions that others don’t ask.

I don’t claim to be the expert. But some of my colleagues who write about business know nothing about economics. Many are comically hostile to profit—they dismiss it as “greed” (although they bargain for the highest salaries possible).

On my former ABC blog, some people called me a biased “conservative.”

“Your (sic) a shill anyways John. dont (sic) let the door hit you in the you know what.”

I’m surprised that the self-described enemies of intolerance can’t tolerate even one MSM reporter who doesn’t share their statist premises. The interventionist state has been the status quo for generations, so I must be something other than “conservative.” “Liberal” is what my philosophy used to be called. It’s the statists who are the reactionaries.

Not all the blog comments were hostile:

“Congratulations. The mind boggles at the thought of giving free reign on air to someone who actually understands economics.”

“Stossel challenges conventional wisdom, so I hope Fox lets him do that.”

I assume Fox will. My points of view on things like immigration, nation-building, and the war on drugs differ from those of many at Fox, but libertarians like Judge Andrew Napolitano still seem to thrive there. The alleged “conservatives” are pretty tolerant.

I think they’ll tolerate me. See you there next month.

Meanwhile, John Ziegler writes, “I Can See Insanity From My Newsroom”; if this blogpost is true, [UPDATE: the key word being "if"] one critic of NBC can see antisemitism from a network staffer right in his inbox.

Where’s David Hemmings When You Need Him?

September 25th, 2009 - 2:02 pm

Two photo-oriented posts are certainly worth checking out. By now, you may have already seen “The Stepford President” in action:

Barack Obama’s amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, Holy Taco has a little fun with Photoshop: “A History of Joe Biden Photobombs.”

Filed under: Muggeridge's Law

Don’t Think We’re Not Keeping Score, Brother

September 25th, 2009 - 1:37 pm

The legacy media’s pants-wetting response to the Tea Parties and health care “reform” protests has certainly been instructive. As Victor Davis Hanson wrote earlier this month:

The Left is now furious that, as the new establishment, the rules of discourse are not more polite. But from 2002-8, they (Who are “they”? Try everyone from Al Gore to John Glen to Robert Byrd to Sen. Durbin), employed every Nazi/brown shirt slur they could conjure up. NPR’s folksy old Garrison Keiler was indistinguishable from mean-spirited Michael Moore in that regard.

The New York Times gave a discount for a disgusting “General Betray Us” ad. The Democratic Party head Howard Dean flatly said he “hated” Republicans. Hilary Clinton all but called Gen. Petraeus a liar in a congressional hearing. The New Republic ran an essay on hating George Bush (not opposing, not disliking, but “hating” the President). Alfred Knopf published a novel about killing Bush. A Guardian op-ed dreamed of Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth coming back to kill Bush. And on and on.

Prof. Hanson added, “The problem is that the public is not really stupid and has a long memory. It hates hypocrisy as much as it does crudity.”

And it’s gotten to witness plenty of both in the past couple of months. Two recent posts allow for some remarkable compare-and-contrast:

First up, Danny Glover writes:

This year’s phony liberal angst about a tiny minority of “tea partiers” comparing President Obama with Adolf Hitler ranks high among the worst cases of media hypocrisy in history.

The press never batted an eye for eight years when the lunatic fringe of the left made the same kinds of comparisons between George W. Bush and Hitler. But all of a sudden, with the “first black president” in office, every Obama/Hitler sign must be publicized. Invoking Hitler is considered a “coded message” to right-wing racists and “an implicit call for politically motivated violence.”

People who resort to such analogies on either side of the political spectrum are ignorant of Godwin’s Law and should be condemned. But so long as they are the exception rather than the rule (they were more mainstream during the Bush years), they are not newsworthy. And speculations about attacks on the president certainly aren’t newsworthy — unless the speculator is a presidential candidate stoking fears about the potential assassination of her opponent.

So why are journalists obsessed with the Obama-as-Hitler story? Easy. They want to marginalize “the mob” by portraying everyone who dislikes Obama’s policies as a loon determined to agitate violence.

The good news is that it’s easier to combat such media deceptions when the people have the power of the press online. This video, which merges the audio of a Rachel Maddow segment on MSNBC with snapshots from eight years of Bush Derangement Syndrome that is still alive and well, does a great job of exposing the Bush/Hitler vs. Obama/Hitler media double standard:

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What a brilliant idea — and hopefully one that we’ll be seeing a lot more of, as the flotsam and jetsam that collects on the ‘Net in general, and on video sites such as YouTube and Truveo make such compare and contrast videos pretty darn easy.

Old media’s coverage of the rampaging anti-globalist primitives in Pittsburgh allow for a similar contrast. Yesterday, linking to photos of the Pittsburgh riot police earning their pay, as well as a post at Founding Bloggers on union protesters wreaking havoc in Chicago yesterday, Glenn Reynolds wrote:

No arrests like these at the Tea Parties, either. Until we see scenes like this, I don’t want to hear yammering about the violence inherent in the Tea Party movement.

And today, Ed Morrissey compares and contrasts two videos featuring CNN reporters in the field. One covered the riots in Pittsburgh yesterday, earning a face full of tear gas from frustrated riot control police for his efforts. As Ed notes:

The key moment in this clip comes late in the clip. After noting that Todd got teargassed as a consequence of reporting from the protest, Blitzer emphasizes that Todd has a press credential to cover the protests. Um, okay, but that doesn’t mean Todd won’t get teargassed if he’s standing at the front line of the protests, as he was. Does Blitzer hold the police responsible for Todd being in the vicinity — especially after the clip clearly shows that police warned the crowd (and Todd) several times before firing the teargas canisters? I had no idea press passes were that magical.

YouTube Preview Image

Compare that to Susan Roesgan, the now-infamous CNN “journalist” who injected her views into CNN’s coverage of the April 15th Tea Party in Chicago (and this was on top of CNN’s anchorman previously slandering the pro-free market protesters as “Tea Baggers.” Ed writes:

YouTube Preview Image

CNN eventually dumped Roesgen for this, but they aired her report at the time. Notice that Todd doesn’t challenge any of the protesters around him (which is the professional way to report on the event, of course). However, CNN and Todd also didn’t go around looking for the nuttiest signs they could highlight, and no one in this clip ever starts speculating as to whether this violent protest means that the Left is inherently violent or could start attacking politicians at the drop of a hat — unlike how the media has treated the Tea Party movement.

Or as Mary Katharine Ham describes the contrast, “Lefty Protesters Get Violent at G-20, No One Frets About State of Republic”

(Headline via Alinskyite One.)