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John Flannery, the leader of General Electric Co. for just 2½ months, has already begun dismantling the legacy of his predecessor, including the planes.

For much of Jeff Immelt’s 16-year run atop one of the world’s largest conglomerates, an empty business jet followed his GE-owned plane on some trips to destinations around the world, according to people familiar with the matter. The two jets sometimes parked far apart so they wouldn’t attract attention, and flight crews were told to not openly discuss the empty plane, the people said.

The second plane was a spare in case Mr. Immelt’s jet had mechanical problems. A GE spokeswoman said that “two planes were used on limited occasions for business-critical or security purposes.” Mr. Immelt didn’t respond to requests for comment.

If this was indeed “For much of Jeff Immelt’s 16-year run” at GE, then it would have included the period that ended in 2013, when GE still owned MSNBC and NBC, which frequently hectored (and still does so) its viewers on global warming — including this infamous moment in 2007:

So while NBC was urging its viewers to turn off its (GE-manufactured) light bulbs, its CEO was flying around with an empty emergency backup private plane. I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about Glenn Reynolds’ carbon footprint ever again.


The best way to reduce your personal carbon emissions: don’t be rich.

—Headline, young adult Website*, July 14, 2017.

EXPLAINED: Why Vox Dot Com Is a Smart Investment for General Electric.

—The Washington Free Beacon, May 1st, 2014.

● “Matt Yglesias bought a $1.2 million three-bedroom condo in Washington, D.C., and a bunch of conservatives are pretty appalled that a liberal would have the gall to be rich.”

—The Atlantic, March 22, 2013.

It’s the hypocrisy, Atlantic. Not to mention the sophistry:

I’d start to take global warming seriously when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves – oh and, I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about Glenn Reynolds’ carbon footprint again.

* Classical reference.

UPDATE: “Left: We’re going to ensure ‘better jobs, better wages, better future.’ Also the Left: Stop making money:” “Vox’s indictment of both Hollywood and the music industry is rather harsh here.”

Heh, indeed.™



Chaser: Back to reality! The Obamas take off in Richard Branson’s private jet from their ten day island getaway—after taking a helicopter to the airport.

Related: Joe Biden and Colin Powell drag race their ’67 and 2015 Corvettes.

I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about Glenn Reynolds’ carbon footprint.


“Mayor de Blasio Commits to 80 Percent Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050,” said the Sunday news release, outlining what would be a truly impressive feat if he actually were able to make good on that promise. But there is not going to be any 89-year-old, 10-term mayor named de Blasio declaring a local victory in the battle to save the planet. This is a long march to a distant goal. The commitment Mr. de Blasio made over the weekend — an excellent and necessary one — was to do his part now to keep the city moving in the right direction: Promised Land, that way.

“Mayor de Blasio Takes On Climate Change,” the New York Times, September 22, 2014

The de Blasio administration is trying to limit the number of food trucks in the city by claiming that each hot-dog and kabob cart causes more pollution than a truck ride to Los Angeles.

Deputy Health Commissioner Corinne Schiff made the claim at a City Council hearing Wednesday, in an apparent effort to sink a bill that would nearly double the number of food-vendor permits in the city by 2023.

“Meat grilling is a significant source of air pollution in the city,” Schiff said. “One additional vendor grilling meat emits an amount of particle pollution in one day equivalent to what a diesel truck emits driving 3,500 miles.”

—“De Blasio administration finds a way to ruin food trucks,” the New York Post, October 27.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported exclusively, documents obtained by CBS2 show the mayor has dramatically increased helicopter travel around the city.

On Oct. 14 near dinnertime, an NYPD helicopter landed near the baseball field in Prospect Park. At the time, police were coy, saying they were transporting “a dignitary.”

That dignitary turned out to be Mayor de Blasio, who after hanging around his old Park Slope neighborhood, wanted to avoid traffic on a seven-mile trip to Queens.

Suddenly, there were questions. What was the man who bragged that riding helicopters was “not my thing” doing? And he had apparently suddenly decided that avoiding the city’s epic traffic jams was the way to go.

CBS2 filed a Freedom of Information of Act request, discovering that yes, Mayor de Blasio is now subscribing to the joys of flying.

“CBS2 Exclusive: Documents Show Mayor De Blasio’s Helicopter Flights Have Dramatically Increased,” Wednesday.

I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about Glenn Reynolds’ carbon footprint ever again.

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER GODDAMNED WORD ABOUT MY CARBON FOOTPRINT: This Boeing 787 Was Converted Into a Luxurious Private Jet.

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER GODDAMN WORD ABOUT GLENN REYNOLDS’ CARBON FOOTPRINT: Guests Will Fly Halfway Around the World for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Climate Change Speech.

If only there was a method to view and listen to his speech remotely. Surely there must be top men working in DiCaprio’s industry to invent such a device, no?

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER GODDAMN WORD ABOUT GLENN REYNOLDS’ CARBON FOOTPRINT: Leonardo DiCaprio Flew 8,000 Miles on Private Jet to Accept Environmental Award.


● “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,” Obama added.

—Agence France-Presse, May 18th, 2008.

“Obama brings two fuel-guzzling planes to serve as Air Force One in Argentina.”

—The Washington Times, today.

I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about my carbon footprint, to coin an Insta-phrase.


I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER GODDAMNED WORD ABOUT MY CARBON FOOTPRINT: Video shows Hillary Clinton boarding private jet just hours after launching global-warming push – and she’s using a French aircraft that burns 347 gallons of fuel every hour! “Its itineraries are secret because the owner has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to withhold flight plans from the public.”

THIS WEEK’S NEWEST FINAL COUNTDOWN: “Robert Redford Sees ‘Last Chance’ to Fix Climate:”

Robert Redford told the United Nations on Monday that negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change could be the world’s “last chance” to save the planet.

“This December, the world must unite behind a common goal,” said the American actor and producer.

“Because look, this is it. This is our only planet, our only life source.

“This may be our last chance.”

It’s the final countdown! Or actually, the latest final countdown, which have been arriving on a regular basis from those warning of first global cooling and then global warming since the first “Earth Day” in 1970; just add it to all of these earlier “last chances” to save the earth.

Once he made his pronouncement, Redford may have retreated back to here:

As the InstaProfessor likes to say, I’ll believe global warming is a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves. (Oh, and I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about Glenn’s carbon footprint either.)

Though it’s interesting that Redford is playing weatherman after supporting Bill Ayers’ old Weathermen via his disastrously timed The Company You Keep movie, which inadvertently debuted in April of 2013, the same month as another real life terrorist bombed the Boston Marathon. Appearing at the start of that month on Good Morning America with Hillary Clinton flack George Stephanopoulos, who asked Redford if he was still sympathetic to the Weathermen, “Even when you read about bombings,” (i.e. the bombing of the Pentagon among others) the actor-director chillingly responded, “All of it. I knew that it was extreme and I guess movements have to be extreme to some degree.”

And finally, speaking of extreme, what’s up with Redford’s hair in the photo of him at the UN, which is beginning to take on unsustainable Trumpian proportions?

WELL, THEY TRIED TO KEEP IT SECRET, but I found out. And I still don’t want to hear another goddamn word about my carbon footprint.

TAXPAYER-FUNDED ELECTIONEERING: Obama’s School Vacations: The president campaigns incessantly for the youth vote on the public dime. “There is no piece of legislation, educational initiative, or advocacy issue that justifies such extensive attention to high schools and colleges. Furthermore, a third of the visits from administration officials have been to schools in swing states, where many ‘official’ visits have turned into full-throated campaign stops.”

I don’t want to hear another word about my goddamn carbon footprint, either. But then, they seem to have pretty much shut up about that subject.

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER GODDAMNED WORD about my carbon footprint.

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ONE GODDAMN WORD ABOUT MY CARBON FOOTPRINT: “Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.”

UPDATE: Note the appended “clarification” to the story, which says that Bo didn’t get his own plane to himself, but was accompanied by other staffers. But reader Ed Stephens writes: “Do you think any reporter will have the nerve to ask Obama directly about flying the dog on a private jet?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: “The first reporter that *does* ask about the dog’s private jet, will get immediate street cred (and Tea Party cred) that will send shock waves through the MSM.” But the lunch invitations will dry up.

ANN ALTHOUSE WILL BE LIVEBLOGGING the State Of The Union. And Jason Pye emails that the folks at UnitedLiberty will be liveblogging, too.

Stephen Green, of course, will be drunkblogging it, and has links to various State Of The Union drinking games. Jim Treacher will be liveblogging, too, and while it isn’t formally “drunkblogging,” well, informally it just might be . . . .

The country’s in the very best of hands. Our future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades. So sit back, relax, and watch!

Plus, Sandy Levinson on a SOTU catastrophe. “If we really do believe that there is, say, a 1% probability that a successful attack will take place on the Capitol when everyone gathers for the State of the Union address, that’s a good reason either to revert to an earlier tradition, when Presidents delivered written messages, or, at the very least, telling most of the Cabinet and Justices, for starters, that they can, like the rest of us, watch it on TV. (I note that Dick Cheney did not attend the immediate post-Sept. 11 address to Congress, but did seemingly attend all of the States of the Union address thereafter. But why? I ask this as a fully serious, and not cheap-shot, question.)” Well, Hillary isn’t attending tonight, but not as a security holdout. What does that mean?

UPDATE: More liveblogging from a panel of experts at the Cato Institute.

Also the inimitable Dana Loesch.

Plus, Jules Crittenden is doing the drinking games.

From the Cato Liveblog: “The assertions about the Depression we would have had are outrageous. Their forecasts of the stimulus’s impact have been horrible, so how can they have any credibility on this kind of issue? ” I think it’s full speed ahead, here, credibility be damned. Plus this: “Bastiat is spinning in his grave.”

The “stimulus” didn’t produce any jobs, but if we pass a new stimulus and call it a “jobs bill,” it will!

On Facebook, Alex Lightman writes: “I was looking forward to the State of the Union speech. Then I read most of it, and got depressed. It’s as if he’s running for office, not holding office. I didn’t hear anything about what’s going to be cut. Anyone can make promises to spend other people’s money.”

Reader C.J. Burch writes: “‘The worst of the storm has passed.’ Forget Green and Crittenden, what the Hell is Obama drinking?”

More from Cato: “Wonderful, more government-directed investment. That worked really well with Fannie and Freddie.” Plus this prediction: “He’ll pivot from a new $100 billion jobs bill to cutting the deficit.”

Ann Althouse: “Small businesses are good. (Come on, talk to them.) Big business sucks though. We want to help small business grow… so it can become big business and then we can hate it.”

Seems pretty much like a recycled campaign speech to me.

And not just recycled campaign speech — the Cato folks note this:

“Through stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest standards of conduct.”

–George W. Bush, 2002 SOTU

They told me if I voted for John McCain we’d see a third Bush term. And they were right! [LATER: Tad DeHaven keeps running quotes from Bush SOTUs that match what Obama’s saying tonight.]

More from Cato: “He has decided to run against lobbyists. The populist turn again. Carter did that too.” Those guys are on fire. Just head over there to catch all the gems. But here’s one more: “This is the most awful anti-trade position of any president in a long time.”

More liveblogging from Jason Van Steenwyk.

Ed Driscoll: The Semiotics Of The Anointed.

Stephen Green: “’Our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as one trillion dollars over two decades.’ Fine. But when those two decades mean another 20 or 30 trillion dollars of debt, you’re talking about scooping pee out of the ocean with sieve.”

Plus this: “’Let me know.’ Dude, the voters of Massachusetts just did.”

And: “The guy who just bragged of his (mysterious) 25 tax cuts just ragged on the Bush tax cuts.”

An Obama speech word cloud.

“But we took office in a crisis — and never let a crisis go to waste!” Okay, I kinda interpolated the second part. . . .

Hey, does this sound familiar?

Many of you have talked about the need to pay down our national debt. I listened, and I agree. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now, and I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years.

It’s from George W. Bush’s 2001 SOTU.

A reader emails: “Oh for heaven’s sake. It’s a freaking stump speech. You’ve been elected all ready Mr. President. Now you have to do things. See the difference?”

The freeze starts next year? And I start my diet tomorrow.

From Dan Mitchell at Cato: “We’ve all done something very naughty if this is the government we deserve.”

Now Obama, after delivering an hour-long stump speech, criticizes the perpetual campaign. Luckily for him, most people will be watching Teen Mom on their Tivo by now.

A reader sends a link to Reagan’s 1982 State Of The Union by way of comparison.

The Insta-Daughter: “He needs to quit referring to Bush. It’s weird.”

Nick Schulz: The Definition of Chutzpah.

John Samples at Cato: “I agree with Chris. It is surprising how unsurprising this speech has been, particularly for a president in deep political trouble.”

More liveblogging at Reason. Radley Balko: “wow. no none is better at trivializing opponents’ arguments than obama.”

A call to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’m for it, but I’ll bet there’s not much follow-through.

Stephen Green: “’I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.’ Okay. Except you embraced the competence of Jimmy Carter & Herbert Hoover.”

Jim Harper at Cato: “Following through on his transparency promises would be a great way to actually deliver change.”

Matt Welch: “8-year-olds sending money to the president don’t make me all tingly inside.”

Reader Rob Lain emails:

Others have probably done this already, but I just ran these numbers:

Obama SOTU 2010 First Person Singular Pronoun Count

I – 96 times

me – 8 times

Bush SOTU 2008 First Person Singular Pronoun Count

I – 39 times

me – 2 times

Think this may wind up correlating to their relative contributions to the national debt, when all is said and done?

I dunno, but what’s funny is that I think Obama was restraining himself here . . . .

Okay, it’s over. My sense is that he was trying a bit too hard. Comparing the mood to last year, the Democratic applause and cheering seemed rather forced, too. Plus, I don’t think his public scolding of the Supreme Court was very Presidential — or, for that matter, very smart.

Krauthammer is noting that Obama treats “Washington” as a pejorative, but that he is Washington now.

Matt Welch: “I think I’ve forgotten it already. Except for the I WON’T QUIT part. Don’t worry, it *is* about you, etc.”

Reader Matt Barger writes: “There has never been a SOTU as patronizing as this. God help us.”

C.J. Burch emails again: “A brittle speech by a brittle administration. He’s done as a political force, I think. If not now, soon.” We’ll see.

And Stephen Green concludes: “We’re into the Big Finish… but there’s no new here. For a guy who got his bottom handed to him in three big elections, he’s strangely reluctant to change course. In fact, he’s not even willing to change tone. Which means, whatever you thought of Bush’s lousy last three years, Obama has already outdone him in being tone-deaf. Let me restate that. This guy hasn’t gotten one single thing done since Porklulus was passed 11 months ago, and he just doubled down. Well, you know what? Who cares how much is in the pot when it’s other people’s money?”

Reader Allen S. Thorpe writes: “It is probably better to think of it as a State of My Presidency speech and it’s probably the best chance he’s had since his Inauguration to speech to this size of an audience. He’d better be in campaign mode, because he’s losing the election right now. From the back of my memory, some familiar words are floating up: ‘Lipstick on a pig.'”

Gerard van der Leun emails with praise: “Excellent digest. All the hot liveblogging lines with none of the screen refreshing tedium.”

Thanks! As Leon Lipson once said, “Anything you can do, I can do meta.” But really, follow the links to the other blogs as this is just the merest skim of cream.

And there’s always the Zomby translation.

Plus, Richard Fernandez weighs in. “Since the current administration is doing all these good things, it will stay the course. It won’t let the aforementioned saboteurs and wreckers stand in the way.”

The McDonnell reponse? The bar for these things is low — and he was certainly infinitely better than Jindal last year. But the big story is the subtext: “I was just elected in a state Obama carried, even though Obama campaigned against me. Whatever he may say under the lights, he can’t save you come election day.” Likewise, the Scott Brown mention.

And from Meryl Yourish: Breaking the Obama Code:

Tonight, he addressed the American people, and he addressed Congress. Go back and look at the speech. He was earnest, and his chin was down, his head relatively level, when speaking to Congress. When he spoke to us, his chin rose, and he talked down to us—literally.

Go ahead. Take a look. Note his posture. You’ll see it, too. You and I, we are not his equals. He is above us.

That’s what sets my teeth on edge every time I listen to him.

That’s almost worth rewinding the DVR for, but . . . no, I’ve suffered enough.

Some extensive thoughts from Dan Riehl, including this: “Obama praised the concept of separation of powers, then immediately turned to question the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign finance reform. That tendency caused much of speech to ring hollow throughout.”

Alex Castellanos writes: “There were too many Barack Obamas tonight, making too many promises to too many interests. The same president who said he wasn’t interested in relitigating the past . . . did exactly that for over an hour. The same president who yearned for less partisanship also resorted to it without hesitation, often just a few sentences afterwards, blaming his problems on his predecessor one long year into his own administration.”

Jim Geraghty: On His Last Day in Office, Obama Will Still Be Talking About What He Inherited.

More from The Anchoress:

You know, one could argue that President Bush “inherited” Al Qaeda from Bill Clinton, who did little-to-nothing in response to all of Al Qaeda’s provocations throughout the 1990’s and unto the USS Cole bombing. But never, not once, did Bush ever say, “I inherited this…” It’s time for Obama to become a man.

Much more at the link.

John Podhoretz: “One liberal trope after the speech, voiced by Chrystia Freedland of the Financial Times on Charlie Rose, is that Obama is putting Republican politicians on notice he will go after them as the do-nothing impeders of progress. Republicans should pray this is the case, and it may be the case.” In New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts he’s proven impotent. Why should people fear him more now, when he’s weaker?

And reader Eric Naft writes:

You posted a CATO link that mentioned Bastiat, but do you realize exactly how precisely delicious that observation is? In extolling the virtues of the stimulus, President Obama cited several small businesses, including a “window repair company” in Philadelphia.

Having read Bastiat’s influential “That Which Is Seen & That Which Is Not Seen: The Unintended Consequences of Government Spending,” I don’t think he could have chosen more poorly (or perhaps more aptly?). The opening vignette of Bastiat’s seminal work, which demolishes the notion that government spending stimulates anything, is subtitled, “The Broken Window.” It explains that paying to repair broken windows doesn’t help the economy at large because the money used to pay for the repair is money that can’t be used to buy a shirt or to do whatever else the private citizen may be inclined to do with his money.

Has nobody in the administration’s speech-writing team ever read basic economics? Never mind. I think I know the answer to that.

Yes, I do realize. But heck, forget the speech-writing team. What about the economic team?

Plus, what the voters think about Obama’s speech points.

Chris Matthews on Obama: ‘I Forgot He Was Black For an Hour’.

Good grief. Why is this guy still on the air? Oh, wait, he’s not — he’s on MSNBC . . . .

And reader Scott Blanksteen writes:

Obama’s comments about the Supreme Court’s decision enabling foreign corporations to donate in US campaigns are particularly ironic given that it was his campaign that mis-configured their credit-card acceptance software in a way for which the only purpose would be to enable foreign donations!

More on that here, here, and here.

Jules Crittenden: “But seriously, we have just witnessed an extraordinary exercise in presidential oratorical animation that may be without peer or precedent. Can it be said that any American president has ever tried to blame so much on other people, or has been willing to so rapidly abandon his own principles for the betterment of his standing with the people, to seize up the banner against himself in our nation’s time of need, that this nation should not stand against him? For this, the president deserves our unabashed, gaga-eyed astonishment.”

NOBODY LOVES DONALD: Or at least, there’s a sudden wave of anti-Rumsfeld sentiment from people who have been supportive in the past. Jules Crittenden called for Rumsfeld’s resignation earlier this week (he also wants Cheney to resign and be replaced by Condi); on Tuesday the four military papers (Army Times, Navy Times, etc.) will call for Rumsfeld to be replaced, and it’s hard to avoid a sense that the buzzards are circling. On the other hand, this December Vanity Fair article — conveniently made available just before the election — suggests that the issue isn’t so much Rumsfeld as President Bush, though the critics, especially Ken Adelman, get in plenty of swipes at Rumsfeld, too.

It’s hard to know what to make of this. Rumsfeld’s a polarizing figure, and antiwar people have been talking smack about him for so long that legitimate criticism tends to get lost in the fog of politics. But this critique of Rumsfeld’s management style from Michael Ledeen is more troubling, because it’s specific.

Bush, of course, has said that Rumsfeld isn’t going anywhere — and if he’d wanted to manage a political subject-change before the election, replacing Rumsfeld would have been a way to signal a new direction and perhaps win over some doubters, so how likely is it that he will change his mind afterward? At any rate, who would replace Rumsfeld? Harold Ford, Jr. suggested Sam Nunn, but I don’t think that’s very likely.

My concerns about losing momentum in the war on terror really go to the top — if Bush wanted more action, I think Rumsfeld would be delivering it. He certainly has in the past.

UPDATE: Reader Len Smith is unimpressed with the criticisms:

Read the critique on Rummy and felt it was not specific enough for me to judge whether or not he is performing well. It actually sounded like a lot of grousing I hear in corporate break rooms. No direction, Boss is sending me on a wild goose chase again, etc., etc.. Pretty common comments in a dynamic environment. My boss and I once decided not to put any “goals” on my annual review because it was a worthless exercise. In my business, what is important today is old news tomorrow. So I tend to discount these type of complaints.

What I want to know is:

Are the goals of the US military clearly stated to both the administration and the troops?

Are we better today than we were yesterday?

Are the risks, both military and geopolitical, clearly defined and communicated up and down the chain of command?

Can we fight a 3 block war in the Middle East and a conventional war in Korea?

Is our logistics system better than WalMart’s?

Are we prepared for today’s mission and tomorrow’s threat, what about the next decade?

What are our plans to fight the informational war?

These are the kind of things I would like to know before I pass judgment on SecDef’s performance. My son is an enlisted grunt with the Marines so I hear every gripe about “management”, and yet he can not wait to deploy to Iraq in a couple of months. I personally prefer to look at retention numbers as a good measurement of performance. When the guys that live in the organization keep coming back for another 4 years, one has to ask “what are we doing right?”

I can not say with any certainty that Rummy is performing well. I do know that I don’t want the job. Too many whiners!

Yes, our political system is very efficient at delivering those. And Greyhawk emails:

The “four military papers” aren’t military publications – they are the publications of Gannett’s Military Times Media group. Gannett is America’s largest newspaper publisher in terms of daily circulation. In addition to numerous “local papers” (here’s a list ) they publish USA Today. Army Times is an official Army publication in the same way USA Today is an official USA publication.

“Trade journal” might be an apt description, but circulation of the papers has never been very deep among individual service members. “Office copies” abound.

Yes, I realized that they’re not official, but I still thought it somewhat significant. But it’s worth mentioning this in case others didn’t know.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Ledeen says that Vanity Fair misrepresented him:

Readers of NRO know well how disappointed I have been with our failure to address Iran, which was, and remains, the central issue, and it has been particularly maddening to live through extended periods when our children were in battle zones where Iranian-supported terrorists were using Iranian-made weapons against Americans, Iraqis and Afghans. I have been expressing my discontent for more than three years. So much for a change of heart dictated by developments on the ground.

So it is totally misleading for Vanity Fair to suggest that I have had second thoughts about our Iraq policy. But then one shouldn’t be surprised. No one ever bothered to check any of the lies in the first screed, and obviously no fact-checker was involved in the latest “promotion.” I actually wrote to David Rose, the author of the article-to-come, a person for whom I have considerable respect. He confirmed that words attributed to me in the promo had been taken out of context.

And reader Frank “Varifrank” Martin emails:

Anyone who thinks Rumsfeld is doing an awful job doesn’t understand his job or his mission from the President. Rumsfeld [doesn’t] just hold a position in the cabinet, his mission from the President was to literally transform the Military. In terms of organizational culture, there is no culture in the world more institutionally resistant to change than the Military. Add to that, the difficulty of cutting or changing the various lines of revenue to industry that are naturally going to be impacted by that change, and you get a wicked combination of people who are very unhappy at the start that you’ve appeared on the scene.

Rumsfeld is not a nice guy and he has no ambitions beyond this job. He’s not looking at this job as a way to trade up for Presidency someday. That makes it difficult for anyone to “influence” his decisions, which means they go to “plan B” by attacking him at every turn in an attempt to make his job harder, in hopes that he will ask them to knock it off, and give them some form of favor in return. He of course, doesn’t give a damn, which in their minds is what makes him the ‘most dangerous man’ in Washington.

The Military needs transformation, everyone agrees on that, not because the people in it are bad, or that the men and women in it are bad, but its an organization built for a job that’s changed tremendously with world events. It hasn’t changed, and it wont, without someone forcing that sort of institutional transformation. Its a hard job and its rarely successful.

The Military cannot change itself, no organization can do that. Imagine your company or organization suddenly saying that it needs to change to meet business challenges because that’s what the CEO read in a magazine over the weekend. How’s that work? You spend months on “Mission statements” and going on useless employee retreats and in the end, the same lame-o fatass managers run the same asininely redundant departments only with different titles and cost centers. How do you get a company to change? You don’t change because you want to, you change because the competition forces you to change. You get creamed in a quarterly result, or you get merged with the competition. So what happens to us if our Military gets creamed in combat or “Merged”? In that respect, Rumsfelds transformation doest seem so bad now does it?

The Military cannot change itself. Air Force screams at the Navy, Navy screams at the Army, and everyone screams at the Marines, and the Coast Guard continues to go on unfunded. Congress just sits squirms in its seat every time someone wants to do something simple like close an air force base, Private Industry? Oh sure that will work out fine, no self interest there, right?

So what do you do? You get a man just exactly like Rumsfeld, who’s been around forever, knows exactly what works and what doesn’t work, knows where all the bodies are buried at every level of the chain of command and you let him loose by putting him at the top.

Rumsfeld is uniquely and highly qualified to do exactly what he is doing. He is an institutional nightmare to the lifetime bureaucrat. Think of Rumsfeld as one of those CEO’s that gets hired to turn around a company in bankruptcy court, or like Tom Peters without the PR team. This is not to say that the Military is “bankrupt”, but it has lost its way in some places. Do we really need a dozen more Seawolf submarines or should we have 50 more C-17s and C-5s? F-22’s or MV-22’s?, Airborne Laser Missile Defense or another 10 brigades of Marines and Special Forces? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I know better than to ask Admiral Chuck “Seawolf” Hardmore if we need more Seawolf submarines.

That’s why we are lucky to have him, and that’s why everyone hates him, because in the end Rumsfeld will be remembered as the greatest change agent of all time.

I certainly hope so.

MORE: David Frum also says that Vanity Fair is misrepresenting his position:

My most fundamental views on the war in Iraq remain as they were in 2003: The war was right, victory is essential, and defeat would be calamitous.

And that to my knowledge is the view of everybody quoted in the release and the piece: Adelman, Cohen, Ledeen, Perle, Pletka, Rubin, and all the others.

(Not that it matters, but this fight is very personal for many of those people. Cohen and Ledeen have both had children serve in Iraq, Cohen’s in the Tenth Mountain Division, Ledeen’s daughter in the civil administration and his elder son in the Marines. As a civilian adviser in Iraq, Rubin displayed impressive personal courage living solo for long periods of time in the Shiite zones of east Baghdad.)

Vanity Fair then set my words in its own context in its press release. They added words outside the quote marks to change the plain meaning of quotations.

Vanity Fair dishonestly shilling for the Democrats just before an election? Who’da thought it?

MORE: And here’s more from Michael Rubin, who was also quoted in the piece:

Some people interviewed for the piece are annoyed because they granted interviews on the condition that the article not appear before the election. Vanity Fair is spinning a series of long interviews detailing the introspection and debate that occurs among responsible policymakers every day into a pre-election hit job. Who doesn’t constantly question and reassess? Vanity Fair’s agenda was a pre-election hit job, and I guess some of us quoted are at fault for believing too much in integrity. What the article seeks to do is push square pegs into round holes. Readers will see that the content of the piece does not match the sensational headlines. Were people gathered around the author gripping about Bush? No. Were people identifying faults in the implementation? Yes. Are people sick of the autodafe whereby pundits demand “neocon” confessions to fit their own silly conspiracy theories? Yes. Have those interviewed changed their mind about the war? I have not, no matter how self-serving partisan pundits or lazy journalists want to spin it. I can’t speak for others. . . .

We cannot go around the world betraying our allies—in this case Iraqis who believed in us or allied with us—just because of short-term political expediency. This is not just about Iraq: If we abandon Iraq, we will not only prove correct all of Usama Bin Laden’s rhetoric about the US being a paper tiger, but we will also demonstrate—as James Baker and George H.W. Bush did in 1991—that listening to the White House and alliance with the United States is a fool’s decision. We can expect no allies anywhere, be they in Asia, Africa, or Latin America, if we continue to sacrifice principles to short-term realist calculations. It’s not enough to have an attention span of two years, when the rest of the world thinks in decades if not centuries.

Vanity Fair apparently feels otherwise.

STILL MORE: A reader who prefers anonymity emails:

There is no “loss of momentum” in Iraq.

The deliberate, carefully thought-out mission there is to force the Iraqis to build up a military/security apparatus strong enough to defend the country. If we try to “crush” the insurgency ourselves, the Iraqis will have no incentive to fight. They will sit back and let us battle the unending waves of jihadis, Ba’athists, and Shi’ite militias. We will have to stay there forever while the government enriches itself in the traditional Arab style.

The ball is in the Iraqis’ court. We took away the obstacle to their freedom. If they choose to embrace death, corruption, incompetence, lethal religious mania, and stone-age tribalism, then at least we’ll finally know the limitations of the people in that part of the world.

The experiment had to be made.

Hmm. Some support for this notion — and for the idea that attrition is running in the U.S.’s favor — can be found in this analysis. But for better or worse, the so-called “three year rule” is well-known to U.S. planners — U.S. voters will support a war for three years, but then get antsy for a conclusion. This attitude may be bad, especially as applied to “messy small wars,” but it’s a reality. If the Bush Administration embarked on a strategy that was going to bring this into play, it should have worked much harder on the domestic side, and it hasn’t done that.

On the other hand, it’s also true that if democracy can’t work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a “more rubble, less trouble” approach to other countries in the region that threaten us. If a comparatively wealthy and secular Arab country can’t make it as a democratic republic, then what hope is there for places that are less wealthy, or less secular?

MORE STILL: Tom Bevan reprints a letter from a reader:

I just came from three years in the bowels of the Pentagon and the SECDEF is generally though of there as tough but fair. Have mistakes been made? Sure, they always are but the professional military learns from it’s mistakes.

Rumsfeld should have probably committed more soldiers to the peacekeeping in Iraq. We didn’t need more to win the battle but to pacify the country afterward. Problem is the services are so small after the Clinton years that there just aren’t enough forces to go much above 140K on a continuing basis. And no one here wants a draft. It would have been nice to get further international support, but that didn’t work out, especially after Madrid. I think everyone in the Pentagon, if not the entire DOD hoped the Iraqis would take more responsibility for themselves and not destroy their country’s infrastructure and their countrymen. But unfortunately they are not.

The Army Times op-ed probably won’t change a single mind in the services. We’re all pretty hard-headed and don’t generally take our cues from the press. We wouldn’t be in the Service if we did.

Read the whole thing. Also, here’s a response from the Pentagon to the Army Times, etc. editorials.

EVEN MORE: Reader Chip Fussell emails:

My son is a USMA educated (ranked 50th in a class of almost 1,000) CPT in Army Special Forces. On January 3, 2005 his team was ambushed in Afghanistan, he was seriously wounded and came as close to dying as I think possible and not die. One of his men, a John Kerry educationally challenged SGT who had a BS in Chemistry and was an NCAA cross country champion was killed, and another of his team members ultimately lost a leg. The IED that initated the ambush did the damage, the team repelled the small arms follow-up with what I imagine was over whelming ferocity. My son recovered in time to return to his team on the Pakistan border and accomplish quite a lot in the war on terror.

Having said that, I voted for President Bush in large part so that Rumsfeld would remain as Sec. of Defense, and I continue to support the President and the Secretary as does my son and almost everyone with whom he has contact in the Army.

For the record, I am a registered Democrat and have always been, although my Dad, retired from the Air Force to Harrison, Tennessee, left to join the Repubs and my son, more influenced by my Dad, is a Republican.

Further thoughts from Elephants in Academia. It seems that some people love Donald after all. Meanwhile, Pierre Legrand thinks Rumsfeld should be asking for more money. “Defense spending in 2006 remained at 3.7% of GDP a level not far from the lowest point of the Clinton years and which we were led to believe by Candidate Bush was too low.” And Kurt Hoglund sends this link, and this one.

FINALLY: Various lefty bloggers keep linking to this post for the “more rubble, less trouble” language and misrepresenting that as something I’m advocating. In fact, of course, I’m advocating exactly the opposite as should be clear to anyone who is not deeply dishonest or hopelessly incapable of reading comprehension. The “more rubble, less trouble” phrase refers to what Victor Davis Hanson calls a kind of “punitive isolationism” that I think we’ll see if we give up in Iraq — and that was presaged by the Clinton Administration’s cruise-missile-based antiterror policy. It’s what I hope to prevent, not what I hope to see, and it’s the likely consequence of doing what the lefties want in foreign policy.


I’m enjoying the hell out of watching you cover the reviews of your own book (including mine). I’m curious: is this a first? Has any author ever before reviewed his reviewers in real time? Care to share with us your feelings about this as you go along? As the author or co-author of a dozen books (and 60K words into my new one) I’ve experienced every possible human emotion reading reviews of my books – from sheer shouting elation to hiding under a blanket with a bottle. How do [you] stay so restrained?

I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve really been reviewing the reviewers — my response to Malone’s review was more a self-criticism — but that’s interesting. I rather doubt that anyone wants to hear the whole experience in first-person anyway. Now I’m not terribly happy with the trolls posting Amazon reviews that call the book “right wing trash” and the like, as they’ve pretty clearly not read the book — or even the positive blurbs from those notorious righties Joe Trippi and Arianna Huffington — but that sort of thing is par for the course nowadays, alas.

UPDATE: Hey, there’s more from Arianna here (“You know Reynolds has hit on something when John Podhoretz and I agree that ‘Army of Davids’ is a must-read.”) though the commenter on her blog who thinks I have aspirations to be a political candidate is sadly misinformed. That’s kind of like the occasional emailers I get who think I’m angling for a federal judgeship. Anyone who reads InstaPundit regularly should know that I’m neither interested in — nor in the slightest degree viable as — either one. Which is just as well for me, and, no doubt, for the country. And I’d probably have to give up the blog, which makes it a nonstarter anyway.

Now there’s a slogan: “Keep Glenn blogging. Right for Glenn — Right for America!”

Well, it’s a better slogan than this one!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, Michael, here’s one from Joel Johnson at Gizmodo:

I’m glad I didn’t skip the parts about blogging and citizen media, though, in large part because Reynolds discusses a lot of blogs in the political sphere that I just don’t have much familiarity with. And as much as we tech bloggers like to toot our horns about breaking hot gadget news, there’s no question that the work of people like J.D. Johannes—who is telling the story of a single platoon of Marines on a shoestring budget using cheap, modern tech—is immeasurably more important than any given iPod rumor. . . .

Anyway, this is a weak endorsement—I haven’t even finished the damn thing—but as someone who makes his living operating blogs that sit literally on the intersection of corporate and citizens’ media, An Army of Davids has already given me a lot to think about.

If I can tell Joel Johnson anything new, I’m pretty happy.

STILL MORE: Hmm. I never thought of it this way: “An Army of Davids is a romantic book.”

Though one guy told me he read it out loud to his wife in the hot tub.

READER STEVE OR TANYA — it’s one of those joint email accounts, so I don’t know which one sent it — writes:

I was looking forward to your perspective on the death of Terry Schiavo. Are you feeling uncomfortable with your previous ideas regarding her situation?

Although I’ve always tried to be pleasant to the Christian Right folks even where we disagree, I really think it’s best if I don’t weigh in right now. I turned down a slot on Hugh Hewitt tonight because I was afraid I’d use words that would get him an FCC fine. But I’ll refer interested readers to this post-mortem at Blogs4God, and these thoughts on federalism from Right-Thinking. And Bill Ardolino is right about the Hillary 2008! implications of a lot of this stuff. And, if you’ve got a strong stomach, you can read this.

UPDATE: But here’s the good side, from reader David Prentice:

I saw you on Kudlow’s show with Hugh H. and John H. last week and had intended to write earlier. I have just learned about your hate mail (and your wife’s) from some the right and wanted to give you some encouragement and thank you for what you do.

After I watched the show I had wanted to say how much I appreciated the dialogue you all had on that show because it showed by example how you could debate very opposite sides of an issue without rancor and bring light to it. I am what Andrew Sullivan would derisively call a right wing religious zealot. Full disclosure: I disagreed with your position on this matter, but I do so appreciate your spirit in putting forth your ideas, I always have appreciated your writings even when I disagree.

I love your blog, have been reading it for about a year now along with Powerline and Hugh Hewitt (You are my bookmarked 3!). I appreciate all of your view points and most of all your civility and the ability to find good information.

I am very disturbed to hear about the mail you have received from others who believe as I do. It is shameful and despicable and belies what they (myself included) claim to believe. I apologize for their horrible judgment, and want to encourage you to keep your weblog going strong in spite of all the nastiness.

Thank you again, you are appreciated by some of us “religious zealots” out there.

Well, I always hope that people can disagree without being disagreeable. The people who can’t usually wind up losing. Some people certainly get this: Hugh does, and John Hinderaker — who’s been the target of moonbat assaults from the Left himself — certainly understands the difference. Not everyone does. Those people are the fringey minority, for the most part, though I have to say that I was taken aback, and disappointed, by the Jonathan Last assault I mention below.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I’ve gotten a whole lot more emails along the lines of David Prentice’s, for which I’m quite grateful. You know that the nasty folks are unrepresentative, but they’re so damned energetic about it that it’s hard to keep that in mind at times.

MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY!!! One by one, the undecided voters in my family have fallen, two to Bush and one to none of the above. I’ve lingered, though. I know that few people believed this, but this wasn’t some stunt; I’ve honestly been undecided. A couple of times I came {imagine two fingers pressed together} this close to deciding for Kerry, on the grounds that Bush is a pigheaded incompetent; one time I decided I was going Bush, because Kerry is a rank opportunist and a multilateralist naif. But then something has always pulled me back into the battleground of indecision. I’ve been here before; I voted for Gore in 2000 at the last minute, and then switched my allegiance during the Florida Ballot Wars. What can I say? I’m a flip-flopper nuanced.

But now I’ve decided. You can read the endorsement at my blog (where you can comment), or click for an extended entry. As you can see, I was up into the wee-sma hours writing this, so be kind on any grammatical errors or typos you may find.

One more thing: though I’ve decided who to vote for, it wasn’t an easy choice, and I won’t be too jubilant if he wins, nor downcast if his opponent comes in. Like all Americans (I hope), I’ll be wishing whoever wins the best of luck in Iraq and a rising economic tide to lift all boats.

Continue reading ‘MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY!!! One by one, the undecided voters in my family have fallen, two to Bush…’ »

I’M ON HUGH HEWITT: His website is down, though so you can’t listen live over the Internet. [LATER: Roger Simon, who was on at the same time, has posted his comments here.]

Via the show, I heard a Carl Cameron story on the Kerry/Cambodia issue that ran last hour. It sounded devastating, and the Kerry campaign sounded disorganized and un-credible. They’re now saying that Kerry was “near” Cambodia (58 miles away), but can’t explain why he repeatedly said he was actually in Cambodia.

UPDATE: Several readers note that the “near Cambodia” completely destroys the point of Kerry’s original statement. This is representative:

If the campaign is really saying Kerry was just “near Cambodia”, isn’t that phenomenally lame?

When Kerry brought up Cambodia, he was always doing it in the context of presidential lying–i.e. “I was in Cambodia, listening to the president say we had no troops in Cambodia”.

With this re-write, it becomes “I was *near* Cambodia, listening to the president say we had no troops *in* Cambodia, which, okay, was true as far as I could tell, but if I’d been just, like, sixty miles further west, it would’ve been a LIE!”

I hope he can do better.

Me too. Meanwhile several readers raise another concern, summed up here in an email by John Lucas.

Lucas writes:

Here’s another indicator that Kerry’s story about being shot at in Cambodia at Christmas 1968 is a complete fabrication: He claims to have been shot at by the “Khmer Rouge and Cambodians,” clearly distinguishing between the Cambodian government forces and Khmer Rouge. Not bloody likely.

The Khmer Rouge were a small force in 1968, by all accounts less that 2500 (compared w/ 30,000+ by 1973). They did not launch a major offensive against the Cambodian government until 1970 — they were too small and lacked the capability. In 1968 ther were virtually unknown to Westerners and were not engaged in operations against the U. S. military. They finally overthrew the government and took Phnom Penh in 1975. Only then did they become well known to most Americans.

Kerry’s claim to have been shot at by the Khmer Rouge in 1968 is simply not plausible. Even if he had been shot at by someone from the shore in the dark, he would have no way of knowing if they were Khmer Rouge or Cambodian government troops. The embellehment that he had been shot at by the Khmer Rouge simply added a bit of spice to a fabricated story that implicated a group that was notorious for its brutality by the time he gave his Senate speech, but which was virtually unknown in 1968.

Other people have been looking for evidence of operations by the Khmer Rouge at that time without success. I looked in Jim Dunnigan’s Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War, which is chock-full of interesting information, but it’s inconclusive here. There’s no specific mention of Khmer Rouge activities before 1969, but — though the book isn’t specific — it seems possible that they were active in 1968. Were they shooting at Kerry? Doubtful, as they seem to have been mostly in the north, and the Mekong river crosses the border in the south. I think we’d have to score this as “unlikely, but conceivable” — though how Kerry would have known he was being shot at by Khmer Rouge and not the far-more-likely North Vietnamese remains puzzling, especially as Dunnigan says that the Khmer Rouge wore NVA equipment in their early days.

The Khmer Rouge issue is something of a sideline, but it does add to the suspicion that Kerry was making the whole thing up. As another reader observes:

I read your digital camera extract of the 1986 Congressional Record quote from Kerry re Cambodia in 1968, and here’s my guess: 18 years after Vietnam he had invented the Cambodia memory. At the time, he really believed it.

From the context of your larger photo, he was making an impassioned speech regarding the Contras, not directly testifying about Vietnam. So instead of checking his facts, he went with his recollection, seared into his memory, which turns out to have been dead wrong. How embarrassing! But as a lawyer you knowsomething about how wrong eyewitness testimony can be, especially after the witness has had time to repeat the story to himself over and over.

BTW, the Congressional Record extract provides no evidence that he was talking about Nixon as President. His fanciful memory could just as well have been referring to LBJ.

The best thing he could do at this point is admit the mistake. That probably won’t happen.

Probably not. It’s true that the Nixon reference in the Congressional Record passage is oblique. He’s more explicit in the Boston Herald article, of which I’m still trying to get a hardcopy. Here’s the passage:

I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.

I can’t personally vouch for the authenticity of this quote, reproduced here, though I have no actual reason to doubt it. I’m still trying to get hold of an original.

While searching, though, I did find more Kerry Cambodia versions here:

June 24, 1992, Wednesday

LENGTH: 876 words

HEADLINE: Senate Committee Says Americans Left Behind in Vietnam

BYLINE: By Kimberly C. Moore, States News Service


Kerry, who served in Vietnam on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta from 1968 to 1969, said he was involved in a “black mission” near Cambodia. “On Christmas Eve of 1968, I was on a gunboat in a firefight that wasn’t supposed to be taking place,” Kerry recalled. “I thought, if I’m killed here, what will my family be told?”

(Found on NEXIS, News, All (English, Full Text) Terms: kerry and cambodia and mekong and christmas). So was he in a firefight? In danger of being shot by drunk allies celebrating Christmas? On a covert mission inserting clandestine operatives? (“‘My good luck hat,’ Kerry said, happy to see it. ‘Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia.’“) Or — for the real man-of-action spin — all at once?

I don’t know, but stale brownies were involved, somehow:

Copyright 1994 The Providence Journal Company
Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)

April 3, 1994, Sunday, ALL EDITIONS


LENGTH: 2914 words

HEADLINE: MAN ON A MISSION Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry got his first taste of politics leading the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. To this day, the Vietnam War drives his activism.

BYLINE: James M. O’Neill

Some relief came from home. “I got a great package around Christmas,” he says. “Filled with stale brownies. Broken, stale brownies. It was great – they were homemade. Came back in from a five-day patrol. Christmas Eve I was up getting shot at somewhere near Cambodia. Stupid Vietnamese were celebrating Christmas by shooting tracers, fifty-caliber, right up into the air, and the goddamned things were coming right over our head. That was a wild night. That was a night like right out of Apocalypse Now. It was just surreal. Mortars going off. Tracers piercing the sky. People crazy. Flares.”

(Via the same Nexis search). Now we’re back to drunk Vietnamese — and now we’re “somewhere near Cambodia.”

Perhaps — it being 1968, after all — the off-taste in those brownies wasn’t from staleness, which might explain both Kerry’s fascination with the lights, and the confused nature of his memories. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

The NPR woman on Brit Hume’s segment on Fox just tried the spin that
maybe Kerry was off course. 58 miles off course on a river system?
What kind of river boat skipper gets 58 miles off course? Just the
kind of skipper we want at the helm of a whole country?

Hey, those Gilligan’s Island jokes may be closer to the truth than I realized!

MORE: Apparently, even Kerry’s own diary contradicts these claims:

Every living officer up his chain of command says Kerry was never ordered to Cambodia. At least three of his five crewmen say their boat was never in Cambodia. And if you don’t believe any of his fellow veterans, read the excerpt from Kerry’s own journal published in Tour Of Duty, the recent hagiography by Douglas Brinkley.

On December 24 1968, Kerry was at Sa Dec – that’s well inside Vietnam, 55 miles from the Cambodian border – and waxing wistful to his diary about a quiet Christmas far from home: “Visions of sugarplums really do dance through your head and you think of stockings and snow and roast chestnuts and fires with birch logs and all that is good and warm and real. It’s Christmas Eve.”

Doesn’t sound like Apocalypse Now. But it’s not inconsistent with the brownie hypothesis. . . .

JAY ROSEN WRITES that President Bush has a new strategy on the press:

And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You’re making a powerful assumption, young man. You’re assuming that you represent the public. I don’t accept that. . . .

Whoever can speak to the whole nation becomes a power. There is still a reporters gallery, and it is still speaking the language of a Fourth Estate. But perhaps its weakness is in speaking a language Americans recognize as theirs. Bush is challenging the press: you don’t speak to the nation, or for it, or with it.

He cannot sustain this challenge all the time–thus, the April 13 press conference, thus the embeds–but it is a serious argument. Intellectually, it’s almost a de-certification move against the press corps. There’s a constituency for this, and it picks up on long-term trends that have weakened the national press, including a disconnect between Big Journalism and many Americans, and the rise of alternative media systems.

As a first step out of this trap, journalists need to ask themselves: how did we become so predictable?

The press, of course, is unrepresentative. It isn’t elected, nor — in its views, its background, and its personal characteristics — is it reflective of the public. (If the public thought like the press, no Republican would ever be elected President.) Nor does the public feel that it is represented by the press. I don’t know if it ever did, but back in the day when reporters were more like ordinary people in their habits, incomes, and backgrounds — the Lou Grant era — I think it was more plausible to make that claim.

UPDATE: Reader James Bourgeois emails:

I am a regular visitor to your site and my interest was really piqued by the item you posted on the president’s commenting that the press doesn’t represent the public.

President Bush is right. The media do not represent the people. Journalists (I hesitate to call them reporters because they are all failures at that job), whether working for electronic or print media, represent a minority of vocal holier/smarter than thou liberals who would make all important decisions for the “great, unwashed masses” that comprise the electorate in our country.

I am a former reporter. I have a journalism degree. I left the business because of its drift from real reportage to advocacy and the abandonment of journalistic standards and ethics in favor of the kind of slanting and spinning we see today on the pages of the morning paper and on the evening news broadcasts. I knew it was time to find another way to make a living when I watched Peter Jennings, on a closed circuit feed to ABC affiliates, berate the American voter for Ronald Reagan’s election victory over Jimmy Carter. Jennings, who was a Canadian citizen at the time, repeated that disgraceful performance in a toned down manner thenight he ascribed the Gingrich led Republicans’ takeover of the House of Representatives to a temper tantrum by the voters.

The really disturbing thing about what’s going on in the media is that the effect has seeped into local newsrooms of small dailies, weeklies and small market television stations as well. The reporters in those small markets are mostly ambitious types who want to make it to the big leagues and to get there they have to show they have game. In other words, they’d damn well better subscribe to the prevailing political views or they have no shot at all at an upward career path.

Real journalism, until the advent of the internet, was a dying craft. The mainstream media is too absorbed in shilling for liberal politicians and left wing causes to have an objective view of its output. There are no opposing opinions in the newsrooms at CBS, NBC, ABC or any of the leading dailies which would give the major players enough pause to consider that perhaps the other side has a legitimate viewpoint that should, by right, be given some play without denigrating comments, asides and negative labeling affixed to it.

It is no secret why Rather, Jennings and their ilk abhor people like Matt Drudge, Charles Johnson and Glenn Reynolds. You guys have taken their audience. While they were busy evading their responsibilities to give news consumers the truth, they lost their viewers and readers to those who recognized a vacuum and stepped up to fill it.

One cannot be a realist without recognizing that no thinking person can report on events and issues today without having some opinions. Those opinions, however, are to be kept out of news stories, whether they appear on newspaper pages or on television and radio broadcasts. The mainstream media, unfortunately, in buying into the liberal line that the ordinary citizen is incapable of making rational, informed decisions, made a conscious decision to quit informing them and instead has chosen to engage in launching a daily propaganda barrage.

As for that “days of Lou Grant” comment, the Mary Tyler Moore show didn’t come close to depicting the reality of a newsroom. The newsroom is a place of sniping and backbiting, populated by cheap shot artists fighting for inches and minutes by taking sensational angles on stories that, when presented honestly and objectively, tell themselves to willing audiences. I’ve been there, and sometimes a reporter gets sent out on an assignment that turns out to be a dog or a non-story. When that happens, a real professional doesn’t tart it up to get air time or page space. He moves on the next one. We don’t see that today and its effects are easily detected in the shrinking readership and viewership
of mainstream media outlets.

Well, that’s perhaps a bit overstated. But the White House press corps certainly isn’t reflective of America, nor is it elected. Nor, in light of shrinking viewerships and readerships, can it claim that it’s giving the people what they want. As ABC’s The Note admitted a while back:

Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are “conservative positions.”

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation’s problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don’t have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

None of these shared beliefs make the press “representative” of Americans at large, though it does tend to share the views of the academic/professional class to which it belongs.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Julie Cleevely emails:

Your reader James Bourgeois has just summed up the media in Britain perfectly. A couple of honourable exceptions, but in the main our media is no more than propaganda and lies. The BBC is a serious problem- Al Jazeera for middle class snobs.

Well, I think that these criticisms are a bit strong. Media bias is more like unconscious racism, most of the time, than it is like deliberate misrepresentation. While there are certainly cases of deliberate misrepresentation, most of the time I think it stems from a worldview so deep-rooted that they’re unaware of it.

But it’s certainly true that the notion of the professional press as a check on the government has no foundation. The Constitution envisions freedom of speech and of the press as checks — not the institution of the press as one. That’s a key difference, I think.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Hammer emails:

Glenn: As a former print journalist I’d like to make a brief comment about the non-representative press. Journalists may be out of step with mainstream America, but for the vast majority of them it is because they are woefully underpaid, not overpaid. I suspect that many more newsrooms would swing to the middle if reporters were paid enough to live above the poverty line.

As a current college professor I could say the same thing about academia. If assistant professors were paid enough to live in middle class neighborhoods, then more of them might actually consider themselves middle class.

Mike Hammer
Assistant Professor of Spanish
San Francisco State University

I’d be the last to disagree that academics are underpaid. By definition! But the White House press corps makes a lot more money than most Americans, I imagine. It’s true that reporters at run-of-the-mill newspapers don’t make a lot of money. But I think that the analogy with academics demonstrates that there’s more to being “mainstream” than income. In fact, I don’t think the salary difference accounts for it, as higher-paid academics and journalists don’t seem to be any less aligned with the overwhelming ideologies in their fields. Indeed, as James Bourgeois suggests, they seem to be the opinion leaders for the less well-paid among them.

Newzilla, meanwhile, thinks I’m too generous to the press. But small publisher Brian Kuhn emails:

Though I often feel I’m fighting a losing battle and throw my hands up in disgust over the obvious bias displayed by the national media, I must say that I’m pretty durn proud of the small weekly and daily newspapers across this great land of ours. We (small town newspapers) are like a bunch of mini-blogs, printing everything from who visited who over the past week, to, yes, cute little cat and dog pictures. When news happens we of course print it, but with the very real knowledge that HOW we report it effects real people . . . often our friends and neighbors. Spin just does not work in small communities. Any fool publisher/editor/reporter who does try something like that wouldn’t last a year. That’s a fact.

As far as political affiliations within this large community of small publications, I’d say it’s 50/50, much along the lines of the famous “red/blue” map of 2000. We tend to reflect the communities we serve. I know of two small weeklies in our neck of the woods that were bought out by young pups fresh out of journalism school, who started running editorials that didn’t reflect the general conservatism of our area. They were about as liberal as you can get, repeating the usual liberal mantras. . . and they didn’t last a year. They just lost their readership, and had to sell. Democracy at work.

I wrote a column for our state’s press association for nearly a decade about technology issues facing our industry — from around 1990 to mid 2002. I strayed from my usual field in my last column to beg my fellow publishers across our state to read Bernard Goldberg’s “Bias,” and to do everything we could to counter the failings of our national media by remaining true to our commitment of fair and balanced reporting at the local level, and a commitment to serving, not dictating to, our readership.

Many of the older generation of publishers (including my father) grew up with complete faith in national media , believing anything that makes it into print or on the airwaves had to be true — especially from such organizations as the NYT, TIME, Newsweek, and other print media. So, I didn’t know how that last column of mine would play.

To my surprise, I didn’t hear one argument against that column. Not one. From the many people who e-mailed me to comment on it . . . only agreement.

So, yes, the national media is blowing it big time in ways obvious to those both in and outside the industry. And the disgust of the public is justified.

But to the reader you posted in your update, Glenn, who quit journalism out of similar disgust . . . don’t give up hope on those of us with small circulations and viewership. We’re still ticking, and providing a positive difference within the communities we serve.

Brian K.
. . . and proud of it.

Hey, that’s my job description here at InstaPundit!

MORE: Ryan Pitts disagrees with me, but it seems to me that his points are already answered in the updates to this post. I will say, though, that Pitts’ “we’re just plain folks” response rings false to me and, I suspect, a whole lot of other people. Including media guys like Gerard Van der Leun, who’s a lot harder on the press than I have been.

And at any rate, it’s clear — going back to the original point of this post — that whatever the divorced, go-fishin’ guys in Pitts’ newsroom think, the national media in general and the White House press corps in particular think that they are not just plain folks, but that they have a special, institutional role of a quasi-governmental nature. Hence the “Fourth Estate” claims. The problem is, that they don’t. As I said earlier, the Constitution sees the activities of speech and publication as checks on government. There’s no special role for the institution of the press. Which is a good thing since the Internet, talk radio, etc., are blurring that line beyond recognition and letting the rest of us get in on the act.

There are, by the way, quite a few very interesting comments to Rosen’s post now, and I highly recommend that you read them if this incredibly long post hasn’t totally exhausted your interest in the subject.

Finally, Roger Simon:

I will add, however, before I rush off to the Book Festival, that the press is often their own worst enemy.

The recent Presidential Press Conference, referred to by Rosen and others he cities, is a strong case in point. If one of the goals of free journalism is to make clear presidential policy they did a particularly poor job of it that day. Four questions were devoted to asking Bush to make an apology for 9/11 because Richard Clarke had. Leaving aside whether Clarke was being disingenuous, the answer has no real meaning . It’s devoid of factual content and is essentially a posture, no matter what the reply. It doesn’t lead to transparency, because it’s only “attitude.”

If the press wanted to ask something legitimately hard of Bush, how about this: “Mr. President, why didn’t you fire George Tenet on September 12?” Now there’s a question I’d like to hear answered, not the puerile pabulum asked by these veteran journos. I didn’t need Bush to dismiss them. I was perfectly capable of doing it by myself.

Ouch. Yes, if the press were better at its actual job, people might cut it more slack on its self-described role. Here are some other unasked tough questions for Bush that I noted shortly after the press conference. Most of them, unfortunately, would have required actual knowledge that the press either lacks, or assumes that its readers and viewers aren’t up to comprehending. Either way, the “special role” seems dubious.

And read this and this while you’re at it.

Jay Reding: “What we’re seeing now is a struggle between what the media thinks it is and what it has actually become.”

THE BBC IS IN TROUBLE, according to this in The Times:

For this affair has left the BBC dangerously exposed. It has served as a catalyst, allowing diverse complaints about its news coverage to resurface simultaneously. The Beeb has been accused of, among other matters, fanatical suspicion of the motives of those in power and unrelenting hostility towards the Conservative Party. It has been attacked for a wholesale scepticism about capitalism, combined with a weakness for quack environmentalism and health-scare speculation over hard science.

Reporting the Middle East, it sometimes seems so remorselessly anti-Israeli that Mr Dyke might as well be open about it and allow his reporters to appear speaking Arabic, riding a camel, stopping occasionally to suck from a long pipe in a crowded souk.

Put bluntly, the BBC, a public sector bureaucracy funded by a poll tax, with a privileged status that looks starkly anomalous in an age of hundreds of television channels and thousands of radio stations, needs more friends. It is already detested by other broadcasters, derided by the print press for squandering its vast resources and damned by publishing houses for its increasingly aggressive marketing activities in their domain.

If the BBC wants to retain its privileged position when its charter is due for renewal in 2006, then it must construct a coalition of supporters broader than the Liberal Democrats, Friends of the Earth, Friends of Yassir Arafat, the sort of people who believe that taking an aspirin will inevitably result in limbs falling off and its own staff. It requires mainstream allies as well. . . .

The old consensus that Auntie should be preserved and protected is fraying; the contention that “something must be done” about the corporation is acquiring serious credibility.

Simon Jenkins wrote about the BBC on this page recently, teasingly comparing its excesses to Cardinal Wolsey’s but vigorously defending its “right to be wrong”. This was once the stance of virtually all reasonable and respectable people (plus Simon); it is no longer. The “right to be wrong” is not the same as the liberty to be a law unto oneself.

Indeed. And where will it find those mainstream allies? Nowhere, if its narrow bias continues. This piece in The Telegraph agrees:

Whatever the outcome of the present battle between the BBC and the Government, it does serve to throw attention on the state of the BBC. The BBC has been a bad joke in its news and public affairs broadcasting for several decades, but, in the way of the world, no one notices until his own ox is gored. . . .

The BBC mandate is to be independent of the government of the day and to be objective in its reporting. For a long time, the BBC has been captured by one end of the political spectrum and, with negligible exceptions, all the people who work for it.

They have handled the corporation, especially in news and current affairs, as if it were the party organ of Labour’s Left wing or, at best, the Fabians. This would be acceptable in French public television under a Socialist government, but it is a breach of trust in Britain.

Instead of fuming about it, as Blair and Campbell are doing, or sending dossiers to Greg Dyke, as the Conservatives have, it would be more useful to work out what can be done with an organisation that has lost all even-handedness. Objectivity can’t be maintained by inviting a few Right-wingers to be guests on the many BBC programmes putting America on trial.

How about ending the public subsidy and letting the private sector take over? The likelihood that a major, state-subsidized entity with considerable political clout can actually be objective and fair over the long term is so small that it would seem better to drop the pretense, and to quit subsidizing the political views of the New Class under a threadbare cloak of public service that no longer fools anyone but the gullible.

UPDATE: Susanna Cornett comments:

It’s a classic case of how bias develops in the media, and how those who are at the center of it can’t see it – they perceive themselves as edgy and unaffected by ideology. The reality couldn’t be more different.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shanti Mangala writes: “Pretty damning for such a prestigious news agency, I should say!”

Click below for more, from a British reader who has followed this closely:

Continue reading ‘THE BBC IS IN TROUBLE, according to this in The Times:

For this affair has left the BBC dangerously…’ »