Sunday, 14 September 2008

MORE ON THE FALL OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

Ken Berwitz

Not content with its page 1 hit piece on John Mccain yesterday, The Times has another one today - this time on Sarah Palin. 

You can read the entire article by clicking here, but I've excerpted the first part of it below which, in extremely negative terms, will assure you that Ms. Palin plays favorites and rewards people she likes!!  (my god, who ever heard of a politician doing that!!)

In office, Palin hired friends and hit critics

Interviews indicate a governing style that uses loyalty and secrecy

By JO BECKER, PETER S. GOODMAN AND MICHAEL POWELL

updated 7:17 p.m. ET, Sat., Sept. 13, 2008

WASILLA, Alaska - Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as one of her qualifications for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.

When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.

And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governors career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.

You should be ashamed! Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!

Points to her management experience
Ms. Palin walks the national stage as a small-town foe of good old boy politics and a champion of ethics reform. The charismatic 44-year-old governor draws enthusiastic audiences and high approval ratings. And as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, she points to her management experience while deriding her Democratic rivals, Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., as speechmakers who never have run anything.

But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics she sometimes calls local opponents haters contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

Yes, as with yesterday's article you can find some ameliorating material buried well into the article's text.  But by that time you already know what an awful person Ms. Palin is.

antoin "tony" rezko is a thoroughly corrupt slumlord who stands convicted of 16 felony counts and is going to jail for a long time.  Barack Obama purchased a 1.6 million dollar mansion, then additional property adjacent to that mansion, with rezko's help.  rezko also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mr. Obama over the years, both directly and indirectly, for his state senate and US senate runs and who knows what else. 

How many front page articles has the New York Times done on the cozy relationship between Barack Obama and tony rezko?  How many reporters did they have scouring the records to see what rezko got for his help with the house and his outpouring of money?  Not many, it seems, since the Times barely covered this at all.

But the issue of whether Sarah Palin rewarded people she knew and liked ?   That's front page news. 

Please note that Ms. Palin is not accused of graft or bribery or any other such thing in the Times article, just political favoritism.  Do you think the Times could say the same about Barack Obama's close associate tony rezko?  Me neither.

And then we have Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, whose employer gave her a $200,000 raise, and then receieved far more than that in "earmarks" that were supported by hubby Barack.  How much coverage did the Times give to that?

Specifically, according to the Chicago Tribune Ms. Obama's salary as the University of Chicago's vice president for community affairs (I don't know what that is either) went from $121,910 in 2004 (the year hubby Barack ran for his senate seat) to $316,962 within months of his taking office.  Thereafter, magically and mystically, earmarks totalling $1 million or more were floated by Senator Obama to build a new pavilion for the school.  What a coincidence THAT is.

How many articles have you read about this overripe little sequence of events in the Times?

This is how far the New York Times has fallen.  An avalanche of questionable attacks, much of it hearsay, directed against Sarah Palin, while Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is kept in a safe and comfy place.

And I have absolutely no doubt you'll see more of the same throughout this campaign. 


THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPERIENCE

Ken Berwitz

John Hinderaker of www.powerlineblog.com has a very short and very trenchant little blog on how experience is playing out in this election, which I thought you'd like to see.  Here it is:

Who's Inexperienced?

This AP/GfK poll finds John McCain with a four-point lead over Barack Obama, which is typical these days. But this observation is interesting:

Eighty percent say McCain, with nearly three decades in Congress, has the right experience to be president. Just 46 percent say Obama, now in his fourth year in the Senate, is experienced enough.

Fully 47 percent say Obama lacks the proper experience an even worse reading than the 36 percent who had the same criticism about McCain running mate Sarah Palin, serving her second year as Alaska governor after being a small-town mayor.

This is the problem with the Democrats' attempt to attack Governor Palin's purported inexperience: she is, by any reasonable standard, better qualified for the Presidency than Barack Obama. And if experience is what voters are looking for, McCain is the obvious choice.

This commentary is very much in tune with what I've been saying since Ms. Palin was nominated.  Her lack of experience/qualifications to be President (which I concede) does not take this issue away from Republicans who would use it against Barack Obama.  In reality, the opposite is true -- it accentuates this as an issue against him.

The logic is pretty basic:  if Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president, but more qualified than Barack Obama, what does that make Barack Obama?

And if these polling data are accurate, I'm not the only one who sees things this way.  Not by a long shot.


JOHN MCCAIN AND E-MAILING

Ken Berwitz

With all the talk of how hard-hitting and aggressive John McCain's ads against Barack Obama are, maybe you'd like to get a taste of what the Obama camp is sending Mr. McCain's way.

To read much of the media, McCain is pummeling Obama while he is the picture of sweetness and light.

Well, let's call upon the www.sweetness-light.com website to show is how untrue this is...and how nasty the Obama people have gotten:

Obama: Stupid McCain Cant Send Emails

From the Obama campaign, via their water-carriers at the Associated Press:

Obama mocks McCain as computer illiterate in ad

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - John McCain is mocked as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate in a television commercial out Friday from Barack Obama as the Democrat begins his sharpest barrage yet on McCains long Washington career.

The new fighting spirit comes as McCain has been gaining in the polls and some Democrats have been expressing concern the Obama campaign has not been aggressive enough. Obamas campaign says the escalation will involve advertising and pushes made by the candidate, running mate Joe Biden and other surrogates across the country.

Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe says in a campaign strategy memo. We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCains attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people.

The newest ad showcasing their hard line includes unflattering footage of McCain at a hearing in the early 80s, wearing giant glasses and an out-of-style suit, interspersed with shots of a disco ball, a clunky phone, an outdated computer and a Rubiks Cube.

1982, John McCain goes to Washington, an announcer says over chirpy elevator music. Things have changed in the last 26 years, but McCain hasnt.

He admits he still doesnt know how to use a computer, cant send an e-mail, still doesnt understand the economy, and favors two hundred billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class, it says. It shows video of McCain getting out of a golf cart with former President George H.W. Bush and closes with a photo of him standing with the current President Bush at the White House. After one president who was out of touch, we just cant afford more of the same.

Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said the campaign was not making an issue of the 72-year-old McCains age, but the time hes spent in Washington.

Our economy wouldnt survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats, Pfeiffer said. Its extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesnt know how to send an e-mail.

McCain has said he relies on his wife and staff to work the computer for him and that he doesnt use e-mail

The campaign dispatched Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, both Illinois Democrats, to lay out the new aggressive tone in a conference call with reporters Friday

Oh, and never that this is the product of the mans war wounds, as chronicled by the Boston Globe, via Jonah Goldberg at NROs Corner:

McCain character loyal to a fault

By Mary Leonard, Globe Staff, 3/4/2000

McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCains severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCains encyclopedic knowledge of sports. Hes an avid fan - Ted Williams is his hero - but he cant raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball

The Obama camp might want to take this ad back.

That's just lovely, isn't it?  Mr. McCain CANNOT USE A KEYBOARD because of the torture he received at the hands of the Vietcong.  So let's mock him for not learning how to use e-mail. 

Steve Gilbert of sweetness-light ends his piece by suggesting that the Obama camp might want to take this ad back.  Think he's got a point?


THE REAL PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Ken Berwitz

How sweet it was.

When Barack Obama was taking a leisurely stroll into the white house a few weeks ago, he smiled, he spoke in pleasantries and was the picture of sweetness and kindness.  Mainstream media were similarly content because this was a wonderful way to see him become President.

Now, however, it appear that John McCain has blown past Mr. Obama and has something of a lead among voters.  While the lead may not hold, it certainly demonstrates that this is no coronation; Mr. Obama has a genuine fight on his hands.

So what happened to that  "tra-la-la life is sweet" comportment we had been seeing?

I'll let Mike Allen of www.politico.com furnish the answer:

Campaigns shout it out

So much for nuance, or elevating the dialogue.

Locked in a political death match with 52 days to live, the presidential campaigns went nuclear on what looked to be a quiet Saturday, with stumping curtailed because of Hurricane Ike's catastrophic overnight hit on
Houston.

Sen. Barack Obama's national press secretary, Bill Burton, accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of "cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history. His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office he is seeking."

That was prompted by a McCain campaign statement about remarks Obama (D-Ill.) made in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday morning.

McCain spokesman
Tucker Bounds thundered by e-mail: "During the event, Barack Obama showed zero restraint in the ferocity of his attacks despite the wreckage in the gulf and his running mates cancellation in reaction to it.

"It says a lot about Barack Obamas judgment that while his campaign canceled his appearance on '
Saturday Night Live' and his running mate stayed home, Obama went ahead and delivered a series of scathing personal attacks. Todays attacks mark a new low from Barack Obama.

I would hope that the people who thought this was going to be different from other recent campaigns are now officially disabused of that thought.  It won't be.

Can anyone possibly be surprised to see the Obama camp whining that they're being mistreated, now that they're behind?  That is standard-issue politics (though I have to admit that, after a year of media fawning over Mr. Obama, and in view of the New York Times' daily hit pieces on McCain and Palin, it's more than a little amusing).

And don't expect the tenor of the campaign to elevate between now and election day.  It's got nowhere to go but down.  You can take that to the bank.


SPEAKING OF MEDIA BIAS (AGAIN)......

Ken Berwitz

The hits just keep on coming, don't they?

Here's the latest, this time about the level of coverage afforded John McCain by the Washington Post.  Tim Graham of www.newsbusters.org takes a look at how the paper's "ombudsman", Deborah Howell, sees things:

WaPo Tries to Explain Not Putting Huge Va. McCain Rally on Page One

On Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell noticed in passing an obvious example of front-page Obama favoritism in the Post. On Thursday, the huge McCain-Palin rally in suburban Fairfax, Virginia, with an estimated crowd of 23,000 reported in the story, was bizarrely placed on the front page of the Metro section. On June 6, the Post put an Obama rally in Virginia at the Nissan Pavilian concert venue with an estimated attendance of 10,000 people on the front page. (Actually, they offered two front-page stories.) How does the Post defend itself?

Then McCain and Palin's large Fairfax County rally was on the Metro section front page Thursday; a June 6 rally for Obama at Nissan Pavilion was on Page A1. [Assistant managing editor Ed] Thiede said, "We had a busier day with more competing for A1 play Wednesday, including a main art package commemorating the opening of the Sept. 11 memorial." These are logical answers in a newsroom, but they don't cut it with Republican-leaning readers, especially when, as I've reported, Obama has had a preponderance of Page 1 stories and photos throughout the paper.

On August 17, Howell noticed a dramatic three-to-one imbalance in Post front-page stories from June 4 to August 15, especially around Obamas Nissan Pavilion event:

Obama has been featured in 35 stories on Page 1; McCain has been featured in 13, with three Page 1 references with photos to stories on inside pages.

The coverage of June 4, 5, 6 and 7 led to six Page 1 stories in The Post, including Obama's nomination victory his strategy, elation among African Americans over the historic nature of his win and his fundraising advantage. Then he made an appearance at Nissan Pavilion with Virginia's Gov. Timothy Kaine and Sen. James Webb, and it became a local Page 1 story. During those few days, there was one Page 1 reference to an inside-page story about McCain going after Clinton's disgruntled supporters.

On Sunday, Howell didnt go any deeper than a paragraph about how the Post downplayed the huge McCain-Palin rally, moving into more specific complaints about Palin coverage. Looking at Thursday's front page, its hard to quibble with a story and photo of the new September 11 memorial at the Pentagon. Its reasonable to expect an international story (hurricane deaths in Haiti), a local story (vote-counting glitches over RINO City Council member Carol Schwartz losing an election), and a military story (the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed skepticism about whether were winning in Afghanistan).

But sharing the top of the front page of Thursdays paper is a story about Inspector General reports of improper gift acceptance, drug use and sex at the Department of Interiors Minerals Management Service. How does Thiede explain how thats an Earth-shaker? It's too bad Howell didn't probe a little on that.

If you dig a little deeper, you'd also notice that the Tim Craig-Peter Slevin story on the McCain-Palin Fairfax rally...veers off the rally. It discusses Obama appearing at a school in Norfolk, Virginia, and how "emotion is growing among supporters of both candidates." It also relays plenty of hope Democrats can take Virginia thanks to social issues and resistance in Fairfax County to "conservative" views on abortion, and quotes Democrats saying "McCain's too conservative." Only one McCain fan is quoted at the rally, at the very end -- saying she wouldn't have attended if it wasn't for Palin.

Craig and Slevin also made sure to insert Democrat hecklers into the story: about 150 Obama supporters stood near the entrance to the rally, chanting "Bush, McCain, more of the same. They made space to note: "McCain supporters responded with taunts of their own, including 'zero,' 'losers,' 'baby killers,' and 'No-bama.'"

Compare this to the Nissan Pavilion story in June. Kristen Mack's front-pager had no mention of McCain or GOP hecklers, if there were any, and included five stories of excited Obama fans who pulled their kids out of school or cast their first vote for Obama. Tim Craig's front-pager offered the political analysis about how Dems hoped to take the state. 

Here's one last sign of how out-of-whack the B-1 placement of the huge 23,000-strong McCain-Palin Fairfax rally was: on August 7, the Post gave similar B-1 placement with color photo to Michelle Obama "mingling with hundreds" at a fundraiser and reading to school children in Norfolk.

I have no doubt there are many, many readers of the Washington Post who not only have no problem with this overt bias in favor of Barack Obama but are happy as larks that it exists.

But I also have a strong feeling that an increasing number of people who want neutral reportage rather than cheerleading are disturbed by the Post (and countless other media venues) behaving this way.

If  Barack loses the presidential election (a prospect that seems to grow every day), I wonder how much of it will be backlash voting by people who resent this, and assume that McCain may be a lot more attractive - and Obama a lot less so - that what is being reported.

free Since Bush was elected the media have been getting nastier and nastier, I am worried how bad it will get if McCain/Palin win in Nov. Maybe the best thing for the country would be an Obama/Biden victory in Nov. Right now because of the media a lot of people think things are worse in the USA than they really are, so maybe if the dems win in Nov. the media will start reporting in a more honest way. I know Obama's policies would be a nightmare but the media are tearing this country apart. (09/14/08)


THE BUSH DOCTRINE: DOES IT EVEN EXIST?

Ken Berwitz

Charles Krauthammer is no fan of the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate.  But he knows BS posing as a serious question as well as the next man, maybe better than both.

That is why he has written his latest column, which makes mincemeat out of Charlie Gibson's intentionally dishonest question to Sarah Palin about the Bush doctrine. 

Here it is,.  See for yourself:

 

Charlie Gibson's Gaffe

By Charles Krauthammer

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"At times visibly nervous . . . Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of 'anticipatory self-defense.' "

-- New York Times, Sept. 12

Informed her? Rubbish.

The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.

He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?"

She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."

Wrong.

I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term. In the cover essay of the June 4, 2001, issue of the Weekly Standard entitled, "The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the New American Unilateralism," I suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine.

Then came 9/11, and that notion was immediately superseded by the advent of the war on terror. In his address to the joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11, President Bush declared: "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." This "with us or against us" policy regarding terror -- first deployed against Pakistan when Secretary of State Colin Powell gave President Musharraf that seven-point ultimatum to end support for the Taliban and support our attack on Afghanistan -- became the essence of the Bush doctrine.

Until Iraq. A year later, when the Iraq war was looming, Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of preemptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is the Bush doctrine.

It's not. It's the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly and distinctively defines the Bush years: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

This declaration of a sweeping, universal American freedom agenda was consciously meant to echo John Kennedy's pledge in his inaugural address that the United States "shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." It draws also from the Truman doctrine of March 1947 and from Wilson's 14 points.

If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about the grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda of the Bush administration.

Not the Gibson doctrine of preemption.

Not the "with us or against us" no-neutrality-is-permitted policy of the immediate post-9/11 days.

Not the unilateralism that characterized the pre-9/11 first year of the Bush administration.

Presidential doctrines are inherently malleable and difficult to define. The only fixed "doctrines" in American history are the Monroe and the Truman doctrines which come out of single presidential statements during administrations where there were few other contradictory or conflicting foreign policy crosscurrents.

Such is not the case with the Bush doctrine.

Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.

That's our media.  And Charlie Gibson is front-and-center within it.

But listen to Gibson and the rest of them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


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