Monday, December 31, 2007
"You know, this man has come forward like a Rorschach test for everybody to project this notion of what a Democratic candidate should be. He's the inkblot. And it's becoming clearer and clearer that this mass of platitudinous, high-minded expression pouring forth from Obama as--it is beginning--it's going to sit on people who are going to ask, What's he saying? What does this mean? This started at the convention speech where he gave this strange speech about no one is black, no one is white, no one is this, no one is--"
Gigot: "But people loved it, Dorothy."
Rabinowitz: "Yes, I know, they loved--exactly....Well, I can tell you that this mass of nonmeaning, nonspecific feelings, attitudes and programs is going to become unraveled very soon when people look for programs...."
UPDATE: The new, and final, Des Moines Register poll, shows Obama actually gaining in Iowa, as he opens up a 7% lead over Hillary and Edwards.
More from Kurtz: "Kristol says he plans to 'leave the Times alone' in his own writing but told Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal that would not be the case for his magazine [The Weekly Standard], owned by Rupert Murdoch. 'I made clear I'm not censoring the Standard in any way, and they said they didn't expect me to,' he says." Asked about detractors who say he has been discredited by years of optimistic predictions about the Iraq war, Kristol says: "Critics come with the territory."
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Then-Gov. Huckabee was one of 131 signatories on a full-page USA Today ad backing a controversial position on the role of women in marriage adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” The ad Huckabee signed congratulated the convention: “You are right because you called wives to graciously submit to their husband’s sacrificial leadership.”
Where is this notion rooted? In a recent blog item defending Huckabee's view, Lee Webb, news anchor at Pat Robertson's CBN, wrote that the apostle Paul's "directive that wives should submit to their husbands and husbands should love their wives is found in Ephesians 5:22-33. Many in the church would have us to believe this passage is simply a cultural ordinance, in other words, no longer applicable in our modern, more evolved society. Read Ephesians 5:31 and you'll discover that Paul is rooting his directive back to Creation. That means it does apply to us today."
Here's Bono's view of the whole "master" thing:
On a rainy afternoon in Manhattan today, I went to the epic show at ICP uniting the work of doomed lovers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, who together produced some of the most powerful and familiar images from the Spanish Civil War. He went on to gain fame shooting other battles (including the D-Day invasion), while she died very young in Spain, while traveling with Republican troops -- purportedly the first woman war photog to die in action. The image above, one of her best known, features a militia woman getting ready to fight Franco.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Times' editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal defended the move. Rosenthal told Politico shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views....The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual — and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?” Of course, some would argue that Kristol is not "serious, respected," broadly speaking. Unlike the Times’ other regulars, Kristol will write only once a week, with his first column set for Jan. 7, and he has just a one-year contract.
In the July 14, 2006 issue of The Weekly Standard, which he edits, Kristol called for a "military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions--and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."
But opponents may take heart from this precedent: Kristol's predecessor in one of the "right" spots at the Times, John Tierney, was laughed off the page in short order.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
So here’s one tidbit: The novel, one of Sinclair’s finest, was “banned in Boston,” as Catholics there objected to sexual passages, references to abortion and other heresies. Truth be told, this did not displease the author, as it provided a big boost for sales. After he journeyed to Boston, photographs of him hawking copies of the book wearing a signboard that promoted what he called the “Fig Leaf Edition” of the book appeared in newspapers around the country. Talk about manipulating the press!
But Sinclair’s most lasting contribution to modern politics came seven years later when the former socialist ran for governor of California as a Democrat and nearly won. As another campaign year begins in earnest next month, it is worth looking back at how the modern political campaign -- run by consultants and "spin doctors," with an assist from Hollywood --began, and I will do that in coming weeks. Meawnhile, here's the movie trailer:
"A post in The Medium that appeared on Monday about the Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and his purported adoption by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups contained several errors. Stormfront, which describes itself as a 'white nationalist' Internet community, did not give money to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign; according to Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Paul’s campaign, it was Don Black, the founder of Stormfront, who donated $500 to Paul. "The original post also repeated a string of assertions by Bill White, the commander of the American National Socialist Workers Party, including the allegation that Paul meets regularly 'with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review and others' at a restaurant in Arlington, Va. Paul never attended these dinners, according to Benton, who also says that Paul has never knowingly met Bill White. Norman Singleton, a congressional aide in Paul’s office, says that he met Bill White at a dinner gathering of conservatives several years ago, after which Singleton expressed his indignation at the views espoused by White to the organizer of the dinner. The original post should not have been published with these unverified assertions and without any response from Paul."
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
In the photo, Neesley is shown on a recent visit to his nephew's 4th grade classroom in Grosse Pointe Farms. The school's newsletter described it this way: "Sergeant Peter Neesley, uncle of Patrick D., visited Richard Elementary while home on leave from Iraq. Sgt. Neesley led the school in the Pledge of Allegiance and visited several classrooms answering questions from our inquisitive students. Thanks for spending valuable time with us Sgt. Neesley and don’t forget to write and keep in touch. Thanks to all the men and women in the armed forces. We are so proud of you!"
Update: There is a followup item now at the top of the home page for this blog, with more comments. It links to my new E&P article on the reaction to Peter's death, at: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003689713
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Putting politics and views on the war aside, it is my holiday wish that the media continue to draw attention to the disturbing number of suicides among our troops in
Just this week, we have seen (and I have cited at this blog, see below) a remarkable report in the Army Times about a mutiny among our troops that followed a sergeant’s suicide and other tragic deaths, and an in-depth AP report about a family’s quest to uncover information about the military’s mistreatment of their son, who also killed himself over there. The official total of suicides in the
I’d like to close by publishing here a comment on my Army Times posting below. It comes from the parent of a suicide victim in
“We are dealing with non-hostile combat death in the family. The army ruled it as self-inflicted despite the fact we were in constant contact with him. Testimonies of his final hours showed no sign of suicidal tendencies, physical evidence provided was contradicting and circumstantial at best. He was getting out
“Greg, something stinks with this noncombat crap going on, and families like us are isolated & left to fend for ourselves. The government/Army holds all the cards and resources and know the process in which we have to navigate through to get information and the many ways to be denied. It's a job to them. For us, it's picking up the shattered remains of our lives.”
Friday, December 21, 2007
Each had also received the backing of the Iowa State Daily recently. Obama has actively courted the student vote — encouraging students to caucus despite the fact that many universities will still be in the middle of winter break.
The University of Iowa newspaper also had warm words for Edwards, Biden and Dodd -- but said nothing about Hillary Clinton. It cited Obama’s stance against the Iraq war, his plan for broadening health insurance and his message about curbing global warming. It said of McCain that he "has remained loyal to his message; after ignoring the horse race and celebrity status some candidates have earned, it’s clear that McCain’s vision for America stands above those offered by his Republican counterparts."
New "Obama Girl" video:
One of my favorite lines in Richard Dawkins' book this year was his answer to the time-honored claim that Beethoven's music proves that God exists. Dawkins wrote, no, it only proves that Beethoven existed -- and let's be thankful for that. For more Beethoven, see the Glenn Gould video bar at the very bottom of this blog.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
He finished just a hair above J.K. Rowling, who authored the final book in her "Harry Potter" series. Finishing third was Al Gore, whose year included an Oscar, an Emmy, a Nobel Peace Prize and the global concert Live Earth. Update: Just announced tonight that Stephen and Stewart will be returning to the air in January -- sans writing staff. (Maybe Krauthammer and Kristol have time to fill in, now that they've been cut loose by Time magazine.)
Here's Colbert visiting Bill "Papa Bear" O'Reilly earlier this year.
Newmark recently said, "I figure we really need a guy who knows right from wrong, and who can remind the world that we're the good guys." Now he explains, "I'm not an American 'exceptionalist'; I'm a customer service rep, and have spoken with thousands of people in the US and overseas. Everyone wants Americans to be the good guys again. We need someone who can credibly remind and lead us back into good guy-ness, in terms of of our actions and how we're perceived everywhere. Leadership means that you need to be able to bring out the best in people.
"Barack's the guy to do that."
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
But I'll dwell instead at an exclusive interview earlier today by my E&P colleague Dave Astor with Steve Benson. He is the Pulitzer-winning-- and hard to pin down politically -- editorial cartoonist who also happens to be an ex-Mormon and the grandson of Mormon legend Ezra Taft Benson. He thinks Romney is telling lies about how much he REALLY would be under the sway of the church if he really took the White House. Here's the link: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003686826
Admittedly, Paul is much stronger among independents, but that won't help him in the GOP race, no matter how much money he raises. And do any of the thousands who have donated money to Paul wonder when he will actually start spending a lot of it? He was getting 3% nationally in Gallup back in July, and hasn’t gained an inch since. Anyone else suspect he wants to bank some of it for unspecified future activities -- such as an indy run?
Another surprise in Gallup: Contrary to much media coverage, it suggests that Huckabee has peaked -- his 16% is identical to what he polled two weeks ago. And Rudy not only still tops him with 27% but easily beats him (56%-38%) or Romney (57%-37%) in a one-on-one matchups.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Also, here's the new Huckabee "Merry Christmas" ad -- with not-so-subtle cross in background and explicit mention of Christ.
Also, my friend, the great Joe Galloway, has a new column on our site which basically says, "Honor the troops -- and ride the hypocritical politicians out of town on a rail for not taking care of the injured ones back home." Here it is:
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The Mormon Church considered blacks spiritually unfit as results of a biblical curse on the descendants of Noah’s son Ham. Some prominent Mormons — including Morris and Stewart Udall -- had publicly called for an end to the doctrine, the same kind of pressure that had earlier led to the end of approved polygamy. Mitt Romney, a former missionary -- and in an influential position as son of former Gov. George Romney -- said absolutely nothing.
“I hoped that the time would come when the leaders of the church would receive the inspiration to change the policy,” Romney told The New York Times a few months ago. “The way things are achieved in my church, as I believe in other great faiths, is through inspiration from God and not through protests and letters to the editor.”
Now today he says, “I was anxious to see a change in my church...it’s very deep and fundamental in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that." But, actually, his faith -- as a Mormon -- told him the opposite. Tim Russert gave him a chance to say that his church was wrong, but Romney would only reply, “I told you exactly where I stand. My view is that there’s no discrimination in the eyes of God." Yet, queried repeatedly today by Russert, he heartily embraced the support for his candidacy by Rev. Bob Jones.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Perhaps it did. For the Des Moines Register, in editorials for its Sunday edition, endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain in the upcoming caucuses in Iowa. This could prove to be a lifesaver for Clinton, who has had a miserable week, and McCain, who has been a longshot in the race. The paper said its two main criteria were: "competence" and "readiness to lead." For more: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003686030
Friday, December 14, 2007
We never met but, for my book, he recalled his years in Little League and some of the horrible things coaches and parents subject their kids to. I just dug out one of his emails and see that he advised me to teach the kids real "sportsmanship." I replied, and the last thing I ever told him was, "Good luck on the coming season, I hope you're not headed to Toronto in any Clemens deal." Here's my new column: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/pressingissues_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003686024
The Post, of course, "injects" the funniest line, opening one article, "George Mitchell caught Roger Clemens with his pants down -- literally." Its front page shows five needles, carrying the names of abusers, shooting up a baseball, under the headline DISGRACE. The back cover pictures Andy Pettitte and Clemens under the title, SHOT TO HELL. The sedate New York Times, meanwhile, rises to the occasion on the front page of its sports section with tiny photos of dozens of IDed druggies -- in the shape of a huge needle.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The Washington Post, citing Petraeus, noted last week that attacks in Iraq as of the end of November had declined to a level not seen consistently since mid-2005. Iraqi civilian deaths are at their lowest level since the end of 2005, and November had the lowest number of U.S. troop deaths since 2005.
So what was 2005 like in Iraq? For starters, 846 American troops died that year. Let’s not forget the nearly 6000 wounded. Iraq Security Forces lost over 2500 killed. In 2005 an average of 5.8 Iraqi civilians died per day in vehicle/explosions, and 25 per day in shootings/executions. Just taking those two categories gets you over 10,000 civilian deaths, according to Iraq Body Count, the authoritative site which offers lower-end numbers.
There were also 32 journalists killed. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled their homeland. Other highlights from 2005: On July 27, the U.S. military leader in Iraq said there would be “fairly substantial” withdrawals of some of the 135,000 U.S. troops as early as the following spring. The killing of more than two dozen civilians in Haditha took place in November.
“The violence has dropped to levels of 2005,” Leila Fadel, the Baghdad chief for McClatchy wrote recently, adding, “I still wake up to shooting outside the windows and we hear explosions that shake our desks or sometimes are just a distant boom.”
Coming in tomorrow’s edition of Time magazine, its former Baghdad bureau chief Bobby Ghosh writes, “In truth Baghdad is nothing like normal and still some distance from safe … While there’s a trickle of [Iraqi] refugees coming home, many Iraqis continue to leave Baghdad. Here are four reasons why people…are not packing their bags for home—and why the successes of the ‘surge’ could easily unravel: 1) the killers are still at large; 2) the Sunnis are still out in the cold; 3) crooked state, crooked services; and 4) there’s no political leadership.”
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"Huckabee ordered soup and a sandwich without drama or comment and began talking about rock ’n’ roll. This is his regular warm-up gambit with reporters of a certain age, meant to convey that he is a cool guy for a Baptist preacher. Naturally I fell for it, and asked who he would like to play at his inaugural. ‘'I’ve got to start with the Stones,' Huckabee said.
"The governor regards 1968 as the dawning of ‘'the age of the birth-control pill, free love, gay sex, the drug culture and reckless disregard for standards.' The Rolling Stones album ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request' provided the soundtrack for that annus terribilis. But Mike Huckabee wanted me to know that he believes in the separation of church and stage.
"The governor’s musical wish list also included John Mellencamp, who, he noted, would be welcome despite their differing political views; the country duo Brooks & Dunn; Stevie Wonder; and, surprisingly, Grand Funk Railroad. 'That’s a groundbreaking group,’ he said earnestly. 'The bass player, Mel Schacher, is very underrated.'’’ For more, see E&P link and new rockin' Huckabee parody commercial below. Feel free to suggest a Stones' song for the Huckabee inaugural ("No Expectations"?):
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Postwar? Peace? Try telling that to the soldiers in Iraq, and the families whose kids are still coming home minus a limb or part of their brain. Last I checked we were still spending billions of dollars a month Over There and I haven't heard about any bases, or the grand embassy, being dismantled. A new Gallup poll (see below) disputes the notion, anyway. Is the issue a little less "hot"? Surely. But to say it is over is an obscenity.
With rose-colored glasses still in place, Brooks takes a world tour, finding more reason to relax about Iran, Pakistan (?), even the Palestinian question. My favorite line then follows: "The world still has its problems." Gosh, you think? Later he admits, "Something terrible could happen in the world" to change the hopeful mood. As if little terrible is happening now.
This all started last week with Peter Beinart’s self-serving column in The Washington Post -- Brooks cites it today -- which flatly called the war a "non-story." He took as his main evidence that questions about the war were not being asked all that much at the Democratic and Republican debates. The fact that all of the Democrats are much in agreement against the war, and all of the leading Republicans in agreement in support of the venture, apparently did not occur to Beinart as an explanation. Of course, if any of the Democrats faced off against any of the Republicans right now, is there any doubt what would be the hottest issue? But Beinart – an original hawk on the war, like Brooks – had good reason to downplay the disaster he helped cause.
On Sunday this argument was pushed again on Sunday talk shows, and then in a Tim Russert report on NBC Nightly News. Russert went so far as to suggest that next year would likely be a “lunch pail” election with the war in the background. I guess all of the troops will be home in a few months.
Now, today, comes a new Gallup poll which, of course, reveals, as Gallup puts it, that when “asked which issues will be most important in determining their vote for president in next year's election, Americans by a wide margin say the war in Iraq, with more than one in three mentioning the war.” Only after that do they mention the economy, healthcare, and illegal immigration. Gallup said that Iraq has diminished only “somewhat” as the top issue over the course of the year. The poll was conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
The raw numbers for top issue: Iraq 36%, the economy (i.e. lunchpail) 16%, health care 15%. Nearly 1 in 2 Democrats say it is the top issue and even 29% of Republicans feel that way. It's also easily #1 in every section of the USA.
Perry Jefferies, a former Army sergeant in Iraq, blogged at the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America site today: "Too many commentators like David Brooks, too far removed from the heat, heroism, and hard times of Iraq try to ignore the struggle and sacrifice that our troops and families go through....They distill the deaths of Soldiers into a few numbers or a trend, draw their own only-self-supporting conclusions about it and move on to their own agenda. I think that Mr. Brooks needs a little vacation to somewhere warm to let his brain thaw out. Maybe there’s a hotel room available in Baquaba for him."
John Lennon's take on "War Is Over":
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Update after seeing the show: If anyone cares, I was one of the "Clean for Gene" college students in 1968 and was later in that crowd outside the Hilton in Chicago--but AFTER the rioting stopped. Chicken.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
An Associated Press article by Pamela Hess repeatedly refers simply to"interrogation" on the tapes, at one point putting "enhanced interrogation" in quotes. Mark Mazzeti in The New York Times uses "severe interrogation methods." Eric Lichtblau in the same paper uses the same phrase. So does Reuters in its lead. ABC News' web site has a lengthy piece that simply refers to "interrogations" for several paragraphs before mentioning that "critics" claim torture. If you can manage to find the story at the Fox News site -- good luck -- you will see that they use "harsh methods."
McClatchy chooses "harsh interrogation tactics." Dan Eggen and Joby Warrick in The Washington Post rely on the same phrase. They refer to one detainee having been "identified by intelligence officials as one of three detainees subjected to waterboarding," which they refer to not as torture but as "an aggressive interrogation technique that simulates drowning." The Wall Street Journal also mentioned waterboarding but does not call it torture. James Oliphant at the Chicago Tribune's popular Washington, D.C. blog The Swamp merely refers to "extreme methods to interrogate."
James Gordon Meek in New York's Daily New refers to "rough interrogations." Greg Miller in the Los Angeles Times notes the CIA's reference to "harsh interrogation techniques" but at least in his lead he observes that Democrats were indeed calling this "torture." And rare props to The Washington Post editorial page for heading its blast today: "The Torture Tapes."
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Perry Bacon, Jr. came under fire for the story that covered continuing allegations from rightwingers that Obama is actually a Muslim in disguise. Some accused the paper of not knocking down the rumors as entirely false very clearly, and upfront, in the piece. Others at the Post, such as Howard Kurtz and Toles, have said that the story was not properly edited, while Bacon and some editors replied that they produced the story in the first place to tackle the rumors.
In any case, Bacon's story today on a related matter shows that the criticism certainly did have an effect. Notice the use of "false" and "falsely" in the first two sentences. Here is the opening graf: "Hillary Clinton's campaign asked one of its volunteer county coordinators in Iowa to step down after reports surfaced indicating the person forwarded an e-mail falsely stating that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Obama is a Christian and attends Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, but chain e-mails have been circulating that falsely describe him as a Muslim."