Latest from Mike Bates
Update at end: NBC5's Bob Sirott responds to this post
Persuading Americans that Barack Obama is an effective president won't be easy. So local news outlets are lending a hand when they can. This was obvious last night on Chicago's NBC5 News at 10. Anchor Bob Sirott reported:
And now to a sign the president's economic stimulus is working. Bank of American today announced a $2.8 billion profit for the first quarter. That report was much better than expected and followed positive results from other banks. It also comes after a loss of more than $2 billion for the last three months of 2008. Bank of America received $45 billion as part of the financial rescue package.
Sirott's positive assessment of Obama's plan isn't justified. The big profits he touted are largely illusionary. Andrew Ross Sorkin explained why in "Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air," which appeared in yesterday's New York Times:
Think Obamamania is limited to only His Messiahship and Michelle Obama's well toned arms and J. Crew wardrobe? Think again. Today's front page of the Washington Post features "Move Over, Miley. In Washington, The Obama Girls Are the Latest Craze" by staff writer Ellen McCarthy. The tone of this thoughtful analysis is set early in the article:
The tween girls of the Washington area have transcended differences of race, class and wealth to reach a single, resounding conclusion: They really, really, really, really want to be friends with Malia and Sasha Obama.
They lap up every shred of information about the first daughters, dream about meeting them and strategize ways to make it happen. Minivan rides and dinner table conversations are dominated by questions about the girls: What's their favorite food? What kind of dog did they get? Where can I get a coat like Malia's?
"Sometimes I go up to my room and I just think, 'I want to meet them, I want to meet them, I want to meet them,' " says a desperate Sophie Metee, a fourth-grader at Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda.
Later we learn that fascination with the young ladies "may also have a great deal to do with President Obama's popularity in the country and the region -- he won an overwhelming majority of Washington area votes and enjoys significant approval ratings."
Today on CNN Newsroom, anchor Rick Sanchez attacked Senator James Inhofe's (R-OK) assertion that Barack Obama is disarming America. Joining Sanchez was Jim Arkedis of the Progressive Policy Institute. Sanchez wanted viewers to believe the PPI is a nonpartisan think tank. He ran a video of Inhofe denouncing Obama's proposals followed with:
SANCHEZ: Cutting and gutting the military budget.
Joining us now is Jim Arkedis.
He's the director of the National Security Project of the Progressive Policy Institute.
You guys check on these things...
JIM ARKEDIS, PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE: We do.
SANCHEZ: ...to make sure the figures are right. So because you're down now in the middle, I'm going to ask you the question -- is Senator James Inhofe correct to say that President Obama is "gutting the U.S. military budget?"
In fact, he goes on to say disarming America.
Barack Obama promised to elevate the level of political discourse. Some of his apparent admirers didn't get the memo.
Take, for example, this user comment on the Washington Post's 44: The Obama Presidency blog today:
Considering how many people donated small amounts to his campaign, I imagine it would be difficult to find people who couldn't be considered "backers" in some way. I mean one of these guys donated a whopping $250. Yay Matt Drudge! Yay Rush Limbaugh! Way to be more retarded than Palin's down syndrome baby.
The poster was responding to the blog item "Obama Town Hall Questioners Were Campaign Backers." That piece documented that at Obama's town hall meeting, his staff stacked the deck with the president's partisans.
Today's Chicago Sun-Times features the column "Obama speech tests Notre Dame's strength" by Carol Marin. She begins:
It takes courage to be a Catholic educator. In America's culture wars, abortion is the trump card of every moral discussion. Or so the righteous right requires us to believe.
At Notre Dame, the most Catholic of Catholic universities, a national protest is building over the decision by the school's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, to invite President Obama to give the commencement address on May 17.
Marin then goes on to write that Obama's done much more than advancing abortion and embryonic stem cell research. For example, he's "trying to stop the economy from going over a cliff." She approvingly quotes a former Catholic university administrator saying the role of those institutions is to "espouse academic freedom where people are allowed to research, teach and hear many voices on campus . . ." And what would an article mentioning the Catholic Church be without at least one reference to pedophilia? Marin doesn't disappoint in that regard.
You'd think Marin, who prides herself on journalistic professionalism, would at least have started the column with the facts. Obama was not merely invited to give a commencement address. Notre Dame's own Web site acknowledges he will also be "the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree."
Reuters issued a dispatch this afternoon centering on a global effort to underscore the threat of global warming. "World switches off to save planet in 'Earth Hour'" reports the news service. The piece notes:
Lights went out at tourism landmarks and homes across the globe on Saturday for Earth Hour 2009, a global event designed to highlight the threat from climate change.
From the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and London's Houses of Parliament, lights were dimmed as part of a campaign to encourage people to cut energy use and curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
Organizers said the action showed millions of people wanted governments to work out a strong new U.N. deal to fight global warming by the end of 2009, even though the global economic crisis has raised worries about the costs.
Four paragraphs later appears "BILLION PEOPLE TAKE PART." That isn't supported by what follows, which reports that the founding organization "is hoping one billion people from nearly 90 countries will take part."
The Washington Post's 44 blog today carries the item "Obama Town Hall Questioners Were Campaign Backers." Authored by Garance Franke-Ruta, the article notes:
But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.
After that come details of the connections between the questioners and His Messiahship.
When a former Alabama judge is indicted on 57 felony counts, including sodomy, kidnapping and paddling jail inmates, that's news. If the judge is a Democrat once under consideration for the Federal bench by Bill Clinton, that part isn't news.
Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas has bonded out of the Mobile County Metro Jail after he was arrested Friday afternoon. Before his arrest, Thomas was indicted by a grand jury on 57 felony counts, accusing him of, among other things, sexually abusing Mobile County inmates in exchange for favors in his courtroom. Thomas is charged with ethics violations, kidnapping, extortion, sexual abuse and sodomy. The indictment against him includes graphic details of alleged paddling and other sexual favors. Eight victims are named in the indictment. All of the alleged victims are men.
None identified the judge as a Democrat. The January 4, 2000 Mobile Register did. In a story titled "Too late? Clinton may not get to fill judgeship," the newspaper reported in a subtitle:
Senate may not allow Clinton pick: Herman Thomas has been a leading candidate for federal berth, but his chances may be dimmed by a GOP freeze
Today's Chicago Tribune, taking a cue from its hero Barack Obama, gave bracketeering a try. The contenders, all former Illinois and Louisiana public officials, were selected for a smackdown to determine the most disgraceful.
The rivals from Louisiana were former Governors Huey Long and Edwin Edwards, former Congressman William "Refrigerator" Jefferson, and former New Orleans City Council president Oliver Thomas (identified as Thomas Oliver by the newspaper.). Weighing in from Illinois were former Governors George Ryan and Milorad "Call Me Rod" Blagojevich, former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and former Chicago alderman Arenda Troutman.
The Trib gave the nod to Edwin Edwards, although I think the competition was marred by not having an Illinois Daley in the competition. Setting that aside, what was interesting is the Tribune didn't mention party affiliation in its bracketeering. Seven of the eight contenders, or 87.5 percent, were Democrats. Gee, what a surprise.
On today's American Morning, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta covered the weekend canvass sponsored by the Democratic Party's Organizing for America. Volunteers collected signatures of support for Barack Obama and his agenda. Acosta's voice over, interspersed with statements from others, began:
Don't tell them the race is over. Once volunteers for the Obama campaign...a vast grassroots network of supporters is back on the trail. Reactivated. This time, to sell the president's agenda. Michael Lafemina was one of hundreds of volunteers who went door-to-door from New York...to California on behalf of something called Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic Party run by remnants of the Obama campaign.
So in a matter of seconds, Acosta's supposed vast grassroots network was reduced to only hundreds of people. Initial reports in other media suggest the response to Obama's personal call to arms was less than overwhelming.
According to the Christian Science Monitor:
The group (Organizing for America) claims that there were more than 1,200 canvassing groups out nationwide this weekend. But many places saw fewer volunteers than expected.
After earlier this week defining what a moderate Democrat is, on Saturday CNN tried its hand at defining what a moderate Republican is. CNN Newsroom featured a segment on governors who are refusing stimulus funds because of the inevitable Federal strings. Anchor Fredricka Whitfield had this exchange with CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser:
WHITFIELD: Well, that's interesting, because perhaps one other Republican whose name has been tossed into the whole could he run for president, but he can't, he did accept money for his state, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
STEINHAUSER: Exactly. That is very -- a very different case there, too, because Arnold Schwarzenegger is very much of a moderate Republican. He's kind of on the different end of the spectrum from Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford and Bobby Jindal.
OK, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican. That may come as a surprise since he's widely been deemed a liberal by a variety of sources. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle's Washington bureau chief titled a column "Schwarzenegger's liberal views leave GOP flummoxed: Actor is pro-choice, pro-gun control and pro-gay rights." At about the same time, National Review editors determined "Schwarzenegger, it seems clear, does not merit conservative support."
Today's Parade Magazine names "The World's 10 Worst Dictators." Topping the list is Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe:
Inflation in Zimbabwe is so bad that in January the government released a $50 billion note — enough to buy two loaves of bread. The unemployment rate has risen to more than 85%. In 2008, Mugabe agreed to hold an election, but it became clear that he would accept the result only if he won. His supporters launched attacks on the opposition, killing 163 and torturing or beating 5000. He ultimately signed a power-sharing agreement with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but since then Mugabe has broken its terms and installed his own people at the head of every ministry. Meanwhile, health conditions have reached crisis levels. More than 3800 Zimbabweans have died from cholera since August.
U.S. link: Although U.S. leaders have called for Mugabe’s resignation, imports from Zimbabwe (primarily nickel and ferrochromium, both used in stainless steel) rose in 2008.
There's actually much more of a U.S. link than that. Unmentioned is the role played by former president Jimmy Carter and other liberals. The Boston Globe reported in December, 1979 that "Carter Administration officials feel they have scored a major foreign policy success in Rhodesia." (Zimbabwe was formerly known as Rhodesia). The purported success was a settlement that set the stage for Mugabe's rise to power. This was months after the Washington Post described him as a "scholarly, avowed Marxist."
This week CNN's Political Ticker reported "Congresswoman takes post in State Department." The article begins:
California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher is vacating her Bay Area seat to serve under Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
Tauscher, a moderate Democrat and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a message to her constituents that Clinton had asked her to serve as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
Let's briefly examine the congressional voting record of the "moderate Democrat" Ellen Tauscher. According to interest group evaluations compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2007 the congresswoman received a zero from the American Conservative Union and the National Right to Life Committee, an F from the National Taxpayers Union, an F- from Gun Owners of America, and a 4 from Citizens Against Government Waste.
"PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama rhetoric, reality clash" is today's offering from Liz Sidoti, the Associated Press White House correspondent. The piece begins with a harsh assessment:
Barack Obama's optimistic campaign rhetoric has crashed headlong into the stark reality of governing.
In office two months, he has backpedaled on an array of issues, gingerly shifting positions as circumstances dictate while ducking for political cover to avoid undercutting his credibility and authority. That's happened on the Iraq troop withdrawal timeline, on lobbyists in his administration and on money for lawmakers' pet projects.
But just wait. Although it's true that Obama is breaking promises faster than he made them, we can't hold that against him. Sidoti explains:
It's become axiomatic that the mainstream media are reluctant to identify the party affiliation of public officials found engaging in untoward behavior. If the offending party is a Democrat, that is.
Today's CNN story, Pennsylvania official checks into rehab following arrest, is yet another example. It begins:
Pennsylvania's acting secretary of labor and industry has entered a rehabilitation program for at least two weeks after her arrest on a public drunkenness charge last week.
Just a few hours before her arrest, Sandi Vito backed out of a scheduled interview with a CNN correspondent about the state's controversial use of debit cards to pay unemployment benefits.
Vito, who was appointed acting secretary of labor and industry in February 2008, "has entered a treatment program for two weeks," according to Gov. Ed Rendell's chief spokesman.
The article runs for a dozen paragraphs. Never mentioned is the fact Vito is a Democrat. We know this not just because she's an appointee of Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, whose party is also not reported, but because Vito has given money to Democratic political campaigns.
Update at end: Rick Sanchez responds to this post
On yesterday's CNN Newsroom, anchor Susan Roesgen reported on cities ranked by Twitter usage. Speaking with co-anchor T.J. Holmes, Roesgen introduced colleague Rick Sanchez's name toward the end of the item:
ROESGEN: Yes, Chicago's number three. You know why? Because in this new result, it says that the guy in Chicago who twitters the most, like 12,000 people...
HOLMES: Oh, yes.
ROESGEN: ... he writes about things like what the back of the cab smelled like when he took -- this is why it's insane.
HOLMES: Those are little things.
HOLMES: But you're just getting tidbits of information, you're giving people updates about you.
ROESGEN: Yes, well -- OK, Rick Sanchez.
HOLMES: Hey, Rick has a heck of a following with that twittering. Don't insult his viewers.
On CNN's absurdly named Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull program yesterday, network political analyst Roland Martin again tailored his "facts" to support his liberalism. He, former Bush staffer Ron Christie, and CNN political analyst Gloria Borger were discussing Attorney General Eric Holder and his America is "a nation of cowards" speech:
MARTIN: Ron, in the Black History Month -- Ron, in the Black History Month speech he gave, he acknowledged yet when you talk about in terms of not reaching the Promised Land in this country right now. White women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to a white male. African-American men, 72 cents, black women, 68 cents, for the exact same job. So don't sit here acting as if somehow we have reached equality when it comes to gender and race. He was simply being honest.
And Martin would have been simply honest if he hadn't claimed women and blacks earn significantly less than white males "for the same exact job."
The Census Bureau figures apparently cited by Martin are, as noted by John Leo in U.S. News & World Report in 2005, "a raw number, not adjusted for comparable jobs and responsibility."
Even the National Committee on Pay Equity doesn't assert wage inequality for identical jobs is a widespread problem, but rather contends it is the result of the types of employment held:
In The New York Times today appears "The President Is on the Line to Follow Up on Socialism," by Jeff Zeleny. The article's first three paragraphs:
Less than 90 minutes after Air Force One landed, the telephone rang. President Obama was on the line, wanting to add one more point to a response he gave during an interview with The New York Times.
On a flight from Ohio to Washington on Friday, Mr. Obama was asked whether his domestic policies suggested that he was a socialist, as some conservatives have implied.
“The answer would be no,” he said, laughing for a moment before defending his administration for “making some very tough choices” on the budget.
Obama's protestation aside, the article should have been balanced with an acknowledgment that implications the new president is a socialist are hardly limited to some conservatives.
Less than a decade ago, for example, the Chicago affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Obama for the state senate. They admiringly quoted him: "Few are thinking of harnessing the internal productive capacities, both in terms of money and people, that already exist in communities."
CNN anchor Campbell Brown began her No Bias, No Bull program Friday evening with only part of a major story. Reporting on Barack Obama's stimulus plan "saving" 25 police jobs in Columbus, Ohio, she overlooked an essential fact: the jobs Obama took bows for yesterday may well not be permanent. She started her broadcast:
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone.
On a day when the number of Americans out of work reached a 25- year high, President Obama made a visit to a place where he could show just how in fact his stimulus plan really is saving jobs.
Bullet point number one tonight: the president in Columbus, Ohio, where two dozen police cadets whose jobs were saved as a result of the stimulus were sworn in as officers today. It's a story we have been following for some time now. The president insists today the nation is now on the right track.
On this morning's CNN Newsroom, anchor Heidi Collins gave Barack Obama some cover by characterizing the omnibus spending bill, larded with thousands of earmarks, as left over from the Bush administration:
A controversial $410 billion spending bill hits a snag in the Senate. This is the bill we've been talking about with about $8 billion in earmarks. Republicans and a few Democrats are mad about all that pork barrel spending. That led members from both parties to push President Obama to veto the bill.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid says the measure will be opened up for changes next week in an effort to gain more support. The bill is a hold-over from the last administration.
Collin's reporting comes straight from the Obama playbook. Last Sunday on "This Week," Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag defended his boss's support for the measure:
"This is last year's business. We want to just move on. Let's get this bill done, get it into law and move forward."