Mike Bates


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On today's CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips let viewers know exactly what she thinks of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber.  On the 2:00 PM (ET) segment she teased the story:

PHILLIPS: Oh, Lord, Joe The Plumber's got a new gig. It's got nothing to do with the pipes, it's got everything to do with Gaza.

And later again:

PHILLIPS: You've seen the last of this guy? Not. Now Joe The Plumber wants to flush out the truth as a war correspondent. I know, there are just no words. Stay here for details on his Middle East trip.

Minutes later she reported:

Hey, Joe, what do you know? No, seriously, what do you know? Since that whole plumbing thing didn't work out, I mean. Now, Joe Wurzelbacher is decamping to the Middle East. That's right, the plumber slash author slash singer.

His latest career gambit? War correspondent. He's going spend ten days in Israel reporting for the conservative Web site pjtv.com. And he says he hopes to air Israelis' views on the Gaza offensive. Lord, help us.


Stop the presses.  After an exhaustive investigation, the Washington Post has exclusively learned that "some" conservatives believe that "some" advisers to Barack Obama are too liberal.  The newspaper's Web site yesterday included the article, "Obama's Team Rankles the Right: To Some Conservatives, Advisers Are Alarmingly Liberal."  The piece begins:

To some staunch conservatives watching President Bush relinquish the reins of power to President-elect Barack Obama, a few too many ardent liberals are now crashing the gates.

Some well-known Democratic activists are advising Obama on how to steer federal agencies, including a few whom conservative Republicans fought hard to keep out of power in the Clinton administration. They include Roberta Achtenberg, a gay activist whose confirmation as an assistant housing secretary was famously held up by then-Sen.  Jesse Helms (N.C.), and Bill Lann Lee, who was hotly opposed by foes of affirmative action and temporarily blocked from the government's top civil rights job.

So who are these conservatives disturbed by the liberalism of Obama's aides?  The Washington Post quotes one, Roger Clegg:

"The transition team as described to me was made up of nothing but people on the far left. Though Obama is more moderate, that makes you wonder what kind of advice the president is given, and what range of choices he'll be given when it comes time to make appointments."

There's just so much hope and change already taking place in America that it's hard to keep up.  The mainstream media is doing an exemplary job of keeping us up to date with news that really matters, such as articles like the Associated Press's "Web site lets women register their inaugural dress" and "Hairdressers Want Chance to Style First Lady."  Then there are the penetrating analyses like "Americans rush plans for Obama inauguration," which quoted a 97-year-old woman who had never voted or witnessed a presidential inauguration, despite living just three miles from Washington, because "I knew white people had the right of way here, you know."

In the sheer exhilaration of the impending Age of Obama, it's understandable that some stories are overlooked.  One that might not be considered newsworthy is the fact that last year homicides in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago substantially exceeded the number of deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.  As the AP itself reported:

According to a tally by The Associated Press, at least 314 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in 2008, down from 904 in the previous year.

And the Chicago Tribune reported today:

Chicago closed out the year with 509 homicides, an increase of about 15 percent over 2007. . .


Parade magazine, a supplement to many of the nation's Sunday newspapers, claims to have over 72 million readers.  Today in the magazine's "Personality Parade" section, readers saw this question and answer:

Q Can you give us an update on Elian Gonzalez, the boy rescued off the coast of Florida in 1999, then returned to Cuba over the protests of his U.S. relatives?--Mark Larsen, Calhoun, Ga.

A Elian, 15, has been well taken care of by Fidel Castro. His dad was rewarded with a seat in Cuba's national assembly, and the family was given a spacious home. Says Ann Louise Bardach, whose Without Fidel will be published next spring: "Fidel has been known to forget the birthdays of his own children, but never Elian's."

Heartwarming, isn't it?  That Fidel is such a sweetheart.  So massive is his affection for the young man that he, with the complicity of the U.S. government, forced the terrified boy back to Cuba.  Just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Cubans:

are preoccupied with staying afloat in a sclerotic economy where basics like toilet paper often disappear from store shelves and most people eat meat only a few times each month.


Barack Obama is finding out that his honeymoon with the mainstream media may be considerably shorter than he had expected. Inviting Pastor Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration hasn't endeared him to a core constituency and now Time Magazine has joined in the bash fest. Its Web site carries the piece, "The Problem for Gays with Rick Warren — and Obama." Authored by John Cloud, the article begins by citing Warren's criticisms of homosexuality and then clobbers Obama for his association with him:

Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn't be surprised. Obama has proven himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the non-pedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign, a campaign that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.


On CNN Newsroom this morning, CNN White House correspondent Elaine Quijano discussed with anchor Betty Nguyen Barack Obama's pledge to disclose any contacts between his staff and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pertaining to his naming a replacement to Obama's Senate seat:

QUIJANO:  But, Betty, the question remains, when is it exactly that the president-elect and his team will disclose what contacts there actually were between their camp and people within the governor's office? What is taking so long? The president-elect said yesterday his staff was looking into it and would release that list in the coming days. So we continue to wait for that -- Betty.

Hold it a minute.  Barack Obama didn't originally promise on Friday to supply that information.  He made that commitment on Thursday and CNN aired his statement live:

I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I'm confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact.

I've asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor's office about this vacancy so that we can share them with you over the next few days.


Several mainstream media accounts suggest that about the only thing Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have in common is they both live in Illinois. Today at the Washington Post's Web site, for example, we learn that "Obama Worked to Distance Self From Blagojevich Early On." The article begins by noting that the Illinois governor, unlike other major state Democratic politicians, wasn't allowed to address this year's national convention. There was at least one good reason for that, although it wasn't covered by today's Washington Post. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times explained it last August:

The Obama campaign on Tuesday afternoon released more speakers for the second night of the Democratic convention in Denver, a batch of Democratic governors. Missing from the list: the first governor to back Obama, his homestate Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, who threw a heck of a party in Boston in 2004, has had no profile in the Obama campaign because of the scandals surrounding his administration, notably the Tony Rezko probe.

Because of Rezko, I never, ever expected Blagojevich to be tapped to speak.


Today's Chicago Tribune boasts an interview with Barack Obama. Carried in both the print and Web editions, the latter version is headlined: "Barack Obama plans to reach out to Muslim world: In exclusive interview, he says he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama"

The article begins:

Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital.

And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

The problem with this is it's not accurate. Not every president has taken the oath "using his full name" and the Chicago Tribune should have so informed its readers. Of the last six presidents, three didn't use their full names: Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.


Reuters today went right to work on distancing Barack Obama from accused Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  Its piece, "Obama seen untouched by Illinois governor charges," starts:


Today's Chicago Sun-Times's editorial, titled "Gov. Blagojevich must go - right now," begins:

If Gov. Blagojevich does not resign immediately, impeach him.

This is the inescapable conclusion that comes after reading Tuesday’s 76-page criminal complaint against the governor alleging a runaway crime spree of political corruption.


Everything good that happens is because of Barack Obama.  Everything bad is attributable to George Bush or Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin or some other Republican.  In keeping with these mainstream media-manufactured verities, USA Today's Web site reports "President-elect Obama's actions perk up stock market."  The story beg


If it's Sunday, it must be worship time at the Temple of Obama, at least at the Chicago Tribune.  Today the top of the front page has a picture of Barack and Michelle embracing.  The headline is:  "White House romances: Obamas' affection is notable among presidential pairs."  Page 4 carries the story, also shown on the Trib's Web site with the headline "Scenes from Obamas' love story


Both of Chicago's major dailies have sold out editions containing special "commemorative" sections devoted to Barack Obama.  Judging by today's Chicago Tribune, perhaps the strategy is to push out an Obama commemorative issue every day.


The election is over, but quite clearly the Palin Derangement Syndrome suffered by many in the mainstream media isn't.  This morning's CNN Reliable Sources was typical.  Joining host Howard Kurtz to discuss Sarah Palin were Beth Fouhy, an Associated Press political reporter, Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik, and Julie Mason, the Washington Ex


Mainstream media Obamamania continues building.  Today's Chicago Tribune includes yet another "souvenir section" titled "Obama: A Life in Photos."  Moreover, there are articles in the newspaper's first section on the current owner of a 2000 Dodge Neon once owned by Obama, a doodle crafted by the senator that last year sold for $2,075, and how Illinois


The Associated Press today reports Barack Obama's naming of Valerie Jarrett as his White House senior adviser.  The report notes:


Perhaps some in the mainstream media are starting to acquire a few of the Superman qualities enjoyed by The One.  Yesterday on the 3:00 PM edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Rick Sanchez demonstrated his impressive mind-reading abilities.  He had shown a clip of Alaska Gov.


On Thursday, CNN aired "Escape from Jonestown," presented by CNN special investigations unit corespondent Soledad O'Brien.  This week marks thirty years since the horrific deaths of more than 900 people, roughly a third of them children, at Jonestown.  The massacre was orchestrated by "Reverend" Jim Jones.  What CNN barely referenced was Jones's connection to several leading Democratic politicians of the time.  O'Brien did identify Jones as a beli


Studs Terkel, author and broadcaster, died on Halloween.  Barack Obama observed: "Studs was not just a Chicago institution, he was a national treasure. His writings, broadcasts, and interviews shed light on what it meant to be an American in the 20th century." Obama highly praised Terkel when he was alive, declaring him " not just a national treasure - he's one of Chicago's treasures." 

Terkel's appeal to liberals may at least partially be explained by his political activities.  The Associated Press today reports:

Terkel's politics were liberal, vintage FDR. He would never forget the many New Deal programs from the Great Depression and worried that the country suffered from "a national Alzheimer's disease" that made government the perceived enemy.