Mike Bates

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Tonight in Iowa,  Republican presidential candidates will debate before a national audience.  But, at least on page 14 of today's Chicago Tribune, a much bigger story concerns a little known homosexual activist, not in this evening's debate, who also seeks the GOP nomination.  He admits to a childhood crush on Chuck Connors of TV's "The Rifleman," and stands about as much a chance of winning the GOP nod as the late Mr. Connors does.

The story, "Debate is gay candidate's primary aim," runs 25 paragraphs and approximately 1,200 words.  Excerpted from an even longer article on the Chicago Tribune's Web site, it centers on an understandably  less than optimistic candidate:

Today CNN's Politics Web site carries the story "Republicans name fiscal conservatives to debt committee," written by Deirdre Walsh and Tom Cohen.  The piece begins:

"Republican leaders on Wednesday named fiscal conservatives for their six picks for a new congressional "super" committee charged with crafting a plan to cut the country's deficit."

OK, the GOP's selections would be seen by most as fiscally conservative.  Senator Jon Kyle (R-AZ), for example, has received an A in the most recent rankings of the National Taxpayers Union and a 97 percent rating for 2009 from Citizens Against Government Waste, as reported by Project Vote Smart.

On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams reported on another development in the Great Obama Recovery:

"We saw some astounding new numbers that came out today. They showed the number of Americans relying on food stamps has hit another all-time record. These numbers would come as a huge disappointment to President Lyndon Johnson, who launched his War on Poverty back in 1964. Nearly 46 million of your fellow citizens are receiving food stamp assistance. That represents 21 million American households. Numbers went up in 49 out of 50 states."

Certainly discouraging numbers, but not astounding.  Unless, of course, you somehow expected the machinations of President Barack Obama & Associates to do anything other than kill any hope of economic recuperation.

President Lyndon Johnson may have been disappointed, but the chief warrior in the War on Poverty shouldn't be given total credit, if that's the correct word, for the food stamp program.  That distinction belongs to another liberal hero, John F. Kennedy.

Yesterday on "The Fix", a politics blog of the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake wrote "Five Members to watch in the House debt ceiling vote."  One of the five is Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT).  He's described as a potential "yes" vote for Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) debt ceiling bill:

Matheson, a Democrat, has managed to keep his Republican-leaning Utah seat by voting very conservatively since being elected in 2000.

So let's see what The Fix considers voting not just conservatively, but very conservatively.  Project Vote Smart collects ratings given by a wide variety of special-interest organizations.  Matheson's record shows that for 2010 the American Conservative Union gave him a grade of 17 percent.  The National Taxpayers Union assigned him a 39 percent and Citizens Against Government Waste awarded him an 11 percent.  He did substantially better with the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, which gave him an 80 percent rating.  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People determined he voted in their interests 75 percent of the time for the period 2009-2010, and the American Civil Liberties Union rated him at 56 percent for the same period.

A possible debt ceiling crisis?  Mass murder in Norway?  Important stories, but today on the 6:00 pm segment of CNN Newsroom, they took a backseat to another story.  Showing video of a homosexual wedding, the program began:

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, boy, it's a historic day in New York. Same-sex marriages begin. And this hour live coverage as Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiates a wedding between two of his staff members.

Today on the 2:00 pm segment of CNN Newsroom, anchor Randi Kaye spoke with CNN political producer Shannon Travis about criticism directed at President Barack Obama:

TRAVIS: Yes, really, really quickly, billionaire Steve Wynn, you've seen his resorts all over Las Vegas. He's blasting President Obama. I'm going to read this quote from a call, an earnings call yesterday. Quote, "I'm saying it bluntly that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime". Those are from Steve Wynn.

We know there are a lot of businesses who have been on a hiring streak, Randi, but this is what Steve Wynn, billionaire real estate mogul in Las Vegas thinks about the Obama administration.

What hiring streak is Travis talking about?  CNN Money.com reported last week that initial unemployment claims remained above the 400,000 mark for the 14th straight week.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted in its June, 2011 report that there are now 14.1 million Americans out of work.  The same agency pegged that number at 11.6 for January, 2009, the month Barack Obama took office.  

Friday night on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, the lead story was on a counseling clinic owned by presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband.  Cooper spoke of "allegations that the clinic engages in so-called reparative therapy," described by Cooper as "based on the theory that gay people can be turned into heterosexuals through a combination of prayer and willpower."  The host's use of "so-called" set the stage for CNN political analyst Paul Begala to fulminate.

Using the word "crackpot" to characterize reparative therapy no fewer than nine times, Begala insisted Mrs. Bachmann should be interrogated:

When an adoring mainstream media suspend their fawning long enough to point out that he's lying, Barack Obama must realize his presidency is in trouble.  That's what happened Friday night on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees.

Naturally, Cooper began by claiming Republicans who argue Americans don't want higher taxes use polling data "that's just not true."  No mention was made of this week's Rasmussen Reports survey showing 55 percent of respondents oppose a tax hike in any debt ceiling deal.  But then Cooper turned to Gallup Poll findings used by Obama:

This morning on CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips examined another aspect of the Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) story.  Noting that Weiner's wife is a very close friend of and former aide to Hillary Clinton, Phillips said:

What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday, much of the media muttered about how unresponsive Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was to questions about how he's been multitasking on Twitter.  Today it appears the liberal Democrat has redeemed himself through an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.  Guest hosting on CNN's John King, USA this evening, Jessica Yellin began an interview with two political operatives:

Gentlemen thanks for being with us. You are both used to helping candidates, right and left basically extricate their feet from their mouths during tough times. I have to say, I thought that Congressman Weiner was refreshingly candid in this interview. He admitted that he didn't handle it so well yesterday and that's why he was talking to Wolf today.

The mainstream media are demonstrating that their fawning coverage isn't limited to President Barack Hussein Obama.  The establishment press loves Michelle LaVaughn every bit as much.  Today's Washington Post Politics Web site carries the story "Michelle Obama wows Britain with high style, rubs shoulders with new royal Kate Middleton."  The article substantiates its claim that Mrs. Obama dazzled the English with support from an impartial, disinterested observer.  I know she's impartial because she authored a book titled "“Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style.”

On NPR's Web site, the headline is "Michelle Obama Wows Britain With Her Style."  The accompanying Associated Press article begins:

There weren't any hugs, like last time, but U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama shared a warm handshake with the British queen and gained more fans during her state visit to the U.K.

 How does the AP know that Mrs. Obama gained fans?  Did they take a survey pre- and post-warm handshake?

Featured on Time Magazine's Web site is "The Misconduct Matrix."  Subtitled "Not all affairs are created equal," the graphic presents 19 men guilty of - make that allegedly guilty of in some instances- serious sexual misbehavior.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is listed, as are Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Tiger Woods, John Kennedy and, of course, the president who gave phone sex a bad name, the impeached Bill Clinton.  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is also included on the matrix.

Sharing the same quadrant (Doghouse, Massively Hypocritical) with Justice Thomas are Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's admitted to fathering a child with a staff member, Newt Gingrich, who's admitted to at least one affair, and Thomas Jefferson, who "reportedly fathered six children with his slave."  Even if Thomas were guilty of what Anita Hill charged, his conduct was not nearly as egregious as the others.  Talking about pubic hair on a Coke can isn't close to adultery or fathering children out of wedlock.

On April 15, The Chicago Sun-Times reported on its Web site, "Jesse Jackson denies gay worker’s harassment, discrimination claims."  The article began:

A spokesman for the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday denied a claim from a man who says he was fired from the civil rights leader’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition because he is gay.

Tommy R. Bennett filed a complaint with the city of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations last year, alleging Jackson fired him unjustly and that the civil rights leader forced him to perform “uncomfortable” tasks, including escorting various women to hotel rooms to meet Jackson for sex.

The piece ended noting that a gay publication, The Windy City Times, had reported Bennett's allegations earlier in the week.  The Windy City Times story included more salacious details, such as the complainant's charge that Jackson directed him to apply cream to a rash between Jackson's legs; the minister told Bennett about one of his high school instructors, a gay man, who served as Jackson's teacher with benefits; and Bennett's allegation that Jackson wanted to have sex with the Rainbow Coalition employee.

Economic growth in the first quarter was an abysmal 1.8 percent.  Last week, initial jobless claims increased by 25,000 from the previous week, up to 429,000.  The Federal government borrows $188 million an hour, or over $52,000 a second, just to keep up with President Obama's spending demands.  Despite almost a trillion dollars for Obama's and the Democratic Congress's stimulus, unemployment remains at 8.8 percent.

Amid all these storm clouds, the Obamamaniacs at CNN have found a silver lining.  Anchor T.J. Holmes on CNN Newsroom reported today:

Here is a sign that the economy is getting better, an unexpected sign you didn't think about. Divorce rates in the U.S. are on the rise. It's explained here. In 2000 before the recession, of course, way back before the recession, the divorce rate was 4.0. When hard times started in 2007 the breakup rate dropped to 3.6 percent here. But then last year it fell a bit more, a bit more to 3.5. That was the divorce rate then. So, fewer and fewer people are getting divorced.

It was good economic news on CNN's Newsroom this morning. After a brief mention of radiation in Japan, anchor Carol Costello reported:

Brand new numbers out of the Labor Department this morning. It turns out jobless claims plummeted last week. Down 6,000 to 388,000.

I'm not certain what dictionary CNN news readers use, but "plummet" wouldn't seem to be the right verb.  Merriam-Webster's online reference defines plummet as "to fall perpendicularly" or "to drop sharply and abruptly."  A 1.5 percent reduction in jobless claims quite clearly doesn't meet those definitions.

Moreover, the 6,000 drop figure is "seasonally adjusted" with a Labor Department statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market.  DOL's Employment and Training report included the raw data:

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 354,301 in the week ending March 26, a decrease of 156 from the previous week.

Fox News Chicago reports this morning:

Tim McCarthy, a former Secret Service agent who took a bullet intended for President Ronald Reagan, will observe the 30th anniversary of the attempted assassination on Wednesday by going to Springfield to oppose legislation that would repeal Illinois's ban on concealed carrying of firearms.

McCarthy said he's alarmed that an Illinois House Committee approved a concealed carry proposal. The full House could vote soon.

As happens so often, the fact McCarthy, now the police chief of Chicago suburb Orland Park, is a Democrat isn't reported.  In 1998, he sought his party's endorsement for Illinois Secretary of State.

The New York Times's Web site on Tuesday reported, "Former City Council Leader Avoids Prison for Tax Evasion."  Andrew J. Stein didn't pay taxes on $1 million in income in 2008.  His punishment: Three years' probation and 500 hours of community service.

Possibly Stein's cause was helped by Geraldo Rivera asking the judge for leniency.  Or maybe the judge was impressed by Stein's cooperation;  the story notes that he "also agreed to pay taxes for the years 2003 to 2008."  Whatta guy!

The New York Times did omit at least one salient fact:  Stein is a Democrat.

On CNN Newsroom this morning, anchor Carol Costello spoke with national correspondent Jason Carroll about the potential for a nuclear disaster in Japan.  Carroll noted that "some scientists say the best-case scenario at this point is that the situation in Japan ends up like Three Mile Island. . ."  This possibility  frightened the anchor:

COSTELLO: It's kind of crazy to me that we're hoping the outcome is like Three Mile Island. It's just so sad and scary.

Why?  According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island "led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community."  The average radiological exposure for 2 million people in the area was about one-sixth of that received from a chest x-ray.  Moreover, ". . .comprehensive investigations and assessments by several well‑respected organizations have concluded that in spite of serious damage to the reactor, most of the radiation was contained and that the actual release had negligible effects on the physical health of individuals or the environment."

Yesterday the Associated Press reported "Maryland gay marriage bill dies with no final vote."  The article begins:

A bill to legalize gay marriage in Maryland fell short Friday after supporters failed to find enough votes to overcome Republican opposition and misgivings by some Democrats in the deeply Catholic state.

Just in case any readers missed the point, seven paragraphs later:

Some predicted that, if passed, the measure would have been petitioned to referendum in the deeply Catholic state.

Message received.  But why does the AP writer characterize Maryland as deeply Catholic?

In 2009, the Gallup Organization produced an analysis of religious identity based on more than 170,000 interviews conducted earlier in the year.  24.3% of adult Americans identified themselves as Catholics.  In Maryland, it was 21.9%, less than the national average.  The Free State's percentage of Protestants and other Christians is 54.9, more than double that of Catholics.  Overall, more than half the states have a greater percentage of Catholics than Maryland does.

Hope springs eternal at CNN, at least some of the time.  Sure, the massively expensive Obama stimulus was a miserable flop.  And extending unemployment benefits worked to extend periods of unemployment, as numerous studies have shown.  Government jobs programs have failed for decades.

No matter.  According to business correspondent Alison Kosik on CNN Newsroom today, a jump in jobless claims proves more government intervention is necessary:

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we've got a lot of negative news all at once, that's weighing down the markets right now. You know what, pick your poison at this point, we got unemployment claims. They rose more than expected, much more than expected, double what was expected. That's after all the optimism that was created from the previous week's numbers. We're inching back towards the 400,000 mark we've so much been trying to get away from. It really just shows that people still need a lot of help from the government because people are still being laid off.

Yeah, baby, Stimulus II, that's what we need.