Mike Sargent

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The Washington Post editorial page threw itself today into quite an odd political position.

The Post seems to think that Bob McDonnell, the GOP candidate for Virginia governor, should be more vocal about his opposition to abortion.  His opponent, Creigh Deeds, recently attempted to make a campaign issue out of his (somewhat newfound) support for abortion rights – a strategy that the Post called “risky.”  Today’s editorial, however, backed Deeds’ strategy:
Mr. Deeds's strategy of stressing abortion may work or backfire; time will tell. But to suggest, as the McDonnell campaign has, that a campaign discussion about abortion "is engaging in the politics of division" is disingenuous and wrong. Thousands of Virginians have abortions every year, a decision that touches on families and futures. It's a fair and pressing topic of debate.
That is a somewhat perplexing position.  On its face, that appears to be gently pushing McDonnell to engage on an issue critical to winning over Virginia voters.  The problem is, the Post’s position would throw the current debate among Virginia voters wildly off-topic, according to no less a source than a recent Washington Post poll.

Blogs on both sides of the political aisle exploded last night, as first reports rolled in about a union event breaking out at a fight. That’s an exaggeration, of course.  However, here are the facts, as far as we’re able to tell.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) scheduled a last-minute town hall meeting for yesterday evening, essentially tagging along on Florida State Rep. Betty Reed’s (D) already-scheduled town hall meeting.  This meeting was also officially hosted by the Service Employees international Union, a highly politically active union that is a reliable ally of liberal Democratic politicians.  Between RedState.com and conservative talk-radio king Rush Limbaugh, local conservative activists found out about this meeting and decided to crash the party.

The first reports came in through the Tampa Bay local media, depicting a rowdy town hall meeting interrupted by conservative activists demanding to be heard.  This was a fairly straightforward story which contained simple quotes and facts, written by one William March.  There was one quote which was particularly intriguing:

Lawrence O’Donnell failed spectacularly on today’s "Morning Joe" this morning. The Democratic pundit wasn’t alone in that effort, as co-host Mika Brzezinski, and journalists Martin Savidge and Mike Barnicle all failed to correct his gaffe.

Apparently, the MSNBC political analyst is under the impression that Sarah Palin’s selection as Vice President drove down female support for the John McCain ticket – and claims that polling numbers back him up.

The Gallup organization, for one, disagrees.

From the July 29 edition of “Morning Joe”, during a discussion of Sarah Palin’s 2008 speech at the Republican convention:

CNN daytime anchor Tony Harris has a bit of a different perspective on the Henry Louis Gates arrest.

Around 12:31 PM, after the Massachusetts Municipal Police Coalition held a press conference defending Sgt. Crowley’s conduct in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Harris spoke to the CNN reporter on the scene, Don Lemon.  Having been informed that one of the reasons the union decided to hold the press conference was a sinking morale among officers after President Obama’s remarks on the matter, Harris said:

John Roberts, on the July 21 edition of American Morning, appeared to expect Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to turn in a weak performance on the issue of health care.  Hilarity ensued, as Jindal, who turned down Harvard Medical and Yale Law for a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, proved to be anything but a pushover.

The would-be newsman kicked off with some misleading statistics about Jindal’s performance as governor:
Governor, it’s good to see you.  You penned a rather scathing editorial for the Politico.com on the Democrats’ health care proposals. But your state ranks dead last in the United Health Foundation survey of overall health. It also had the fourth highest Medicare cost per patient in the country from 1996 through 2006, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So some people out there might be wondering if you’re the best person to be criticizing the administration’s plans for health care reform?
Since Jindal is a classy fellow, and realizes that this debate is not about his performance as Louisiana Governor, he neglected to point out that he took office January 14, 2008.  That’s at least a full year after Roberts’ statistics ended.  The Rhodes scholar responded:

Owning an semiautomatic AK-47, much less giving them away free with the purchase of a pickup truck, seems just "a tad irresponsible" to Carol Costello. The CNN anchor, who said she grew up with guns in her house as a teenager, tacked to the left on gun rights in her interview with Kansas City auto dealer Mark Muller, who is giving away vouchers for the Russian-made rifles with the purchase of a new truck.

Although Muller explained that only customers who pass a federal background check at a licensed firearms dealer will be able to get a gun, Costello arbitrarily drew the line of responsibility at owning a handgun:
COSTELLO: You know, some people watching this might think, you know, owning a handgun is one thing, but owning an AK-47 is something else, and maybe this is just a tad irresponsible.

As if to put icing on the proverbial cake, Costello also hit Muller by trying to pick a theological fight of sorts, wondering if Jesus would approve of carrying guns. [CNN video embedded below] 

Sooner or later, liberals will learn to not provoke Liz Cheney on issues of national security.

Those who watch the news for information other than the tragic death (and subsequent funeral circus) of Michael Jackson have most likely heard of the most recent round of accusations made by congressional liberals against the Central Intelligence Agency.  On the July 14 “Morning Joe,” the former vice president's daughter issued a thrashing of Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who (one would guess) did not adequately prepare to argue about the laws concerning when the CIA is required to brief Congress.

Robinson first submits the following:
EUGENE ROBINSON, Washington Post columnist: Hi, Liz, how are you? I have a question. I actually have a question for Liz in a minute, but you know, look, it's inconvenient that there is a law, there is a 1947 law that requires that Congress be briefed on significant intelligence operations or activities or anticipated significant intelligent activity, so it seems to be clear that they should have been briefed. And if the Vice President told the CIA not to brief Congress then that was wrong.
That certainly sounds correct, at least on the surface – if that’s the law, that’s the law.

Except, that’s not the law:

The New York State Senate, it appears, has reached an all-time low.

One might possibly overlook the legislative wrangling, the blatant power-playing, the use of thuggery to enforce a particular party’s control over the Senate.  One might also overlook the unbelievable childish behavior of the Senate, in which even New York Governor Patterson, owner of the lowest approval rating of any governor in the United States, looks positively Lincolnian.  And one might even ignore the dearth of media coverage – after all, one can be thankful that the national media is not as fixated on this as they are on the burial arrangements of Michael Jackson.

But there is a new development that should not be ignored – something so heinous, the media would prove themselves worthless, if they do.

Put plainly, the New York Senate Democrats’ behavior, over the course of five months of Senate control, appears to be blatantly racist.  

That fact was buried in the 19th paragraph of a 32-paragraph New York Post opinion piece by Post state editor Frederic Dicker, published in the July 9 paper.

Ah, Twitter.

The fast-moving microblogging technology has become a household name.  It is the technology that aided the recent Iranian uprising, that gave the global supporters of freedom and justice a way to communicate with the people on the ground in Iran – those poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.

Like much of the Internet, it is also sometimes a hive-mind of absurdity.

Case in point: MSNBC’s David Shuster.  At approximately 4 p.m., July 7, Shuster graced the Twitterverse with this nugget:
By the way, for all of you watching on DirectTV and wondering why MSNBC is not in HD, ask mr. Murdoch/newscorps, the owner of DirectTV.
Ah yes, the wonderful figurehead of evil corporate moneymongers – the poster-child for all that is wrong (right?) with capitalism, Rupert Murdoch.  Surely the mighty Murdoch has decreed that MSNBC be broadcast only in low-resolution on his company’s satellites.

On July 6, CNN’s American Morning may have positioned themselves as a fly in the White House’s public health-care ointment.  In a story on Senator Mitch McConnell’s recent comments regarding Canadian national health care, CNN traveled to Canada to investigate whether this vision of long queues in health care was warranted.  In investigating, however, CNN neglected to ask an important question of their own story, regarding the possible rationing of the healthcare of cancer patients.

The hospital singled out for Senator McConnell’s rhetorical wrath is Kingston General in Ontario, Canada.  CNN’s Dana Bash traveled there under guise of inquiring whether McConnell’s view of Kingston was accurate.

Senator MITCH MCCONNELL: Knee replacements. Well, at Kingston General, the average wait is about 340 days.

BASH: Zelt's response, McConnell is exaggerating.

DR. DAVID ZELT, Chief-of-staff, KINGSTON GEN. HOSPITAL: Average time to get a knee replacement here is 91 days.

This may prove to be an accurate assessment.  Oddly, however, this seems to be almost an afterthought in Bash’s report – choosing instead to highlight two anecdotes within Canadian health care.

By this time, the NewsBusters connoisseur will have surely heard about yesterday’s unofficial celebration in the White House press briefing.  Like many parties, it was somewhat louder than normal, a bit tense at points, and the press – specifically Chip Reid and Helen Thomas – topped off the early Independence Day festivities by roasting (figuratively, of course) Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

That, incidentally, does not normally happen at parties – even at the White House.

The Robert Roast was, of course, in reference to the recent spate of staged White House press events.  The White House press corps, apparently, do not enjoy heavily produced events, such as the “town hall” meeting with DNC volunteers and union members.  However, Carl Bernstein, appearing on the July 2 Morning Joe, did not take kindly to the gentle press-corps broiling:


 Todd S. Purdum has really outdone himself.

The Vanity Fair national editor most recently known for publishing a withering criticism of the Clintons during the 2008 presidential race has chosen a new target for summary destruction: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

This is no mere attack on the Governor’s policy positions, nor on her performance during the 2008 campaign – nor even on her performance since.  Purdum, in this article, plies his very best Luca Brazzi impression – hopelessly pathetic, yet reliably purposeful in ‘whacking’ the opposition.

In spinning his yarn, Purdum goes well below the belt:

Mark Sanford can’t run for President in 2012, all because he went for a hike. [UPDATE: He went to Argentina.]

At least, that’s what Mike Allen of Politico would have you believe.  On June 23, during his normal appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Allen was discussing the recent media snafu over the governor’s jaunt through the woodlands:

I think it might well be that he was just hiking. But the point is, he would have been a promising Republican for 2012. He's the rarest thing in the Republican party, which is a true conservative. There would have been a lot of momentum behind him. He threw out the idea very recently. But, you talk about the finger on the button – you want someone stable, someone you can trust. And this, as they were talking about yesterday on MSNBC right away, in a moment, diminished the brand.

Should there be a background check for national reporters?  

One wonders.  On June 21, CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired a special report for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”  In this report, Cooper repeated the tired, discredited, blatantly incorrect idea that 90% of Mexican drug cartels’ arms supply comes from the United States.  In addition, Cooper showed some interesting B-roll footage of seized weapon, some of which clearly cannot be bought on the civilian market.

Initially, one might note the M16A1, M16A2, M4, and what appears to be a standard NATO-issue M60.

The L.A. Times is parsing math.

If you were to not read Josh Meyer’s June 17 article very carefully, you might think that 90 percent of the weapons recovered from Mexican cartel raids originated in the United States:

The report by the congressional Government Accountability Office, the first federal assessment of the issue, offered blistering conclusions that will probably influence the debate over the role of U.S.-made weaponry as violence threatens to spill across the Mexico border.

According to a draft copy of the report, which will be released today, the growing number of weapons being smuggled into Mexico comprise more than 90% of the seized firearms that can be traced by authorities there.

Pay close attention, however, to the wording.  That’s 90 percent of the seized firearms – that authorities are able to trace.  This wording actually reflects the vagueness of the GAO report’s highlights:

Journalists, take note: Dylan Ratigan should be your model.

Despite working for MSNBC, Ratigan has shown a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners interview style that is quickly gaining him the reputation for being the toughest interview on television.  It isn’t often that an MSNBC host can claim to be tough on both sides of the political aisle, but the former CNBC correspondent could probably do it with a straight face and a clear conscience.

This morning, for example, Ratigan was brought in as a hired gun of sorts, to speak with Obama’s Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), Dr. Christina Romer.  Typically, in interviews with White House economic wonks, TV personalities can easily be blown away by the technical rhetoric of economists.  Typically, these wonks sound very much like they know what they’re talking about, even when they are in fact dodging the question.  This was not a typical interview in either regard.

For example, to kick things off, Ratigan asks a rather technical question:

Jack Cafferty seems a bit bitter.  He apparently hasn’t gotten over Al Gore losing Florida in the 2000 election.  

On today’s CNN Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, guest analyst Rob Sobhani briefly mentioned that the democratic process in Iran would be a bit like if the American Supreme Court chose who would be allowed to run for President:
ROB SOBHANI: Well for your viewers, I think the best example is if the Supreme Court of America decided who’s going to run for office.  And that’s exactly what happened in Iran, the council of guardians decided that Mr. Mousavi, Karroubi, Rezaee, and Ahmadinejad were going to run.  So in essence, it is not democratic, but the process ends up being democratic.  And that’s the dilemma of the United States right now.
Immediately after this, Sobhani was dismissed, and Cafferty introduced.  Blitzer wondered aloud if the recent Iranian elections could possibly incite a repeat of the 1979 Iranian revolution – but Cafferty was not satisfied with that historical comparison:


This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough broke the news that – are you sitting down? – the media are biased against Sarah Palin.

The comic potential for this revelation is nearly unlimited.

The Morning Joe Brew Crew provided some very interesting insight, however.  Scarborough led Brzezinski into talking about the insider’s view of the main-stream media attitude toward Palin after her introduction as the Republican VP candidate:

Michael Rowe has an article on the Huffington Post, posted today, that makes a few wild-eyed claims about right-wing extremists.

For example, Ann Coulter is responsible for yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

Bill O’Reilly is responsible for the shooting of well-known abortion doctor George Tiller.

Oh, and the coup de grace: Sarah Palin and all of her supporters are raging racists.

That’s not to mention the implication that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, and all of Fox News were the favorite news sources of James von Brunn, now-infamous shooter at the Holocaust museum.

Idiotic though these claims most certainly are, liberal bilge of this magnitude demands confrontation.  First, examine what Rowe wrote on Ann Coulter:


In the ever-expanding aura of liberal hysteria surrounding MSNBC, Chris Matthews is regularly outpaced by the formerly coherent sportscaster, Keith Olbermann.  But Matthews may have won the nightly laurel wreath last night, with his insight on Sarah Palin’s warning against federal bailouts.

The offending quote from Palin is not unlike many other things heard from other current leading Republicans:

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: We need to be aware of the creation of a fearful population and a fearful lawmakers being lead that believe that big government is the answer. To bail out the private sector because then government gets to get in there and control it and, mark my words, this is going to happen next I fear, bail out next debt-ridden states, then government gets to get in there and control the people.
Palin is referring to the possible federal use of forced funded mandates.  It is conceivable that, if a Mark Sanford is legally required to use federal money, with all of its attached mandates, state governments could be forced to use more money to provide more services – possibly services that the voters in the states do not need or desire.  That is conservatism du jour these days – and not rhetoric outside the norm, for the GOP.

So what was Matthews’ reaction?