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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 03, 2008


By Gary McCoy

Political Cartoons by Gary McCoy




By John Hinderaker

Less than a month ago, the Public Editor of the New York Times, Clark Hoyt, addressed his paper's failure to cover the John Edwards "love child" story until after Edwards' interview with ABC News, in which he confessed to the Rielle Hunter affair. Hoyt explained that this kind of story just isn't up the Times' alley:

I do not think liberal bias had anything to do with it. But I think The Times — like The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, major networks and wire services — was far too squeamish about tackling the story. ...

It is ... the kind of story that The Times seems instinctively to recoil from, just as it ignored such stories in its own backyard as A-Rod and Madonna and Christie Brinkley’s ugly divorce, and played down the “love child” scandal involving New York City’s only Republican congressman, Vito Fossella, earlier this year. ...

Edwards-Hunter was “classically not a Times-like story,” said Craig Whitney, the standards editor.

That's not all: the Times has limited resources to cover the Presidential campaign, and it has to devote itself to the stories that are really important:

“Edwards isn’t a player at the moment,” said Richard Stevenson, who directs the newspaper’s campaign coverage. “There are a lot of big issues facing the country. The two candidates are compelling figures, and we have finite resources.” He said he agreed that Edwards was “fair game for journalism of this sort, but this hasn’t seemed to me to be a high priority for us at this moment.”

Today, the Times has three front-page stories about Bristol Palin. It's nice to see that they've gotten over that squeamish feeling. Seems like we've learned something about their priorities, too.  Tuesday, August 2, 2008




By Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson




By Ed Morrissey

Anderson Cooper asked Barack Obama last night to answer the claim that Sarah Palin has more applicable experience than he does. In response, he completely ignores Palin’s status as governor, and then makes the claim that a campaign counts as executive experience:

AC: Some Republican critics say, you don’t have the experience to handle a situation like this [Hurricane Gustav]. They’ve in fact said that Governor Palin has more executive experience as mayor of a small town and as governor of a big state like Alaska. What’s your response?

BO: Well, you know, my understanding is that, uh, Governor Palin’s town of Wasilly [sic] has, uh, 50 employees, uh, uh, we’ve got 2500, uh, in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. Uh, uh, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. Uh, so I think that, uh, our ability to manage large systems, uh, and to, uh, execute, uh, I think has been made clear over the last couple of years. Uh, and certainly, in terms of, uh, the legislation that I’ve passed just dealing with this issue post-Katrina, uh, of how we handle emergency management. The fact that, uh, many of my recommendations were adopted and are being put in place, uh, as we speak indicates to extent to which we can provide the kinds of support and good service that the American people expect.

Let’s take the last point first. Did Barack Obama pass legislation bearing his recommendations for emergency management? A list of “actions” taken by Obama in the wake of Katrina compiled by a supporter doesn’t exactly lend itself to that conclusion. Once one strips out all of the speeches, the actual legislative actions appear to mostly consist of adding his name as co-sponsor to the bills of others, and it’s unclear whether any of the bills Obama did introduce ever passed.

Even if they did, it gives him no experience at managing disasters.  Governors and mayors have to manage disasters, and when they succeed, they save lives.  When they fail, as we saw in Katrina, it costs lives.  Legislators have no role in disaster management itself, although honestly, disaster management isn’t usually a resumé point when voting for mayor, governor, or President.  Whatever impulse exists now to make it one stems from the irrational blame heaped on George Bush for the failures of Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco in Katrina, although FEMA certainly had its failures as well.

But the main point here is that Obama didn’t really answer the question, and he set up a straw man argument in response to Cooper.  Governor Palin is, well, governor, and not currently the mayor of Wasila.  As Governor, Palin operates a $9 billion budget, and manages $13 billion in revenue.  Furthermore, she runs a government that employs 25,000 people.

Obama blithely pretends that she’s still the mayor of “Wasilly” in order to boost himself.  However, running for office isn’t executive experience, for one good reason: Obama isn’t the campaign manager.  He has a CEO actually running the campaign, handling the budget, and managing the people while Obama makes the speeches.

If this is Obama’s best response on the experience question, the attacks on Palin’s experience will have to stop, unless the campaign wants Obama to keep embarrassing himself while making it.

Update: The McCain campaign has responded to Mark Halperin at Time:

“For Barack Obama to argue that he’s experienced enough to be president because he’s running for president is desperate circular logic and it’s laughable.  It is a testament to Barack Obama’s inexperience and failing qualifications that he would stoop to passing off his candidacy as comparable to Governor Sarah Palin’s executive experience managing a budget of over 10 billion dollar dollars, and more than 24,000 employees.” —Tucker Bounds, spokesman John McCain 2008

By that standard, anyone who ever ran for any public office has executive experience — and that also kills their own experience argument against Palin anyway.


By Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Sarah Palin had belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party in the early 1990s instead of the Republican Party.   The AIP now exists mostly as a fringe political party, but had been mainstream enough in 1994 that their gubernatorial candidate had attracted 38% of the vote.  Later, though, the party appeared to emphasize an effort to explore options regarding secession and independence.

Now, however, the McCain campaign blog McCain Report states that New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller simply made it up:

While the press scrambles to report on the process by which Governor Palin was offered the second spot on the Republican ticket, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller has opted instead to make up her own version of events. As the AP reports, “Sarah Palin voluntarily told John McCain’s campaign about her pregnant teenage daughter and her husband’s 2-decade-old DUI arrest during questioning as part of the Republican’s vice presidential search, the lawyer who conducted the background review said.” Yet according to Bumiller, yesterday’s disclosures “called into question” how thoroughly Governor Palin had been vetted. Why the discrepancy? It seems one reporter actually reported the story, while Bumiller made up her own. …

And Bumiller writes that Governor Palin “was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party.” Not true, and unsourced. Governor Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982.

I’m not aware that Bumiller reported on this story, but she’s not the only one who did so.  Jake Tapper, generally regarded as a balanced and careful political reporter, also reported on the story yesterday.  Lynnette Clark, an AIP official, went on record with ABC at least to make this allegation, such as it was.  Given that, it hardly seems accurate to call it “unsourced” or to focus one’s ire on Bumiller, at least in this case.

Tapper also contacted the McCain campaign, though, who provided documentation to refute the allegation:

A day after ABC News requested a response from Palin as to whether she was ever a member of the AIP, McCain campain spox Brian Rogers told ABC News that Clark’s “allegations are false.”

“Governor Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982,” Rogers says, providing some voter registration documentation showing her to be a Republican. “As you know, if she changed her registration, there would have been some record of it. There isn’t.”

Rogers says the McCain campaign provided ABC News with all the voter registration information that exists. Rogers says that Palin didn’t attend the AIP convention in 1994, “but she visited them when they had their convention in Wasilla in 2000 as a courtesy since she was mayor.”

He would not comment as to why AIP officials are so convinced Palin was a member of their party. When asked if Palin ever identified herself as a member of the AIP, Rogers said, “No, she’s a lifelong Republican.”

Sarah Palin never belonged to the AIP.  That’s the bottom line.  Instead of making this argument about Bumiller, the McCain report would be better served by pointing the finger at Lynette Clark, who is obviously so desperate for attention that she exploited Palin’s newfound fame to get her 15 minutes in the limelight.

Update: I got a PDF copy of the documentation showing Palin to have remained Republican her entire adult life.  Even I don’t pass that test; I flirted with the Libertarian Party briefly in 1992, but wound up voting Republican anyway in the presidential election.  Tuesday, August 2, 2008




By Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok




By Charles Johnson

If you’re wondering why the administrators at Daily Kos are suddenly hitting the delete button for (some) posts that try to spread ugly rumors about Sarah Palin’s family, here’s your answer:

The McCain campaign was outraged by the blog rumors. “There’s no doubt that liberal blogs such as one called www.barackoblogger.com and some in the mainstream media were pushing a false story about Gov. Palin’s most recent pregnancy with fervor,” said senior McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace.

A senior McCain official said its camp had no evidence that the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama was pushing the story, but said the blog rumors circulating on websites that appeared to support Obama had the effect of being “a real anchor around the Democratic ticket.”

Speaking to reporters in Monroe, Michigan, Obama said he was offended by the McCain aide’s statement and that he considered people’s families off-limits.“We don’t go after people’s families. We don’t get them involved in the politics. It’s not appropriate and it’s not relevant. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired,” Obama said.

Obama also said: “This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”

Kudos to Obama for saying the right things, at least. But the Democratic Party in general has been tacitly, sneakily encouraging this kind of behavior for years; it isn’t surprising to see the Nutroots finally rearing up and biting the DNC on its posterior.  Tuesday, September 2, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

Deep breathley
Deep breathley
Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg was expected to be anticlimatic. The man who was expected to set the crowd aflame was Edward Everett, a widely famed orator. Everett’s speech was the day’s principal “Gettysburg address.” His 13,607-word oration began:

“Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed; — grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.”

On it droned for two hours until it concluded with these polished lines.

“But they, I am sure, will join us in saying, as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates the Battles of Gettysburg.”

Why was it forgotten when Lincoln’s was remembered? Possibly because Lincoln’s speech had the great virtue of not trying to be the main event itself. It was a commentary on events. The battlefield itself spoke and men heard it.  In a world where action answered action, all seemly remarks would be brief and therefore Lincoln’s remarks were seemly. But today, words have possessed us all, taken on a life of their own, like a devil or malevolent spirit. For example, Andrew Sullivan describes the martial qualities of Barack Obama, which in his view are far superior to John McCain’s, by describing BHO’s prowess in the news-cycle. “Obama’s strategic skills have been obvious for quite a while. He is perfectly prepared to hang back in a campaign, to allow attacks to pummel him and to lose news cycles or primaries to a media-centric opponent.  … America is at war with lethal enemies, its economy is teetering, its people are unsettled. And McCain gave us a 44-year-old former beauty queen as the person who could be asked to take over the White House in an emergency if anything happened to the oldest first-term president in American history. Tactically: daring. Strategically: potentially disastrous.” Perish the thought of a beauty queen at the White House when we could have the news-cycle tested Barack Obama instead.  Sullivan, of course, is not always the best judge of strategy. Readers may recall what Andrew Sullivan thought of General Petraeus in July of 2007:

Petraeus is either willing to be used by the Republican propaganda machine or he is part of the Republican propaganda machine. I’m beginning to suspect the latter. The only thing worse than a deeply politicized and partisan war is a deeply politicized and partisan commander. But we now know whose side Petraeus seems to be on: Cheney’s. Expect spin, not truth, in September.

If men who have hammers see every problem as a nail, pundits can have the understandable tendency to see everything, including war, as spin, spin and more spin. Reality becomes its representation, or rather, its misrepresentation. Sound and fury come to signify everything. Camille Paglia is impressed by Sarah Palin, but for the wrong reason:

“We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling,” said Camille Paglia, the cultural critic. “That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician. Palin is as tough as nails.”  “Good Lord, we had barely 12 hours of Democrat optimism,” said Paglia. “It was a stunningly timed piece of PR by the Republicans.”

Both Sullivan’s and Paglia’s comments are disturbing in their own way. The idea of Obama accomplishing over Chicken Marengo what Napoleon achieved at Marengo and people qualifying for high office on the basis of a “political speech” is symptomatic of the trivialization of practically everything. What does “war” and “qualification” signify any more besides a talking point? David Brooks captured the pompous, yet unreal quality of modern political debate in a satiric, cutting, fictional convention speech. Brooks lampooned the phenomenon of words upstaging reality.  Brooks imagined a statesman telling his rapt audience:

My fellow Americans, it is an honor to address the Democratic National Convention at this defining moment in history. We stand at a crossroads at a pivot point, near a fork in the road on the edge of a precipice in the midst of the most consequential election since last year’s “American Idol.”

One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We must choose wisely.

We must close the book on the bleeding wounds of the old politics of division and sail our ship up a mountain of hope and plant our flag on the sunrise of a thousand tomorrows with an American promise that will never die! For this election isn’t about the past or the present, or even the pluperfect conditional. It’s about the future, and Barack Obama loves the future because that’s where all his accomplishments are.

And the saddest thing of all is that if Brooks’ parody were delivered at a real convention, it might be actually be reported as the strongest political speech of a generation and send thrills coursing up and down the legs of the listeners. Until the next news cycle. The title video is hereAugust 30, 2008



Click to view map of attacks in Afghanistan by province, 2007 versus 2008.

Commander Abu Gharib al Makki, a senior al Qaeda field commander from Saudi Arabia, has been killed in recent fighting with US forces in southwestern Afghanistan. The slain commander was lionized in a statement penned by al Qaeda in Afghanistan’s overall commander, Mustafa Muhammad Abu Yazid, who sent the letter to Pajhwok Afghan News. The statement lacked many details but indicated Commander Abu Gharib, whose real name is Kamal Saleem Atiya Fazli al Fazli, was killed “48 hours ago” in the southwestern province of Farah.

Two separate clashes were reported during that time span in Farah province. In one incident, eight Taliban insurgents were killed after ambushing a logistics company’s fuel convoy in the Farahrod district, according to Farah’s provincial governor. Two fuel tanker trucks were destroyed during the ambush and at least one security guard was seriously injured.

A second clash broke out in the isolated Bakwa district after Taliban gunmen attempted to ambush a joint US and Afghan patrol. The Bakwa district, a long known stronghold for Taliban insurgents and criminal gangs, has born the brunt of this year's Taliban activity in southwestern Afghanistan. The Taliban reportedly lost one fighter and six other were shot during the battle. It is unclear which clash Commander Abu Gharib al-Makki was killed in.

A massive clash between US forces and Taliban fighters on August 9 in Farah's Bala Baluk district left up to 20 insurgents dead and scores others injured. Arab fighters were reportedly among the dead during that battle as well, an alarming indicator that foreign fighters are making their way onto battlefields further west from the traditional battlegrounds of eastern Afghanistan or the southern hot-spots of Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

Heavy fighting has taken place throughout southwestern Afghanistan’s desert provinces since the spring of this year. A modest Provincial Reconstruction Team led by American forces is tasked with aiding in reconstruction and security measures throughout Farah province. Bakwa and the Bala Balouk districts remain hotly contested as small pockets of Taliban occupied villages continue to serve as key staging grounds for large scale Taliban attacks in the south and western areas of Afghanistan. Insurgents in Farah are mostly led by local gangs or Helmand based Taliban groups. Commander Abu Gharib’s death marks the first known al Qaeda in Afghanistan leader to be killed this far west in Afghanistan.  Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For more information on the insurgency in southwestern Afghanistan see, Coalition and Taliban vie for control of southwestern Afghanistan in Nimroz province and Coalition and Taliban vie for control of southwestern Afghanistan in Farah province.


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