AmericanSage

Monday, July 17, 2006

Couric to Offer "Solutions" In Broadcasts

CBS news is going to start offering "solutions" to world affairs in response to the public's belief that the news is too negative.

Are you freaking kidding me? I wonder exactly how often these solutions will include things the polls (ie, the ratings) say Americans don't like. I wonder how often these solutions will include recommending action that is tough, unpopular, but necessary. I wonder how often these solutions will consider anything besides those things that continue to fuel the orgy of self-delusion that masquerades as informed opinion in this country.

CBS News: We Report, We Decide.

Give me a break and read the wires like a good girl.

All My Heroes Are Cowboys

With World War III now upon us (as I predicted in this space months ago), I have returned. My first task is to say that I love this from W, said in reference to the Mid East campaign:

"What they need to do it to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit."

That Reuters finds this newsworthy simply astounds me, but this might as well be what Bush says in public on purpose because you know he's right.


"Story" here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Christian Science Monitor Trivializes Sudan's Genocide, Yahoo Then Buries Story

I picked this story about Sundanese refugees in Israel up from the Yahoo.com wire today, already flustered by the wording of the headline and the placement of quotation marks around the word genocide. I was sure this was the work of some politically correct AP headline hack who insists on upholding that organization's decree that words like terrorist, for example, always be predicated with "so-called," "alleged" or, my personal favorite, "what the United States has referred to as."

It's bad enough that news organizations sacrifice accurate reportage in vain attempts at objectivity. It's worse that in so doing, they actually fail their wider journalistic mission of relating basic facts. Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. The murder and mayhem they promote, execute and reward is not hypothetical or the stuff of harmless rhetoric. Perhaps Western news services should start editing all copy thusly:

"Supposed 'terrorist mastermind' Osama Bin Laden has pledged to 'kill' thousands of 'innocent' Americans in a recent recording perceived by American 'intelligence' officials as a 'threat' to national 'security.' In other news, 10 US Marines were 'killed' in action outside Baghdad yesterday."

Imagine your local news: "32 children 'died' in a school bus accident yesterday. Parents are overcome with 'grief.'"

I think you get the point.

As bad as the AP is on this, it's even worse when coming from a generally reputable source like The Christian Science Monitor, today's actual culprit. The fact that I mistook them for the AP should say enough, but their trivialization of the Darfur GENOCIDE extends beyond the scandalous headline. They pull the whole according to the U.S. thing a few paragraphs in, complete with slyly placed quotation marks. The fifth paragraph ends with the word unquoted. I wonder if that one slipped by whoever's making these decisions at CSM.

All that said, the article is worth reading if only to get a sense of what survivors of another inexcusable genocide are doing to help Sudanese refugees in their midst.

UPDATE: The Darfur story has been replaced on the Yahoo wire with a story about possible racism at the World Cup. Yes, that's far more important.

New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi: Chuck Schumer Should Kill George Bush...No, No, I'm Just Kidding

If a Republican had said this, you'd be hearing all about hate speech and the evils of talk radio for weeks. The fact that New York's comptroller used a commencement gig at Queens College to endorse the president's assassination is beyond embarrassing, stupid, or moronic. It's scandalous and criminal. The fact that Alan Hevesi joked about the murder of a sitting president while making an analogy about liberal hack Chuck Schumer's "toughness" by claiming that Schumer would bump W off, could he get away with it, should outrage the Senator and his staff, and they should be pulling every string they can to demand Hevesi's immediate resignation.

That, of course, won't happen. Schumer's staff is already saying they accept the comptroller's apology and consider the matter closed. Curiously absent from Hevesi's mea culpa was a direct apology to the huge anti-gun lobby that drives so much of his own party's agenda. (Understand that I use the word agenda loosely).

All of this is very curious. The only explanation I can think of for Hevesi's complete pass is the fact that the current Democratic establishment actually rewards counterintuitive public behavior as a golden ticket for rising through the party ranks. Out-deaning, oh, say, party boss Howard Dean, almost requires something this outrageous. Will the party start reigning these stunts in before it totally implodes? If Schumer's response is any indication, the eight ball's saying 'no'. Hope you're having fun being tough, Chuck. It builds the kind of character you're going to need after the midterm elections don't go the way you and your out of touch cronies are hoping.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Washington Post Publishes The Hillary Catechism: "Clinton Is A Politician Not Easily Defined"

Is it just me, or is everything about this article, including the headline, mediocre notnews? The jihadist government in Tehran must be on the last nerves of the MSM, too, and so we have this, a glorified press release courtesy of your friends at Hillary '08 and their friends at The Washington Post. Before reading the article, you are advised to que up Willie Nelson's version of "Don't Fence Me In" for a total multimedia experience.

So Ms. Clinton is "a politician not easily defined." The same could be said of her husband ("New Democrat, like "Compassionate Conservative" is just marketing), George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan...hell, you could even say it about Al "Don't Call Me Grizzly" Gore. Has there been a politician on the national scene since, say, Eugene V. Debbs that hasn't been more complex than bumper sticker slogans? Are we really supposed to believe that the darling of the Democratic establishment is some kind of outsider who, alone among her peers, defies political definition?

The reality is, of course, that on the true human levels they'd prefer we all not see, politicians are generally as complex and conflicted as the rest of us on any number of issues. Posturing Ms. Clinton as the archetype of some emerging breed of postmodern politico would be laughable if it wasn't so insulting.

The Post contrasts Ms. Clinton's hard-to-pin-down nature (is she, in fact, a Yankees or a Mets fan?) to the boxes the last two presidents have supposedly embraced. While 42 and 43 seemed content with their respective campaign labels, the ever-insightful Post says of the former First Lady, "To the contrary, she made clear in a telephone interview on Friday that her governing philosophy may never be easily reduced to a slogan. 'I don't think like that,' she said. 'I approach each issue and problem from a perspective of combining my beliefs and ideals with a search for practical solutions. It doesn't perhaps fit in a preexisting box, but many of the problems we face as a nation don't either.'" Someone better tell James Carville to figure out how to fit that load on a bumper sticker, stat. Maybe the wordsmiths at The Post can help.

You know, of course, what's really going on here. Democratic pollsters understand that while subdued by the sheer force of the charm offensive that was his presidency, the electorate tolerated Bill Clinton's incessant waffling and continues to widely praise him. In 2000 and 2004, however, Democrats lost largely because Republicans were able to cast themselves as decisive leaders in uncertain times and did a good job highlighting Gore's and especially Kerry's schizophrenic public history. Ms. Clinton's own record differs little in this regard. The answer? Reinvent her lack of vision as evidence of depth and caution, and posit these things as rare qualities for modern public figures. Contrast Clinton's "sensitivity" or concern for "nuances" with the image of Bush, for example, as hardline cowboy unwilling or unable to admit his own mistakes. Remind America that label friendly 42 and 43 were polarizing presidents and suggest that Hillary's conflicting messages to different groups is evidence of political skill and social grace. This, of course, is nonsense.

Hillary is a vote coddler, pure and simple, and mundane is it may seem, her widely ridiculed endorsement of the Cubs, Yankees, and Mets each as her "favorite team" speaks to the larger point. The only thing that surprises me in this discussion is The Post's tacit assumption that its cultured readers can so easily be duped. The piece's style, headline and total lack of story make me wonder if this isn't something intended purely for the wires. If this is the kind of the thing the power elites of the MSM think will play well in Peoria, they don't think much of Peoria at all. Incidentally, that's not news, either.

UPDATE: Looks like some powerful Dems aren't seeing things The Post's way. Read "Hillary Pays A Price," from today's New York Daily News, here. Coincidence?

Iraq Is Not Vietnam

Think the word "quagmire" is getting overexposed? Me too. The Hoover Institution offers compelling evidence that Iraq is not Vietnam, rock star foreign policy analysts to the contrary.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Suu Kyi's House Arrest Extended By Myanmar Junta. UN Played, China Silent.

The enemies of democracy sure are getting ballsy these days. While the international community hoped with baited breath for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar this week, the military junta illegally ruling that country has opted instead to extend Suu Kyi's house arrest sentence. Suu Kyi, a democratic leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been held by the junta for 10 of the last 17 years. Suu Kyi's National League For Democracy won a 1990 electoral landslide the nation's military government still refuses to recognize.

Hopes for the leader's release were heightened as international pressure mounted to coincide with the junta's review of Suu Kyi's case. In this context, the United States, Thailand, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian nations made renewed calls for Suu Kyi's release. In what was seen by many as a major concession, junta leaders allowed Suu Kyi to meet with high-ranking UN official Ibrahim Gambari kast week. AFP notes this was Suu Kyi's " her first contact with the international community in more than two years." Regional heavyweight and human rights paragon China remains curiously absent from the league of nations demanding Suu Kyi's release. Hmmm.

Also from AFP: "Military analyst Win Min told AFP in Bangkok that allowing the Gambari visit may have been a mere gesture by the junta to appease the international community. 'The Gambari visit was to reduce international pressure, that's it,' he said. 'The best they can offer is more access when the UN visits.'"

Sound familiar?

White House Compares Illegal Immigration To Traffic Ticket

I didn't really consider this news yesterday when it broke, but since I'm blacklisting the Iran debacle, I've got to use the sagey skills in new creative ways.

Tony Snow is smart, smart man, but he's not having an easy time transitioning into his new role. Yes, he actually did liken getting caught being in this country illegally and not being deported to getting a speeding ticket but still being allowed to drive. Many in Congress were not amused.

Will Adams, spokesman for Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) said this: "Here's a more apt analogy. You get stopped for speeding, and you say to the cop: 'Hey listen, you're about to give me a $300 ticket. How about we make it 20 bucks and just call it even?'

Will Adams, your American Sage for May 27, 2006. Hit the books, Tony. DeadEye probably has a couple volumes of Strauss for you.

Iran Round Up and Sage's Cybersanctions

As the MSM continues to site anonymous American and European "sources close to the Administration" in its attempt to force America into bilateral talks with Iran, I've restrained myself from commenting ad naseum.

I maintain my distrust of Tehran and the basic belief, outlined in great detail throughout the May archive, that Iran's overtures toward dialouge are nothing more than thinly vieled attempts at biding time. Barring major new developments, I am not going to say anything more on this specific subject. You're under cybersanction, Mr. Ahmadinejad, and it's up to you to tear down this wall. The European plan is on the table, and it's a generous one.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Skilling and Lay Found Guilty

Details are emerging in the Enron case. Skilling has been found guilty on multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud. Lay has been found guilty of all charges against him. They maintain their innocence. Read about it here.

Gore In The Balance: Convenient Omissions Mar "An Inconvenient Truth"

I had some fun with the Gore Force One post below, but I thought I'd share this with you in the jet fuel wake of the former VP's charm offensive. It seems that Gore's environmental documentary (we're using the Michael Moore definition of that word) suffers from a bit of ironic titling. TCS Daily's Dr. Robert Balling, Jr. contends that Mr. Gore has purposely omitted compelling, cutting edge evidence against his alarmist claims without so much as a passing mention. He doesn't even dignify important counter arguments with the old strawman treatment he mastered so well during 8 years under the Master.

For all of it, though, Gore still has more together than Howard Dean.

Kudos to Mike at Facts And Logic and the good people at RealClearPolitics.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ramin Jahanbegloo: What Iran Does to Citizens Who Are Serious About Dialogue With The West

As I type this, Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo begins a fourth week behind bars in Iran. Even as Tehran's government postures around overtures toward dialogue with the West, Jahanbegloo, a noted Iranian political philosopher specializing in Western/Iranian relations, cross-cultural dialogue, modernization and non-violence remains jailed by the hardline government without any formal charge. Jahanbegloo, a professor at the University of Toronto, was detained without reason in Tehran on April 29 and is reportedly being held at the notorious Evin prison, recalling in chilling detail the Zahra Kazemi tragedy. Follow Jahanbegloo's case here.

It seems to me that Prof. Jahanbegloo would be just the kind of person to whom Iran would turn if the regime were serious about detente. Unfortunately for Jahanbegloo and the rest of us, the only thing Tehran is serious about is retaining power and silencing opposition. How very liberal and open of them.

Jahanbegloo's plight exposes the duplicity inherent in Iran's bogus calls for dialouge that continued this week. This man was jailed while the ink on Ahmadinejad's "great overture" was practically wet. They're mocking us, America, and they're hoping we don't notice. They're hoping that we, weary from Iraq, will buy the idea of Iran as the peace-eager victim of an imagined White House war machine and ignore the writing actually being scrawled across the diplomatic wall. They're banking on the fact that we're as stupid as they think, and how we handle the larger situation will prove them right or wrong.

Al Gore Is Bad For The Environment

You know that barnstorming tour Al Gore is on to promote his new global warming film? The Competitive Enterprise Institute has a little documentary of its own exposing the tour's contribution to heightened levels of dangerous C02. Talk about an inconvenient truth. Watch the video here, or read Drudge's cheeky take here. Remember when the former Vice President wrote an 800 page book asking us to conserve trees? This is like that, but funnier. Seriously, though, watch out for Manbearpig.

Iran Test-Fires Long-Range Missile, Tehran Continues Diplomatic Game

Iran tested long range missiles that can reach Israel and US targets in the Middle East last night. Read the story, from the Jerusalem Post, here.

At the same time, Iran's government is following up on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent "overtures" toward initiating dialogue with Washington in the face of looming crisis. The Washington Post has the story here.

How sincere are these overtures? Not very, I'm afraid. The Post quotes Iranian analyst Saeed Laylaz thusly: "You know, two months ago nobody would believe that [Iranian Supreme Guide] Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad together would be trying to get George W. Bush to begin negotiations. This is a sign of changing strategy. They realize the situation is dangerous and they should not waste time, that they should reach out." Don't believe it.

The Post also claims that US intelligence agents understand these moves as "major overtures" while the Bush Administration sees them as "tactical moves." The Post's implicit editorial disdain not withstanding, Bush's people are right on this. Sage has been documenting the mixed signals and conflicting statements flowing from Tehran for the better part of month. These developments, like Ahmadinejad's letter and like his call for IAEA involvement, betray another series of Iranian ploys and bids for time. Iran's nuclear enrichment team must be getting awfully close to weaponized uranium. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert speaks of Iran's nuclear time table in terms of months, and the desperate smoke and mirrors employed by Tehran only corroborate this claim. Overtures? Detente? Diplomatic opportunities? Not even close. US analysts (or mainstream media hacks) with pipe dreams of normalization apart from Iran's immediate, unconditional acceptance of the European plan should take a course or two in political theory and realpolitik.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

ONE Campaign, Bono On NBC Tonight

From the ONE Campaign:

Dear Friends,

This Tuesday evening, May 23, for the first time in history, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams will broadcast live from Africa. This special report will follow Bono on his much-anticipated trip through some of the world's poorest nations. All across the country, ONE members are hosting watch parties to view this historic broadcast. If you don't see one in your community, I encourage you to host one yourself.

Please sign up to host or attend a watch party near you.

Tuesday's event is a perfect example of how far we have come. When the ONE Campaign was in its infancy, some said the idea of millions of Americans joining together to fight global poverty was preposterous. Yet, in a little more than a year, over two million of us have formed one of the nation's largest grassroots organizations.

We have come together to send a message - America will not be silent in the face of staggering poverty. Our message has been heard. We have made incredible progress. At last year's G8 summit, we convinced world leaders to commit an unprecedented investment of $50 billion per year in life-saving assistance by 2010. Congress also has increased funding to combat extreme poverty and AIDS. However, our recent success is not the beginning, nor is it the end; it is only one part of the journey.

We may have begun on different paths, but we have joined together to become a powerful force for good. The past year of dedication and hope has produced incredible results. We are the most fortunate generation in history. We are the first to have the means to end extreme poverty. And that is exactly what we'll do.

Please sign up to host or attend a watch party near you.

Thank you.

Paul Dioguardi, ONE Campaign

P.S. - Click here for regular updates on Bono's trip through Africa on the ONE.org Blog.

Pentagon: China military upgrades a potential threat to US

It's been a slow couple of days for news worth writing about. More not-news here.