Monday, January 31, 2011

MICHAEL GOODWIN: The New York Times' Sloppy Defense of WikiLeaks and Its Journalistic Standards

By Michael Goodwin

On Sunday, in its magazine section The New York Times today offered what it calls the backstory on its publication of the stolen WikiLeaks documents. It includes the intriguing fact that the White House didn't try very hard to deter publication, but the report by executive editor Bill Keller mostly reads like house propaganda and a Pulitzer application.

There is a laugh-out-loud moment. It comes when Keller writes that "it is our aim to be impartial in our presentation of the news."

It's hard to imagine he believes that. Certainly nobody else does.

The upshot of Keller's piece, which appears in the magazine section and an e-book, is that you'll have to look elsewhere if you want truth or honest introspection. For that, I recommend "Gray Lady Down," a book that gives the backstory of what has gone wrong at The Times itself.

Author William McGowan has compiled a timely indictment of how the paper lost its way. He catalogs well-known mistakes and the cheerleading and other none-too-subtle ways it puts its thumb on the scales of key stories.

He shows how its news coverage of President Obama, gay marriage, immigration, the military, the Duke "rape" case, radicalized Muslims, the Ground Zero mosque, and the war on terror are riddled with omissions, distortions and biases.

McGowan blames "an insular group-think" for turning the paper "into a tattered symbol of liberal orthodoxy," adding, "How deeply compromised its principles have become are questions inextricably entwined with the Times' ideological commitments."

As someone forever grateful that The Times gave me my start, I read "Gray Lady Down" with anger and sadness. Great Times editors, led by the legendary Abe Rosenthal and Arthur Gelb, created a model of integrity and fairness for American newspapers.

But the golden age of standards is but a memory in today's Times. As a friend says, the paper is like a rebel from the 1960s that refuses to grow up.

Witness Keller's attempt to justify his ties to Julian Assange, the anti-American anarchist behind WikiLeaks. To convince readers he treated Assange like any other source, Keller repeats a reporter's churlish description of the cyber-outlaw: "He was alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-colored sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn't bathed in days."

But Keller is stuck with the fact that the Times was a partner with Assange and foreign newspapers in recklessly revealing American secrets about Iraq, Afghanistan and our diplomats around the globe. It negotiated both with the Obama administration and Assange. When the White House flagged materials it thought too dangerous to publish, The Times gave that information to WikiLeaks -- in effect, flagging it for someone eager to damage America.

Keller also reveals his personal bias. He writes that, at the request of the Obama White House, "we agreed to withhold some of this information, like a cable describing an intelligence-sharing program that took years to arrange and might be lost if exposed."

Yet when President George W. Bush had made the same request about key anti-terror programs, Keller writes, "we were unconvinced by his argument and published the story" even though Bush warned The Times would "share the blame for the next terrorist attack."

Bush was right, and that burden still exists. But it's not likely Keller loses sleep over it.

As McGowan argues, the liberal group-think shuts out serious consideration of other views. On routine stories, the result is just lousy journalism.

But because Keller sees his options on national security as simplistically binary -- either a free press or a government veto -- he fails to recognize his duty to exercise voluntary discretion. In a time of war, that is unforgivable.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obama's State of the Union Speech -- Like a Bland Bowl of Rice Pudding

By Liz Peek

President Obama’s State of the Union speech was blandly pleasant – rather like a dinner composed entirely of rice pudding.

The audience left feeling full, but quickly craved substance. His mission was to convince the country that his recent volte face is sincere – that he really does understand the business community’s unhappiness with our excessive red tape and uncompetitive tax regime, that he gets the nation’s frustration with our sorry schools and out-of-control malpractice lawsuits, and that he is a willing partner in reducing our budget deficit.

At the same time, he has to convince the folks who elected him in the first place – the unions and the tort lawyers who provided the bulk of his campaign funds – that he won’t step on their toes.

Mr. Obama walked a fine line in his second official speech addressing the state of the country, which is why, perhaps, it lacked fire.

Of course, it was hard to generate the kind of energy that used to derive from warring sections of the house jumping up and down in coordinated blocks like pistons in a well-tuned engine. The audience was slow to rise to their feet and to break into applause – they lacked guidance. Sitting all jumbled up with members of the opposing party, they were confused. I’m taking bets that we won’t see date night again any time soon.

Perhaps the speech also fell a bit flat because it lacked conviction. Of course, it it hard to get impassioned about sentences like “We are part of the American family.” Or “We measure progress by the success of our people.” Even extolling the virtues of our great nation, as in “no workers are more productive,” the president sounds like someone reading off a catalog of shoe styles.

President Obama warms to certain topics naturally; he is genuinely excited about green energy, and about raising the number of kids who go to college. Unfortunately, he dulls our enthusiasm for these laudable goals by casting them in a “winner and loser” manner. He cannot extol clean energy without vowing to remove tax subsidies for oil companies. He won’t promise more college grads without celebrating the destruction of the student loan industry. The jury is still out on whether the government is doing a better job of processing loans to students than private companies did.

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who had the unenviable job of responding to the president, lived up to his role as chief worrywart, correctly alerting Americans that we face a budget crisis.

Mr. Ryan is a thoughtful and dedicated legislator who is genuinely determined to bring down our budget deficits. He correctly tagged the Obama administration as author of some of the stupider spending hikes of late -- such as the 25% increase in outlays for domestic government agencies. He is right – “the fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.”

Unhappily, he will not sell Americans on the Republicans’ ability to turn around our country unless he can weave into the budget narrative greater opportunity and promise. Mr. Obama does that very well.

Over the next two years, the competing visions for the country’s prospects will become all too clear. For all the cosmetic changes of the past month, Mr. Obama remains a community activist at heart. He truly believes it is up to government to fix our problems.

Republicans, on the other hand, want to find solutions in the private sector. Given our budget crisis, we have to hope the country will recognize the limitations of the former approach, and embrace the latter. More important, let us hope that Democrats will team with Republicans in a serious way to address some of the dire issues confronting this country. Does that sound like even more rice pudding?

Liz Peek is a financial columnist who writes for The Fiscal Times.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Cowboy Advice on the State of the Union

By Patrick Dorinson

Well Mr. President this year’s State of the Union marks the halfway point in your administration and from the look of all the White House folks moving to Chicago it's also the beginning of your 2012 re-election campaign.

Your amen corner in the mainstream media has once again fallen in love with you as you move to the center. And judging by her latest columns, even former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan has rekindled her love affair with you. Don’t tell Michelle.

And the folks at the alphabet networks, NBC, ABC and CBS are pouring on the coal to change the narrative of your presidency from one of failure to one of resurrection.

Be careful not to read too much into the resurrection thing. It only happened once before in history.

As I read the newspapers and watch the wizards of Washington, oracles of academia and blabbering brigade of political pundits on cable news shows, it looks like you are getting a whole lot of unsolicited advice on what you should say in your State of the Union.

Most of it is bunk because they are not your audience. They just want to go on TV after the speech and say you took their advice.

No Mr. President your audience is a restless nation that despite what [Treasury Secretary] Timmy Geithner says is still mired in a deep economic funk. They are out of work. They are scared of the future. And frankly Mr. President they don’t know if you are up to the job.

Economists say that housing is facing another wave in home foreclosures. The price of oil is almost at $100 a barrel getting us closer to $4 a gallon gasoline jeopardizing an already fragile recovery. Upon further review Christmas sales were weak and not what they originally appeared. And as the New Year begins many states are facing insolvency if they are not there already.

And that is just for starters.

Last year as you so ably said you took a “shellacking.” If you don’t want the next “shellacking” to be more personal so that you have to move back to Chicago, you should stop listening to the fancy pants advisers you have and start listening to the American people.

So before you mount the podium in the venerable House chamber Tuesday night and turn on Mr. TelePrompter, I thought it might be time for some old fashioned cowboy advice.

Too much debt doubles the weight of your horse and puts another in control of the reins.

I gave you this piece of advice in 2009 and you chose to ignore it. And now the deficits and debt are growing quicker than a cat with his tail on fire. Too bad you listened to Larry Summers and not this old cowboy. If you had maybe you wouldn’t be standing in front of Speaker Boehner Tuesday night.

You have piled on some much debt your grandchildren won’t ever be able to repay it.

You better have a message of cutting spending and fast. I hear you are going to ask for more spending. I would advise against that but since you didn’t take my advice before my guess is you’ll ignore it again.

By the way, that was a great party for our Chinese creditors. -- It’s always nice to have a visit from the ones controlling the reins.

When your head’s in the bear’s mouth is not the time to be smacking him on the nose and calling him names.

Don’t use the speech for any partisan cattle crap as much as it would make Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean happy. The pack of Republican bears in the House chamber won’t take too kindly to that nor will the Tea Party folks back home. Kill them with kindness.

And if you feel compelled to throw a partisan elbow, remember what my mother used to say. An Irishman is someone who can so cleverly tell you to go to hell that you’ll want to buy a ticket.

When there’s a drought everybody is dry. When it rains, everybody gets wet. Mother Nature makes no distinctions.
The recession got everybody, Democrats and Republicans alike, wet—it made no partisan distinctions. Reach out to the Republicans and let them know if America fails we all fail. Make the speech about the nation and don’t use the personal pronoun “I” too much.

The both of you are on probation for the next two years so you better get together and start fixin’ what needs fixin’ and get done what needs gettin’ done.

Sorry looks back. Worry looks around . Faith looks up.

You can’t change the November election results and you can’t worry about the next election even if you’re getting ready to raise $1 billion to get re-elected.

So start putting a little more faith in the American people to turn this country around and a little less in an intrusive big government to do so. The only way government makes money is to crank up the printing press.

Finally, word is that in your speech you are going to talk about competitiveness.

So here is my last piece of advice: Get government out of the way so that Americans can compete.

Do that and you might just get re-elected. Don’t do that and you can start looking for a place for your presidential library.

Good luck…you’re gonna need it.

Patrick Dorinson blogs at The Cowboy Libertarian. He lives in California.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Your Tax Dollars at Work, Again

It seems the federal government can't even build a viable fence to keep out illegal aliens, but they want the responsibility of running our healthcare system, being in charge of 1/6 of our nation's economy. What's wrong with this picture?

Less than 18 seconds. That's how long it took two young women to climb a U.S.-Mexico border fence that costs millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

In a video shot by filmmaker Roy Germano, two women show how easy it is to reach the top by climbing the fence's concrete-filled steel pipes in less than 18 seconds.
The video - which asks the question "Is it worth the expense?" - highlights the price of the barrier, which costs taxpayers on average about $4 million per mile of border fence.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Real Independence Day: The Meaning of the Second Amendment

This was poignant when it was written, and still is today, in light of all the liberals clamoring for our guns.

by Richard J. Davis, D.D.S., June 1994

There is no national holiday on April 19 (or April 18), though the Boston Marathon is run around this time. When I was in college in the East, this meant not only mid-spring but mid-term, and when exams were finished, the anniversary of Paul Revere's ride seemed a perfect excuse for a party. Though I've celebrated this date habitually over the years, the party spirit has faded a bit with age, and I've begun to reflect a little more on those events and people of 1775. What went on in the minds of these small-town farmers that made them stand up and challenge the army of "their" government — coincidentally, the most powerful one on earth at that time? Were they pushed to it accidentally, or had they already drawn the line beyond which they would stand and fight?

It's a question that may relate to today more than we realize. Our government is, at least for now, undoubtedly the most powerful in the world. It holds power that those Massachusetts farmers couldn't have imagined. It intrudes in our lives to a degree that would have astonished and appalled them. Are we drawing a mental line of how far we'll let it go? Are we waiting until somebody unintentionally pushes us too far? Are we past standing up for our rights all together? It's hard to tell.

There are several movements, both within and without the government, aimed at disarming the American population. The argument seems to be that we are so civilized that we have no good use for such things as firearms. In 1775, the goal of the British troops marching on Concord was similar — to disarm the colonists. They weren't after individual personal weapons; they were after cannons and large stores of gunpowder rumored to be at Concord. (With the limited technology of the day, cannons were the largest technological advantage the British had over the colonists.)

The government today has numerous large technological advantages over the civilian population. There remain a substantial number of heavily regulated, registered weapons in private hands, but the closest thing to technological parity is the common semiautomatic weapon available to the general public. It is this class, mislabeled "assault weapons," that currently comes under the most vigorous attack from gun-control advocates both inside and outside government. The usual attack centers around the "fact" that they have "no sporting uses."

Ignoring the inaccuracy of this "fact," the truth is that the Second Amendment makes no reference to "sporting uses." In fact, it seems most unlikely that "sporting uses" were a consideration for those who framed the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, even the National Rifle Association skirts timidly around the real issue, as if it were too much for Americans to deal with. The point of the Second Amendment is to give American citizens the capability to assemble rapidly as an armed militia for their own collective defense. This has generally been thought of as defense against an invading foreign enemy, but recent events in Los Angeles and Waco clearly point out that other situations might also create such a need. To the Framers of the Bill of Rights, the most recent "foreign enemy" was the perceived tyranny of their own government — in England, but, nonetheless, at that time (1775), their own. A great concern of the writers of the Bill of Rights was that the own government they were then forming might eventually become tyrannical, and that the citizens needed protection from that possibility — hence the entire Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment.

There are past examples of armed citizen resistance to the perceived tyranny of the U.S. government: the Whiskey Rebellion, Shays' Rebellion, and most notably the War Between the States. The fact that none of these was successful does nothing to alter the principle of armed resistance as a last resort. The fact that a large number of citizens exercise their Second Amendment rights unquestionably admits the possibility of future armed resistance and can properly be a sobering thought for those in government. The amount of support for gun control within the government (those sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment) perhaps indicates that this is indeed the case. As the existence of our nuclear missiles served as a brake to Soviet ambitions for 45 years, so a well-armed populace must serve as a brake on those in government who might abuse their authority.

The removal of firearms from civilian hands removes this restraint from government. However small the actual possibility of revolt, whatever the theories that we are "too civilized" to need or want firearms, the fact remains that the ultimate guarantor of political power, here as anywhere else in the world, is the possession of (and willingness and ability to use if necessary) firearms. Without that, not only is resistance to unjust laws or abuse of power impossible, but enforcement of just laws is impossible.

Does this mean that we need to plan for armed resistance? Hardly. The odds are far less, even than in 1860. Only massive public support for resistance would give it a chance of success, and such support could well prevent the need for resistance through political means. Only a blatant usurpation of power in excess of authority might try to override such resistance, and the coup attempt in Russia illustrates that massive resistance can succeed even with little or no violence.

Maybe we do need to give more thought to where we draw the line. How much power do we really grant to the federal government? If the power is accumulated gradually enough, it may not be blatant enough to inspire massive resistance. In that case, a smaller group might be suddenly and accidentally pushed beyond its limit and provide the tragedy of a Lexington — like spark, with violent, armed resistance the final result. In either case, without the Second Amendment, we lose much of our option to resist. Even the most massive nonviolent resistance becomes fatally or near-fatally weak without the threat of armed resistance to back it. Two old quotes come to mind: "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" and "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." It's time we paid a little more attention to where we stand before it's too late.

Here on the Eastern Shore, guns are a way of life. People like to hunt, people like to shoot, and people like to collect guns out of historical or aesthetic interest. Most small towns could easily arm an infantry company out of private collections, and small cities could probably arm a regiment — possibly including automatic or other heavy weapons. There are no militia groups, but organization could occur around fire companies, fraternal organizations, gun clubs, and even veterans' organizations if the provocation were severe enough.

I doubt I will ever have to stand and literally fight for my rights. I hope I don't. If it's going to happen, I hope it happens after my lifetime, after my children's lifetimes, and, if and when they arrive, after my grandchildren's lifetimes. I suspect that's about as many generations ahead as we're capable of worrying about.

At the same time, I wonder if that isn't what those Massachusetts farmers felt in 1775. No doubt, resistance to the British Army looked as hopeless to them as resistance to the federal government does to me. But if it does come to lining up on the village green, I hope I'll have the courage to stand with my neighbors — and they the courage to stand with me — to make sure America stays a free country of free people.

We celebrate that freedom on the Fourth of July, but those words of July Fourth were created by the actions of those men in April 1775. In my mind, that's the real holiday, in the original sense of the word.

Richard J. Davis, a Freedom Daily subscriber, is a dentist in Hurlock, Maryland. This essay originally appeared in the January 1994 issue of Chronicles (Volume 18, No. 1), published by The Rockford Institute, 934 N. Main St., Rockford, IL 61103. Reprinted by permission.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Never Say, "This Can't Happen Here"

As liberals clamor for stricter gun control, or out right bans, please take a moment to watch this video.

So Much For Global Warming

A map of snowfall in the United States yesterday revealed 49 states had snow on 1/11/11 and only one did not.

From the southern snow storm heading north, which is affecting air travel, to the current storm in New York City, and flurries out west, there's plenty of white stuff going around.

The one state without a flake? It's the Sunshine State...Florida. Locals are celebrating the fact, though interestingly, parts of the state saw snow just days ago.

Even Hawaii has snow, in Mauna Kea on the Big Island. So much for global warming.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Worse

If things weren’t bad enough in Tucson, now they have to deal with the fruitcakes from the Westboro Baptist Church, who plan on picketing Thursday at the funeral of that sweet little nine year old girl who was killed on Saturday. These are the bastards who picket soldiers funerals, gleefully thankful for their deaths, to help punctuate their warped beliefs.

I hesitate to refer to these brain-donors-before-death as members of a church, because in reality they are nothing more than a family (who almost assuredly are well in-bred) of miscreants who are so far removed from Christianity as amoebas are from human life.

It isn’t clear yet, but it appears they also have plans to picket at all the funerals for the other five people killed in Saturday’s rampage. There are a few biker groups who plan on trying to put up a human barrier between these vermin and the parents of this little girl, so they don’t have to see them.

Arizona’s Governor and the legislature are planning on rushing a bill to be signed that will force them to stay 300 feet away from the funeral. I say it should be 300 miles. Though, if it was my daughter whose funeral they were picketing, I’d want them a lot closer; I’m a good shot, but why take any chances?

Where is a crazy guy with a 9mm and an extended magazine when you really need one?

Monday, January 10, 2011

'Band of Brothers' Inspiration Dies at Age 92

PHILADELPHIA -- Richard "Dick" Winters, the Easy Company commander whose World War II exploits were made famous by the book and television miniseries "Band of Brothers," died last week in central Pennsylvania. He was 92.

Winters died following a several-year battle with Parkinson's disease, longtime family friend William Jackson said Monday.

An intensely private and humble man, Winters had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral, Jackson said. Winters lived in Hershey, Pa., but died in suburban Palmyra.

The men Winters led expressed their admiration for their company commander after learning of his death.

William Guarnere, 88, said what he remembers about Winters was "great leadership."

 "When he said 'Let's go,' he was right in the front," Guarnere, who was called "Wild Bill" by his comrades, said Sunday night from his South Philadelphia home. "He was never in the back. A leader personified."

Another member of the unit living in Philadelphia, Edward Heffron, 87, said thinking about Winters brought a tear to his eye.

"He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under," said Heffron, who had the nickname "Babe" in the company. "He was a wonderful officer, a wonderful leader. He had what you needed, guts and brains. He took care of his men, that's very important."

Winters was born Jan. 21, 1918 and studied economics at Franklin & Marshall College before enlisting, according to a biography on the Penn State website.

Winters became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy.

During that invasion, Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach. In September 1944, he led 20 men in a successful attack on a German force of 200 soldiers.

Occupying the Bastogne area of Belgium at the time of the Battle of the Bulge, he and his men held their place until the Third Army broke through enemy lines, and Winters shortly afterward was promoted to major.

After returning home, Winters married his wife, Ethel, in May 1948, and trained infantry and Army Ranger units at Fort Dix during the Korean War. He started a company selling livestock feed to farmers, and he and his family eventually settled in a farmhouse in Hershey, Pa., where he retired.

Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Winters for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers," upon which the HBO miniseries that started airing in September 2001 was based. Winters himself published a memoir in 2006 entitled "Beyond Band of Brothers."

Two years ago, an exhibit devoted to Winters was dedicated at the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society. Winters, in frail health in later years, has also been the subject of a campaign to raise money to erect a monument in his honor near the beaches of Normandy.

Winters talked about his view of leadership for an August 2004 article in American History Magazine:

"If you can," he wrote, "find that peace within yourself, that peace and quiet and confidence that you can pass on to others, so that they know that you are honest and you are fair and will help them, no matter what, when the chips are down."

When people asked whether he was a hero, he echoed the words of his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney: "No, but I served in a company of heroes."

"He was a good man, a very good man," Guarnere said. "I would follow him to hell and back. So would the men from E Company."

Arrangements for a public memorial service are pending.

This man epitomized the spirit of the "Greatest Generation," and he and the soldiers of Easy Company were, without doubt, true American heroes. We should consider ourselves extremely lucky they were the kind of men they were, as it was only through their sacrifice and dedication we won the Second World War -  without them, we all probably wouldn't be here today. As a veteran, I salute Maj. Winters and all the soldiers of the Greatest Generation.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: A Major Tool

It didn't take MSNBC, and Keith Olbermann, more than a couple hours after the Arizona shooting before finding a way to turn this tragedy into a vehicle that blasted Republicans, talk radio, everyone at Fox News, the Tea Party movement - even Sarah Palin - and effectively placed responsibility for this horrendous act at their feet.

He qualifies his tirade by saying even he might have been guilty of offensive political vitriol in the past, but says the fault of this individual who went on a rampage is directly related to the political rhetoric of Sarah Palin and the people at Fox News, naming Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly specifically.

According to Olbermann - the quintessential sanctimonious windbag - anyone who disagrees with his political viewpoints, and has the temerity to voice those beliefs, does so at the risk of inciting mentally unbalance individuals to kill people. He suggests that we should refrain from being passionate in expressing our political viewpoints because we need to be aware there are people who will become offended and then act out, putting others in danger. Really?

Mr. Olbermann, I’m afraid you don’t understand what it means to be an American, nor what the Bill of Rights represents, nor what even the First Amendment stands for, the very amendment that affords you the right to jump to conclusions about who the Arizona shooter is or what his motivations where, and spout your leftist, radical views.

As Americans, we will never cower like scared rabbits, afraid to anger mentally unbalanced individuals because of what we believe, no more than we will stand idle nor curb our patriotism if our beliefs and way of life anger groups like Al Qaida, when they kill 3000 of our citizens.

If anyone is guilty of inciting someone it is Mr. Olbermann, in supplying ammunition to the radical left by assuming, without any facts whatsoever, the motivations of this obviously deranged individual. If it turns out that this person who went on a rampage in Arizona is found to have no real political center, but rather to be nothing more than a certified nut case, whose beliefs are so disjointed that he could have ended up targeting anyone, I hope Mr. Olbermann has the decency to apologize… though I wouldn’t bet any money nor hold my breath.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


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