Kessler Serves Up Another Bush Fluffing Topic: Newsmax
The release of former President Bush's new book has given Newsmax's Ronald Kessler a new reason to fluff his favorite president, a opportunity he has already taken advantage of. Apparently trying to prove that too much fluffing is not enough, Kessler does it again in a Nov. 17 column by taking the bizarre approach of chiding Bush for not taking enough credit for his administration's successes:
In his book “Decision Points,” former President Bush failed to mention that Saddam Hussein admitted to FBI agent George Piro that he was planning on resuming his WMD program, including development of a nuclear weapon.
Why would Bush omit such an important point when addressing the pros and cons of taking down Saddam? As noted in the Newsmax piece "'Decision Points' Brings Out the Real George W. Bush," while Bush made the right decisions to prevent another terrorist attack, he often neglected to communicate well to the American people, undercutting his agenda. The failure to mention such an important point in his book spotlights that tendency.
Kessler's goal is still making his hero look as good as possible, asserting, "Now that Bush is going on the book circuit, people are getting a glimpse of what a decent, humorous, and articulate man he is." He even quotes an anonymous "close friend of Bush" to give a positive spin on one supposed failure of the presidency:
I asked a close friend of Bush why he so neglected the communication side of his presidency.
“I believe President Bush is very focused on results,” he said.
As for not mentioning that we practice waterboarding on our own troops, he said, “I imagine it was enough for the president that his lawyers said waterboarding is legal, and I imagine it would have angered more people than it softened to point out that we subject our own troops to it.”
Ironically, we now have in the White House a president who is a master at communicating, but so many of his policies are weakening the country. In contrast, Bush’s policies kept us safe after the 9/11 attack, but he didn’t explain them well.
Ideally, we would have a president who is a good communicator and a good president, as was Ronald Reagan. But given a choice between the two qualities, I’ll take the latter any day.
WND Still Won't Admit Obama Trip Figure Is False Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily just can't let go of the lie about the cost of President Obama's trip to Asia.
A Nov. 18 WND article details yet another attempt by Les Kinsolving to get the cost of thetrip out of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The article falsely suggests that the $200 million cost has some validity, stating only that the White House was "denying a report that the daily cost of President Obama's trip to India would be $200 million – but refusing to reveal the actual cost."
At no point does WND acknowledge that numerous news organizations and fact-checking groups that have looked into the number have repeatedly discredited the figure.
What a dishonest "news" organization.
On a side note, Kinsolving's second question to Gibbs was this:
Robert, presuming the president supports the Transportation Safety Administration's pat-down searches of airline passengers and that he believes they will never have male security personnel patting down female passengers, what if any of these male security personnel are not heterosexual?
WND justifies this bizarre line of questioning by highlighting how rabidly anti-gay group American for Truth About Homosexuality had previously raised the issue of "the sexual nature of the invasive pat-downs."
Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy Watch Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has apparently decided that any news report on gay culture that doesn't harshly condemn it is a "promotion" of the gay lifestyle.
That depiction-equals-approval fallacy is exactly the approach MRC news analyst Matthew Balan takes in a Nov. 17 NewsBusters post, in which he declares a CNN report on the idea of "e-marriages" as a way to get around state laws that ban gay marriage to be a "promotion" of it. Balan huffed of CNN's Ali Velshi, who reported the segment: "This isn't the first time Velshi has helped promote the homosexual agenda."
Balan, it seems, has a serious problem with the very existence of gay-related reporting, particularly on CNN:
Overall, CNN has regularly devoted segments to pushing homosexual activism during 2010. On August 4, the network leaned mostly towards those who opposed Proposition 8 after the voter-approved amendment to the California state constitution was struck down by a federal judge. Later that month, CNN.com highlighted a new online magazine for same-sex couples planning their same-sex "marriage" ceremonies.
During June, CNN aired several pro-homosexual agenda segments as part of their promotion for their propagandistic "Gary and Tony Have a Baby" documentary. On October 7, anchor Anderson Cooper gave cover to openly-homosexual University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong, stating that he "hardly seems...[to have] a radical agenda," despite his support for gender-neutral student housing. The network also heavily promoted GLAAD's "Spirit Day" or "Wear Purple Day"on October 20 by devoting five segments to the cause.
A little obsessed about subject, are we, Mr. Balan?
UPDATE: Media Matters catches Balan in another example of botched media criticism, when he claimed in a Nov. 16 NewsBusters post that CNN hosts Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer "failed to give ideological labels to their liberal guests, while clearly identifying Tim Phillips as being president of 'Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group' and labeling Bjorn Lomborg a 'controversial author.'" But as Balan himself stated, Rep. Anthony Weiner was identified as a "Democratic representative from New York," and Russell Simmons was described as an "avid Obama supporter." Balan doesn't explain what that's not a sufficient "ideological label."
Dan Gainor's Hypocritical Freak-Out Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Dan Gainor freaks out over reports that Sarah Palin's daughter Willow used homophobic slurs on her Facebook account. Not that Willow used the slurs -- that would run counter to the MRC's anti-gay agenda -- but that they were reported in the first place. Gainor writes on his Twitter account: "Sleazy left finds new Palin to attack. This one's only 16. Scumbags. HuffPo's disgusting."
Gainor links to a Huffington Post account of the incident, which was first reported by TMZ. But HuffPo doesn't "attack" Palin; it merely reports what had surfaced about her Facebook posts. It seems that telling the truth about conservatives (or their children) equals "attacking" them, as far as Palin is concerned.
Needless to say, Gainor is being hypocritical on the subject of the foibles of politicians' children. Back in 2001, the MRC was offended that the media didn't give blanket coverage to a speeding ticket received by Al Gores then-17-year-old son:
The network fascination with the initial investigation of Jenna Bush for using another person’s ID to buy an alcoholic drink at an Austin restaurant Tuesday night contrasts with how the networks last summer ignored the speeding and reckless driving citations issued to Albert Gore III for going 97 mph in a 55 mph zone. While Gore was 17 at the time of his offense on an August weekend before the Democratic convention, and so still a minor, and Bush’s daughters are now 19, the media-applied standard has been that offspring are only off-limits until they make "the police blotter."
As we noted at the time, the difference between Jenna Bush and Al Gore III was that Bush was over 18, got popped for the same offense twice within a month, and faced the threat of possible jail time because of a get-tough law her father signed into law as Texas governor, due to an alleged third alcohol-related offense.
The MRC expressed no concern over attacking a minor in the Gore case as Gainor does regarding Willow Palin.
Gainor also ignores the fact that Facebook is at least a quasi-public forum, and it's not that much of a violation of privacy to reprint her words, which no one has denied are hers.
While one should always tread carefully when dragging the children of politicians into the spotlight, it's hypocritical for Gainor to complain about the treatment of Willow Palin when his employer sought to do the exact same thing to Al Gore III.
As a transnational, Obama is as much a citizen of the world (an oxymoron to be sure) as an American national. It may even explain why there are many Americans who believe he is a Muslim, despite his denials. There is little doubt that he is the first transnational president, even though some historians pin that tag on Woodrow Wilson.
He is also probably the first president sufficiently arrogant to assume he possesses insight into the American character others do not possess. Perhaps this explains why he has called Republican opponents, “enemies” a characterization unprecedented from a president of the United States.
From my perspective these statements and characterizations are beneath contempt, but obviously not beneath this president.
Aaron Klein Anonymous Source Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein is all about anonymously sourced attacks on President Obama. He's been pretty busy lately on this front.
Klein wrote in an Oct. 31 article that "Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is 'shaking from fear' about the policies that President Obama will enact toward Israel after this week's midterm elections," citing only "a senior Palestinian Authority official" as support.
A Nov. 9 article claims that "The White House is working with the Palestinians to enhance their diplomatic stature in the U.S. and in European countries as a step toward the possible unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state," again citing only "a senior Palestinian Authority official."
That mysterious "senior PA official" surfaces again in a Nov. 12 article, supposedly claiming that "A U.S. proposal for a deal with the Palestinian Authority did not include an Israeli lease for part of the strategic Jordan Valley as widely reported."
Klein cites no on-the-record source to back up any of these main claims.
Given Klein's demonstrated antipathy toward Obama, there's no reason for anyone to trust that these attacks have any factual basis, especially given his repeated propensity for hiding behind anonymity to make them.
Just because WND has abysmally low journalistic standards doesn't mean the rest of us should.
We have an answer to the question of Joseph Farah's mysterious poll.
Earlier, we wrote about how Farah used his WorldNetDaily column to promote a poll result claiming that "our greatest hope for the future of this nation" is a "Return to traditional moral values,"but Farah curiously failed to explain where the poll came from, though he insisted on calling it "a scientific public opinion survey."
Alert ConWebWatch readers pointed us in the direction of a new book called "Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street and the Media" by Carl Anderson. Indeed, Farah touts the book in his column as something that could set straight "the elitists who report the news, make our movies and TV shows, sell us goods, make our laws and teach our children," and WND's store is selling the book.
Anderson is the supreme knight of the Catholic fraternal group Knights of Columbus, and a series of polls paid for by the K of C and conducted by Marist College apparently forms the basis for the book.
The website for Anderson's book lists several of these polls -- but not the one Farah is referring to. Further, the Marist poll blog of items tagged "Knights of Columbus" makes no reference to this particular poll.
Marist generally has a good reputation for accuracy, but the K of C is an organization with an agenda, which raises concerns about the poll's balance. Since we don't have a copy of Anderson's book -- which apparently is the only place to find this particular poll -- we have to reserve judgment on it until we get more information.
New Article: The ConWeb's Bad Trip Topic: WorldNetDaily
In defiance of the facts, WorldNetDaily and the Media Research Center cling to the repeatedly discredited claim that President Obama spent $200 million a day on his trip to India. Read more >>
WND Again Tries to Cash In on Right-Wing Activism Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has never been shy about trying to fleece its readers for cash in the name of political activism, as exemplified by its numerous campaigns in which readers pay WND for the privilege of sending protest letters to members of Congress.
Well, WND is at it again, launching a similar pay-for-protest campaign against the TSA's new full-body scanners and more invasive security procedures:
The innovative campaign called "STOP AIRPORT HUMILIATION NOW" permits anyone to deliver 537 letters, with delivery guaranteed by Fed Ex, to all those officials – putting them on notice that Americans are angry and will not tolerate these abuses of privacy.
Because of the volume of these messages, WND is able to send them less expensively than American citizens could send them individually. Through this program, you can send the 537 messages for only $29.95. To replicate that feat individually, postage alone would cost more than $236. But the impact of participating in the "STOP AIRPORT HUMILIATION CAMPAIGN" makes your protest much more impressive – being a part of a mass movement, rather than an individual grievance, explained Farah.
WND also touts its previous self-proclaimed successes, such as "the historic 'Send Congress a Pink Slip' campaign that buried Congress in 9 million letters of grievance and another campaign that helped free railroaded Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Campeon."
But if you run the numbers, the factually challenged "pink slip" campaign isn't that impressive. Divide 9 million by the 535 slips sent out as a result of each order, and you get less than 17,000 participants. And if you take that number and multiply it by the $29.95 it charged readers to do this, WND raked in more than $503,000 on that campaign alone -- presumably much more than it cost to print and mail those slips.
Further, Ramos and Compean (WND misspelled his name) were not "railroaded." As we detailed at the time, the two agents, who had fired 15 shots at a fleeing suspect along the border they claimed they believed was armed, covered up their involvement by picking up their shell casings and failed to file an incident report. To our knowledge, WND has never contradicted these facts. Ramos and Compean were ultimately sentenced to prison, and the sentences were commuted by President Bush.
Meanwhile, the ever-shameless Joseph Farah promotes the campaign in his Nov. 16 column, right down to repeating the unsupported claim that a WND campaign helped free the "railroaded" Ramos and Compean.
A Nov. 15 Newsmax article by James Hirsen touts how a new documentary on the downfall of Eliot Spitzer as New York governor in the wake of a prostitution scandal "causing embarrassment to the brass at CNN," where Spitzer co-hosts a show. But Hirsen gets a key fact wrong and ignores a blatant bit of hypocrisy.
Hirsen writes that "Robert Stone, a GOP consultant, reveals in the film how he, via a letter, informed the FBI of Spitzer’s unusual affinity for the world’s oldest profession." But Hirsen gets the name wrong -- it's Roger Stone. And Hirsen doesn't tell you anything about why Stone might know such a thing about Spitzer.
Well, Stone reportedly calls himself the sleaziest man in American politics. Indeed, as we noted the last time Newsmax referenced him, Stone has a decidedly outside-the-GOP lifestyle, most recently marching in the New York gay pride and exchanging licks with a fellow participant.
It seems Hirsen may be as embarrassed by having to tout Stone as he claims CNN is over Spitzer.
Joseph Farah's Mysterious Poll Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah writes in his Nov. 15 WorldNetDaily column:
"What is our greatest hope for the future of this nation?"
That was a question put to Americans in a scientific public opinion survey last July.
What do you suppose was the No. 1 answer?
Was it Barack Obama?
Was it a Republican Congress?
Was it a better business environment?
Was it lower taxes and less regulation?
Was it smaller government?
No, it was not Barack Obama. And it wasn't any of the other answers as well. That might shock those trying to push the tea-party movement to promote an exclusively – and I do mean exclusively – economic or materialistic agenda.
The No. 1 answer was, instead, "Return to traditional moral values."
That answer was chosen by 49 percent of Americans in the poll, over the following:
Technological innovation – 16 percent
A better business environment – 13 percent
The next generation – 12 percent
The next election – 10 percent
So, who conducted this "scientific public opinion survey" that Farah is referring to? How was it conducted? Who paid them to conduct it? What was the margin of error?
We don't know the answers to any of these questions. Farah doesn't tell us, and a Google search turned up no details whatsoever about this poll. Besides, "What is our greatest hope for the future of this nation?" is hardly the kind of question that a legitimately objective pollster would ask.
The fact that Farah is being intentionally vague about the poll to which he's referring says a lot about the veracity of the poll. If he can't do something so simple as tell us where to find this poll, perhaps it shouldn't be trusted.
Which, of course, undermines the entire premise of Farah's column, which is yet another attempt to inject a social agenda into the tea party. No wonder he's being so vague about this poll.
Pat Boone Pushes False Claim About Federal Pay Topic: Newsmax
In his Nov. 13 column, published by Newsmax and WorldNetDaily, Pat Boone writes:
I propose the reduction of all government salaries to the average income of most Americans. The sad facts are that not only does the government employ, full-time or in part, almost 40 percent of all workers, but while the average non-government worker makes $65,000 a year, the average federal employee makes $130,000! And with amazing retirement benefits that combine to cost the taxpayers billions – billions they can't afford for themselves. So obviously, we can, and must, cut big government by half, at least.
(WND curiously lops off "by half, at least.")
As he has been about so many other things, Boone is wrong about federal salaries. PolitiFact.com reported on a similar claim made by Rand Paul, used a smaller set of numbers, $60,000 for private workers and $120,000 for government employees (Boone mysteriously inflated the numbers) and declared it to be false:
However, that figure includes both salary and benefits. This is a legitimate number to raise, but using it requires more explanation than Paul gave it. Since most people usually think about how much they, their spouses and their colleagues get paid in salary alone -- not salary plus benefits -- we think most people hearing this statement would assume that Paul means that the average federal employee gets paid a salary of $120,000. That's simply not true.
That said, there's still a gap between federal and private-sector pay if you strip out the portion that's in the form of benefits. BEA found that federal civilian employees earned $81,258 in salary, compared to $50,464 for private-sector workers. That cuts the federal pay advantage almost exactly in half, to nearly $31,000.
Case closed? Not at all. Several additional caveats are required.
The first is that there's an imbalance in the types of jobs that make up the federal workforce compared to the private-sector workforce. The federal workforce is disproportionately composed of employees with higher educational attainment. Think of all the low-wage burger-flippers, gas station attendants and domestic workers in the private-sector economy. The federal government has some of these types of employees but proportionately far fewer -- especially after nearly two decades of aggressive contracting-out of duties that need not be handled by salaried federal employees. This has further expanded the federal government's disproportionately large numbers of lawyers, scientists and other highly skilled professionals.
If the federal sector today is hiring a lot of people with specialized expertise and the private sector is hiring a lot of people with skills that don't require a college, or even a high school, degree, then it's no surprise that the average salary levels in each sector are going to be at odds.
Gary Burtless, a labor economist with the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution, said that "there are certainly many positions where the federal job is compensated less generously than comparable positions in the private sector. These tend to be the most demanding jobs in the federal service -- doctors, attorneys, scientists and senior executives. The U.S. Secretary of Education, for example, is paid far less than the presidents of major public and private universities, even though he has far greater responsibility."
In short, federal workers make more in large part because they're more highly skilled as a whole than private employees. Boone didn't see fit to tell his readers that.
MRC's Graham: Eeeek! Gay People on the Radio! Topic: NewsBusters
The Media Research Center doesn't like it when gay people appear in the media. Tim Graham made it clear again in a Nov. 15 post:
On Sunday night's All Things Considered newscast, NPR anchor Guy Raz celebrated “Protestant royalty” coming out of the closet. Bishop Jim Swilley of a megachurch appropriately called The Church in the Now decided to reveal his sexual orientation because of the burst of gay-bullying publicity. Former CNN reporter Raz welcomed the change and how it must have been “incredibly liberating” to be openly gay.
NPR lavished 12 minutes of air time on the interview -- currently a hot and very recommended item on NPR.org -- and they also offered a more extended interview online, complete with the minister's coming-out speech to his church.
If that wasn't bad enough, Graham added that "NPR also celebrated gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson on Wednesday night's All Things Considered."
Neither story, Graham asserted, "offered a single, solitary second of time for conservative critics to speak out." The greater offense to Graham, though, appears to be that gays were allowed to speak out in the first place.
WorldNetDaily has long been committed to hating gays. The latest issue of its Whistleblower magazine affirms that hatred.
The theme is "AMERICA'S 'GAY' OBSESSION," though the cover breaks with WND's style of putting the word "gay" in scare quotes. The hatred is clear in WND's Nov. 1 promotion of the issue, in which gays are likened to foreign enemies waging war on the U.S.:
It's a classic, war-time sneak attack.
While Americans' attention is riveted on fierce midterm battles and the subsequent power struggle in response to Barack Obama's attempted socialist revolution, a second stunning coup – one every bit as dangerous to the nation – is rapidly progressing toward victory with almost no notice or publicity.
For the past two decades, the powerful "gay rights" lobby has been crusading tirelessly to promote special legal rights for homosexuals, indoctrinate the nation's schoolchildren with their worldview, radically redefine the institution of marriage, repeal the U.S. military's time-tested rules of conduct, intimidate and discredit any and all critics, and – perhaps worst of all – criminalize and punish the open expression of Judeo-Christian moral beliefs.
This highly coordinated effort, once extremely controversial but today basically greenlighted by politicians and the press – including key conservatives – is rapidly advancing toward total victory, after which any return to Christian morality in American law and culture will become almost impossible.
This extraordinary under-the-radar blitzkrieg is the focus of the November issue of WND's monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled "AMERICA'S 'GAY' OBSESSION."
WND Managing Editor David Kupelian asks the obvious question: "With the nation trying to counter a maniacal socialist coup in Washington, an economy in dire freefall and a wholesale invasion of the U.S. across our southern border, why should anyone care about same-sex marriage at all?"
The answer, says Kupelian: "We all better care, because once gay marriage is legalized in America – something for which there's no precedent in 5,000 years of Western Civilization – schools will be required to indoctrinate children that homosexuality is perfectly normal and healthy, pastors and rabbis will fear preaching their faith's core moral values, gender confusion and gross immorality will dominate our culture, polygamy and other bizarre 'marriage' arrangements will be legalized, and much more – in short, America will become unrecognizable, regardless of who's president and which party is in power."
A Nov. 9 promotion took a slightly different but equally scaremongering approach, blaming acceptance of homosexuality for the impending death of America:
For a long time it was an article of faith among Christians, conservatives and other traditionalists: They believed that when homosexuality becomes widely accepted and even celebrated in a society, that society starts to die.
But such a notion, at least according to today's secular progressive culture, is worse than a bad joke. It's bigoted. It's paranoid. It's insane.
Or is it?
The November issue of WND's monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled "AMERICA'S GAY OBSESSION," says it's not only not bigoted, paranoid or insane, but it's absolutely historically true – and moreover, is where America is rapidly heading unless it reverses course.
The promotion quotes an article by Brian Fitzpatrick claiming that those who support homosexuality are "in thrall to irrational socialistic and atheistic philosophies," while the anti-gay folks are "lined up perfectly with those of the Bible."
The magazine is chock-full of rabidly anti-gay writers, including Kupelian, Matt Barber and Peter LaBarbera. Also included is a piece by right-winger Linda Harvey previously published at WND, in which we noted that she deflects any responsibility for gay teen suicides and instead bizarrely blames gays for creating the situation through "the bad example of a homosexual school club" and pushing "the sad belief that homosexuality was an inevitable destiny, instead of a wayward yet changeable sexual inclination."
When you depict gays as foreign invaders bent on destroying the country, such hateful rhetoric is par for the course.
David Neiwert at Crooks and Liars finds a bit of hypocrisy from the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. He commiserated with Sean Hannity on his Fox News show about how liberals allegedly agitating for violence, telling Hannity, "Would you last -- if you had that kind of a guest on, that your show wouldn't be over before Roger Ailes fired you?" Turns out Hannity has made not-so-veiled references to armed revolution as a response to Obama's election.
On a related subject, Media Matters' Karl Frisch notes how conservatives like to complain that the right doesn't have a media-criticism operation equivalent to Media Matters -- ignoring, inadvertently or otherwise, the existence of the MRC.And for all we know, the ignorance may be deliberate, given the general crappiness of the MRC's research and the rampant goofiness and illogic at its NewsBusters blog.