The Media’s “Civil War” — News On The Slant

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

One side chants “civil war,” another side insists it’s “sectarian violence,” the more cautious say “it could be” and, in the meantime, someone at NBC is grinning like the Cheshire Cat in the tree in Wonderland.

The news media loves to step outside its role as news reporter into the ‘tastier’ role of newsmaker as NBC did when they sent their front man, Matt Lauer, to make the pronouncement that as far as NBC News was concerned Iraq was embroiled in a civil war, so that’s what NBC News will call it from now on.

Other news organizations, according to reports at the New York Observer and Newsbusters, are not so fast to jump on the NBC bandwagon:

  • Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post staffer, has derided the NBC effort by nicknaming Lauer “Secretary of State Lauer” and, in his Media Notes column today, he discusses the issues surrounding Iraq in depth.
  • ABC World News Executive Producer, Jon Banner says: “It was their decision to make and their process. We constantly discuss editorial matters here — all the time, every day. How that decision got made there I have no idea, nor do I want to guess.”
  • The CBS News Exec, Rome Hartman, went a little farther and a little harder: “To be honest with you, I think it’s a political statement, not a news judgment. We deal with the events of the day, and we decide the best way to describe those events based on the news of the day, not by — never mind, I’m not gonna go there.” but he went “there” anyway: “It should be noted that the day that this pronouncement — and who makes pronouncements anyway? But that’s what it sounded like — was a quiet day, relatively speaking, in Iraq.”
  • CNN chimed in with this: “CNN will continue to report on what is happening in Iraq on a day-to-day basis. And we will also report on the ongoing debate in academic and political circles about what constitutes a civil war.”
  • Fox news (mysteriously) remained silent on the issue.

On a daily basis we expect, see and usually tolerate (not that we have much choice) subtle nuances from the mainstream media that tend to “slant” a story the way they want to present it — that is sneaky and underhanded but, in a way, NBC’s approach reaches a new low!

On the surface NBC is saying that they are using the term “Civil War” just to enhance and clarify their reporting but that’s pure nonsense! As I see it, the only reason NBC is using the “Civil War” tag is to create public discontent with our continued presence in the country. They have planted a seed in the minds of the public that has ‘Jane and Joe American’ thinking: “if this is a civil war, what are we doing in the middle of it?’ As if this seed wasn’t enough, the debate that NBC started in the media is adding daily ‘fertilizer’ to the process and causing the concern to grow.

I’m not saying NBC is wrong in their conclusion that the Iraq conflict is indeed a civil war (it certainly looks like it to me), I’m just saying that it should not be the function of the news media to mold and shape public opinion — their only function is to report news.

“Be afraid, be very afraid” was the line from the 1986 horror film, “The Fly” and that also applies to every newscast you watch and every news article you read. Be afraid that you are being manipulated into seeing the news on the “slant!”

Links:

Washington Post: Howard Kurtz Media Notes: Falling Apart?

New York Observer: What Becomes a Civil War Most?

News Busters: CBS Producer Says NBC’s ‘Civil War’ Pronouncement a Political Statement

From the blogosphere:

The Peace Blog: So now it’s a civil war… or not

Blogue North: Iraq: Not a Civil War?

If you are dedicated to news and to blogging, The Blogger News Network has an offer you may not want to refuse. Go check it out!

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The “N-Word” Flap

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The Reverend Jessie Jackson knows what he wants! Rev. Jackson wants the “N-word” banned from the entertainment industry and additionally, to “punish” comedian Michael Richards for his “N-word” outburst in response to some black hecklers during a performance at an LA comedy club, Jackson wants everyone to stop buying and renting the latest Seinfeld DVD.

What the Reverend Jackson doesn’t want, however, is for the entire Michael Richards episode to go away . . . as it should have by now. Reverend Jackson loves it in the ‘limelight’ and loves to have a “cause” that will keep him there. But at least, to the Rev Jackson’s credit, he’s just after the publicity, not like Attorney Gloria Allred.

Gloria Allred also knows what she wants and what she wants is money. Gloria Allred is the legal council for the two gentlemen who Richards insulted. Ms. Allred generously wants to avoid a lawsuit against Richards so she has suggested that Michael Richards and her two clients (Frank McBride and Kyle Doss) voluntarily appear before a retired judge in a binding arbitration setting so the judge can hear the facts and assess damages. Ms. Allred has said that her clients “deserve compensation” for the emotional pain they suffered.

At that point in the story, Richard’s two “victims” lost ALL my sympathy.

To quote columnist Kathleen Parker in a recent Townhall.com column:

“From his comments, we might conclude that Richards is a rage-filled jerk whose character seems most compatible with the south end of the alimentary canal. Nevertheless, if we start attaching monetary reparations to insults, the country will soon be bankrupt.”

Richards screwed up on stage and he showed the world that he (like his character Kramer) is kinda’ screwed up in his head; but he has apologized over and over and over again for his outburst and his apology was to much larger audiences than the one who heard the original insults. This affair should “cost” Richards but that cost should be from cancellations of future bookings and public scorn not from blackmail by Allred and her clients.

Let’s all individually decide, right now, whether we will forgive Richards for his overt display of prejudice and bad taste or if we will punish him by never listening to another word he utters. Then lets just drop it! Too much time, ink and bandwidth has been devoted to one bad moment on stage by a third-rate comedian.

Links:

Chicago Sun-Times: No laughing matter . . .

CBS News: Leaders Call For An End To The ‘N’ Word

Kathleen Parker at Townhall.com: Americans are rich in embarrassments

From the blogosphere:

BlackStar 27: the end of the N-word?

The Real Scoop: KRAMER USES THE “BLACK FRIENDS” DEFENSE

If you are dedicated to news and to blogging, The Blogger News Network has an offer you may not want to refuse. Go check it out!

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Fear and Loathing Inspired by the NSA

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The Inspector General of the The United States Department of Justice, Glenn A. Fine, has informed the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee that his department has already conducted “initial inquiries” into the NSA’s (National Security Agency’s) electronic surveillance program (officially the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”) and is about to begin an examination of “controls and use of information related to the program.”

This review is, no doubt, an attempt by the Bush administration to throw the surveillance program’s critics ‘a bone.’ These critics, mostly Democrats but some Republicans, want the program either stopped or controlled to the point where it is ineffective! They contend that, as it is, it is beyond illegal, it is unconstitutional.

The intent of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (as I understand it) is to intercept any communication (incorrectly referred to as “wiretapping”) between known or suspected terrorists overseas and anyone here in the United States. The main criticism of this program is the fact that the NSA does not need to get a warrant from a judge in advance of their actions — they can go to a special court set up for this purpose and obtain a warrant after the fact, if their surveillance warrants further monitoring.

A Reality Check:

There are no doubts in my mind that some (or most) NSA agents are going beyond their strict legal limits to do their jobs. Every police officer knows that you sometimes have to bend the law to catch lawbreakers; that’s a “dirty little fact of life” in the law enforcement and security fields and it is another fact of life that it is unacceptable behavior; if you’re caught doing it you’re “history.” Every NSA agent (or police officer) is aware of the possible consequences but these are people who are devoted to their missions — devoted to the point that personal (job) security and their own personal safety are secondary considerations.

Our country has been directly threatened by terrorist organizations and with our unacceptable border security there are, without a doubt, terrorist operatives already here. If we let just one of these terrorist operatives slip through our fingers, he or she could be the one that plans and executes the next murder of hundreds or thousands of Americans on our own soil.

If I have to give up some personal privacy to prevent that from happening, I’m willing to do it! That implies both my level of trust in the government in the area of National Security and the confidence that I have nothing to fear from the NSA.

There are an enormous number of people who, for whatever reasons, do not feel this way. They do not trust the government (and in certain areas I share that mistrust) but opposition to this particular program must imply that the person opposed to it is worried that the government will ‘find out something’ about them or their activities. I’m happy not to have that particular albatross around my neck.

Links:

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Watchdog launches probe into spy program

Reuters (on CBS): Justice Department Reviews Role in Eavesdropping Program

From the blogosphere:

Talk Radio Kerry Fox: Justice Department to Examine Its Use of NSA Wiretaps

Truthdig: Overdue Review of Spy Program Lacks Muscle

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New York Times — Time and Time Again

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

On Saturday, the New York Times web site reported that the New York Times (NYT) has obtained a “classified United States government report” that shows that insurgent groups in Iraq have become financially self-sufficient through activities such as oil smuggling, counterfeiting, phony charities and ransom payments for the return of kidnap victims. The story details amounts, strategies and methods; in short, everything that we know about terrorist financing operations.

There are two stories here: The information contained in the classified document and reported at the NYT web site makes an interesting story but the fact that the NYT has, once again, flaunted it’s total disregard for federal law and national security, and has once again shown its willingness to compromise whatever advantage our government might have over its enemies is by far the more significant story.

Just how far, I wonder, can the First Amendment be bent before it breaks.

Here is a one paragraph snippet from the NYT story:

“While such data may have been omitted to protect the group’s clandestine sources and methods, the document has a bold heading on the front page saying “secret” and a warning that it is not to be shared with foreign governments, several security and intelligence consultants said in telephone interviews that the vagueness of the estimates reflected how little American intelligence agencies knew about the opaque and complex world of Iraq’s militant groups.”

Obtaining an admittedly “secret” government document and reporting its contents to the world was, apparently, not enough of a story for the NYT, they transmitted this secret report to some unnamed “security and intelligence consultants” and proudly boasted that these consultants concluded that the report was vague and inconclusive and showed “how little American intelligence agencies knew about the opaque and complex world of Iraq’s militant groups.”

Thanks to the NYT we can all be assured that the Iraqi insurgents are very relieved to know how little we know about them — I mean, after all, we wouldn’t want them to worry about things like that!

Sadly, there are many who just nod their assent when the NYT claims that they only published this information because of the “public’s right to know;” and an entire army of journalists who will rush to their defense chanting “First Amendment, First Amendment . . ..”. Sadder still is the almost certain fact that the criminals who gave this report to the NYT will probably never see a day of jail time in a Federal prison.

Any way you look at it, the New York Times’ motive for publishing this information was not, as they will claim, to inform the public; their motive is their sheer contempt (proven time and time again) for President Bush and his administration and their desire to do anything in their power to make his administration look bad.

I will not assert that the NYT has a desire to aid and abet our country’s enemies but they would have to be pretty stupid not to see that this and other things they have done in the past (such as interfering with the government’s investigation of two Islamic Charities as referenced in this Associated Press report) have done just that.

Links:

New York Times: U.S. Finds Iraq Insurgency Has Funds to Sustain Itself

CNN.com/World” Report: Iraq insurgency pays its own way

Associated Press on Topix.net: New York Times Turns to Supreme Court

From the blogosphere:

Say Anything: What The Terrorists Have Learned

The Asylum: France And Italy: Thanks For Paying Those Ransoms

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Mitt Romney: Set to Follow in Bush’s Footsteps?

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts, has apparently ‘thrown his hat in the ring’ as a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. As a one-term governor and a one-time unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate, his qualifications to run an entire country are, frankly, not overwhelming but to balance that, he is personable, charasmatic and well-educated (which is all that matters to far too many voters).

David French, one of the co-founders of the blog “Evangelicals for Mitt” has pronounced Mitt Romney “the no-brainer choice for ‘people of faith’ in the next election;” this right-wing evangelical endorsement comes in spite of the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

According to Mr. French, there is “not a glimmer of daylight between Romney and evangelical Christians on issues such as family, abortion, gay marriage and having a firm belief in religion.”

His “firm belief in religion” is a point I want to explore so, while Mr. French, Gov. Romney and right-wing evangelicals everywhere bask in the glow of their shared values, I’d like to interject a pessimistic note:

We have seen (and are currently seeing) the effects on the country of an evangelical christian in the White House. Just some of these effects are:

  • We have seen a proposal to add an Amendment to the United States Constitution that would put the answer to the question of who can marry whom in the hands of the federal government.

    Why would the President of the United States propose that the federal government have a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ vote on who you choose to enter into the legal contract of marriage with? My theory is, he has allowed his religious convictions to interfere with his job as president of the country . . . president of the entire country, not just the right-wing religious ‘folks.’

  • We have seen our president firmly refuse to enforce our immigration laws. President Bush is fighting ‘tooth and nail’ to give people who are in our country illegally a ‘chance at citizenship,’ a chance to pay a fine and then go through some process that would make them legal.

    Why would a president scoff at our laws and, so to speak, ‘turn the nations other cheek’? My theory is, because that is his personal belief based on his faith and, once again, he has allowed his personal and religious convictions to interfere with his job as President of the United States.

  • We have seen the president do his job as president (in the face of considerable criticism) by authorizing an invasion into Iraq for the stated purpose of making sure that the Iraqi government did not have weapons of mass destruction that could be unleashed against us or other countries. National security — that is his job! But then we watched and listened as he floundered for an excuse to stay in Iraq and rehabilitate Iraq by bringing them freedom and democracy . . . and then continue to stay in Iraq in the face of the realization that freedom and democracy are not readily exportable commodities to an Islamic society.

    Why would our President expend American lives to justify our continued presence in the quagmire of Middle-East politics? Some say it is to prevent future terrorist threats to the United States* but my theory is that we stay because he feels its the “right” thing to do and, if it’s the right thing for him, it makes it, in his mind at least, the right thing for the country.

(*If we spent just a portion of the money and time we have spent playing referee in Iraq on building our intelligence network, that and the judicious use of our overwhelming military power would, in my opinion, be a far better way to prevent future terrorist threats.)

Two pertinent questions come to mind:

  1. Is this the type of behavior (the behavior of the current President) that the newly minted ‘Evangelical Mormon’ Mitt Romney is eager to emulate as president?
  2. Can a person who is firmly committed to religion, function as President of the United States, a country of people who hold many and varied religious and non-religious beliefs, without relegating all but those who share his personal beliefs to the ‘back of the National bus?’

Judging from Governor Romney’s recent call for action to force an “anti-gay marriage amendment” onto his state’s 2008 ballot, in spite of the State Legislature’s hesitancy to address the issue, in spite of the fact that Massachusetts already has a court-tested law on the books allowing same-sex-marriage and in spite of the fact that several thousand couples have already taken advantage of that law; I’d say it’s a good bet that the answer to that first question is ‘Yes.’

Any answer to the second question, however, would be pure speculation . . . at least for another two years.

From the Evangelical Right point-of-view, a President Mitt Romney in 2008 would be, effectively, a third term for George Bush — I guess I would have to agree with that assessment.

Credit where credit is due: I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing President Bush but, in one respect, George Bush has been a great president: under his presidency the FBI and the CIA have foiled many hundreds of terror plots against the U.S and we have, obviously, not had a repeat performance of 9/11/2001 on any scale. If that is still the case in 2009, it will be considered George Bush’s greatest heritage.

Links:

The Deseret News: ‘Pres. Romney’ sounds good to many

Los Angeles Times: Romney presses for marriage vote

From the blogosphere (pro and con:)

Thoughts of a Conservative Christian: Mitt Romney’s Evangelical Problem

Merit-Bound Alley: Mitt Romney hates equality

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Quixotic Aspirations: Freedom and Democracy in Iraq

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

This ABC News report from Baghdad this morning details the Shiite response to Thursday’s murder of 215 Shiites by Sunni terrorists. In response to the murders, the Shiite Malitia did NOT seek revenge by locating and destroying a Sunni terrorist cell, nor did they track down and kill any known Sunni terrorists? The Shiite Malitia’s initial response was instead to capture six innocent Sunnis as they left their mosque, douse them with kerocene and burn them alive. Many mosques were then set afire.

When President Bush first started to promote it, the idea of bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq seemed attractive, reasonable, desirable and eminently achievable. That, at least, was my first reaction and probably the first reaction of many others; but as time passed and as events unfolded it became more and more obvious to me that freedom and Democracy in Iraq are not possible . . . not in any form that the Western mind could comprehend. Why this is so is fairly apparent!

Freedom and democracy, as we know it in the West, require that people live their lives within limits . . . limits that were created by their fellow man and that are enforced by their fellow man, i.e., civil peoples exhibiting civil behavior enforced by civil law. That entire process and the mindset required to comprehend that process is second nature to the Western mind, we have been steeped in the concept since birth; but that same concept has to be unfathomable . . . unthinkable to the Islamic mind. The laws of Islamic countries are not the laws of man, they are the basically unchanging laws of their Prophets and their God. Day to day behavior in an Islamic culture is not dictated by societal norms that have developed over time and in respect to the concept of individual freedom. Behavior in an Islamic country is dictated by the interpretation of sacred texts by holy men; individual freedom is treated as something between an obscenity and an affront to God.

(The preceding is not an attempt to minimize the importance of religion in the development of our Western culture, but simply to point out that it is not possible to balance individual freedom with religious prudence when there is no individual freedom.)

The problem gets deeper and worse when you consider that even with a “democratically elected” government in place, the people of Iraq are living their day-to-day lives under a theocracy. They see the government as an interface with the rest of the world and as something that is completely unrelated to the realities of their daily lives. If typical Iraqis stop to consider their government at all, they will most likely see it as an evil entity that has brought death to their streets on a scale they could have never believed possible.

Freedom and democracy, as defined by Western (or European) minds, are the wrong goals for Iraq (or for any predominantly Islamic country). The only attainable goal, and consequently the only one we should be working for, is peace! Peace is a concept that is translatable into every language and one that is, at some level, desired by every man, woman and child, irrespective of where they live.

To reiterate my closing thought in a recent article on this subject:

“This is a Middle-Eastern problem and it needs a Middle-Eastern solution. If that solution does not resemble anything we like or have seen before or expected, so be it! The ultimate solution must center around an end to global conflict and focus on stability; the Middle-east will never get there using Western or European standards.”

After reading about today’s events in Iraq it is easy to dismiss Iraq as a problem not worth solving; a country so bent on its own self-destruction that we are wasting time, money and lives trying to resuscitate it’s feeble carcass; but its just as easy to justify our continued involvement, at least peripherally, with the hope that someday an innocent civilian will be able to walk the streets of Baghdad without suffering the throes of death or the agony of dismemberment. The cause, like all causes, is only worthy if the applied solutions are workable. Today the solutions we propose are Western (or European) solutions, products of a different culture . . . solutions that are not working. Its hard to believe, however, that all the lessons we have learned from Iraq have fallen on ‘deaf ears’ in Washington and that a workable solution will not soon be implemented.

Links:

ABC International News: Shiites Burn Six Sunni Worshippers Alive

American Chronicle (from AP): U.S. Laments Escalation of Iraq Violence

Special to The Washington Post: Exploring Islam — The World’s Second Biggest Religion Also Is a Way of Life

From the blogosphere:

An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings: This is SO Wrong!

Robert VerBruggen at Blogger News Network: Sunnis burned alive in Iraq

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Are We Defending a Nation of Cowards?

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

There are reports today of three car bomb explosions in Baghdad killing at least 138 people” and injuring more than 200 others. That, unfortunately, is such a common occurrence in Baghdad it is not really even news any longer. In October a new monthly ‘record’ was set with 3,700 people (mostly civilians) losing their lives from terrorist attacks of one form or another.

America has approximately 140,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. CBS News reports today that:

. . . 5,000 of them are training and advising Iraqi forces. But according to the trainers themselves, the army did not prepare them to accomplish their mission. Training is what counter insurgency warfare is all about, training local forces to take over the fighting, and (this is also) the linchpin of the American exit strategy. But in reports recording their experiences in Iraq, advisors like Colonel Nicholas Demas said the training he received before leaving the U.S. “was a phenomenal waste of time, nearly irrelevant to the current situation” in Iraq.

I hate to even think it but, if this CBS report is a fair, accurate and unbiased picture of the situation (one can never completely trust the mainstream media in this regard) this points to a criminally negligent military command structure.

In the first place, there is no logical reason that, in the years since we started training the Iraqis, the military command could not have been able to supply many more than 5,000 trained trainers to Iraq. Is this sheer incompetence or some sort of metagnostic plan?

Secondly, it is obvious from numerous reports that the other 135,000 troops are not being equipped with everything they need to fight well and stay as safe as possible. This Newsweek report tells of the shortages of body armor and vehicle armor that have, tragically, cost lives.

Third, (perhaps I’m naive but) it seems inconceivable to me that our troops are being ‘allowed’ to win; by that I mean it appears that they are neither being deployed properly or being allowed to be aggressive enough against the terrorists; also, it’s obviously to any casual observer that our military command has been unable to establish adequate intelligence assets to forecast the countless attacks by terrorists.

Finally, most importantly and to the point of this post, even if our military presence in Iraq was flawless, it appears that we are defending a government that will never be strong enough to establish control and maintain peace in the country, and an Iraqi population that doesn’t have the guts to stand up to terrorism.

Do you think for a moment that gangs of terrorists like we see in Iraq would go uncontested in any American city? They absolutely would not! We would either have professional soldiers deployed to that city to control the situation (using marshal law as necessary) or, if they could not control it in a very short period of time, that city would have armed bands of citizens forming vigilante armies and killing anyone who they even thought was a terrorist. That would no doubt be illegal, unethical, immoral and you can supply your own adjectives to describe what may be considered by some as an indefensible overreaction, but that is exactly what would happen in any decently sized U.S. city. Why? Because American’s value peace and if their peace is interrupted they will go to war to restore peace. That’s our history, that’s our heritage that’s our mentality.

“This republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it.” — Elmer Davis, Reporter and commentator

The Iraqi people apparently do not have the intestinal fortitude to mount that kind of offensive against the roving bands of terrorists who are killing them in record numbers. The United States can supply manpower, training and support to Iraq until Hell freezes over but we cannot supply intestinal fortitude.

Links:

BBC News Scores killed in Baghdad blasts

Newsweek on MSNBC: The Human Cost

More Quotes From Elmer Davis: Quotations Book

From the blogosphere:

Thang D. Nguyen’s Column: Time To Think: What The Islamic World Needs To Do

“Ponyman” on the Blogger News Network: No “Sniping” About It. Marine Snipers’re Killing Fewer Insurgents And Saying Government Policy’s Holding Down The Body Count

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