February 14, 2008

NYT’s Online Video and Text Coverage of Terrorist’s Death Differ Significantly

First, give the New York Times credit for doing what NewsBusters’ Ken Shepherd found Newsweek unable to do.

The Times, in a report (link requires free registration) by Robert F. Worth and Nada Bakri, actually called the recently slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah a terrorist:

A top Hezbollah commander long sought by the United States for his role in terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in the 1980s, died Tuesday night in Damascus, Syria, when a bomb detonated under the vehicle he was in, Syrian officials said.

No one claimed responsibility for killing the commander, Imad Mugniyah, who had been in hiding for many years and was one of the most wanted and elusive terrorists in the world.

But, as James Taranto at Best of the Web noted, the Times’s headline (“Bomb in Syria Kills Militant Sought as Terrorist”) is nowhere near as clear as the first two paragraphs of the article’s text, and a related Times online video by reporter John Kifner is much more blunt in its judgment of Mugniyah (Kifner received a reporting credit but not a byline in the print article).

Among the things Kifner says in the video about Mugniyah:

He is really a terrorist mastermind. Up to 9/11, he killed more Americans than anybody else, including 241 Marines and sailors in the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks (in Beirut). 65 people were killed that same year in the bombing of the American embassy.

He ran a string of kidnappings in the 1980s, including my colleague Terry Anderson, who was held for six years, and William Buckley, CIA Station Chief in Beirut who was tortured and killed.

Normally, you’d expect a print article to go into more detail than a video. But the Times’s print report managed to avoid the “more than anybody else until 9/11″ context, and also failed to mention Mugniyah’s involvement with Anderson, perhaps the most-remembered of the 1980s hostages.

Taranto’s attempt to explain discrepancies such as these offers two alternatives:

It’s interesting that Kifner is much more forthright in his video than the Times is in print. One could put that down to his speaking for himself and thus feeling freer. Or one could say that the Times’s editors seem to view their role as seeing to it that the news is sufficiently muddled.

I vote for the latter.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Mitt Romney Will Be Endorsing Has Endorsed John McCain

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:29 pm

Laura Ingraham’s “conservatives’ conservative” is set to endorse John McCain this afternoon for the GOP nomination:

Republican campaign dropout Mitt Romney agreed Thursday to endorse Sen. John McCain and asked his national convention delegates to swing behind the party front-runner, according to officials familiar with the decision.

Romney collected 280 delegates during his run through the early primaries and caucuses. If enough of them switch, McCain could quickly reach the total of 1,191 needed to clinch the nomination.

The officials who disclosed Romney’s plans did so on condition of anonymity. A formal announcement was expected later in the day.

The former Massachusetts governor dropped out of the race last week after it became apparent that toppling McCain would be near impossible given his lead in the hunt for convention delegates.

Excuse me, AP: Romney suspended his campaign, he didn’t technically drop out (see, I can be fair to Objectively Unfit Mitt when it’s called for :–>).

Those with reality-based knowledge of Mitt Romney’s record, and the willingness to acknowledge his worse-than-Bob-Taft record, are justifiably concerned that Romney’s endorsement, and especially any active involvement he might have in the McCain campaign, will move the Arizona Senator even further to the left. This would EXclude pundit Ann Coulter, who still indulges in the fantasy that Romney is a “strong conservative”; talkers including but not limited to Ingraham, Rush, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin; a host of others who should know better; and a host of still others who do know better.

Let’s hope that the real Romnian influence is minimal, or, even better, zero.

Hold the line, and then tack right, John. That would be in the opposite direction of what Mitt Romney has done, as the historical record shows that what Romney has publicly said in the interest of getting elected is of little import.

You can always bone up on the real Romney record here at BizzyBlog, starting at “The Pre-Super Tuesday Comprehensive Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney Index.” Enjoy.

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UPDATE: More needs to be said about this, and it appears that this is the last opportune time.

Hannity claims at the top of every hour that his show is “the best and most comprehensive election coverage on your radio dial,” or something very close to that. Levin likes to say that he “bats cleanup” — that is, he supposedly covers the important topics other hosts have neglected or haven’t gotten around to.

Neither of these gentlemen did anything that I know of to criticize the ongoing implosion of Mitt RomneyCare in Massachusetts and to lay the blame for it solely at the former governor’s feet where it belongs. I believe the closest Hannity got was to read from a Wall Street Journal editorial, while studiously avoiding sentences that referred to Romney’s authorship (I only caught the last 2/3 or so of his riff on this, so I’m not absolutely sure). I don’t think Levin touched on it at all, though I obviously didn’t catch every hour of his program. If someone can show me otherwise, I’m open to getting contrary info.

I saw this coming in October (not that it too any special prescience to see it) — The RomneyCare crackup is a huge story that would have sunk a Romney presidential campaign as surely as the fall-apart of Michael Dukakis’s “Massachusetts Miracle” did in 1988. If we had listened to the two usually distinguished gentlemen just noted, we’d have faced an electoral disaster of Goldwater proportions — with no “in your heart, you know he’s right” consolation. It also should sink any crazy-talk of a McCain-Romney ticket.

This was neither gentleman’s finest hour. May they return to a grip on reality.

UPDATE 2, 9:45 p.m.: Ann Coulter doesn’t plan on returning to reality any time soon. The idea that a John McCain would govern more liberally than Hillary has no basis, and tons of contradictory evidence.

UPDATE 3, 10:00 p.m.: Michelle Malkin committed a rare unforced error yesterday in connection with all of this when she acted as if conservative talk radio in general is under assault.

First of all, Mark Helprin should have spared us the insults, and he frankly owes a few people an apology. Beyond that, his “conservatives, get a grip” message was pretty accurate.

It’s absolutely jaw-dropping to see the same talkers who have been wailing against HillaryCare and socialized medicine for the past 15-16 years totally ignore the fact that Mitt Romney actually put it into place in Massachusetts. Then they lionized the guy as a conservative. That’s pure horse manure, and as I said above, not their finest hour. They need to be called out when they’ve screwed up, Michelle, and they screwed up bigtime with their “McCain bad, Romney good” schtick.

UPDATE 4: Here’s the beginning of the report on Romney’s endorsement of McCain —

Republican campaign dropout Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain for the party’s presidential nomination and asked his national convention delegates to swing behind the likely nominee.

“Even when the contest was close and our disagreements were debated, the caliber of the man was apparent,” the former Massachusetts governor said, standing alongside his one-time rival at his now-defunct campaign’s headquarters. “This is a man capable of leading our country at a dangerous hour.”

Will McCain’s critics give an inch based on Romney’s endorsement?

Positivity: Veteran reconnects with soldier who saved his life 40 years ago

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 10:30 am

From Mountain Home, Arkansas:

Article published Feb 11, 2008

“I just wanted to tell a story about a friend of mine,” said retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jimmie Ford. “He saved my life in Vietnam.”

Ford, 66, of Mountain Home, remembers the events vividly. He was 23 at the time. Many in the 25th Division lost their lives that day, early in the Vietnam War, when the unit walked right into a base of Viet Cong fighters and quickly found themselves surrounded. For more than 40 years, Ford’s rescuer may as well have been a ghost to him.

“The day was March 15, 1966. I was wounded, and so was that boy I’m trying to tell a story about,” Ford said. “He’s my hero.”

Ford finally contacted Sgt. 1st Class James White just a few weeks ago using information he found on the Internet. He’d never been able to thank the man for saving his life.

“We were in a firefight. We were coming to the landing zone. I was forward observer (a soldier who scouts ahead and directs air strikes). My R.T.O. (radio telephone operator) had got shot up pretty bad.”

Ford says he helped the soldier into a chopper and strapped the radio telephone on his own back so he could continue the mission alone.

“All of our sergeants, just about, were killed. I came to this little, narrow stream, about 15-20 feet across.”

Deciding he had to cross, Ford got on a log. In the middle of the creek, he came under machine gun fire.

“I jumped into that water. It was pretty deep, way over my head,” he said.

The gear he carried — the radio, his weapons, maybe 100-pounds of ammunition — was pulling him below the surface. What’s more, he’d already been shot, though he didn’t know it.

“I start shedding that stuff. Then I felt something poking me,” he said.

Trying to discover what it was, he grabbed a stick. At the other end of the stick was White, pulling Ford to the bank.

“He’s James White, but he’s a black guy,” Ford said. “That was the first thing I saw, was his name tag, ‘White,’ and … He pulled me out of the water and took off.”

White, 63, of Columbia, S.C., recalls the events, though he says some of it is not as clear after the passage of time. He was 20 at the time.

“He (Ford) had been hit by small arms fire, and he was lying in the creek” White said. “I went over and pulled him up.”

White says enemy fighters who had been waiting in tunnels and bunkers were crawling out of holes in the ground, some wearing no more than underwear and carrying no more than knives, others brandishing all kinds of guns. It was White’s last day of combat in the war, though Ford would remain in Vietnam until the end of that year.

“As we were moving forward, trying to move out of an ambush, I got hit on my left side,” White said. “They med-evac’ed me back to a hospital, and two weeks later they med-evac’ed me back to the U.S.”

As White was moving forward, Ford was looking for his commanding officer.

“I got back to my C.O.,” Ford said. “He looked at me, says, ‘Ford, did you get hit?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.’

“‘You got blood coming out of your boot,’” Ford remembers his commanding officer as saying.

Ford says he had shrapnel in his ankle and was treated in Vietnam.

White says he was treated for another year at the Valley Forge Veterans Administration Hospital in Pennsylvania. He was lucky, he says, that the bullets that cut him up skirted around his ribs. The fight was so extreme that it took two days before the military could retrieve the bodies of all the fallen soldiers, after the shooting stopped, White says.

Ford says he never got to thank his hero during the war because White was taken back to the states so quickly. Only a few weeks ago, Ford found information about White on the Internet and contacted him.

“I said, ‘Remember pulling me out of the water?’ He said, ‘Well, yeah,’” Ford said.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Carnival Barking, and Catch-up (021408)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 10:05 am

The 104th Carnival of Ohio Politics, capably compiled by WLST’s Jill, is here.

The previous week’s 103rd edition, ably assembled by Glass City Jungle’s Lisa Renee, is here.

Boring Made Dull’s 44th collection covering posts relating to Econ and Social Policy is here.

Latest Pajamas Column (‘The Bush Supply-Side Tax Collections Boom Is Over’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

The column expands on this post from yesterday.

I will post the column retroactively to Thursday morning when the blackout lifts Saturday morning.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (021408)

The Associated Press made sure that its story on the yesterday’s good retail sales report had can’t-miss gloom and doom in it:

Retail sales posted a surprising rebound in January following a dismal December, although much of the strength reflected rising gasoline prices. Economists saw the increase as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery.

….. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales rose by 0.3 percent last month after having fallen by 0.4 percent in December.

The AP story’s writer threw in a lot more in his or her attempt to ensure that no reader takes anything positive away from the news:

But the positive retail number did little to change the view of economists who are forecasting the economy will fall into a recession in the first half of this year.

….. Given all the troubles facing the economy from a prolonged slump in housing to rising food and energy costs, job losses and turbulent financial markets, analysts said it was not surprising to see lackluster retail sales.

It took until Paragraph 6 for the writer to tell us that expectations were for 0.3% decrease.

Posted in longer form at NewsBusters.org.

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Things are getting ugly inside the Hillary Clinton campaign. I suspect they will get uglier.

This top-of-page Drudge tease is why:

RASMUSSEN National Poll at 11 AM: Obama Takes Double Digit Lead: Obama 49% to Clinton 37%; Obama leads among women 46% to 41%… Developing ….

(Update: Link to article.)

Meanwhile, in Ohio, there’s at least one indication that Clintonian dreams of taking Ohio are just that: dreams.

I don’t think anything like this — 700-1,000 people attending a campaign’s first organizational meeting — has ever happened in Cincinnati. Hillary’s problem is that it was for the campaign of BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama), and not hers. There have apparently been similar indications of Obamamania around the state.

Note that the event’s leader was Katina Tsongas, daughter of the late Paul Tsongas, who beat Bill Clinton in the New Hampshire Primary in 1992, only to see his victory swept away in the “Comeback Kid” hype of Bill Clinton’s second-place finish. You don’t think she’s fired up to knock Hillary out?

And now representatives of Latinos, one of Mrs. Clinton’s remaining go-to constituencies, are losing it, and losing it some more (HT Gabriel at Ace’s Place), over the removal of her Latino campaign manager.

This looks more and more like a Chernobyl-like meltdown.

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Toledo’s City Council has, in a resolution, apologized (HT Weasel Zippers via Instapundit) for its mayor’s refusal (previous posts here and here) to allow previously-cleared Marine Reservists to conduct training exercises in the city this past weekend.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner hasn’t apologized and still defends his decision.

A 0.75% city income tax renewal is on the ballot March 4. The mayor’s actions could affect the fate of that renewal with angry voters.

Who said Democrats can’t be tax cutters?

Update: King’s Right Site has more.

The Bush Supply-Side Tax Collections Boom Is Over; DC Reality Makes a Revival Unlikely

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:00 am

This column was first posted at Pajamas Media.

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Here are key full-month figures from Uncle Sam’s Daily Treasury Statement for January 31, compared to the January 2007 statement:

TreasuryRecs013108

The decline in withholding collections is an unimportant timing difference having to do with the number of high-collection Mondays (four) compared to January 2007 (four). It’s the net amount of the other three big items (corporate and non-withheld income taxes, less refunds) that is more troubling. Their combined $68.9 billion in January 2008 is almost exactly the same as January 2007.

The message: The engine of entrepreneurship is currently on idle.

Based on the chart above, it wasn’t a surprise that Indeed, The Monthly Treasury Statement released on Tuesday showed January receipts declining by 2.1%:

Treasury4mosFY08.jpg

Both the January and year-to-date results tell us that the dramatic supply-side driven increases in tax collections (44% in the four years ended September 30, 2007) are definitely over.

With the passage of the so-called stimulus package, it’s a virtual certainty that the reported full-year deficit (which, it should be remembered, is much lower than the real deficit, as discussed here previously; an example showing the true deficit is in the middle of this October 2006 post) will be much higher than last year’s $163 billion.

The stimulus package isn’t all bad, as noted here in late January (first item at link). But what’s really lacking is even the slightest commitment to getting the economy going again — which would, as a side effect, increase tax collections.

The economy slowed in the fourth quarter, and continues to slow, from nice levels of growth (3.8% and 4.9%) in the two previous quarters. The difficulties in the housing market and the subprime mortgage lending industry are not the only contributors. A factor that is at least as important is the fact that in 2010, a mere 23 months from now, most federal income tax rates and many other provisions of the tax law that directly or indirectly affect investor behavior will return to their 2000 and prior levels.

Unless Congress makes the current tax system permanent. What Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid et al should be discussing is cutting marginal tax rates further, by perhaps 10% across the board (e.g, the top rate would come down to 31.5% from 35%, while the lowest rate would go from 10% to 9%). Dream on.

What we have is long-term investors pulling in their horns at the precise moment that we should be encouraging them to sustain their economy-growing activities. Investors know full well that key members of the current congressional majority want to raise taxes even beyond what will kick in starting 1/1/10, and that those further tax increases are a virtual certainty if a Democrat takes over the White House next year. Unless conditions change, the looming “automatic” 2010 tax increase and the prospect of additional taxes that would likely be imposed by a Democratic administration will, I believe, suppress economic growth for the foreseeable future, making a recession (which I believe we will avoid, but perhaps not by much) more likely.

Anyone waiting for another across-the-board rate cut is, unfortunately, going to be waiting a long time. Based on what he has said so far, the best we can hope for from a would-be President McCain is that he would hold the line on rates, including those put into place in 2003 on capital gains and dividends.

Somebody needs to deal with the spending side, too.

Spending in fiscal 2007 (the 12 months ended September 30, 2007) was only 2.8% higher than fiscal 2006 (see the last item at this post). Since that spending was driven by the budget passed during calendar 2006, it’s fair to say that the 109th Congress, though much-maligned, did a pretty decent job of keeping spending under control for one year. If only they hadn’t waited until then to get spending religion, because by the time they did, their perception as out-of-control spenders had been accurately planted.

The current fiscal year is off to a rocky start. Given who’s in control, that should be laid at the feet of Pelosi, Reid, and President Bush. The 8%-plus increase in spending noted above is not sustainable, especially given the $100-billion plus in checks that will be going out to taxpayers in the coming months. This kind of spending increase is the kind of thing that should be driving departmental spending and hiring freezes instead of the endless calls we are hearing for new programs and expansions of existing ones.

Just as the near-doubling of tax collections that occurred during the Reagan Era was overwhelmed by out-of-control spending by Tip O’Neill and his congressional compadres, no supply-side stimulus can hope to collect enough money to keep up with spending increases of the kind seen during the past four months of this fiscal year.