August 3, 2008

NYT Howler of the Day: Obama Makes ‘Few Rhetorical Stumbles’

Is reporter Michael Powell at the New York Times auditioning for Comic Relief?

At next year’s event, Powell’s headline at his August 2 story (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Obama’s repeated hypocritical invocations and charges relating to race (of course, that’s not how he sees it), along with his report’s first 10 words, would bring the house down:

With Genie Out of Bottle, Obama Is Careful on Race

Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles …..

Only someone locked inside the Old Media bubble could possibly believe that Obama hasn’t “stumbled” repeatedly, to the point where he’s making Bush 41 Vice President Dan Quayle look like a certified genius. identifies a dozen verbal gaffes committed by Mr. Quayle. Add the potato/potatoe episode, and you have a baker’s dozen of 13 in the space of 4-plus years, or roughly three per year.

As you will see, Obama has more than tripled Quayle’s number in just under two years, and heaven knows how many others have gone unreported.

An official GOP web site,, has been compiling a comprehensive list of gaffes ever since it became clear that the presumptive Democratic nominee is perhaps the most mistake-prone nominee of any party in American history. The gaffes are in eleven categories, ranging from Bill Ayers to taxes to “energy and enviroment” (the site’s managers may be checking to see if we’re awake).

The compilers have indeed been very busy.

Some are admittedly minor. But many betray a disturbing degree of cultural and economic economic ignorance, bordering on illiteracy, that would cause a person evaluating a job applicant for any intellectually challenging position — let alone Commander in Chief of the most powerful country in the world — to have serious second thoughts.

Here are some, but by no means all, of the more disturbing examples:

  • Basic geography — Discussing the upcoming Kentucky Primary in May, Obama said, “Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas.” 20 years in Illinois, and he doesn’t pick up the fact that his home-state Land of Lincoln borders the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and is thus closer to Kentucky (i.e., adjacent to it) than Arkansas (which isn’t)?
  • Middle East/War on Terror — He doesn’t know that spoken languages in Iraq and Afghanistan are different. If that’s not enough, the same ABC post notes Obama’s belief that “agricultural specialists” who would teach farmers how to grow crops other than opium were being sent to Baghdad, where there is very little if any opium production.
  • World Affairs (even carried at Obama’s own web site) — He clearly didn’t know that the chief executive of Canada is the Prime Minister, not its president. Over three decades as an adult, how many news articles has he read and not comprehended, or news reports has he heard and not understood, to still believe that?
  • Basic Finance — Obama has said, “If we went back to the obesity rates that existed in 1980, that would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars.” The entire annual federal budget is about $3.1 trillion. The Medicaid/SCHIP portion of that budget is $224 billion; if you assume that the Feds cover 50% of all Medicaid costs, you’re still only up to about $450 billion, or less than half of Obama’s claimed savings. Even if you try to excuse Obama’s statement by claiming that it refers to multiple years, you can’t get anywhere near $1 trillion. It’s shocking enough that a US Senator would make such a fundamentally ignorant statement, let alone a presidential nominee.
  • Energy Basics (this one hasn’t even made it to the GOP’s list yet) — Obama claimed that proper tire inflation and regular tune-ups “could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling.” Again, laughably, not even close.

That the Times’s Powell would open an article analyzing the presidential race with such an obvious gaffe of his own demonstrates just how out of touch those in the world of the Old Gray Lady have become.

Cross-posted at

Name That Party: Dem MA State Senator Charged in Sexual Assaults

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:08 am

The Associated Press has done it again, even beyond what Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters noted in a related post on June 4.

In that post, Ken cited an AP report that did not identify the political party of Democratic Massachusetts State Senator and alleged serial sexual assaulter James Marzilli until the eleventh and final paragraph.

AP Writer Denise Lavoie went one step further in her 300-word July 30 report on criminal complaint charges that have been filed against Marzilli. She completely failed to disclose his party, even though she noted his previous withdrawal from an upcoming election, and even though there is another prosecution in progress involving similar charges:

Mass. state senator charged with groping woman

A court clerk-magistrate on Wednesday charged a state lawmaker with groping a woman in a case the district attorney declined to prosecute because it lacked evidence.

The criminal complaint charges state Sen. James Marzilli with two counts of indecent assault and battery alleging he groped a woman after an arts fundraiser April 6.

The charges were issued by Cambridge District Court Clerk-Magistrate Robert Moscow after the accuser made a citizen’s request for criminal charges, a rarely used step allowed under state law.

….. In a separate case, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone is prosecuting Marzilli for allegedly sexually harassing four women in a single day in Lowell in June. He pleaded not guilty to those charges. His lawyer later said he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Marzilli has said he won’t seek re-election.

Lavoie’s story is a more obvious than usual example of a two-month pattern of downplaying Marzilli’s party in stories about him as his legal troubles have mounted.

The local Boston Globe in particular hasn’t been very forthright:

  • This July 10 report by Christopher Baxter about Marzilli’s claim of having bipolar disorder waited until the ninth paragraph to identify the Senator’s party.
  • On July 16, in a “creative” twist, reporter Andrea Estes identified the party of an attendee at at event where Marzilli allegedly victimized two other women (“a 2006 Deval Patrick political rally attended by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama”) without ever specifically naming the Senator’s party.
  • Two other reports (June 5, June 6) waited until the fifth or sixth paragraphs to identify Marzilli as a Dem, each time after missing several obvious earlier opportunities to do so. The reactions of several Bay State Democrats to Marzilli’s situation chronicled in the June 6 story, which also notes that Marzilli is also under investigations allegedly involving at least five other women in the last two years, have to be read to be believed.

On the other hand, this Boston Herald story about Marzilli checking himself in for psychiatric treatment identified him as a Dem in the second paragraph. Perhaps the Herald’s proper treatment is the only thing motivating its competitor, the Globe, to name Marzilli’s party at all.

One exception to all of this at the Globe has been columnist Joan Vennochi. Three weeks ago, while identifying Marzilli’s party in her third paragraph, she called on him to resign, noting that:

He hasn’t been to Beacon Hill since his arrest and told voters that he will not return. His staff is running his Senate office and responding to constituents.

If Marzilli isn’t running for reelection, voting, or formulating policy, how does he justify staying in office? He can’t.

But as far as I can tell in various searches, the Boston Globe’s editorial board has not demanded Marzilli’s resignation.

Vennochi’s bio shows no indications that she might be a closet vast right wing conspirator.

In a different op-ed last Thursday, in the course of commenting on conflict-of-interest allegations against Sal DiMasi, another Massachusetts State Senator, Vennochi identified DiMasi and Marzilli as liberals, and asked:

Should liberals close their eyes to problematic behavior, just as they are doing with another liberal, state Senator James Marzilli?

Doing so becomes a bit easier when the party affiliation of the alleged perpetrator isn’t displayed prominently in the hard-news stories, Joan.

Cross-posted at

Positivity: Rutland couple inseparable in life and death

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:38 am

From Rutland, VT:

July 19, 2008

Relatives of Paul and Pearl Garrow said Friday that the two were inseparable.

The couple died within four hours of each other Monday, side-by-side at Haven Health Center in Rutland. They were both 82 years old and had been married for 60 years.

Gerald Garrow, Paul’s brother, said Pearl Garrow, who was also called Dolly, died first, shortly after he and other relatives called a nurse to move her to Paul’s bedside. Gerald Garrow said she had told them she wanted to be next to her husband and that once there, she held his hand.

“That’s love,” Gerald Garrow said Friday, just before the couple’s wake. “No love is smooth. That’s love.”

Gerald Garrow said he still remembers the day the two met. It was 1946 and Gerald Garrow was 13. Paul Garrow had just returned from Naval service in World War II. Pearl Garrow — then Pearl Grubbe — was running an ice cream stand on Columbian Avenue.

“I was having an ice cream cone and my brother walked by,” Gerald Garrow said. “She was a pretty girl — I was young, but I still noticed she was pretty. He walked by and she wanted to know who the handsome fellow was.”

The two were married in 1948 at St. Peter Church. They only had two years together before Paul Garrow was recalled to the Navy for service during the Korean War.

Pearl Garrow lived with her mother-in-law while Paul Garrow was away. Gerald said the separation was difficult for her, but she got through it with the support of the extended family. It helped that Paul Garrow wrote often.

“It was a two-for-one because she was at our mom’s house,” said James Garrow, another of Paul’s brothers. “He’d write to her and then say ‘hi’ to Mom.”

As the youngest of the brothers, James Garrow said he was treated as a son by Paul and Pearl. Their relatives said they were both career-minded — Paul with the railroad, Pearl with the phone company — and never had children of their own, but were like supplemental parents to many in the family.

“They had so many nieces and nephews who they treated like their kids,” James Garrow said.

One of those nephews, James Connor, said he recalled the family car breaking down one chilly night when he was home from college, Christmas shopping. With temperatures hitting 20 below and no other car in the family, he said he called his father and asked him what to do. His father said to call Paul Garrow.

“He came down and jumpstarted the car,” Connor said. “That’s the sort of person he was.”

Connor said he also heard many times about how Pearl saved his life when he was a baby, carrying him from the family’s Harrison Avenue home as the waters closed in during the flood of 1947.

Gerald Garrow said that in more recent years, the family doctor could not believe that Paul Garrow was still able to push Pearl’s wheelchair into his office. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.