May 22, 2010

Establishment Press Largely Covers Obama’s Tracks on Disgraceful Daniel Pearl Remark

DanielPearlInIslamistCaptorsVid2002President Barack Obama’s statement just before he signed the Freedom of the Press Act on Monday painfully avoided reality to the point of giving offense. If it became widely known, it would likely become very problematic.

Here is what the President said that was particularly offensive (bolds are mine):

And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.

Two key administration-protecting original news disseminators picked up on the need to keep the bolded words out of their news coverage of the event. The Associated Press, which usually (i.e., almost always) quotes the president in related stories, provided no quotes in its terse five-paragraph report, the first four of which follow (for fair use and discussion purposes, of course):

Obama signs Freedom of Press Act

President Barack Obama has signed a law intended to provide more protections for a free press around the world.

The law, the Daniel Pearl Freedom of Press Act, expands efforts to identify countries where press freedom is being violated. The law is named after Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded by militants in Pakistan in 2002.

The law expands an annual report on human rights practices to include information about media treatment, and identify countries where the media is being repressed.

Obama said the law would be a signal to governments around the world that their actions, including treatment of the media, are being watched.

The New York Times’s five-paragraph story quoted other portions of Obama’s statement:

U.S. to Promote Press Freedom

President Obama signed legislation on Monday intended to promote a free press around the world, a bipartisan measure inspired by the murder in Pakistan of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

… The new law “puts us clearly on the side of journalistic freedom,” Mr. Obama said, praising Mr. Pearl’s family for being “outspoken and so courageous” in pursuing the cause. With the law, the president added, “his legacy lives on.”

The less influential wire service AFP must not have gotten the memo, as carried it the statement quoted above. Its 10-paragraph story also provided historical context AP and the Times avoided, as well as a clearly superior headline:

Obama signs law honoring slain reporter Daniel Pearl

…”The loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us how valuable a free press is,” Obama said.

… Pearl, 38, was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.

A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later.

Mariane Pearl was pregnant with their son when her husband was murdered.

In 2007, she filed a lawsuit Wednesday against 23 individuals and organizations over the abduction and murder of Pearl, naming Al-Qaeda, the group’s alleged mastermind kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — who claimed responsibility for beheading Pearl and is now in US custody — and Pakistan’s Habib Bank among the defendants.

In his column today, Mark Steyn finishes the job AFP only began. As usual with Steyn, read the whole thing. Here are selected paragraphs:

… its clumsiness and insipidness is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: “The loss of Daniel Pearl.” He wasn’t “lost.” He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his “loss” merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.

Even if Americans don’t get the message, the rest of the world does. This week’s pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.

But what did the “loss” of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was “one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination.” Really? Evidently it never captured Obama’s imagination because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl’s fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: “one of those moments” – you know, like Princess Di’s wedding, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, whatever – “that captured the world’s imagination.”

Notice how reflexively Obama lapses into sentimental one-worldism: Despite our many zip codes, we are one people, with a single imagination. In fact, the murder of Daniel Pearl teaches just the opposite – that we are many worlds, and worlds within worlds. Some of them don’t even need an “imagination.” Across the planet, the video of an American getting his head sawed off did brisk business in the bazaars and madrassahs and Internet downloads. Excited young men e-mailed it to friends, from cell phone to cell phone, from Karachi to Jakarta to Khartoum to London to Toronto to Falls Church, Virginia. In the old days, you needed an “imagination” to conjure the juicy bits of a distant victory over the Great Satan. But in an age of high-tech barbarism the sight of Pearl’s severed head is a mere click away.

And the rest of “the world”? Most gave a shrug of indifference. And far too many found the reality of Pearl’s death too uncomfortable, and chose to take refuge in the same kind of delusional pap as Obama.

I daresay that if a Republican or conservative president had suggested that the “loss” of Dr. Martin Luther King had “captured the world’s imagination,” the AP and the Times would not have so deliberately avoided such a statement, and would instead have eagerly sought out others to criticize it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE, 10:15 p.m.: Many NewsBusters commenters have made a great point that I overlooked in my write-up, which is that Daniel Pearl was not killed primarily because he was a journalist, but because he was a Jew. That is indeed correct.

Krauthammer on Obama’s Total Failure with Iran: ‘The fruits of weakness’

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:06 am

As badly as our economy has been damaged by our Punk President and his gangster government, this administration’s foreign policy performance has probably been worse.

Charles Krauthammer, in effect building on what the Wall Street Journal pointed to earlier this week, elaborated on this yesterday (as usual with Krauthammer, read the whole thing; bolds are mine):

… the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran’s program.

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

IranBrazilTurkeyHoldHands0510

That picture — a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam — is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there’s no cost in lining up with America’s enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

They’ve watched President Obama’s humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.

… They’ve watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran’s agent in the Arab Levant — sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the United States and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. “engagement.”

They’ve observed the administration’s gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez organizes his anti-American “Bolivarian” coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chavez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.

This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat — accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.

Nor is this retreat by inadvertence. This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It’s the perfect fulfillment of Obama’s adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world.

The only question is whether the “retreat by design” is based in naivete or is more sinister.

If it were based in naivete, one would think, given the disastrous results, that there would be an attempt to right the ship, as occurred during the Carter administration after the Soviets’ 1979 invasion of Afghanistan tore off the President’s thick blinders. If it’s not based in that, all that would remain as a motivating explanation would be a grim determination to tear this country down and deliberately leave it vulnerable. Evidence continues to mount that this is the case.

ORPINO Isn’t Even Pretending to Promote Kasich-Taylor

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:50 am

Memo to Kevin DeWine: It’s been almost three weeks since the primary, and all you can think of is continuing to Trash Ted (an important enterprise, to be sure) while promoting Golden Boy and Mike DeWine’s savior?

ORPINOhomePage052210am

Why, if we didn’t know better, we’d think that y’all really aren’t that interested in helping John Kasich become this state’s governor.

What the heck is wrong with you people?

Positivity: Brazilian congresswoman whose mother was raped voices opposition to abortion

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:34 am

From Brasilia, Brazil:

May 21, 2010 / 02:07 pm

Brazilian Congresswoman Fatima Pelaes shared her personal testimony on the floor of the Brazilian House of Representatives during a vote on a measure that would protect the unborn from abortion. She told lawmakers that her mother was a victim of rape and decided to let her live rather than kill her through abortion. “I was born after a rape, I cannot support abortion!” she exclaimed.

On Wednesday, Brazil’s House of Representatives passed the measure that grants legal protection to the unborn. It now will go before the Senate.

The Defense of Life Movement (DLM) in Porto Alegre said that during the vote on the measure, Pelaes took the podium and told her story. Her mother was the victim of rape while she was in a co-ed prison. At first she wanted to get an abortion, but she ended up deciding to keep her baby.

When she finished her remarks, DLM reported that “Everyone was moved and in tears. Representative Arnaldo Faria took the podium and asked for a response that would match the testimony by Fatima Pelaes. ‘My colleagues, after this testimony, how can we not support the life of the unborn?’”

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP’s Castro Can’t Hold In Bias (and Perhaps Ignorance) in Report on Texas Curriculum Vote

TexasIt would not surprise me if the Associated Press’s April Castro has spent the last 10 weeks gritting her teeth non-stop.

In March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), she was clearly peeved at the Texas State Board of Education. In a supposedly objective news story entitled “Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences,” she decried a “faction” (actually a nearly two-thirds majority) of Board members for “injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons.”

I will take that as an admission that such ideals have previously been absent or barely present.

Friday, non-appreciative April was tasked with covering the Board’s final adoption vote that ratified proposed curriculum changes. If we are to believe her (I know, that’s dangerous), improvements (my word, certainly not hers) in the meantime appear to have been strengthened the reality basis, if you will, of the curriculum.

Here are the first five paragraphs of Ms. Castro’s report (link is dynamic and subject to change). There are lots of errors in those paragraphs alone, but readers are invited to see if they can catch the big cahuna:

APonTXcurriculum052110

So many errors, so little time. I’ll hit the three biggest.

First, Ms. Castro is clever in saying that the curriculum “amends or waters down” the teaching of religious freedoms, but that shouldn’t fool anyone here. She’s distressed about alleged “watering down.” The fact is, if the curriculum really does go back to the constitutional basis for religious freedoms, it will make it clear that public expressions of religious belief are not forbidden, or even unwelcome, as they clearly are today (that is, if they are conservative or prolife; religious pronouncements from the likes of Nancy Pelosi on the religious basis for having an open-borders policy on immigration are of course more than welcome).

Second, Castro states the degree of influence the Texas Board’s guidelines will have on textbooks elsewhere as if it’s an established fact. Sadly, it’s not (sadly, because they’re badly in need of improvement in so many other states). As Brian Thevenot at the Texas Tribune explained at post entitled “The Textbook Myth” in late March:

… liberal-to-moderate contemporaries in other states need not fret, textbook industry experts say. Though Texas has been painted in scores of media reports as the big dog that wags the textbook industry tail, that’s simply no longer true — and will become even less true in the future, as technological advances and political shifts transform the marketplace, said Jay Diskey, executive director of the Association of American Publishers. Diskey calls the persistent reports of Texas dominating the market an “urban myth.” Yet the myth persists.

“I’ve been in this job about three and a half years, and I see it reported all the time,” Diskey said. “I give my explanation to reporters, and about half of them believe me and half of them don’t.”

On the other hand, the easier ability to self-publish could lead to greater selection of available textbooks from nontraditional publishers who, if they pursue the historical truth, would tend to put on works that are more accurate and constitutionally based than the offerings so many students must currently endure. The biggest hurdle for all of them would be getting approved by left-dominated boards of education in other states.

That’s two major errors, but by no means the biggest, which is this statement:

… the board dilutes the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution …

I hope Ms. Castro is being “clever” and not ignorant. The words involved ARE NOT in the Constitution, and never have been. Either April is “cleverly” implying that they used to not be there but are now (wrong), or she just doesn’t have her grammar down.

Other examples of things that bother Ms. Castro about the Lone Star State’s newly adopted curriculum:

  • “… (it) strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a ‘constitutional republic,’ rather than ‘democratic.’” Facts are stubborn things, dear.
  • “Students will be required to study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.” Oh the humanity.
  • “They also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.” Can you say “Copenhagen,” April?

As I noted in March, the real question should be why items such as these haven’t been taught all along. The answer is that school curricula have been politicized by commission and omission for decades. The Texas Board appears, finally, to be injecting a whiff of sanity into things.

Especially as it concerns religious freedom, it’s time for Ms. Castro to consider going back to school to catch up on her history. In Texas.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.