September 4, 2010

AP Internal Memo: ‘Combat in Iraq Is Not Over’

APlogo0409What follows indicates that at least one limit has been found to the establishment press’s willingness to serve as this government’s official apologists.

Not surprisingly, it relates to Iraq. The press obviously and bitterly opposed the war from the start, to the point of doctoring photographs, making stuff up, pretending that its sources knew what they were talking about when they didn’t, and ignoring enemy atrocities and Saddam Hussein’s mass graves for years, while often having their journalistic failures and biases exposed by milbloggers and bloggers. So if one were to have guessed ahead of time where a clear break might occur, Iraq would have been a leading choice.

That break comes in an AP email to staff from “Standards Editor” Tom Kent. He must have or at least should have known that its contents would get out. Jim Romenesko at Poynter Online (HT Legal Insurrection) appears to have posted it first, about 16 hours after Kent hit the “send” button:

Subject: Standards Center guidance: The situation in Iraq

Colleagues,

… we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.

To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country’s future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.

As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”

However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.

Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.

Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can’t predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.

Tom

William Jacobsen’s reaction at Legal Insurrection: “AP Calls Obama A Liar.”

Well, it’s clear that AP is asserting that Obama is at least not telling the truth in this instance. Whether it becomes a more global assertion about the President himself based on the plethora of dishonesty the wire service is still willing to swallow from this President and his apparatchiks on domestic as well as foreign policy matters remains to be seen.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update, Sept. 7: An organization undeserving of linkage claims that yours truly “approved” of the AP’s posture.

I have done no such thing. I have observed that the AP has broken with the President and the administration on whether to consider combat operations in Iraq over, and that it represents “at least one limit has been found to the establishment press’s willingness to serve as this government’s official apologists.”

My personal view is that if a news organization is going to start picking differences with a U.S. administration, was coverage should be about the last place to do it — especially while the wire service involved routinely relays this administration’s fabrications about its stimulus spending and characterizations of its opposition, to name just two off the top of my head, without any hint of skepticism.

But my personal view was not part of the post, only observations, plus a belief that the AP’s first major break with the administration has come in an oh-so-predictable area.

Politicizing Labor Day, Part 1: DOL Scrubs Samuel Gompers Quote from Its ‘History of Labor Day’ Page

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:58 am

SamuelGompersAfter eight years, a quote from “the greatest friend labor has ever known” has been scrubbed from the Department of Labor’s web page about the history of Labor Day. Why?

Every year since 2006 at my home blog, I have put up a post that has carried verbatim the content of a DOL web page entitled “The History of Labor Day.” Though the page’s appearance has changed, its content has not.

But this year, the narrative’s opening paragraph went away.

Investigating further, I found that archive.org’s earliest record of the web page is September 2, 2001. That page’s narrative is identical to that found on the page as it appeared on May 3, 2008, the last listing present (it’s likely that the government cut off archive.org’s ability to capture pages shortly thereafter).

Here’s the paragraph that disappeared after an eight-year run:

“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”

The quote doesn’t seem particularly troublesome. Then I learned a bit more about Samuel Gompers.

Based on what I’ve read, it seems reasonable to believe that so-called “progressives” familiar with Mr. Gompers’s views really don’t like him. The fact that the opening-paragraph quote has been purged would seem to indicate that some of the leftists who dominate this administration are carrying a century-old grudge.

In a 1997 article, Aaron Steelman at the Cato Institute, after first criticizing AFL-CIO president John Sweeney for spending “nearly $40 million lobbying on behalf of candidates who wished to expand the size and scope of government,” wrote the following about Gompers:

(From 1886) Gompers … with the exception of 1895, was annually reelected president (of the American Federation of Labor) until his death in 1924. During that period — as the AFL’s membership grew to more than 4 million — real wages increased, work weeks shortened, and working conditions improved in industry after industry.

Although he supported such legal protections as child-labor laws and general liability laws for employers, he favored union bargaining power over government regulation as a means to advance the economic standing of wage earners. As historian Florence Calvert Thorne has written, Gompers thought that “by joining hands with like-minded workers,” laborers could increase their “bargaining strength for higher wages which could make more material comforts available.” That, coupled with “personal freedom and self-dependence, would help them to be alert and responsible citizens of their community.”

From the beginning, Gompers was wary of embroiling the AFL in politics of any kind, partisan or otherwise. He had seen a rival labor organization — the Knights of Labor – — implode over faulty political alliances and feared that the same thing could happen to the AFL. More fundamentally, he believed that government activism was harmful to the working man.

In 1915, he wrote, “Doing for people what they can and ought to do for themselves is a dangerous experiment. In the last analysis the welfare of the workers depends upon their own private initiative.” He applied that belief to issue after issue.

… As for welfare programs, Gompers believed that “social insurance cannot remove or prevent poverty.” Moreover, he maintained that welfare is “undemocratic” because it tends “to fix the citizens of the country into two classes, and a long established system would tend to make these classes rigid.”

Gompers also worried that welfare would undermine the ethic of self-responsibility.

… Undoubtedly, he would have disapproved of the modern regulatory state as well. In an article for the American Federationist, Gompers argued that “regulation of industrial relations is not a policy to be entered upon lightly — establishment of regulation for one type of relation necessitates regulating of another, until finally all industrial life grows rigid with regulation.” And when asked in 1916 if he favored a law mandating an eight-hour day, he remarked, “Do you know where the eight-hour law in California originated? It was started by the Socialist Party of California.” For Gompers, a fierce critic of the American Socialist and Communist parties, that seemed be a sufficient response.

Samuel Gompers’s lifelong devotion to both the union movement and Jeffersonian political principles improved the lives of millions of working men and women. He rightly deserves to be called the greatest friend labor has ever known.

But he apparently doesn’t deserve to be quoted in the Department of Labor’s “History of Labor Day.” Someone should ask DOL head Hilda Solis why not.

Actually, Solis has mostly answered the question herself, as readers will see in Part 2 tomorrow.

Positivity: Double hand transplant patient talks about gratitude and the future

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 6:56 am

From Louisville, KY (video is at link):

The man who received a groundbreaking double hand transplant in Louisville is talking about his surgery for the first time.

Richard Edwards received two new hands last week and WHAS 11’s Gene Kang found out how he’s doing and why the surgery has been so emotional for the family.

“I’m so thankful I have a team of doctors that were allowed to think outside the box and take a chance like that. I don’t know what else to say except thank you,” said Edwards.

Richard Edwards is talking about his new life, as only the third person in the nation to receive a double hand transplant. Just last week, the bandages were removed after 17+ hours of surgery at Jewish Hospital.

Edwards moved his new fingers after the operation; Dr. Warren Breidenbach, Kleinert Hutz Hand Care Center, said “This is the best motion of any hand transplant patient ever done, that you’re about to see.”

Today, Edwards can make a full fist with his left hand and move part of his right hand. Doctors said he’s already six months ahead in progress.

The groundbreaking surgery was a medical miracle of sorts; not because it was a bi-lateral surgery, but because it’s the first time a recipient’s original hands were left intact and operated on, connecting nerves and tendons.

Go here for the rest of the story.