August 14, 2011

AP Puts Dem Propaganda Spin on Obama’s ‘Me Too’ Tour

GrimObama0811I can hardly believe that the President of the United States, whose team is apparently deeply concerned about their guy’s declining popularity and news stories which kept Republicans in the headlines this weekend, is going on a “Me Too” bus tour of Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois this week. The only plausible reason for this is to attempt to blunt the generally positive GOP vibe coming out of Iowa and to go after Michele Bachmann, Saturday’s Iowa straw poll winner.

In his coverage at the Associated Press today, Steven R. Hurst admits as much, while otherwise acting as the administration’s de facto propaganda spokesman (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Obama begins political counteroffensive this week

President Barack Obama launches a political counteroffensive this week, weighed down by a stunted economy [1], wilting support among some of his most ardent backers, and a daily bashing from the slew of Republicans campaigning for his job. [2]

“We’ve still got a long way to go to get to where we need to be. We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and it’s going to take time to get out of it,” [3] the president told the country over the weekend, all but pleading for people to stick with him.

A deeply unsettled political landscape, with voters in a fiercely anti-incumbent mood, is framing the 2012 presidential race 15 months before Americans decide whether to give Obama a second term or hand power to the Republicans. Trying to ride out what seems to be an unrelenting storm of economic anxiety [1], people in the United States increasingly are voicing disgust with most all of the men and women, Obama included, they sent to Washington to govern them.

With his approval numbers sliding, the Democratic president will try to ease their worries and sustain his resurrected fighting spirit [4] when he sets off Monday on a bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The trip is timed to dilute the GOP buzz emanating from the Midwest after Republicans gathered in Iowa over the weekend for a first test of the party’s White House candidates. [5] The state holds the nation’s first nominating test in the long road toward choosing Obama’s opponent.

… Obama, expecting the political shelling he would take, fired pre-emptively in his weekly radio and Internet address to the nation on Saturday. He told listeners that it was the Republicans running for president and serving in Congress who were at work crushing voters’ hopes and dreams. [6]

… He chastised Republicans for brinksmanship, saying “some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.” [7]

That’s an assessment that has some validity, particularly among the new class of House Republicans who have used their outsized legislative power to stymie Obama at every turn since their election last November. [7]

Notes:

  • [1] — It’s never Obama’s fault. In Hurst’s world, the economy is just there, not cooperating. Administration policies couldn’t poooooossibly have anything to do with the economy misery the nation continues to endure.
  • [2] — It must be in the AP Stylebook somewhere that any criticism emanating from a conservative or Republican must be described as “bashing,” ravaging,” attacking,” “lashing out,” and the like.
  • [3] — Translation: It’s still George W. Bush’s fault.
  • [4] — C’mon, Steve-O, this is disgraceful. You’re supposed to be writing a news report, not a cheerleading press release from Pravda. The only good news in this is that if the press is having to roll out this kind of crap already, they must think that Barack Obama faces a long, hard next 15 months.
  • [5] — To readers having a hard time remembering Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bush 41, Bill Clinton, or Bush 43 un-presidentially following the other party’s candidates around during the middle of the third year of their first terms (in the case of Carter and Bush 41, their only terms), there’s a reason for that. They didn’t.
  • [6] — It’s as if Barack Obama’s not in charge now. It’s as if Democrats are at the mercy of Republicans in Washington now, even though they control the White House, the Senate, and the bureaucracy. It’s as if Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid didn’t have complete control in Washington for two years.
  • [7] — I see Steven Hurst has joined the “Let’s attack the Tea Party at every turn” movement. If the “new class of Republicans” has such “outsized power,” Steve, how is it that they, as you admitted elsewhere in your coverage, were only able to get “an anemic deal to cut the government deficit”? As to the supposed “anti-incumbent mood” Hurst frequently cites, I’m betting that it hardly extends to Washington politicians who have demonstrated their support of Tea Party values.

Other items on AP’s checklist Hurst made sure he completed:

  • Call Michele Bachmann an “ultraconservative” — check.
  • Make sure readers know Rick Perry is “a former Democrat” (22 years ago!) — check.
  • Criticize a Republican (in this case, Mitt Romney) who says something which is true, in this case that corporations are treated as persons before the law, as having given Democrats “a political gift” — check.
  • Remind people that Perry is from the same state as the eeeeeevil George W. Bush, in an ominous tone (“Perry’s speaking style and swagger are eerily reminiscent of another Texas governor who made the transition to the national stage: President George W. Bush”) — check.

Getting back to Obama (and this is my personal take): This habit of his of appearing in the proximity of GOP candidates and leaders is something you’d normally see from supposedly overconfident authoritarians in banana republic countries attempting to intimidate their opponents by stalking them. It is immature, betrays immense insecurity, is certainly not presidential, and gives one the distinct sense that he has nothing better to do. Really?

Continued behavior of this nature will, I believe, prove counterproductive. I get the sense that the AP and Steven Hurst know this, but won’t own up to knowing it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Headline: ‘One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls’

Sunday, Alexa Olesen at the Associated Press wrote an item headlined “One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls.” My immediate comeback: “43-60 million Chinese girls aborted because they were of the ‘wrong’ gender or would have violated the one-child policy were not available for comment.”

While nowhere near as odious as Nick Kristof’s “Mao Tse-tung wasn’t all that bad; look what he did for Chinese women” conclusion at the end of a book review on Mao’s murderous legacy almost six years ago, Olesen gets into the neighborhood.

Here are the first six and three later paragraphs from her report:

A Communist Youth League member [1] at one of China’s top science universities … (Tsinghua University freshman Mia Wang) boasts enviable skills in calligraphy, piano, flute and pingpong.

Such gifted young women are increasingly common in China’s cities and make up the most educated generation of women in Chinese history. Never have so many been in college or graduate school, and never has their ratio to male students been more balanced.

To thank for this, experts say, is three decades of steady Chinese economic growth, heavy government spending on education [2] and a third, surprising, factor: the one-child policy.

In 1978, women made up only 24.2 percent of the student population at Chinese colleges and universities. By 2009, nearly half of China’s full-time undergraduates were women and 47 percent of graduate students were female, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. [3] [4]

In India, by comparison, women make up 37.6 percent of those enrolled at institutes of higher education, according to government statistics.

Since 1979, China’s family planning rules have barred nearly all urban families from having a second child in a bid to stem population growth. With no male heir competing for resources, parents have spent more on their daughters’ education and well-being, a groundbreaking shift after centuries of discrimination.

… Some demographers argue that China’s fertility rate would have fallen sharply even without the one-child policy because economic growth tends to reduce family size. In that scenario, Chinese girls may have gotten more access to education anyway, though the gains may have been more gradual. [3]

Still, 43 million girls have “disappeared” in China due to gender-selective abortion as well as neglect and inadequate access to health care and nutrition [5], the United Nations estimated in a report last year.

… It remains to be seen whether the new generation of degree-wielding women can alter the balance outside the classroom. [6]

Notes:

  • [1] — It’s fair to ask if Ms. “Communist Youth League” Wang and her family were offered up as interview subjects by the communist Chinese government. If they were and Olsen didn’t disclose that fact, shame on Ms. Olesen and AP. It’s possible that they weren’t of course, but she seems an odd choice as someone supposedly “typical.”
  • [2] — Context, Ms. Olesen. The U.S. spends at least half as much or more as a percentage of GDP as do the Chinese. Though the available info on China is sketchy, the nation appeared to spend about 2.5% of GDP on education until early in the previous decade; the Chinese government claimed 3.01% in 2006, and supposedly is aiming for 4%. Education spending as a percentage of GDP in the U.S. roughly 6% ($900 billion divided by $15 trillion).
  • [3] — Why wouldn’t women’s progress have been even faster (in numbers at least) if millions of potential female university attendees, instead of being aborted in the womb, had been allowed to live? It’s also worth asking if admissions policies are being bent in favor of women, and whether higher education enrollment is the deciding factor in determining Chinese women’s allegedly overall better educational situation.
  • [4] — Also, an April 26, 2011 “Room for Debate” item at the New York Times observed that “many Chinese graduates are unable to capitalize on their education, while wages for low-skill workers rise.” Maybe college is turning into a female dead-end on the mainland.
  • [5] — Of the 43 million missing girls (this 2004 article estimated that the number might be 60 million by 2012-2014), I daresay almost all of them were lost to abortion, and very, very few to “inadequate access to health care and nutrition.” Putting all three in the same sentence is statistical abuse. Does Ms. Olesen even know the breakdown (or care)? Additionally, unless you’re going to claim and can prove that large numbers of Chinese couples deliberately withhold medical care and nutrition from their daughters in favor of their sons, on what basis would the latter two items affect girls more than boys?
  • [6] — The real problem with “balance outside the classroom” is borne out in statistics showing that the male-female childbirth ratio is 119 boys for every 100 girls, and as high as 130 to 100 in some rural areas — and the Chinese now say they’re finally going to crack down on gender-selective abortions.

On March 31, 1933, the infamous Walter Duranty of the New York Times wrote the following concerning Stalin’s collectivization efforts in the Soviet Union (carried here; I verified its accuracy against what was originally published at the Times):

… to put it brutally — you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the Bolshevist leaders are just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive towards socialization as any General during the (First) World War …

Also to put it brutally — The Chinese government has been just as indifferent to its tens of millions of murdered little girls as Mao was towards his countrymen in general. It is only now that they’re realizing, after tens of millions of “broken eggs,” that they haven’t been making an omelette at all — but perhaps the most gender-imbalanced society in human history, with a dangerous mix of tens of millions of males who have no realistic prospect of marrying.

The AP’s Olesen merely refers to a “skewed sex ratio” and failed to directly address this critical issue. Maybe it doesn’t matter to her, as long as Chinese babies who survive the perils of being carried to term end up (allegedly) better off.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

If Team Obama Cares About the Economy and Jobs, They Won’t Continue the All-Out Fight Against Drilling

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:48 am

Good news on energy, if Team Obama lets it stand and gets out of the way:

A judge on Friday threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of a petroleum industry group, the Western Energy Alliance, in its lawsuit against the federal government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The ruling reinstates Bush-era expedited oil and gas drilling under provisions called categorical exclusions on federal lands nationwide, Freudenthal said.

The government argued that oil and gas companies had no case because they didn’t show how the new rules, implemented by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service last year, had created delays and added to the cost of drilling.

Freudenthal rejected that argument.

“Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury,” she said. “Those injuries are supported by the administrative record.”

An attorney for the government declined to comment but Kathleen Sgamma, director of government and public affairs for the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance, praised the ruling.

“She completely discounted the government’s argument that the harm was speculative,” Sgamma said of the judge.

Michelle Malkin’s reax: “Obama’s War on the West: Another judge rebukes job-killing rogue Interior Department.”

If the Obama administration really cares about mending economy, it will let the judge’s ruling stand, not appeal it, and not try to come up with other “creative” ways to stop energy drilling and exploration. The betting here is that the obstruction will continue, thereby also continuing to make a mockery of the administration’s claim to be genuinely interested in economic growth and job creation.

Positivity: Pope Benedict praised for appreciation of classical music

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Castel Gandalfo, Italy:

Aug 10, 2011 / 04:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic Church is blessed to have a Pope who shows such a deep appreciation of classical music, says composer James MacMillan.

“We are lucky that we have a pontiff who values the true pinnacles of human civilization and creative achievement,” MacMillan remarked to CNA, Aug. 10.

His comments followed a gala concert in honor of Pope Benedict’s 60th anniversary of being ordained a priest. It was held on the evening of Aug. 9 at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

Performing before the pope and his brother Georg – who is also marking his 60th year as a priest – were the German oboist, Albrecht Mayer, and Arabella Steinbacher, a young German-Japanese violinist. They were joined by an ensemble composed of six musicians from different international orchestras.

The evening’s repertoire was drawn exclusively from the 18th century, with works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi being performed. In his words of thanks, the Pope highlighted the Christian faith permeating both composers’ work.

He said the works of Vivaldi, an Italian priest, were “an example of brightness and beauty that conveys serenity and joy,” revealing “his deeply religious spirit.”

The Pope also recalled how the Bach would always sign his compositions “SDG,” meaning “Soli Deo Gloria” in Latin, or “the Glory to God Alone” in English. This, said the Pope, reflected the composer’s “religious conception of art” and “strong faith” which “sustained and illuminated his entire life” and produced sacred music that “almost groped to reproduce the perfect harmony that God has imprinted in creation.”

“It is marvelous that Benedict can delight in the secular outpouring of the western canon of ‘classical’ music as well as the sacred,” said MacMillan, reflecting upon last night’s concert.

“The great composers were like angels who fell to earth to give the rest of us a glimpse of heaven. The fact that many of them were faithful servants of the Church, too, creating the finest music for our sacred liturgies is a double bonus which should excite and exult all Catholics.”

Go here for the rest of the story.