Archive for the ‘integrity’ Category

Washington Post Admits Lack of Objectivity In Obama Coverage

November 8, 2008

By Deborah Howell
Washington Post Ombudsman
Sunday, November 9, 2008; Page B06

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.

My assistant, Jean Hwang, and I have been examining Post coverage since Nov. 11 last year on issues, voters, fundraising, the candidates’ backgrounds and horse-race stories on tactics, strategy and consultants. We also have looked at photos and Page 1 stories since Obama captured the nomination June 4. Numbers don’t tell you everything, but they give you a sense of The Post’s priorities.

The Washington Post

The count was lopsided, with 1,295 horse-race stories and 594 issues stories. The Post was deficient in stories that reported more than the two candidates trading jabs; readers needed articles, going back to the primaries, comparing their positions with outside experts’ views. There were no broad stories on energy or science policy, and there were few on religion issues.

Bill Hamilton, assistant managing editor for politics, said, “There are a lot of things I wish we’d been able to do in covering this campaign, but we had to make choices about what we felt we were uniquely able to provide our audiences both in Washington and on the Web. I don’t at all discount the importance of issues, but we had a larger purpose, to convey and explain a campaign that our own David Broder described as the most exciting he has ever covered, a narrative that unfolded until the very end. I think our staff rose to the occasion.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/0
7/AR2008110702895.html

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The Meltdown of the American Media

November 5, 2008

More than the economy has melted down. What remains of big media credibility has also liquefied and won’t recover anytime soon, if it ever does.

Don’t take my word for it. The ombudsman for The Washington Post acknowledges that conservatives have a point when they claim an imbalance in coverage of Barack Obama and John McCain.

By Cal Thomas
The Washington Times
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In her Nov. 2 column, Deborah Howell writes, “…it’s true that The Post, as well as much of the national news media, has written more stories and more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain. Editors have their reasons for this, but conservatives are right that they often don’t see their views reflected enough in the news pages.”

What might be “their reasons”? There is only one answer: Too many journalists have been in the tank for Mr. Obama and wanted to see him elected president. Some Post reporters (Ms. Howell doesn’t say how many) “complained to me that suggestions for issues coverage have been turned aside” in favor of horse-race coverage, despite reader complaints about too much coverage of the race itself and not enough of the candidates’ positions on the issues.

Journalism is the only profession I know that ignores the wishes of its consumers. If a department store found that most of its customers preferred over-the-calf socks to ankle-length socks, would that store ignore customer preferences for the longer socks because the president of the company preferred the ankle-length style? Not if the store wanted to make a profit in the sock department. Yet journalists have this attitude: “we know what’s good for you, so shut up and take it.”

Ms. Howell calls this arrogance….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/05/media-meltdown/

Even in Defeat, Media ‘Disrespects’ McCain

November 5, 2008

Even as he stood humbly in defeat, the media that couldn’t get enough of ignoring or belittling John McCain did it again.  The most conservative newspaper in America, The Washington Times, while praising Navy hero John McCain, couldn’t care enough to correctly cite the aircraft carrier upon which he almiost died in a terrible fuel and rocket stoked fire: USS Forrestal.  The Times said it was “USS Forester.”

USS Forrestal: 134 sailors died in a terrible fire which
trapped John McCain; but he escaped

This might be a small thing as the nation rejoices in a history making event, but to a Navy veteran and journalist like me, this is the emblematic end error in a long line of oversights, errors, malignings and just outright not caring from the media toward Mr. McCain.

When the party celebrating Barack Obama’s historic victory clears, and it better be soon as their are many crises on his plate and on the national agenda, we, as a nation, need to take a hard look at media objectivity, honesty and integrity…

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election night rally in Phoenix Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Associated Press.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election night rally in Phoenix Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Associated Press.

Joe Biden, Because He Has No Integrity, Demeans Himself By Attacking Joe the Plumber

October 17, 2008

I have never had any respect and admiration for Joe Biden.  Now I have less.

Oh, he has my genuine sympathy.  But respect?

No.

I went to the Congress about a year before Joe Biden.  I was a lowly staff member working for a member of the House of Representatives. Less that a year after Joe Biden arrived I was outside a meeting room filled with Senators and House members.  Biden and several staffers arrived late.  After Biden went into the meeting, his employees commenced to tell stories about how stupid their boss was for about an hour.

I left in disgust.  Before that I thought all senators were special.

No more.

Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., ...
Above: Joe Biden hides behind the Obama mantra of “Change.”  But he’s been a Senator from Delaware for some 35 years.  He claims he is a blue collar guy from Scranton, Pa., but he has a multi-million dollar house near his Mom’s in Delaware.  Here he speaks during a campaign rally in Henderson, Nev. on Friday, Oct. 17, 2008.(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

You’ve witnessed some of Joe Biden at his normal, usual, incredible greatness since Barack Obama thought he needed someone smarter than himself on foreign policy.  You saw, “I have a three letter word for what’s important to Americans! J-O-B-S.”

That’s classic Joe Biden.  He also asked a state legislator who happens to be a paraplegic to “Stand up and take a bow!”

That’s Joe Biden.

But I never really had animosity toward Joe Biden until now.  Before this he only amused me and gained pity and laughter.  Now I have some distain for the man.

Joe Biden decided to pontificate on the issue of abortion at about the time of the Democratic National Convention.  He seemed to be telling Catholics that abortion was OK and his Church was confused.

Pontificating should be left to the Pontiff, Joe.

In fact, Mr. Biden (along with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi)  was confused about abortion and Catholic Church teaching.  Both earned repremands from multiple members of the Church hierarachy.

Did you see Joe Biden at the Catholic Charities dinner hosted by Cardinal Edward Egan last night?  John McCain and Barack Obama were welcome.  Joe Biden wasn’t welcome.  Why?  Because Joe Biden defies Catholic Church law and teaches his own version of Catholic Doctrine.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ...
Above: Where’s Joe Biden? Not welcome.  Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, Cardinal Edward Egan, center, and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., laugh during the Alfred E. Smith Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Biden, it seems, will do just about anything to get himself and Barack Obama elected to higher office.  Biden has forgotten that in politics, and in life, there is a “high road.”  Joe Bien has forgotten what “integrity” means.

So Biden has chosen the low road.

Case in point: Joe the Plumber. 

Joe the Plumber is a regular guy.  Joe the Plumber isn’t a perfect messenger and I love that.  He brought to the fore issues about Barack Obama’s economic and tax plan.

Joe Biden is all over Joe the Plumber like a dirty shirt.  Biden has pointed out that the Plumber lacks a plumbing license, might have a tax lien against him and maybe doesn’t even vote.

Who cares?  Joe the Plumber still got Obama to say what he really believes in: redistributing wealth from those that earn to those that don’t.

On Thursday Joe Biden went to NBC, which is clearly “in the tank” for Obama and not at all impartial, having lost all journalistic integrity, just to trash Joe the Plumber.  Biden opened the day on the “Today Show” and closed the day with Jay Leno.  Trashing Joe the Plumber all the way.

Host Jay Leno, right, and Democratic vice presidential candidate ...
Above: Host Jay Leno, right, and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., talk during the taping of ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’ at the NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. Biden apparently went on Leno’s show just to attack Joe the Plumber…..(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Biden was trying maybe to kill the messenger and by discrediting him, hoping we’ll all forget about his point: that Obama’s tax and economic plan is socialism that makes no sense to Americans earning a living.

Joe Biden: going after Mister Average should be beneath you.  You should be on the High Road.  But you’re not.

I have more respect for Joe the Plumber than Joe the Jerk Biden.  Any day.

********************

A few after thoughts:

1.  My Dad used to say, “You need a license to drive but not to say stupid things….”

2.  When I called my Vietnamese-born wife (she voted for the first time as a U.S. citizen four years ago) and said, “Joe Biden says Joe the Plumber doesn’t have a license so we shouldn’t believe him,” she responded, “Oh, PLEASE!”

3.


Above: A Plumber sent this to us…

McCain: Taking the Low Road to Win?

October 11, 2008

Here’s one view:

By Harold Ford Jr.
The Washington Post
Saturday, October 11, 2008; Page A21

Although our nation’s economic house is on fire, John McCain isn’t unveiling proposals to put out the fiscal flames. Instead, he is pursuing the presidency by taking the low road, as he and his surrogates attack Barack Obama in harsh, personal terms. It’s hard to believe this is the same man who in 2004 said of the Swift-boat attacks against John Kerry: “I deplore this kind of politics. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. ... 
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. waves at a rally at the Genoa Park and Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In fact, after McCain lost the Republican nomination to George Bush in 2000, he declared that there was a “special place in hell” for the Bush operatives who had run a smear campaign against him. By adopting the same approach against Obama, McCain diminishes his reputation and raises questions about his commitment to fairness and decency.

I know that John McCain is a man of courage and character. His ability to overcome the torture he endured at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors is a tribute to his strength and to the human spirit. But as Americans yearn for a president to lead us courageously into an uncertain future, McCain appears to be abandoning his creed of putting country first.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
2008/10/10/AR2008101002558.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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“I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” Senator John McCain told a supporter at a town hall meeting in Minnesota who said he was “scared” of the prospect of an Obama presidency and of who the Democrat would appoint to the Supreme Court.

Read other views of this:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081011/pl_politico/14479_2

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081011/ap_on_el_pr/obama_23

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain reacts after ...
Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain reacts after a question from a supporter during a town hall meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin October 9, 2008.(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Obama: Just An Extremist?

March 19, 2008

Senator Obama is certainly an extremist: labeled the most liberal Senator among the 100 in the Senate.  But apparently he may be a racist, or someone in his election campaign committee could be….

Because only 6% of U.S. media journalists describe themselves as conservatives, the liberal media has allowed Senator Obama to glide though the primary season without too much criticism.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 19, 2008

And I will certainly be called a racist and dismissed as a racist, if not by Senator Obama then by his campaign committee.  That is their modus operandi.  I know this because they have already accused and trashed President Bill Clinton (“The First Black President”) and Geraldine Ferraro (twice).

Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Ferraro

Last Tuesday, March 18, 2008, the candidate that promised to transcend race and racism and unite all Americans for change, spoke with admiration about his pastor, a man that brought him to Christianity, married him, preached to him for about twenty years, baptized his children, took his donations of more than $22,000.00 (in one year), and prayed with him before the good Senator started his quest for the White House.

That pastor, one might surmise, is anti-American and racist because of the now infamous comments he has “preached” from the pulpit of his church in the name of Jesus Christ and God Almighty.
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But don’t believe me, a White Man married to a “Person of Color,” just re-read some of the Reverend (some say Bishop) Jeramiah Wright’s sermons.  Or watch the videos and listen to the true bile this man has dished out for years in Christ’s name.

Reverend Wright told his congregation that the Government of the United States was waging a war of genocide against people of color using HIV/AIDS.

I tell you in all honesty: any person of any color who tells me the U.S. government is intentionally killing off its citizens by any means is divisive and deserves condemnation — unless certain proof can be put on the table. 

This came from the religious advisor of a candidate for President of the United States who told us he would unite us and rise above race and racism and condemn those that were divisive.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., ... 
Senator Obama and Rev. Wright.  Distance between them?

Rev. Wright called the USA “the KKK of A.”

In a sermon on the Sunday after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Rev. Wright suggested the United States brought on the attacks — by its own terrorism.

“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Wright said. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

In a 2003 sermon, he said Black people, African Americans, should condemn the United States.

“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”

So, after participating in services orchestrated by Rev. Wright for twenty years, Senator Obama never said a disparaging remark about his pastor or made an effort to set the record straight.  Until Tuesday.

Senator Obama condemned his pastor for his less than truthful and uniting and honest language but he refused to distance himself by withdrawing from his church, the Trinity United Church of Christ in South Chicago.

And, while uniting us, Senator Obama, apparently seeking an excuse or some justification, invoked the names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, his Grandmother, and Geraldine Ferraro (for the second time — but the first time since she resigned from the Hillary Clinton for President campaign).  He even made a veiled reference to “The First Black President.”

Win McNamee, Getty Images

The former President said during the New Hampshire primary about Senator Obama, “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”  And for this, and comparing the Obama campaign to the campaign years ago of Jesse Jackson, President Clinton was attacked as a racist.

In his speech Tuesday Senator Obama grabbed all his White racist relatives, friends, and historical icons and threw them under the bus.

For what purpose?  The record of racism by White people is pretty well established, I think, and White America has gone out of its way to atone, I think.

The “Great Uniter” who said he would “Rise Above Race” has played the race card like a two bit Kansas City saloon gambler in 1880.  How many race cards does he have up his sleeve?  And when will we discuss in detail the real issues?

Race is important, sure, but Ken Blackwell of the Family Research organization says Senator Obama favors $1 Billion in new taxes.  In this recession, that will push my bride’s small business into the red — and there are no buyers right now in this economy.

Apparently, and I could be wrong, while Senator Obama was a student at Harvard Law School, he learned how to use slick language and give wonderful sounding speeches.  But he didn’t learn how to make good argument and he missed the chapters on honesty and integrity entirely, I think, if  Tuesday’s speech is an example of his thinking and logic.

But I could be wrong.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) ...
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia, March 20, 2008.REUTER/John Sommers II (Reuters)

Related:
Obama Camp Calls Ferraro Racist; She Responds “No Way!”

Bill Clinton Rejects Criticism Over Race

Michelle Obama Takes Heat for Saying She’s ‘Proud of My Country’ for the First Time

Media Still Mostly “Liberal Left”

Obama: Right Stuff or The Wright Stuff

March 19, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 19, 2008

Rationalization is a tricky thing. Those gifted in the use of language can take rationalization to a “higher level.” They often invoke God; add Satan to their description of evil ways; promise reform, recovery, repentance and atonement.

I have heard it a thousand times from those confessing, committing, re-committing and offering atonement.

I have made these arguments on occasion myself, because I am weak and I am a man and I stray from my own integrity on occasion.

And I always live to regret the twisted logic – and eventually those I have conned figure me out anyway.

And my God, in His all knowing and infinite wisdom, is not fooled for a second.

I can no longer support Barak Obama. When confronted with the certain fact that his pastor had uttered some hurtful, evil and flat wrong beliefs about his country and his fellow countrymen, the United States Senator told me and the world, in essence, “I didn’t hear it and I didn’t know.”

Then he said the pastor was like a ridiculous uncle that you tolerated, didn’t agree with, but loved none the less because he was ‘family.’

Well, we are all sometimes stuck with family. But you chose your friends, your prayer group and your pastor. And you can walk away.  And sometimes you should.

When a role model spews forth lies or even slightly twists the truth, it is particularly hurtful: because he is being watched by “believers,” even children not always completely prepared to unravel the twists. They buy into the lie, foster it, spread it and pass it along.

When the role model is in a position of authority like a pastor, or a Senator, or a president, the lie can become something others buy into and adopt as true and normal and real and worthy.

I guess it depends upon what your definition of “is” “is.”

Here is one of the most common examples of twisted logic that husbands offer to wives:

Yes I had an affair. It was wrong and I apologize. I am deeply sorry for hurting you and I will never do it again.

A man that cannot be true to his word, his oath and his commitment is not a man worth having – a man worth knowing.

A man that cheats on his wife is not the role model I want for you. That is not the husband I want you to know and see and love and rely upon. And that is not the man I want my children to look up to and emulate.

When my children, our children, graduate from high school and college, I want them to look at their Mom and Dad and say: I want to be like them. I want to be like them more and more every day. I want my children, their grandchildren to be just like them.

The love we share is a powerful force of good. It transcends the problems, the troubles, the rough patches and the bumps in the road. We have this love due to the grace of God and we need to honor that and cherish that and make it grow in wholesomeness and good. If not for ourselves then because it is right in His eyes and it is something we give to our children.

It is a love that makes me a better man and you a better woman. It makes us one in our God’s eyes and He will judge us both as individuals and as a union. Moreover, those individuals and that union will impact every other single person and couple we know: especially our children and grandchildren.

So I condemn and deplore my actions with and my thoughts for that woman. And I am sure with all the goodness I am committed toward, you will not object if I see her for lunch just once every week….

My problem with Rev. Wright and his friend and parishoner of 20 years is not about race: it is about racism and anti-Americanism and lies preached from the pulpit in a church and then whitewashed to the media by a U.S. Senator who made the issue race and dragged George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Geraldine Farraro into the cesspool.

I object.

I guess it depends upon what your definition of “is” “is.”

Excerpt from Barak Obama’s address on March 18, 2008 in Philadelphia:

On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
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I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
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But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. .
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Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
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As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
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Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask?
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Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way.
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But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
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In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”
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That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
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And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
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I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
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Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
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But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
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The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect.
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And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
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Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point.
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As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Putin: Persistent, Popular, Pugnacious…Paranoid

February 20, 2008

By David J. Smith
Tbilisi 24 Saati
February 18, 2008

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two farewell performances—farewell as president, anyway—revealed no new substance.

Instead, his February 8 Development Strategy to 2020 speech and his February 14 mega-press conference showcased a persistent, popular and pugnacious Kremlin strongman who increasingly defines Russia in terms of foreign bogymen.

Take heed.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

Putin’s twelve-year strategy—to use his word—must have brought a smile to the face of anyone nostalgic for Soviet times. It was stuff worthy of a Communist Party Congress: denunciation of earlier times, glowing progress report, indignant criticism of unnamed officials, frank talk of what is yet to be done and a pinch of paranoia.

Putin’s Russia is looking more-and-more Soviet—or maybe some of us are only now noticing how Russian the Soviet Union was.

These days, of course, Putin mixes capitalist and socialist themes. Investment, stock market capitalization and GDP are all skyrocketing.

And Russia has made major advances in machine building, transportation, housing, education and health care. One expected happy peasant girls to dance across the stage, their baskets brimming with food for the people!

However, Putin’s February 8 speech was more notable for what it did not say. Russia’s soon-to-be prime minister failed to mention Dmitry Medvedev, the man he chose for Russians to elect as president on March 2.

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев

Medvedev, it seems, has little to do with Putin’s strategy to persist in the Kremlin.

In his 4½-hour Saint Valentine Day press conference, though, Putin managed a few words about Medvedev. Prime Minister Putin will place President Medvedev’s picture on his wall. “We will establish our personal relations,” said Putin, “I assure you there will be no problems here.”

There will be no problems because Putin reread the Russian Constitution to achieve an understanding that had eluded him during eight years as president. “The highest executive authority in the country is the government, which is led by the prime minister.”

Putin’s Duumvirate with Medvedev may change some of the Kremlin’s personal dynamics and style, but he said, “If I see that in this post I can continue realizing these goals, I will work as long as possible.”

Though Putin’s switcheroo may appear odd to some westerners, his persistence in the Kremlin is fine with most Russians.

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, Medvedev shuns campaigning and debates, counting on Putin’s popularity to elect him president. Expect him promptly to appoint Putin prime minister.

With this kind of popularity, it was appropriate for Putin to give his Castroesque press conference on February 14. An adoring Russian journalist even passed him a Valentine Day present—a wire service photo captured Putin leaving the stage clutching the pink and red heart.

In this loving environment, concern for the integrity of elections and the scrutiny of foreign observers is misplaced. Indeed, there will be no observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the foremost election observation group.Asked about the OSCE spurning the March 2 presidential election, a pugnacious Putin replied, if the election monitors want to teach something, “Let them teach their wives to make shchi.” (Shchi is a Russian cabbage soup.)

And there was plenty more in that vein.

Asked about reports of corruption, he replied that these were rumors that journalists “picked from a nose and smeared onto their papers.”

One might dismiss these remarks as crude muscle flexing for domestic consumption, but Putin’s pugnacity sparks greater concern when considered with his apparently growing paranoia in the international arena.

“I cannot but say a few words…about our foreign policy strategy,” said Putin toward the end of his strategy speech. No foreign policy strategy followed—nothing about trade, neighbors, world peace, climate change or any of the usual foreign policy topics.

Instead, Putin recapitulated his familiar grievances against the west: American missile defenses in Central Europe, “a new spiral in the arms race,” purportedly violated treaties and NATO enlargement.

Then he added, “A fierce battle for resources is unfolding, and the whiff of gas or oil is behind many conflicts.”

In his press conference, Putin connected western criticism of Russian elections with disagreement on Kosovo: “Who is going to listen to Russia’s position on Kosovo if Russia itself is supposedly an undemocratic country?”

On most of these matters the Russian position is just plain wrong.

On Kosovo, Moscow has a point, but stupid western diplomacy is just that, not an anti-Russian plot. Criticism of Russia’s democracy deficit is well founded and unconnected to Kosovo.

But cogent arguments only detract from the image Putin is creating. “We are effectively being forced into a situation where we have to take measures in response, where we have no choice but to make the necessary decisions.”

One cannot escape the fear that Putin is not cataloging Russian foreign policy challenges—or even grievances—but defining Russia by his paranoia.

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David J. Smith is Director, Georgian Security Analysis Center, Tbilisi, and Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Washington.

Peace and Freedom wishes to thank Ambassador Smith andMr. James T. Hackett who made use of this article on the internet possible.

Iraq and Integrity, Decency

September 16, 2007

By James Zumwalt
September 16, 2007   

Prepared to testify before a House Committee on the status of the war in Iraq, the US commander there, General David H. Petraeus, found his integrity brought into issue.  Before giving testimony, he was subjected to attacks on his character both by Democrats and antiwar groups.  

Joseph Welch must be rolling over in his grave.  

While Welch’s name is one few remember today, he played a major role in one of the most famous exchanges to take place on Capitol Hill.  But before relating Welch’s story, let us review the assassination of character to which Petraeus was subjected. 

A well-respected military leader, a man nominated just months ago–WITHOUT ANY OPPOSITION–by Congress to lead our forces into battle in Iraq, a man who has actually written the book on counter-insurgency warfare, a man who has been able to accomplish to date what no other military leader has been able to do in Iraq, Petraeus was ready to speak Monday, September 10, before a House Committee as to the security situation in that war-torn country. 

But, before uttering a word of that report–one he wrote himself without input from senior military or civilian leaders–his integrity was attacked by Democrats and the antiwar group MoveOn.org. 

Buying a full page in the New York Times, MoveOn.org ran an ad published that same Monday, alleging in bold letters, “GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US? Cooking the Books for the White House.”  But MoveOn.org was not alone in their personal attack.  Democratic members of Congress, without yet knowing the exact contents of the Petraeus report, hinted at the same allegation, suggesting the general would be less than candid in his report–saying only what the White House wanted to hear. 

So, even before the American public had the chance to hear the general’s report for themselves and thus drink from the well of public knowledge to assess its credibility on their own, that well had been poisoned by those whose future success turns on the public’s perception this war is not going well.  If Democratic leaders truly believed Petraeus lacked integrity–especially as he has done nothing since they nominated him months ago that would suggest otherwise–why did they fail to make these concerns known back then, only waiting until now to question his character? 

Could there be some ulterior motive???

Fifty-three years ago, an exchange took place on Capitol Hill that forever will be told and retold by Congressional historians.  In the early 1950s, the name of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy had become a household word due to his relentless claims the US State Department and other federal agencies had been infiltrated by Communists.  Perpetuating the “Red Scare,” he was able to call numerous hearings, which he then used to level unsubstantiated allegations against whomever he decided to so target.   
   
By early 1954, McCarthy had set his sights on the US Army, alleging lax security.  Known as the Army-McCarthy hearings, the Army hired respected Boston attorney, Joseph Welch, to defend it.  McCarthy–who never failed to use such hearings to even target others outside the scope of the investigation–remained true to form.  On June 9, 1954, he launched into a personal attack against one of Welch’s staff members, claiming the young man had ties to a Communist organization. 

As McCarthy fired his salvos, Welch exclaimed, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”  Undeterred, McCarthy continued his verbal assault.  Angrily, Welch interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?” 

With these last six words, Welch ended a political era in our history–as well as the public’s support for McCarthy.  The exchange was viewed live on television and the American public did not like what it saw.  For television gave them an unfiltered look at a man who cared little for those he victimized through his inquisitions–all in pursuit of political gain.
   
To those who have chosen to slander and libel General Petraeus–a true warrior, patriot and man of integrity–the same question applies: “Have you no sense of decency?”