Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Horowitz vs. Frum on Big Tents and Conservative Political Strategy

In a powerfully worded critique David Horowitz politely but clearly takes David Frum to the woodshed. Frum has been championing the "big tent" approach in Republican politics in order to win elections. However, Frum's big tent includes only those on the left not those on the right like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Governor Sarah Palin.
"There are two issues here. One is a remarkable conservative outburst against the broadcaster Glenn Beck which includes you, Mark Levin and Pete Wehner among others, and which collectively wishes for his early self-destruction. The message from the three of you is that for the good of the conservative cause he should be silent — and the sooner the better. Wehner expresses the judgment I detect in all three of your blasts in this sentence: 'The role Glenn Beck is playing is harmful in its totality.'

"More than anything else, it is this is that I am reacting to. I think this attitude is wrongheaded, absurd, destructive to the conservative cause and a blatant contradiction of the “big tent” philosophy which you otherwise support."
. . .
"To justify your intolerance of Beck you give three examples.

"The first is that he expressed his enthusiasm for a Hillary Clinton presidency (over McCain). I seem to recall Ann Coulter doing the same – and not after the fact as an idle speculation but before it, as an incitement against McCain. Before the 2008 election, I heard many conversations among good Republicans about whether conservatism and the Republican Party could survive another George Bush, which is what McCain threatened to be. So when Beck made his remark about Hillary he could very well have had the best interests of conservatives in mind.

"The second gotcha is that Beck suggested that Obama is a better president than McCain would have been. This is another speculative and therefore inconsequential opinion (particularly when Beck, along with Rush, has been the chief thorn in Obama’s side). Chris Buckley actually did vote for Obama? Did you read him out of the conservative movement as a moron and a menace when he did that?

"The third gotcha is a Beck comment that he should have voted for Ron Paul (but obviously didn’t)."
. . .
"For someone who doesn’t like take-no-prisoner conservatives, this “gotcha” approach and the auto-da-femode of political discourse is passing strange. It seems an expression of precisely the political mentality you claim to despise but worse – because it is directed at someone who is defending this country against its ongoing rape by Obama and the Democratic Party.

"Glenn Beck is daily providing a school for millions of Americans in the nature and agendas and networks of the left – something that your fine books do not do, and Mark Levin’s fine books do not do, and Pete Wehner’s volumes of blogs and speeches and position papers – all admirable in my estimation, also do not do. How are conservatives going to meet the challenge of the left if they don’t understand what it is, how it operates and what it intends? And who else is giving courses in this subject at the moment?"
. . .
"The importance of Acorn, the way Acorn is embedded in a network of Soros-connected and left-oriented foundations and 501c3’s, the level of funding, the agendas , the interconnections all carefully documented can be found in DiscovertheNetworks. Through the broadcasts of Glenn Beck they are being made intelligible to millions of Americans – voters and activists – every day.

"How important is this politically? Conservatives are outraged by the fact that Acorn received $53 million in federal dollars since 1994. 1994! – the year conservative Republicans led by Newt Gingrich took over the House and the federal purse strings! What were they thinking? They weren’t. They didn’t have a clue that they were funding the largest organization of the very radical left. Now they know.

"Intellectuals like us have a role to play, but if you want to influence masses and affect real politics, you need someone who has the talent to command a mass audience and the dedication to put the information on the radar. Beck has done that with the most important intelligence of all: knowledge of the enemy.

"So that’s why I’m defending Glenn Beck the broadcaster. I’ve devoted twenty frustrating years to revealing who the left is and what they do, while conservatives have continued to pretend that leftists are simply confused liberals. No they’re not. They’re malicious, and calculating and devious, and smart. And Glenn Beck is helping Republicans and those conservatives who will listen to understand that."

Horowitz defends Palin as a leading hope among Republican politicians both in ability to inspire (as she did in the 2008 presidential campaign) and her brilliant strategy to stop major leftist initiatives (like explaining Obama care in terms of "death panels"). He also defends Palin's resignation as necessary by pointing out how Democrats were allowed to crush Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay in the same sort of bogus ethics complaints process they were using against Palin.
"Your chief political argument is that Limbaugh, Palin and Beck are albatrosses around the Republican neck: 'I challenge you to notice that all three of these people repel and offend many millions more Americans than they inspire and attract.' This is rodomontade David. Where is your evidence? You think the 20 million people that listen to Rush have no impact on Republican election prospects? You think there are 20 million anti-Republican voters who can’t distinguish between a broadcaster and a political candidate? In my view – speaking from reports by friends who were actually running McCain campaigns — the phones of Republican headquarters began ringing off the hook when Palin came on board and gave them something to fight for. (And just between us, Palin didn’t leave office because she was incapable of governing – all the evidence points in the other direction – but because the Democratic attack dogs set out to kill her politically with bogus ethics charges, the way they took down Gingrich and DeLay).

"Your political questions – e.g., do I think Medicare costs need to be cut? – are all policy questions. This should be a discussion about politics not policy. The battle to stop Obama from ramming through a socialist health care system is one that Sarah Palin is leading. That’s the fact. If you don’t want Obama care, she’s the most potent force standing in its way. Do I think that government rationing of health care leads to the equivalent of “death panels?” Of course they do. And calling them that – even though at this stage they’re more of a goal than a reality – was brilliant politics. The Republican Party needs more of this not less."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Almost 46% Have Permanently Stopped Watching/Reading Biased News Outlet

Press bias. It has an impact as Sacred Heart University found in a poll this month. More than 80% of Americans think national news media organizations are biased. Almost half (45.9%) of Americans no longer watch/read a media organization because of perceived bias.
Poll results found 83.6% saw national news media organizations as very or somewhat biased while just 14.1% viewed them as somewhat unbiased or not at all biased. Some, 2.4%, were unsure.

A large majority, 89.3%, suggested the national media played a very or somewhat strong role in helping to elect President Obama. Just 10.0% suggested the national media played little or no role. Further, 69.9% agreed the national news media are intent on promoting the Obama presidency while 26.5% disagreed. Some, 3.6% were unsure.

Over half of Americans surveyed, 56.4%, said they agreed that the news media are promoting President Obama’s healthcare reform without objective criticism. Another 39.3% disagreed and 4.3% were unsure. Further, a majority, 57.6% of those surveyed agreed that the news media appear to be coordinating efforts to diminish the record of former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin. One third, 34.6%, disagreed and 7.9% were unsure.

“It is sad,” suggested Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute, “when we find that only 55.9% say they expect the media to tell them the truth today.” He added, “This perception of bias will eventually catch up with the news media outlets – we found 45.9% have permanently stopped watching a news media organization, print or electronic, because of perceived bias.”
[emphasis added]

Newspaper readership keeps dropping (38.1% say they read the newspaper less now than five years ago).

With one exception, the number of Americans watching major TV news outlets has also dropped. Fox News viewership tops the "most frequently turned to" TV news rating list at 28.4%. And while Fox showed a gain of 1.9% from 2007 figures, all the other major TV players have lost viewership. CNN at 14.9% has lost 1.1%; NBC News at 10.6% has lost 1.2%; ABC News at 9.3% has lost 1.7% and even "local news" at 7.6% has lost 0.9%. CBS News came in 6th with only 7.4% who turn to it frequently for news.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Governor Palin's Comments in Hong Kong

Sarah Palin:
Thoughts from Hong Kong

Many have asked to see my remarks as presented in Hong Kong. Here is an excerpt:

So far, I’ve given you the view from Main Street, USA. But now I’d like to share with you how a Common Sense Conservative sees the world at large.

Later this year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – an event that changed not just Europe but the entire world. In a matter of months, millions of people in formerly captive nations were freed to pursue their individual and national ambitions.

The competition that defined the post World War II era was suddenly over. What was once called “the free world” had so much to celebrate – the peaceful end to a great power rivalry and the liberation of so many from tyranny’s grip.

Some, you could say, took the celebration too far. Many spoke of a “peace dividend,” of the need to focus on domestic issues and spend less time, attention and money on endeavors overseas. Many saw a peaceful future, where globalization would break down borders and lead to greater global prosperity. Some argued that state sovereignty would fade – like that was a good thing? – that new non-governmental actors and old international institutions would become dominant in the new world order.

As we all know, that did not happen. Unfortunately, there was no shortage of warning signs that the end of the Cold War did not mean the end of history or the end of conflict. In Europe, the breakup of Yugoslavia resulted in brutal wars in the Balkans. In the Middle East, a war was waged to reverse Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. North Korea’s nuclear program nearly led to military conflict. In Africa, U.S. embassies were bombed by a group called al Qaeda.

Two weeks ago, America commemorated the 8th anniversary of the savagery of September 11, 2001. The vicious terrorist attacks of that day made clear that what happened in lands far distant from American shores directly affect our security. We came to learn, if we did not know before, that there were violent fanatics who sought not just to kill innocents, but to end our way of life. Their attacks have not been limited to the United States.

They attacked targets in Europe, North Africa and throughout the Middle East. Here in Asia, they killed more than 200 in a single attack in Bali. They bombed the Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Last year in Mumbai, more than 170 were killed in coordinated attacks in the heart of India’s financial capital. In this struggle with radical Islamic extremists, no part of the world is safe from those who bomb, maim and kill in the service of their twisted vision.

This war – and that is what it is, a war – is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations. We are not at war with Islam. This is a war within Islam, where a small minority of violent killers seeks to impose their view on the vast majority of Muslims who want the same things all of us want: economic opportunity, education, and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. The reality is that al Qaeda and its affiliates have killed scores of innocent Muslim men, women and children.

The reality is that Muslims from Algeria, Indonesia, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries are fighting al Qaeda and their allies today. But this will be a long war, and it will require far more than just military power to prevail. Just as we did in the Cold War, we will need to use all the tools at our disposal – hard and soft power. Economic development, public diplomacy, educational exchanges, and foreign assistance will be just as important as the instruments of military power.

During the election campaign in the U.S. last year, you might have noticed we had some differences over Iraq. John McCain and I believed in the strength of the surge strategy – because of its success, Iraq is no longer the central front in the war on terrorism. Afghanistan is. Afghanistan is where the 9/11 attacks were planned and if we are not successful in Afghanistan, al Qaeda will once again find safe haven there. As a candidate and in office, President Obama called Afghanistan the “necessary war” and pledged to provide the resources needed to prevail. However, prominent voices in the Democratic Party are opposing the additional U.S. ground forces that are clearly needed.

Speaker of the House Pelosi, Defense Subcommittee Chairman Murtha, the Senate Armed Services Committee Chair, and many others, recently expressed doubts about sending additional forces! President Obama will face a decision soon when the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan requests additional forces to implement his new counterinsurgency strategy.

We can win in Afghanistan by helping the Afghans build a stable representative state able to defend itself. And we must do what it takes to prevail. The stakes are very high. Last year, in the midst of the U.S. debate over what do to in Iraq, an important voice was heard – from Asia’s Wise Man, former Singaporean Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who wrote in the Washington Post about the cost of retreat in Iraq. In that article, he prophetically addressed the stakes in Afghanistan. He wrote:

“The Taliban is again gathering strength, and a Taliban victory in Afghanistan or Pakistan would reverberate throughout the Muslim world. It would influence the grand debate among Muslims on the future of Islam. A severely retrograde form of Islam would be seen to have defeated modernity twice: first the Soviet Union, then the United States. There would be profound consequences, especially in the campaign against terrorism.”

That statesman’s words remain every bit as true today. And Minister Lee knows, and I agree, that our success in Afghanistan will have consequences all over the world, including Asia. Our allies and our adversaries are watching to see if we have the staying power to protect our interests in Afghanistan. That is why I recently joined a group of Americans in urging President Obama to devote the resources necessary in Afghanistan and pledged to support him if he made the right decision.

That is why, even during this time of financial distress we need to maintain a strong defense. All government spending should undergo serious scrutiny. No programs or agencies should be automatically immune from cuts.

We need to go back to fiscal discipline and unfortunately that has not been the view of the current Administration. They’re spending everywhere and with disregard for deficits and debts and our future economic competitiveness. Though we are engaged in two wars and face a diverse array of threats, it is the defense budget that has seen significant program cuts and has actually been reduced from current levels!

First, the Defense Department received only ½ of 1 % of the nearly trillion dollar Stimulus Package funding – even though many military projects fit the definition of “shovel-ready.” In this Administration’s first defense budget request for 2010, important programs were reduced or cancelled. As the threat of ballistic missiles from countries like North Korea and Iran grow, missile defense was slashed.

Despite the need to move men and material by air into theaters like Afghanistan, the Obama Administration sought to end production of our C-17s, the work horse of our ability to project long range power. Despite the Air Force saying it would increase future risk, the Obama Administration successfully sought to end F-22 production – at a time when both Russia and China are acquiring large numbers of next generation fighter aircraft. It strikes me as odd that Defense Secretary Gates is the only member of the Cabinet to be tasked with tightening his belt.

Now in the region I want to emphasize today: The reason I speak about defense is because our strong defense posture in Asia has helped keep the region safe and allowed it to prosper. Our Asian allies get nervous if they think we are weakening our security commitments. I worry about defense cuts not because I expect war but because I so badly want peace. And the region has enjoyed peace for so long because of our security commitment to our longstanding allies and partners.

Asia has been one of the world’s great success stories. It is a region where America needs to assist with right mix of hard and soft power. While I have so much hope for a bright future in Asia, in a region this dynamic, we must always be prepared for other contingencies. We must work at this – work with our allies to ensure the region’s continued peace and prosperity.

I know that you all -- like all of Asia and indeed the whole world – has a keen interest in the emergence of “China as a great power.” Over the past few decades China’s economic growth has been remarkable. So has the economic growth and political liberalization of all of our key allies in Asia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Asia’s economic growth and political development, together with our forward military presence in the region and strong alliances, have allowed the region to prosper in peace for a long time. We hope that Asia will continue to be an engine of world economic growth, will continue to democratize and will remain at peace.

Our future is now deeply linked to Asia’s success. Our children’s future. We must continue to strengthen our key alliance with Japan, a country going through its own democratic change. Together the U.S. and Japan built the security umbrella under which so many Asians prospered. While there is so much attention to China these days, we cannot forget the importance of Japan in helping to make this the “Pacific Century.”

The recent elections in Japan demonstrated that voters wanted reform and an end to debt and stagnation. We have a substantial stake in Japan’s success -- our alliance with must continue to be the linchpin of regional security.

With its open political system and vibrant democracy, South Korea wants to play a larger role on the international stage as well. Of course it wants us to work together toward a future where the peninsula is irreversibly denuclearized, and unified. But it also wants to play a global role. We need to work together with Japan, South Korea and our steadfast ally to the south, Australia, to make sure Asia remains peaceful and prosperous.

Australia rightly reminds us to keep our eye on Southeast Asia, where Indonesia has proved that Islam and democracy can co-exist. Indonesia has fought extremism inside its own border and is consolidating a multi-ethnic democracy that is home to hundreds of millions of Muslims. Those who say Islam and democracy are incompatible insult our friends in Indonesia.

Our great democratic friend India is also “looking East”, seeking a greater role in East Asia as well. Together with our allies we must help integrate India into Asia. If we do so we will have yet another strong democracy driving Asia’s economy and working on shared problems such as proliferation and extremism. And we must continue working with the region’s most dynamic economy, China. We all hope that China’s stated policy of a “Peaceful Rise” will be its future course.

You know better than most the enormous change that has taken place in China over the last thirty years. Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as China has undertaken economic reforms that have resulted in unprecedented growth. Even today, China’s economy is projected to grow by some 8%. It is helping to edge the world out of recession.

China has amassed huge financial reserves. Chinese diplomats are engaged on every continent and, through its vote on the United Nations Security Council, China has become critical in gaining UN support on multilateral issues from Darfur to Iran to North Korea.

Just four years ago, then-Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick urged China to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. He observed the many benefits to China of a “benign international environment.”

The peaceful regional environment that China has enjoyed was created through the hard work of Americans, Japanese, South Koreans and Australians. Secretary Zoellick urged China to step up and play its role too. We are working with China to de-nuclearize North Korea. But to be a responsible member of the international community China should exert greater pressure on North Korea to denuclearize and undergo the fundamental reforms it needs. Zoellick urged China to play a greater role in stabilizing the international energy market by ceasing its support of dangerous regimes.

China could play a role in stabilizing its ally Pakistan, and working for peace in Afghanistan. There are many areas where the U.S. and China can work together. And, we would welcome a China that wanted to assume a more responsible and active role in international politics.

But Secretary Zoellick also noted that many of China’s actions create risk and uncertainty. These uncertainties led nations to “hedge” their relations with China because, in Zoellick’s words: “Many countries HOPE China will pursue a ‘Peaceful Rise’ but NONE will bet their future on it.”

See: this is the heart of the issue with China: we engage with the hope Beijing becomes a responsible stakeholder, but we must takes steps in the event it does not. See? We all hope to see a China that is stable, peaceful, prosperous and free. But we must also work with our allies in the region and the world in the event China goes in a direction that causes regional instability.

Asia is at its best when it is not dominated by a single power. In seeking Asia’s continued peace and prosperity, we should seek, as we did in Europe, an Asia “whole and free” – free from domination by any one power, prospering in open and free markets, and settling political differences at ballot boxes and negotiating tables.

We can, must and should work with a “rising China” to address issues of mutual concern. But we also need to work with our allies in addressing the uncertainties created by China’s rise. We simply CANNOT turn a blind eye to Chinese policies and actions that can undermine international peace and security.

China has some 1000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and no serious observer believes Taiwan poses a military threat to Beijing. Those same Chinese forces make our friends in Japan and Australia nervous. China provides support for some of the world’s most questionable regimes from Sudan to Burma to Zimbabwe. China’s military buildup raises concerns from Delhi to Tokyo because it has taken place in the absence of any discernable external threat.

China, along with Russia, has repeatedly undermined efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran for its defiance of the international community in pursuing its nuclear program. The Chinese food and product safety record has raised alarms from East Asia and Europe to the United States. And, domestic incidents of unrest -- from the protests of Uighurs and Tibetans, to Chinese workers throughout the country rightfully make us nervous.

It is very much in our interest and the interest of regional stability that China work out its own contradictions – between a dynamic and entrepreneurial private sector on the one hand and a one party state unwilling or unable to adjust to its own society’s growing needs and desires and demands, including a human being’s innate desire for freedom.

I do not cite these issues out of any hostility toward China. Quite the contrary, I and all Americans of good faith hope for the Chinese people’s success. We welcome the rise that can be so good for all mankind. We simply urge China to rise responsibly. I simply believe we cannot ignore areas of disagreement as we seek to move forward on areas of agreement. Believe me, China does not hesitate to tell us when it thinks we are in the wrong.

I mentioned China’s internal contradictions. They should concern us all. We hear many Chinese voices throughout that great country calling out for more freedom, and for greater justice. Twenty years ago, many believed that as China liberalized its economy, greater political freedom would naturally follow. Unfortunately that has not come to pass.

Ummm, in fact, it seems China has taken great pains to learn what it sees as “the lesson” of the fall on the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union: any easing of political constraints can inevitably spin out of control. But, in many ways, it is the essence of China’s political system that leads to concerns about its rise.

Think about it. How many books and articles have been written about the dangers of India’s rise? Almost as large as China – and soon to be more populous – virtually no one worries about the security implications of India becoming a great power – just as a century ago the then-preeminent power, Great Britain, worried little about the rise of America to great power status. My point is that the more politically open and just China is, the more Chinese citizens of every ethnicity will settle disputes in courts rather than on the streets. The more open it is, the less we will be concerned about its military build-up and intentions. The more transparent China is, the more likely it is they we will find a true and lasting friendship based on shared values as well as interests.

I am not talking about some U.S.-led “democracy crusade.” We cannot impose our values on other counties. Nor should we seek to. But the ideas of freedom, liberty and respect for human rights are not U.S. ideas, they are much more than that. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other international covenants and treaties. They apply to citizens in Shanghai as much as they do to citizens in Johannesburg or Jakarta. And demands for liberty in China are Chinese, not American, demands. Just last year, many brave Chinese signed Charter 08, a Chinese document modeled on the great Czech statesman Vlacav Havel’s Charter 77. Charter 08 would not be unfamiliar to our Founding Fathers and was endorsed by Havel himself. No, we need not convince the Chinese people that they have inalienable rights. They are calling for those rights themselves. But we do have to worry about a China where the government suppresses the liberties its people hold dear.

Nothing of what I am saying should be seen as meaning conflict with China is inevitable. Quite the contrary. As I said, we welcome China’s responsible rise. America and China stood together against fascism during World War II, before ravages took over in China – we were ready to stand together with China to shape international politics after World War II. Much has been accomplished since President Nixon’s fateful visit. And again, we stand ready to work with what we hope will be a more open and responsible China on the challenges facing the 21st century.

All of you here know how deeply integrated the economies of the United States’ and China’s are. We rely on each other, sometimes unfortunately in unhealthy ways. America spends too much that we don’t have, and then we go to China as a lender of first resort. Our fiscal policy, lately, seems to be “tax, spend, borrow, tax some more, repeat” and then complain about how much debt China holds. America needs to gets its own fiscal house in order. That’s a Common Sense Conservative perspective. We can hardly complain that China holds so much of our debt when it’s over spending that created the debt.

But here’s the reality. If in fact the United States does the “right” thing – if we spend less and save more – then China will also have to rebalance its economy. We need to export more to China – and we’d like China to consume more of our goods – just as we need to save and invest more. This vital process – so crucial to both countries – is impeded by problems of market access.

We must talk about these issues with more candor. If China adopts policies that keep our highest value products out of their markets, by manipulating technical standards or licensing requirements, our economic relationship suffers.

Our economic interdependence drives our relationship with China. I see a future of more trade with China and more American high-tech goods in China. But in order for that to happen, we need China to improve its rule of law and protect our intellectual property. We need to avoid protectionism and China’s flirtation with state-assisted “national champions.” On our part, we should be more open to Chinese investment where our national security interests are not threatened. In the end, though, our economic relationship will truly thrive when Chinese citizens and foreign corporations can hold the Chinese government accountable when their actions are unjust.

I see a bright future for America in Asia. One based on the alliances that have gotten us this far, one based on free and open markets, one that integrates democratic India into East Asia’s political life and one in which China decides to be a responsible member of the international community and gives its people the liberty – the freedom – they so desperately want.

Sadly, however, our largest free trade agreement ever in Asia, with South Korea, sits frozen in the Congress. In contrast, China is behaving wisely in negotiating free trade agreements throughout Asia. We want an Asia open to our goods and services. But if we do not get our free trade act together, we will be shut out by agreements Asians our making among themselves.

All of you here follow global financial markets and economic policy closely, I know that it will come as no surprise to you that United States leadership on global trade and investment is being sorely tested at this moment.

We are struggling with a monumental debate on whether fiscal discipline, or massive government spending, will drive a sustained recovery. We are struggling to repair the excesses that grew in our own economy and served as a trigger to a catastrophic collapse in the global financial system. And we are attempting to do so under the weight of a global imbalance of debt and trade deficits that are not only unbearable for the world’s mightiest economy, but also unacceptable in that they foster tensions between global economic partners like the United States and China.

I am proud to be an American. As someone who has had the tremendous opportunity to travel throughout the United States and listen to the concerns of Americans in towns and cities across the country, I can tell you that there is a sense of despair and even crisis afoot in America that has the potential to shape our global investment and trade policies for years, and even decades to come. Never has the leadership of our government ever been more critical to keeping my country, and the world, on a path to openness, growth and opportunity in global trade and investment.

It would of course be a mistake to put the entire burden of restoring the global economy on the backs of America’s leaders. There is plenty of work for all of us to do in this matter. Governments around the world must resist the siren call of trade protection to bring short term relief during a time of crisis.

Those who use currency policy or subsidies to promote their nation’s exports should remain acutely aware that if there ever were a time in which such policies could be viewed as “tolerable,” that time has now passed. All participants who seek to find benefit in the global trading system must also take the responsibility of playing by the rules.

The private sector has responsibilities as well. For instance, it should not be the responsibility of government to dictate the salaries of bankers or the ownership of companies. And yet, due of the excesses committed by some, this is exactly where we find ourselves now because government now owns substantial portions of the private economy – even, unbelievably, in the United States.

These are challenging times for everyone, but we in the United States must humbly recognize that if we are to lead and to set the direction for the rest of the world, it must be by our example and not merely our words. And we must tread lightly when imposing new burdens on the imports of other countries.

Well, CLSA: My country is definitely at a crossroad. Polling in the U.S. shows a majority of Americans no longer believe that their children will have a better future than they have had...that is a 1st.

When members of America’s greatest generation – the World War II generation – lose their homes and their life savings because their retirement funds were wiped after the financial collapse, people feel a great anger. There is suddenly a growing sentiment to just “throw the bums out” of Washington, D.C. – and by bums they mean the Republicans and the Democrats. Americans are suffering from pay cuts and job losses, and they want to know why their elected leaders are not tightening their belts. It’s not lost on people that Congress voted to exempt themselves from the health care plan they are thrusting on the rest of the nation. There is a growing sense of frustration on Main Street. But even in the midst of crisis and despair, we see signs of hope.

In fact, it’s a sea change in America, I believe. Recently, there have been protests by ordinary Americans who marched on Washington to demand their government stop spending away their future. Large numbers of ordinary, middle-class Democrats, Republicans, and Independents from all over the country marching on Washington?! You know something’s up!

These are the same people who flocked to the town halls this summer to face their elected officials who were home on hiatus from that distant capital and were now confronted with the people they represent. Big town hall meetings – video clips circulating coverage – people watching, feeling not so alone anymore.

The town halls and the Tea Party movement are both part of a growing grassroots consciousness among ordinary Americans who’ve decided that if they want real change, they must take the lead and not wait to be led. Real change – and, you know, you don’t need a title to do it.

The “Tea Party Movement” is aptly named to remind people of the American Revolution – of colonial patriots who shook off the yoke of a distant government and declared their freedom from indifferent – elitist – rulers who limited their progress and showed them no respect. Today, Main Street Americans see Washington in similar terms.

When my country again achieves financial stability and economic growth – when we roar back to life as we shall do – it will be thanks in large part to the hard work and common sense of these ordinary Americans who are demanding that government spend less and tax less and allow the private sector to grow and prosper.

We’re not interested in government fixes; we’re interested in freedom! Freedom! Our vision is forward looking. People may be frustrated now, but we’re very hopeful too.

And, after all, why shouldn’t we be? We’re Americans. We’re always hopeful.

Thank you for letting me share some of that hope, and a view from Main Street with you. God Bless You.

The Wall Street Journal has published excerpts listed by subject. Most of the WSJ excerpts are not from the part of the speech quoted above.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NYT & WSJ: Palin Draws Kudos

New York Times:
A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.
. . .
Mr. Goodé, a New Yorker who said he would never vote for Mrs. Palin, said she acquitted herself well.

“They really prepared her well,” he said. “She was articulate and she held her own. I give her credit. They’ve tried to categorize her as not being bright. She’s bright.”


Wall Street Journal:
Sarah Palin was pounded by the media as a foreign-policy novice during last year's presidential campaign. But when it comes to the U.S. approach toward China, she has ideas worth listening to.
. . .
Mrs. Palin also espoused the value of alliances with like-minded democratic countries in the region such as Japan, Australia and India. The U.S. "can, must and should" work with China to address issues of "mutual concern," she said. "But we also need to work with our allies in addressing the uncertainties created by China's rise."

The Obama Administration could take a page from this book. So far, the White House has gone out of its way to downplay human rights in China and tiptoe around recent crackdowns in Tibet and Xinjiang, preferring to focus on hipper issues like climate change. This "don't ask, don't tell" approach to Beijing does no favors to the Chinese people, much less to the West's core interests in Asia. At the same time, America's other alliances in the region have been largely ignored.
. . .
Mrs. Palin's speech will almost surely be dismissed by her critics as a scripted exercise. What we heard was a balanced and realistic view of China, founded on universal values that Westerners and Chinese alike can believe in.

AFP / Associated Press Incompetence Rears Its Head Again

UPDATE: In a third attempt on this story AP rebuts some of the assertions made in its first report, actually names some of its sources, and though still quoting anonymous sources drops all the anonymous sources from both its first and second reports. The second try, published in The Washington Post, gives almost no facts on what Palin's speech was about. The third version includes some facts, named sources and, though so-so as an information source, is miles ahead of the first two tries. Looks like it takes AP three tries to get something substantive.

Perhaps one of the reasons that 60% of Americans now view the press as incompetent due to inaccurate reporting and bias is the low level of reporting skills from news agencies like AFP (French) and the Associated Press (American).

AFP in a 600 word article on Sarah Palin’s speech in Hong Kong couldn’t find a single named source to quote.
Some of those who attended praised her forthright views on government social and economic intervention and others walked out early in disgust.

"She was brilliant," said a European delegate, on condition of anonymity.

"She said America was spending a lot of money and it was a temporary solution. Normal people are having to pay more and more but things don't get better. The rich will leave the country and the poor will get poorer."

Two US delegates left early, with one saying "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer". He declined to be identified.
. . .
"It was almost more of a speech promoting investment in Alaska," he said, declining to be named.

"As fund managers we want to hear about the United States as a whole, not just about Alaska. And she criticised Obama a lot but offered no solutions."

Another said he was disappointed that she took only pre-arranged questions.
. . .
Several delegates saw the speech as a sign of her ambitions to run as a presidential candidate in 2012 and a useful indication of the potential direction of US politics in the future.

"It was fairly right-wing populist stuff,' one US delegate said.
. . .
Another from the United States said: "She frightens me because she strikes a chord with a certain segment of the population and I don't like it."
[emphasis added]

The Associated Press, in a much shorter article (290 words) also couldn’t find any named sources for its quoted remarks. AP’s only sources were copied AFP anonymous sources. Talk about lack of shoe leather reporting.
Two US delegates left early, according to AFP, with one saying "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer." He declined to be identified.
. . .
Some attendees were disappointed by her focus on her home state and her attacks on President Obama.

"As fund managers we want to hear about the United States as a whole, not just about Alaska," one told AFP. "And she criticized Obama a lot but offered no solutions."
[emphasis added]

[Both the second and third AP reports drop these anonymous sources, and the third revision makes the opposite point: the speech was moderate with no direct attack on President Obama.
“[Missing] was the sharp partisan edge of the politician who toured the country as Sen. John McCain's running mate. She appeared more moderate, did not attack President Obama directly and avoided any major gaffes, attendees said.

"She has learned and grown from the election," said Melvin Goode, New York-based consultant who said he'd carried out some political polling for President Barack Obama in the past. "She was more level headed. ... She didn't criticize. I was waiting to see if she said anything derogatory about Obama, and she didn't."(emphasis added)]

Though finding two people who walked out on Palin’s, neither AFP nor AP apparently had any idea how well attended the session was and if walking out was an anomaly. Reuters (“a packed audience of financial professionals”), Bloomberg ("a full house in the main ballroom of Hong Kong’s Grand Hyatt hotel"), and The New York Times ("packed hotel ballroom"). [AP’s third try finally notes that the “room packed with more than a thousand investors and bankers at an annual investment conference”.]

Serious journalists actually followed up their assertions with named sources like (The New York Times):
A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.

“The speech was wide-ranging, very balanced, and she beat all expectations,” said Doug A. Coulter, head of private equity in the Asia-Pacific region for LGT Capital Partners.

“She didn’t sound at all like a far-right-wing conservative. She seemed to be positioning herself as a libertarian or a small-c conservative,” he said, adding that she mentioned both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “She brought up both those names.”
. . .
Cameron Sinclair, another speaker at the event, said Mrs. Palin emphasized the need for a grassroots rebirth of the Republican Party driven by party leaders outside Washington.

A number of attendees thought Mrs. Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, was using the speech to begin to broaden her foreign policy credentials before making a run for the presidency in 2012.

“She’s definitely a serious future presidential candidate, and I understand why she plays so well in middle America,” said Mr. Coulter, a Canadian.
. . .
Mr. Coulter said CLSA has a history of inviting keynote speakers who are “newsworthy and potentially controversial.” Other previous speakers at the conference have included Al Gore, Alan Greenspan, Bono and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Mrs. Palin’s speech took place at the Grand Hyatt on the Victoria Harbor waterfront and amid the soaring towers of corporate giants like AIG, HSBC and the Bank of China. Some attendees saw Hong Kong as an auspicious place for her first major international appearance.

Melvin Goodé, a regional marketing consultant, thought Mrs. Palin chose Hong Kong because, he said, it was “a place where things happen and where freedom can be expanded upon.”

“It’s not Beijing or Shanghai,” said Mr. Goodé . “She also mentioned Tibet, Burma and North Korea in the same breath as places where China should be more sensitive and careful about how people are treated. She said it on a human-rights level.”

Mr. Goodé, an African-American who said he did some campaign polling for President Obama, said Mrs. Palin mentioned President Obama three times on Wednesday.

“And there was nothing derogatory in it, no sleight of hand, and believe me, I was listening for that,” he said, adding that Mrs. Palin referred to Mr. Obama as “our president,” with the emphasis on “our.”

Mr. Goodé, a New Yorker who said he would never vote for Mrs. Palin, said she acquitted herself well.

“They really prepared her well,” he said. “She was articulate and she held her own. I give her credit. They’ve tried to categorize her as not being bright. She’s bright.”
[emphasis added]

From The Wall Street Journal:
Ms. Palin's address, which drew strong applause at the end, was officially closed to the media. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a recording of the speech.
. . .
Melvin Goodé, a 49-year-old New York-based property consultant who attended the speech, said he voted for Mr. Obama in last year's election but was curious to hear what Ms. Palin had to say. He shrugged his shoulders when asked his thoughts on the speech but said that she generally did all right, given that she "wasn't supposed to know anything about the continent." "Now, let's see what the critics say," he said.
[emphasis added]

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Journalist Job Loss Rate Increases 22% Per Month Last Year

This has been a tough year for journalists--especially in the print media.

Editor & Publisher cites a Unity: Journalists of Color report showing that journalist job losses increased at a rate of 22% per month from September 2008 to August 2009. In the general economy the average job loss rate of increase was significantly less--8% per month during the same period.

The result is that 46,599 journalism jobs have been lost since January 1, 2008. More than 3/4ths of the job losses (35,885) have come in the last year (September 2008 to September 2009). The vast majority (68%) of journalist jobs lost were in newspaper and print journalism.

The job loss rate rocketed to 7,398 in December 2008, with January and March of 2009 also showing major losses.

The report shows Advance Publications (the Oregonian's owner) as losing 974 jobs from January 1, 2008, to September 15, 2009.* The Oregonian has contributed to the Advance losses by shedding a third of its work force in the last two years. This has come by early retirement offers, buyouts and layoffs.

Other than the Oregonian, Oregon's overall position seems relatively good. The latest Oregon Employment Department report shows a loss of about 10% in the information category among newspaper, book and directory publishers. Employment dropped from 6,500 in August 2008 to 5,800 in August 2009. Telecommunications actually gained 100 employees in the same period going from 8,100 to 8,200.

*A typo in the graph title says September 15, 2008, instead of 2009.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Death Panels Increase

Turns out that the health care reform bills have layers of death panels. Here's what Amanda Carpenter of The Washington Times reports:
"The creation of a five-person Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), supported by President Obama and included in the latest framework by Senate health care negotiators, worries some policy experts. IMAC, called an independent Medicare commission by the Senate, would be empowered to set Medicare rates and make cuts to the program in a way that works largely outside the legislative process.

"According to a plan circulated by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, Congress would only be able to override IMAC's plans if Congress could submit an alternative plan that would save an 'equivalent amount of budgetary savings.' An earlier draft version of IMAC that did not make the requirements on Congress so stiff to rescind IMAC plans is posted on whitehouse.gov.

"Currently, there is a 17-member Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) that makes recommendations to Congress on how to achieve cost savings, but MedPAC's suggestions are routinely ignored, largely because advocating cuts to Medicare, a popular program with seniors, is considered politically dangerous. IMAC, on the other hand, would not have to get direct consent from Congress in order for its cuts to be implemented."
. . .

"David Merritt, vice president of the Center for Health Transformation, said seniors are 'absolutely alarmed' with this legislation. 'Their support has cratered as they learn more about the Democrats' plans,' he said in an e-mail. 'They know that by setting up new federal panels and agencies that are charged with cutting costs, their benefits, choice and coverage will suffer.'"

Poor seniors. They're at the bottom of the Medicare decision making chain, but it's their lives and health that are at risk.

Governor Palin's "death panel" formulation, rather than fading away, just gets stronger and stronger as details of proposed health care legislation leak out. A five member independent commission to "set Medicare rates and make cuts to the program". Congressional override only if Congress can find an "equivalent amount of budgetary savings." Doesn't sound promising for those on Medicare.

It's common sense that government, which has to pay for things through taxes, is very interested, as President Obama says, in bending the cost curve down. For society at large health care cannot be the number one priority. But for the individual facing a health crisis personally or for his family, there are times when health care has to be the number one priority. You get cancer or your child gets cancer and life is put on hold to treat it. But five member commissions whose job is to cut costs aren't allowed to see it that way.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

60% of Americans Say Press is Inaccurate, Biased

Pew Center graphic

The latest Pew Center survey finds that a significant majority of Americans think the press not trustworthy. This is the lowest rating given the press since Pew started measuring in 1985.

Is press reporting accurate? No. 63% of Americans find that news organizations do not generally get the facts straight–an increase of 29% since 1985 when only 34% thought the press often inaccurate.

Does the press care about the truth and try to correct mistakes? No. 70% believe the press tries to cover up its mistakes–an increase of 15% since 1985 when 55% thought the press covered up rather than admitted mistakes.

Is the press politically biased? Yes. 60% say the press is politically biased. 50% find it a liberal bias; only 22% think it a conservative bias.

One of the big disconnects in the poll is the breakdown of the number of Americans who say their main source of national and international news is cable news. 22% report they rely on CNN, 19% Fox News, and 6% MSNBC.

The latest cable news ratings report shows Fox with about 3 million prime time viewers. CNN has 800,000. MSNBC has 1.2 million viewers.

Fox has roughly 3 times the number of viewers as MSNBC. Thus Fox’s 19% and MSNBC’s 6% ratings track with their viewer numbers. But, CNN’s 800,000 viewers are only a fraction of Fox’s total and significantly less than MSNBC’s total. That 22% actually use CNN as their major national and international news source seems out of line with reality. The actual figure based on viewership totals should be closer to 5%.

It’s hard to assess what the reason for the gross overstatement in favor of CNN is. The poll lists 37% of its respondents as Independents, 36% as Democrats, and 26% Republicans. Perhaps Pew has weighted its findings too heavily toward Independents and Democrats. If so, those who think the press is inaccurate and biased toward liberals may be much higher than this poll indicates.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thomas Anthony Casoria--Hero

[Following is my 2006 post for 9/11. This is my tribute to Tommy Casoria and the other heroes of 9/11 as well as to the heroes of the last eight years who have fought and died to defeat America's enemies.]

Thomas Anthony Casoria was killed by Al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001.

Tommy was only 29. He was a firefighter with the New York Fire Department, Engine Company 22. He lived his life in direct opposition to the values of the terrorists. He died trying to save lives.

Tommy responded to the call for help in Tower One of the World Trade Center. Here's what one of his cousins, Jo-Ann Casoria, wrote:
Tommy absolutely loved his job and he loved sharing stories of his workdays with his older brother, Carlo, also a firefighter.


Tommy radioed in his location twice after Tower Two fell. He and two of his "brothers," Vinny Kane and Mike Elferis, were carrying a paraplegic down the stairwell, when a call came in that another firefighter needed aid. Tommy answered that call, as did many others.

Tommy was engaged to be married. Though he never got the chance to spend those happy honeymoon years with his fiancee, Terri, or raise a family, he left a legacy of love and friendship along with his heroism.

One of Tommy's friends, Richard Vitale, wrote:
Let me tell you about Tommy. This man was the funniest guy I ever worked with. It was always a blast. Tommy could simulate anyone's voice with great detail. I never worked with anyone like him. What a great guy! Tommy knew what was right and what was wrong. He never crackled under peer pressure. Even when he tried to work for me for Thanksgiving. He stood strong. That was some reaction we got from the Truck, wasnt it, Tom. Maguire got red as a tomato. I remember when he told me he was going to get married. He was so happy and in Love. What a big smile he had on his face. I teased him about "dont do it", however, I thought what a lucky man to be in love this much. Tommy was respected and loved by everyone.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Douthat's Unexamined Premise Not Worth Writing

Writer Ross Douthat recently published a New York Times op-ed in which assertion predominates over fact.

Douthat is a conservative writer and film critic, but decided to write on health care.

Though Douthat mentions Oregon in passing (in the first paragraph no less), he hasn't followed the Oregon experience in any detail.

After explaining that, yes, some European systems (Britain, Netherlands) have had problems with euthanasia-leaning methods, Douthat pooh-poohs this happening in America. America is different. We are so concerned with "mastery over mortality" that we are much more likely to go bankrupt keeping Tom, Dick and Harry alive with "extreme life-saving procedures" than to exert pressure to ease a patient toward death.
"But the American way of death is different. Our move toward physician-assisted suicide springs from the same quest for mastery over mortality that leads us to spend nearly twice as much on health care as any other developed nation. And our instincts run so strongly toward unlimited spending that it’s much easier to imagine the government going bankrupt paying for extreme life-saving procedures than it is to imagine a suddenly cost-conscious bureaucracy pressuring doctors to administer lethal overdoses."

Seems that Douthat has not heard that the Oregon Health Plan did just that. OHP sent out advisory letters to those under its care explaining that life-saving drugs were just too expensive and wouldn't be provided. But, assisted suicide drugs costing just a fraction (and also only needing a one time dose!), were readily fundable.

Hmm. Guess Americans aren't that different from Europeans after all.

Douthat also takes a swipe at former Governor Sarah Palin--twice. Again, he offers no facts. Not even a link (which he manages for Ezekiel Emanuel). Just a sneer in passing.
"But you don’t have to share Sarah Palin’s death panel fears to see perils lurking at the intersection of physician-assisted suicide and health care reform.
. . .

"Just because Ezekiel Emanuel and Sarah Palin agree that a slope exists, however, doesn’t mean that America will slip down it."

Well, I have a link on Governor Palin's position for Douthat. I'll even quote a bit:
"A great deal of attention was given to my use of the phrase 'death panel' in discussing such rationing.[7] Despite repeated attempts by many in the media to dismiss this phrase as a 'myth', its accuracy has been vindicated. In the face of a nationwide public outcry, the Senate Finance Committee agreed to 'drop end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.'[8] Jim Towey, the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, then called attention to what’s already occurring at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, where 'government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.'[9] Even Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, a strong supporter of President Obama, agreed that 'if the government says it has to control health care costs and then offers to pay doctors to give advice about hospice care, citizens are not delusional to conclude that the goal is to reduce end-of-life spending.'[10] And of course President Obama has not backed away from his support for the creation of an unelected, largely unaccountable Independent Medicare Advisory Council to help control Medicare costs; he had previously suggested that such a group should guide decisions regarding 'that huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives….'[11]

"The fact is that any group of government bureaucrats that makes decisions affecting life or death is essentially a 'death panel.'"
. . .

" 7 See http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=113851103434
8 See http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/54617-finance-committee-to-drop-end-of-life-provision
9 See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204683204574358590107981718.html
10 See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/10/AR2009081002455.html
11 See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03Obama-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1"

Maybe if Douthat spent a little more time researching (even simple Google researching), his output wouldn't be so embarrassing.

Associated Press Casualties Outweigh Original Story

Though most newspapers refused to run the Associated Press's graphic photo of the mangled body of dying marine Joshua Bernard, online newspaper customers found the photo was automatically run on their sites.

Editor & Publisher reports that newspaper sites using AP's automatic feed were unpleasantly surprised to learn that AP had published the photo on their sites without their knowledge or approval.
"At least one paper, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, complained to AP about the automatic posting after it deliberately chose not to run the photo in print or online.

"'We were unaware it was on our site,' said John Sale, assistant managing editor/visuals for the Commercial Appeal. 'It was upsetting to know that the bat was out of our hands and would give the public perception that we were being hurtful to the families of the fallen marine.'"

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland was similarly upset by AP's disregard for newspapers that considered the photo too graphic.
"'I am a little upset that we did not know about this,' said Bill Gugliotta, Plain Dealer director of photography, who said his paper deliberately did not post or publish the controversial photo. 'We thought it was too graphic. If AP was going to do this, they should have given us a heads-up.'"

The Associated Press continues to blunder on this issue, and those blunders have grown to be a bigger story than the original article.

First AP decided to publish the graphic photo of Joshua Bernard's mortal wounding after Bernard's family and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates specifically begged that it not be published. Then AP irritated its newspaper customer base (most of whom disagreed with its evaluation on the propriety of publishing the photo) by forcing online sites to publish the photo without any heads up.

Instead of highlighting casualties of the war in Afghanistan, AP's decision to publish the photo of dying Joshua Bernard has spotlighted casualties of AP and its decisions.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Ghouls at Associated Press

UPDATE 2: I removed the photo of photographer Julie Jacobson from this post even though it was printed in the Daily Mail article and therefore freely available. First, publishing her photo may cause Jacobson and her family distress. Second, it is not clear that Jacobson knew about the suffering publishing the photo caused the Bernard family. She never talked to them. The top brass at the Associated Press had all the information, and they are the culpable parties in this despicable, appalling action.

UPDATE: Here's a link to an audio interview with John Bernard. The deceptiveness of the Associated Press is revealed. John Bernard said that the photos AP showed him were "black and white" and "fuzzy". Not the color, high quality photos AP printed.

The Associated Press has sunk to a new low.

It has published a photo of a dying American soldier with one leg shot off and the other leg mangled. The Associated Press did this despite twice talking to Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard's family and being asked in strong terms not to publish the photo.
"While the story was being written, an AP reporter visited the home of John and Sharon Bernard to learn more about their son. The couple was shown Jacobson's pictures, and requested that they not be used. In a later fact-checking phone call, John Bernard asked in stronger terms that the photos not be used, Daniszewski said." (from AP's own account)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was dismayed at the AP's decision to publish the photo. Gates pled both in a letter and follow up phone call that the AP have regard for Bernard's family in not publicly displaying young Bernard's final, anguished moments.
"Gates wrote a strongly worded letter to AP President and CEO Tom Curley on Thursday, saying it was a matter of "judgment and common decency" not to use the photo. A Pentagon spokesman said Gates followed up with a phone call "begging" Curley not to use it.
. . .

"Gates wrote that use of the photo of a wounded Bernard would mark an 'unconscionable departure' from the restraint that most journalists have shown in covering the military since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The AP did not change its decision.

"'Why your organization would purposely defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me,' Gates wrote. 'Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple newspapers is appalling.'" (from AP's own account)

The Associated Press rejected Gates' plea.
"John Daniszewski, AP senior managing editor, said he respected Gates' view but that sometimes the government and press have different perspectives." (from AP's own account)

Whatever the AP thought about the government's view it also had a "different" perspective than Bernard's family and disregard for their grief.

AP also has a "different" perspective than most Americans who feel that showing the agony of someone's death to enhance a story sold to news outlets is contemptible.

The picture was taken with a long distance lens by AP photographer Julie Jacobson embedded with Bernard's unit in Afghanistan.
"It shows Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, lying mortally wounded with one leg blown off and another badly mangled as his colleagues try in vain to save him."

Former Governor Sarah Palin, who knows what it is like to have a son serving in a dangerous theater of war, expressed a "different" perspective as well.

"Many of us join Secretary Gates in condemning the Associated Press for its heartless and selfish decision to turn its back on the wishes of a grieving family in order to exploit the tragic death of a true American hero.

"Lance Corporal Joshua 'Bernie' Bernard was a selfless young American who sacrificed everything for our freedom.

"Shame on the AP for purposely adding to the grieving family's pain. Ignoring the family's wishes by publishing a sacred image of their loved one proved a despicable and heartless act by the AP. The family said they didn't want the photo published. AP, you did it anyway, and you know it was an evil thing to do."

For the AP to ask the family twice and be asked in strong terms not to publish the photo, use the private information and photo the Bernard family gave, and then treat the family like garbage says volumes about the lack of integrity and human values of the Associated Press.

Also, consider the impact on the military unit AP reporters are embedded in. Not only do our brave military men and women have to worry about the enemy trying to kill them, but also about the reporter and photographer the government has assigned to their unit. In an already dangerous, stressful situation, our fighting men and women now have to worry that their families may soon be viewing illustrated stories with their mangled body being the photo headline of a nationally released story.

It is "appalling" (Secretary Gates) and "despicable and heartless" (Palin). But that's what making a buck is about for the AP.

H/T Drudge Report

Thursday, September 03, 2009

End of Life Guidelines in England Result in Doubled Death Rate

The Daily Telegraph reports that England’s National Health Service dying patients guidelines result in 16.5% deaths after continuous deep sedation. This is twice the rate of death as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Terminally ill care experts in England warn that guidelines for removal of fluids and drugs from patients are a self-fulfilling death prophecy for patients wrongly diagnosed as dying but who are in fact suffering from conditions that can be reversed such as dehydration or side effects of pain killing drugs.
“Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

“But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

“As a result the scheme is causing a ‘national crisis’ in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“‘Forecasting death is an inexact science,’they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death ‘without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.’

“‘As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.’"

“The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.”
. . .

“Patients can become semi-conscious and confused as a side effect of pain-killing drugs such as morphine if they are also dehydrated, for instance.

“When a decision has been made to place a patient on the pathway doctors are then recommended to consider removing medication or invasive procedures, such as intravenous drips, which are no longer of benefit.

“If a patient is judged to still be able to eat or drink food and water will still be offered to them, as this is considered nursing care rather than medical intervention.

“Dr Hargreaves said that this depended, however, on constant assessment of a patient’s condition.

“He added that some patients were being “wrongly” put on the pathway, which created a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ that they would die.

“He said: ‘I have been practising palliative medicine for more than 20 years and I am getting more concerned about this ‘death pathway’ that is coming in.’

“‘It is supposed to let people die with dignity but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.’

“‘Patients who are allowed to become dehydrated and then become confused can be wrongly put on this pathway.’”
. . .

“Prof Millard said that it was ‘worrying’ that patients were being ‘terminally’ sedated, using syringe drivers, which continually empty their contents into a patient over the course of 24 hours.

“In 2007-08 16.5 per cent of deaths in Britain came about after continuous deep sedation, according to researchers at the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, twice as many as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

“‘If they are sedated it is much harder to see that a patient is getting better,” Prof Millard said.”

As Mark Steyn comments:
Sarah Palin got it right on the "death panel" business, and finnicky conservative critics missed the point: Governmentalization of health care leads to rationing, and rationing leads to death panels - very literally.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Newspaper Ad Revenue Plummets Nearly 50% in 9 Years

Newspaper ad revenue has dropped from a high of $48.7 billion in 2000 to $34.7 billion in 2008. The news for the first half of 2009 is even worse--nearly doubling the decline of the first two quarters of 2008.

Advertising revenue is down about 30% in the first two quarters of 2009. If a similar drop continues in the last two quarters of 2009 (which happened in 2006, 2007 and 2008), the 2009 ad total could drop to $25 billion. That would be just shy of a 50% drop in ad revenue between 2000 and 2009. Factoring in inflation could bring the 2009 actual ad revenue value down to only 42% of ad revenue received in 2000.

Significant drops in subscribers (the Oregonian lost 11% of its subscribers this last year), the recession, and a host of new media advertising venues (like company web sites) is bad news for newspaper ad income.

New media is faster, easier and cheaper for the reader to access. The same story often appears a day or two later in the local newspaper and as such is at best redundant if not actually superseded by newer reports.

New media also gives access to original sources (especially official reports) as well as a host of secondary sources. That means that readers are able to fact check journalists and spot bias or incompetence. Unfortunately, both have become much too common in newspaper reporting.

The pluses of new media combined with the flaws in current newspaper reporting leave a reading public not much interested in subscribing to newspapers and advertisers paying significantly less to newspapers for access to their diminishing reader base.

McClatchy Watch has two excellent postings and links (here and here) on the importance of the drop in ad revenue to newspapers.

President Truman on V-J Day

President Truman:
"To all of us there comes first a sense of gratitude to Almighty God who sustained us and our Allies in the dark days of grave danger, who made us to grow from weakness into the strongest fighting force in history, and who has now seen us overcome the forces of tyranny that sought to destroy His civilization."
. . .

"Our first thoughts, of course--thoughts of gratefulness and deep obligation--go out to those of our loved ones who have been killed or maimed in this terrible war. On land and sea and in the air, American men and women have given their lives so that this day of ultimate victory might come and assure the survival of a civilized world. No victory can make good their loss.

"We think of those whom death in this war has hurt, taking from them fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and sisters whom they loved. No victory can bring back the faces they longed to see.

"Only the knowledge that the victory, which these sacrifices have made possible, will be wisely used, can give them any comfort. It is our responsibility--ours, the living--to see to it that this victory shall be a monument worthy of the dead who died to win it."
. . .

"As President of the United States, I proclaim Sunday, September the second, 1945, to be V-J Day--the day of formal surrender by Japan. It is not yet the day for the formal proclamation of the end of the war nor of the cessation of hostilities. But it is a day which we Americans shall always remember as a day of retribution--as we remember that other day, the day of infamy."


Hear President Harry S. Truman's address.

Text of Truman's address:

Radio Address to the American People After the Signing of the Terms of Unconditional Surrender by Japan

September 1, 1945

[ Broadcast from the White House at 10 p.m. ]
My fellow Americans, and the Supreme Allied Commander, General MacArthur, in Tokyo Bay:

The thoughts and hopes of all America--indeed of all the civilized world--are centered tonight on the battleship Missouri. There on that small piece of American soil anchored in Tokyo Harbor the Japanese have just officially laid down their arms. They have signed terms of unconditional surrender.

Four years ago, the thoughts and fears of the whole civilized world were centered on another piece of American soil--Pearl Harbor. The mighty threat to civilization which began there is now laid at rest. It was a long road to Tokyo--and a bloody one.

We shall not forget Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese militarists will not forget the U.S.S. Missouri.

The evil done by the Japanese war lords can never be repaired or forgotten. But their power to destroy and kill has been taken from them. Their armies and what is left of their Navy are now impotent.

To all of us there comes first a sense of gratitude to Almighty God who sustained us and our Allies in the dark days of grave danger, who made us to grow from weakness into the strongest fighting force in history, and who has now seen us overcome the forces of tyranny that sought to destroy His civilization.

God grant that in our pride of the hour, we may not forget the hard tasks that are still before us; that we may approach these with the same courage, zeal, and patience with which we faced the trials and problems of the past 4 years.

Our first thoughts, of course--thoughts of gratefulness and deep obligation--go out to those of our loved ones who have been killed or maimed in this terrible war. On land and sea and in the air, American men and women have given their lives so that this day of ultimate victory might come and assure the survival of a civilized world. No victory can make good their loss.

We think of those whom death in this war has hurt, taking from them fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and sisters whom they loved. No victory can bring back the faces they longed to see.

Only the knowledge that the victory, which these sacrifices have made possible, will be wisely used, can give them any comfort. It is our responsibility--ours, the living--to see to it that this victory shall be a monument worthy of the dead who died to win it.

We think of all the millions of men and women in our armed forces and merchant marine all over the world who, after years of sacrifice and hardship and peril, have been spared by Providence from harm.

We think of all the men and women and children who during these years have carried on at home, in lonesomeness and anxiety and fear.

Our thoughts go out to the millions of American workers and businessmen, to our farmers and miners--to all those who have built up this country's fighting strength, and who have shipped to our Allies the means to resist and overcome the enemy.

Our thoughts go out to our civil servants and to the thousands of Americans who, at personal sacrifice, have come to serve in our Government during these trying years; to the members of the Selective Service boards and ration boards; to the civilian defense and Red Cross workers; to the men and women in the USO and in the entertainment world--to all those who have helped in this cooperative struggle to preserve liberty and decency in the world.

We think of our departed gallant leader, Franklin D. Roosevelt, defender of democracy, architect of world peace and cooperation.

And our thoughts go out to our gallant Allies in this war: to those who resisted the invaders; to those who were not strong enough to hold out, but who, nevertheless, kept the fires of resistance alive within the souls of their people; to those who stood up against great odds and held the line, until the United Nations together were able to supply the arms and the men with which to overcome the forces of evil.

This is a victory of more than arms alone. This is a victory of liberty over tyranny.

From our war plants rolled the tanks and planes which blasted their way to the heart of our enemies; from our shipyards sprang the ships which bridged all the oceans of the world for our weapons and supplies; from our farms came the food and fiber for our armies and navies and for our Allies in all the corners of the earth; from our mines and factories came the raw materials and the finished products which gave us the equipment to overcome our enemies.

But back of it all were the will and spirit and determination of a free people--who know what freedom is, and who know that it is worth whatever price they had to pay to preserve it.

It was the spirit of liberty which gave us our armed strength and which made our men invincible in battle. We now know that that spirit of liberty, the freedom of the individual, and the personal dignity of man, are the strongest and toughest and most enduring forces in all the world.

And so on V-J Day we take renewed faith and pride in our own way of life. We have had our day of rejoicing over this victory. We have had our day of prayer and devotion. Now let us set aside V-J Day as one of renewed consecration to the principles which have made us the strongest nation on earth and which, in this war, we have striven so mightily to preserve.

Those principles provide the faith, the hope, and the opportunity which help men to improve themselves and their lot. Liberty does not make all men perfect nor all society secure. But it has provided more solid progress and happiness and decency for more people than any other philosophy of government in history. And this day has shown again that it provides the greatest strength and the greatest power which man has ever reached.

We know that under it we can meet the hard problems of peace which have come upon us. A free people with free Allies, who can develop an atomic bomb, can use the same skill and energy and determination to overcome all the difficulties ahead.

Victory always has its burdens and its responsibilities as well as its rejoicing.

But we face the future and all its dangers with great confidence and great hope. America can build for itself a future of employment and security. Together with the United Nations, it can build a world of peace rounded on justice, fair dealing, and tolerance.

As President of the United States, I proclaim Sunday, September the second, 1945, to be V-J Day--the day of formal surrender by Japan. It is not yet the day for the formal proclamation of the end of the war nor of the cessation of hostilities. But it is a day which we Americans shall always remember as a day of retribution--as we remember that other day, the day of infamy.

From this day we move forward. We move toward a new era of security at home. With the other United Nations we move toward a new and better world of cooperation, of peace and international good will and cooperation.

God's help has brought us to this day of victory. With His help we will attain that peace and prosperity for ourselves and all the world in the years ahead.