Election ’08 Backgrounder

  

Financial Crisis | Iraq | Defense | Background & Character | Judges & Courts | Energy

 

FINANCIAL CRISIS

Quick Facts:

  • Democrats created the mortgage crisis by forcing banks to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them.
  • In 2006, McCain sponsored a bill to fix the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Barney Frank and other Democrats successfully opposed it.
  • Obama was one of the highest recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations in Congress.

Related Editorials

 

IRAQ


Quick Facts:

  • When the U.S. was on the verge of losing in Iraq, McCain chose to stand and fight.  Obama chose retreat.
  • Even after the surge succeeded, Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran he would still oppose it if he had the chance to do it all over again.

Related Editorials

 

DEFENSE

Quick Facts:

  • Obama has promised to significantly cut defense spending, including saying “I will slow our development of future combat systems.”
  • John McCain has vowed: “We must continue to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses and superior conventional forces that are capable of defending the United States and our allies.”

Related Editorials

Obama Video: Watch Now

 

 

BACKGROUND & CHARACTER

Quick Facts:

  • Obama voted “present” 135 times as a state senator, and according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “gained a reputation for skipping tough votes.”
  • McCain has taken stances unpopular with his own party and/or the public on controversial issues, including immigration, campaign finance reform, judicial nominations, the Iraq War and more.

Related Editorials

 

 

JUDGES & COURTS


Quick Facts:

  • In a 2001 interview, Obama said he regretted that the Supreme Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
  • In the same interview, Obama criticized the Supreme Court because it “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.”
  • Obama has focused on empathy, rather than legal reasoning and restraint, as his basis for appointing judges, saying, “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy…to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”
  • McCain opposes judicial activism, saying, “my nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power.”

Related Editorials

Obama 2001 Interview: Listen Now

 

ENERGY


Quick Facts:

  • McCain has proposed building 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and is in favor of drilling in sectors of the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Obama has refused to take a stand, saying only “we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix” and he will “look at” drilling offshore.

Related Editorials

»
McCain: The Energy Candidate

» McCain On Nukes: Yes We Can
» Breaking The Back Of High Oil

 

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Editing Their Way to Oblivion: Journalism Sacrificed For Power and Pensions

Editing Their Way to Oblivion: Journalism Sacrificed For Power and Pensions

October 24, 2008 – by edgelings

By Michael S. Malone

The traditional media is playing a very, very dangerous game.  With its readers, with the Constitution, and with its own fate.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling.  And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living.  A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer”, because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.

You need to understand how painful this is for me.  I am one of those people who truly bleeds ink when I’m cut.  I am a fourth generation newspaperman.  As family history tells it, my great-grandfather was a newspaper editor in Abilene, Kansas during the last of the cowboy days, then moved to Oregon to help start the Oregon Journal (now the Oregonian).  My hard-living – and when I knew her, scary – grandmother was one of the first women reporters for the Los Angeles Times.  And my father, though profoundly dyslexic, followed a long career in intelligence to finish his life (thanks to word processors and spellcheckers) as a very successful freelance writer.  I’ve spent thirty years in every part of journalism, from beat reporter to magazine editor.  And my oldest son, following in the family business, so to speak, earned his first national by-line before he earned his drivers license.

So, when I say I’m deeply ashamed right now to be called a “journalist”, you can imagine just how deep that cuts into my soul.

Now, of course, there’s always been bias in the media.  Human beings are biased, so the work they do, including reporting, is inevitably colored.  Hell, I can show you ten different ways to color variations of the word “said” – muttered, shouted, announced, reluctantly replied, responded, etc. – to influence the way a reader will apprehend exactly the same quote.  We all learn that in Reporting 101, or at least in the first few weeks working in a newsroom.  But what we are also supposed to learn during that same apprenticeship is to recognize the dangerous power of that technique, and many others, and develop built-in alarms against their unconscious.

But even more important, we are also supposed to be taught that even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible.  That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views, and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire.  If we can’t achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty – especially in ourselves.

For many years, spotting bias in reporting was a little parlor game of mine, watching TV news or reading a newspaper article and spotting how the reporter had inserted, often unconsciously, his or her own preconceptions.  But I always wrote it off as bad judgment, and lack of professionalism, rather than bad faith and conscious advocacy.  Sure, being a child of the ‘60s I saw a lot of subjective “New” Journalism, and did a fair amount of it myself, but that kind of writing, like columns and editorials, was supposed to be segregated from ‘real’ reporting, and at least in mainstream media, usually was.  The same was true for the emerging blogosphere, which by its very nature was opinionated and biased.

But my complacent faith in my peers first began to be shaken when some of the most admired journalists in the country were exposed as plagiarists, or worse, accused of making up stories from whole cloth.  I’d spent my entire professional career scrupulously pounding out endless dreary footnotes and double-checking sources to make sure that I never got accused of lying or stealing someone else’s work – not out any native honesty, but out of fear: I’d always been told to fake or steal a story was a firing offense . . .indeed, it meant being blackballed out of the profession.

And yet, few of those worthies ever seemed to get fired for their crimes – and if they did they were soon rehired into an even more prestigious jobs.  It seemed as if there were two sets of rules:  one for us workaday journalists toiling out in the sticks, and another for folks who’d managed, through talent or deceit, to make it to the national level.

Meanwhile, I watched with disbelief as the nation’s leading newspapers, many of whom I’d written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page.  Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S.

But what really shattered my faith – and I know the day and place where it happened – was the War in Lebanon three summers ago.  The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia only carried CNN, a network I’d already learned to approach with skepticism.  But this was CNN International, which is even worse.  I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel.   The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story . . .but it never happened.

But nothing, nothing I’ve seen has matched the media bias on display in the current Presidential campaign.  Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates.  But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass – no, make that shameless support – they’ve gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don’t have a free and fair press.  I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather – not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake – but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Gov. Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to Alaska to rifle through her garbage.  This is the Big Leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.  The few instances where I think the press has gone too far – such as the Times reporter talking to Cindy McCain’s daughter’s MySpace friends – can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha Bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side – or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for Senators Obama and Biden.  If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as President of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.  That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault:  his job is to put his best face forward.  No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote McCain’s lawyer, haven’t we seen an interview with Sen. Obama’s grad school drug dealer – when we know all about Mrs. McCain’s addiction?  Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview?  All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize?  And why are Senator Biden’s endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber.  Middle America, even when they didn’t agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a Presidential candidate.  So much for the Standing Up for the Little Man, so much for Speaking Truth to Power, so much for Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a manner that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it’s because we don’t understand what their motives really are.  It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide – especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50:50.

Furthermore, I also happen to believe that most reporters, whatever their political bias, are human torpedoes . . .and, had they been unleashed, would have raced in and roughed up the Obama campaign as much as they did McCain’s.  That’s what reporters do, I was proud to have been one, and I’m still drawn to a good story, any good story, like a shark to blood in the water.

So why weren’t those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign?  Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors.  The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages.  They are the real culprits.

Why?  I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one:  Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry.  The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent.  Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared.  Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb.  The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures.  Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play.  Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here.  After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway – all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself:  an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.  With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country . . .

Makin’ Da Money .. Anyway I Can Dr. Mike Murdock Money changer in the temple

More evidence of media bias

More evidence of media bias

Ray Robison
Bernard Goldberg, renowned author and commentator on media bias (based on his 20+ years as a journalist) once wrote:

“Bias in the media isn’t just about what they cover; it’s also about what they don’t cover. Sherlock Holmes once solved a particularly thorny crime using as his key piece of evidence the dog that didn’t bark. It’s the same with the news media. What they don’t make noise about also tells us a lot about their preconceived notions and their biases.”

Well surely Bernie must be feeling vindicated this day. For if there is ever a perfect example of the silence of the media dogs it is in the story of Tina Richards. I recently wrote here about the mother of a Marine and her efforts to meet with Democrats to urge them to end the war.
Her tactics were not unlike Cindy Sheehan but instead aimed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whereas Sheehan focused her PR effort on President Bush. I wrote that first article as much to bench mark media reporting as to provide the content. I wanted all to note that Pelosi has her own Sheehan and let’s see were the media goes with it by way of comparison.
The result of my little experiment surprised even me, with my calloused eye towards the state of American journalism. Here is what is going on.
It appears Tina Richards has been released from the big-house after being arrested for her sit-in at the Speaker’s office and is continuing her activism. If you follow the desperately scant media reports on her you can find Richards’ own website.
There she posts her thoughts in writing and video. Currently, Richards is organizing a political action called “Swarm on Congress”. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out that this is basically an assault on the mechanisms of government to call attention to her cause. You might think a planned congressional sit-in by an aggrieved military mother might qualify as news as it did in Sheehan’s case.
How wrong you are!
I used Google News to check for references to Richards swarm (do it yourself “swarm on congress”).  As of the night of May 8th, 2007 there are two, just two media reports -neither of them from big-media – about what Tina Richards has organized for the week following Mother’s Day. Cindy Sheehan by comparison went down to the middle of Texas and parked herself in a patch of scrub grass next to a huge ranch and it was world news (even the name “Camp Casey” has entered our common lexicon thanks to media reinforcement). Richards and her supporters will park themselves in the halls and offices of the center of our democracy and the media response is, well….cough….cough.
The difference between Sheehan and Richards? One went after a Republican which pleases the liberal media bias, the other after a Democrat which must be covered up, lest the Democrats look bad. How much more obvious can it be that the American media is now hardly more than the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party?

Media Target: The US Military

Media Target: The US Military

By Gerd Schroeder

The US military, the last bastion of creditability in the war, is now the primary target of the media and the enemies of the war.  Almost like a plan. Not hatched as a coherent and complete arrangement in some dark, smoke filled room. No conspiracy is alleged. Rather, There is a certain momentum that is a product of groupthink. This confluence of widely-shared perceptions and attitudes has taken on a life of its own, the like-minded feeding off the ideas of others, then amplified in the media.
They smell blood in the water, and turn their attention to the military.  Their reasoning is that if they can turn the American People against the military, then the war effort will become unsustainable.  But they must be very careful in manipulating the story.  They have learned their lesson from Viet Nam.  The backlash from attacking the troops directly robbed them of much of their credibility.  They will not make that mistake again. 
Seize on critics from within
This time the plan is discredit the military from the inside.  They do this by seizing on genuine critics, disgruntled retirees, infighting dissidents, and a few dupes and naive people in the military to discredit the organization as a whole.  This is where we are right now.        
After writing an article in the Armed Forces Journal titled A failure in generalship  lambasting the general officer corps for not only failing in Iraq but lying to Congress and the American People many people may think that the author, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yinling is on the highway to hell with his carrier in the military.  If you figured that, I believe that you have figured wrong.  It is rooted in popular miss conceptions about what the military is like from an outsider’s point of view, which has been carefully built and manipulated by pop culture and the media for years. 
That is not to say that I agree with LTC Yinling.  I think that many of his arguments are, quite frankly, bull; but the military is really a very introspective organization.  Anyone that has seen an After Action Review of a military operation or training event understands that.  They are brutally honest and open.  No one is spared.  We all understand that respecting thin skins is a recipe for death.  The reviews are not personal attacks; they are honest assessments.
LTC Yingling’s arguments are not new. The points in his article have been debated in the Army for many years.  It is not a bombshell indictment of the military leaders the media is making it out to be.  He used Clausewitz, and other military thinker’s writings and ideas to make his point.  Look at the article Toxic Leadership, by Colonel George E Reed.  The article, written in 2004, takes on many of the same points that LTC Yingling’s article does, albeit in a more tactful manner. 
For me, the article is very stimulating, though very flawed.  Through articles like LTC Yingling’s Col. Reed’s the military stays vital and improves thought debate and exchange of ideas.
Instead, let us look at why the media has suddenly picked this story up after it has been debated in the military for years.  The media are all in a flutter because they think that they can spin this article as an indictment of the war.  They do this by pointing at the generals, and in a sly, almost unperceivable way, the media almost seem to whisper in our ears: “see, the military is bad, they aren’t worthy of our support, they failed, we can’t trust them, we need to get out of Iraq before anyone else dies because of these fascist brutes.”  Some few have come right out and said it, but most just allude to it. 
The military’s image
The military image for many people is of an environment with no freethinking, and creativity.  The image is one of an organization of mindless, strict adherence to illogical and outdated thinking and morals.  One of heavy-handed, overbearing, egotistical Neanderthals bent on world domination, violence, and hate. Backwoods rednecks.  Unintelligent dead-enders.  Look at movies like A Few Good Men, Stripes, Platoon, and Apocalypse Now.  This is the image propagated by the pop culture. 
You may say: “that may be true for some, but not for me.”  I ask you then to think back to when you considered the military.  Most men and a few women do this at some point.  For some it is just fleeting.  For others they study it deeply, but I think most, if not all, men at some point or another have considered joining the military.  Why do so few out of so many in this country actually serve?  Is it because of the ideas that have been formed from our experiences with American pop culture? 
A high percentage of the serving military has a close family member that served or is serving.  It is a generational tradition of pride, and a feeling of duty.  That is not to say that those that don’t serve are any less of a person for taking a different path; clearly not everyone can serve even if they wanted to.  However; if you reflect on it you will find than many of your ideas about the military that are unflattering have probably come from pop culture and the media.  The enemies of the war in the media use the pop culture’s long cultivated prejudice of the military to forward their objective against the war.   
Over the last year, maybe two, it is increasingly difficult to find not any positive reporting on Iraq and the larger war on terrorism, or any positive stories of the US Military at large.  There are some rare exceptions with some local news outlets.  Google “Iraq” it and see for yourself.  It is even more pervasive in the international media.
More examples
Look at the resurrection of the Jessica Lynch, and the Spencer Tillman stories as show trails against of the military in Henry Waxman’s House Committee last week.  The message: ‘The military lied,  The generals ordered the lies.  This in turn promotes the thought: ‘The military is bad.’ 
There is not need to rehash the continuing assaults by the press and the pentagon officials that leak politically motivated falsehoods about the Marines in Haditha.  John Kerry, and John Martha’s attacks on the military are like a drum beat. 
How about retired generals like MG Batiste, used willingly, in mock impeachment trails by Democrats; or BG Janis Karpinski, used by the press as a martyr, sacrificed by the military for Abu Grab, testifying to hostile governments about the evil US military.
Refer back to the countless stories about Guantanamo Bay, and false accusations of torture; many in the media choosing to believe accusations of known terrorists over the military, and false stories of Koran desecration causing riots across the Islam World. 
Look at the personal attacks on the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Pace, because he dared voice an opinion on homosexuals.  They implied that the general was unfit because he dared have a personal moral judgment; or attacks by retired Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General (Retired) Shalikashvili, on the military’s policy of the so-called ‘Don’t ask don’t tell policy’ of which he oversaw the implementation.  
Now the latest insult by Senator Reid (D-NV) that the war is lost and General Petraeus is lying if he says the surge is working. 
The press is conducting an information war against the military to discredit it, and by so doing hopes to collapse the remaining support for “Bush’s War”.
All reasonable people understand the absolute critical need to win the war in Iraq.  It is helpful, desirable, and needed to debate in good faith as long as the joint objective is winning in Iraq.  Without a doubt, the key to winning this war is the will of the American People to continue supporting the fight.  Each downtick in the polls for support of the war by the American People lowers the possibility that the military will be able to carry on the war to a victory. 
It is not that we lack the capacity.  We, in the military, have the will in spades.  But we are, in the end, the Military of the American People, and must have their support; not only to fund the war, but also to maintain morale and a strong fighting spirit.  This support of the US Military by the American People is the goal that most in the mainstream media hope to undermine.  Why they would do this is a topic for a different article.  The fact is that they are actively trying to discredit the US Military.     

A final question for the media

What would happen in the war in Iraq and to the terrorists across the world if our press put as much effort into supporting the war that they do in trying to sabotage it?             
Gerd Schroeder is a Major in the United States Army; he has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  His personal views do not represent the views of the US Army or Department of Defense

The Associated Press Spins the ISG Report

The Associated Press Spins the ISG Report

Scott Lindlaw is an Associated Press reporter who has told fellow members of the White House press corps that his “mission is to see that George Bush is not re-elected.” He is the reporter who wrote falsely that a Republican crowd at a Bush rally in West Allis, Wisconsin, booed the news of President Clinton’s hospitalization, and “Bush did nothing to stop them.” The story was a complete fabrication, later retracted by the AP, but the AP has never responded to our many emails on the subject, and to our knowledge Scott Lindlaw has never been disciplined in any way for filing a false story.

Now, Lindlaw is at it again, spinning the Iraq Survey Group’s report for the benefit of the Kerry campaign. Lindlaw writes, in a story titled “Bush, Cheney Concede Saddam Had No WMDs”:

President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue–whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.Ridiculing the Bush administration’s evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: “You don’t make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact.”

Lindlaw obviously agrees with Kerry’s “ridicule.” But here is the text of what President Bush said; Lindlaw actually quotes the relevant paragraphs:

The Duelfer report also raises important new information about Saddam Hussein’s defiance of the world, and his intent and capability to develop weapons.The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions. He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away.

So Lindlaw grossly mischaracterizes President Bush’s statement. Bush did not invent a “new” rationale for toppling Saddam, or suggest that we went to war simply because Saddam was abusing the oil for food program. The point of Bush’s reference to the oil for food program was that Saddam was abusing it for the specific purpose of regaining his WMD capabilities. This is exactly what the ISG report says. Bush correctly characterized the report; Scott Lindlaw incorrectly characterized Bush’s point. Lindlaw continues:

Duelfer found no formal plan by Saddam to resume WMD production, but the inspector surmised that Saddam intended to do so if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Bush seized upon that inference, using the word “intent” three times in reference to Saddam’s plans to resume making weapons.

This is simply outrageous. Duelfer and the ISG wrote a 1,000 page report, a principal theme of which is Saddam’s continuing intent to reconstitute his WMD programs. There was no “formal plan” because Saddam wasn’t stupid enough to put his WMD intentions in writing–in any event, not in any document that has yet been identified and translated. But to say that Duelfer “surmised” Saddam’s intent is ridiculous; the report lays out hundreds of pages of evidence of Saddam’s intent.

This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale. But the strategy holds risks because some of the countries that could be implicated include U.S. allies, such as Poland, Jordan and Egypt. In addition, the United States itself played a significant role in both the creation of the program and how it was operated and overseen.

Here, Lindlaw is just making it up. The Bush administration, as noted above, didn’t cite the “oil for fuel” — that would be “oil for food,” Scott — program as a “first time” rationale; rather, the point was that abuses of the program gave Saddam the opportunity to reconstitute his illegal weapons programs. And the “risks” claimed by Lindlaw are risible. The countries that are actually named in the ISG report as recipients of Iraqi bribery are France, Russia, and China, countries that had Security Council veto power. And the suggestion that “the United States itself played a significant role” in the operation of the U.N.’s oil for food program is ridiculous. The only reference to bribery of Americans that I’ve seen in the report is to an American weapons inspector, presumably Bush critic Scott Ritter. And whoever may have played a “significant role” in creating the U.N. program, it certainly wasn’t anyone in the Bush administration.

Lindlaw continues:

“Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there,” Bush said. His words placed the blame on U.S. intelligence agencies.

Huh? Is Lindlaw denying that our intelligence agencies, and those of every other interested country, said that Saddam had banned WMDs? Apparently he hasn’t read the National Intelligence Estimate. Lindlaw is either unpardonably ill-informed, or he is taking a misleading cheap shot at the President.

And finally:

In recent weeks, Cheney has glossed over the primary justification for the war, most often by simply not mentioning it.

Saddam’s WMDs were indeed one of the reasons for going to war. But the claim that they were the only reason, or the main reason, is one that is simply asserted by Lindlaw and like-minded reporters and is generally taken to be true by dint of repetition. In fact, however, President Bush has always emphasized multiple reasons for liberating Iraq, including the moral imperative to relieve the oppression of the Iraqi people and, even more important, the long-term benefit of beginning the process of reforming the Arab world.

The Democrats have no long-term solution to the problem of terrorism. The only proposal on the table is the President’s: eliminate the cause of terrorism by liberating the Arab world, leading a transformation of the failed, oppressive, corrupt Arab states into modern democracies with economies that offer opportunities for their citizens. President Bush has articulated this rationale for the Iraq war–by any measure, the most important one–many times. Here is how President Bush expressed this rationale in just one of many speeches:

Iraqi democracy will succeed — and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran — that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom — the freedom we prize — is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

The President’s soaring vision puts to shame hacks like Scott Lindlaw who pretend to report the news, but in reality seek to advance a narrow, short-sighted partisan agenda.

What the Islamists Have Learned.

 good one from Michael Novak: What the Islamists Have Learned.

What we have discovered in Iraq is the weakest link in the ability of the United States to sustain military operations overseas. That link is the U.S. media. They are Islamists’ best friends.

Experience shows that the mainstream press of the United States is alienated from the U.S. military. In addition, the American press is extremely vulnerable to anti-U.S. propaganda. Thus, the American public will be fed nearly everything that foreign adversaries—our band of brothers—wish to feed it about the war. Therefore, I write:

Maxim # 1: To defeat America, impose upon the imagination of its media your own storyline.

Even if you can muster only 10,000 soldiers over the entire countryside of Iraq, paint the narrative like this: The Americans are irresistible occupiers, and yet they cannot prevent small (even individual) acts of destruction. Daily, unrelenting acts of destruction demonstrate that chaos rules. The American strategy, and the American storyline of the war, are invalidated by continuing chaos, highly visible, every single day, on worldwide television. The new dominating story is that the Americans cannot win.

Even though our own forces (for nearly two whole years now) can no longer afford to fight in a single operation lasting longer than a few hours, our martyr-brothers cannot be prevented from committing daily acts of destruction—the more stomach-turning the better—which demonstrate a ferocious will and a determination to destroy.

In such wars, my brothers, whichever party maintains the stronger will, along the most durable storyline, always wins.