Losing Interest in Africa When Bush Helps
London-based Alan Cowell reports out the results of the G8 finance ministers meeting in Finance Chiefs Cancel Debt of 18 Nations, a story unaccountably buried in Sundays edition of the Times.
Cowell explains: The world's wealthiest nations formally agreed Saturday to cancel at least $40 billion of debt owed to international agencies by the world's poorest lands, most of them in Africa..The deal on Saturday was expected to ease the 18 poorest countries' annual debt burden by $1.5 billion.The United States agreed to pay up to $1.75 billion in compensation to international lenders over the next 10 years, while Britain agreed to pay up to $960 million.
Cowell notes the U.S. role: The agreement came after months of negotiations in which the United States had been pressing the other Group of 8 countries - Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia - to agree that the solution to poor countries' indebtedness was to cancel their debt burden completely rather than seek simply to ease it by taking over interest repayments.
As Slate notes, the Washington Post made it the lead story Sunday, while the Times oddly places it on page A12. The placement is particularly strange, given that the Times made a big stink in last Mondays lead editorial excoriating Bush for Americas foreign aid stinginess toward Africa.
Discussing an upcoming summit on aid for Africa in Scotland, the Times sniffed: Only one crucial element is still missing - the wholehearted support of the United States government. Unless President Bush joins this effort in the five weeks remaining before the summit meeting to be held in July in Scotland, Africa's hopes will be disappointed and America's image in the eyes of a world that once looked to it for enlightened leadership will be further diminished. [Tony] Blair will be in Washington this week trying to persuade Mr. Bush to do the right thing."
But give the Times a story on Americas leading role in forgiveness of African debt and its relegated to page 12?
For the full story from Cowell, click here:
Sea of White Faces on a Red State Comedy Tour
Culture reporter Ross Johnson Monday examines the surprising success of the red state-oriented Blue Collar Comedy Tour in Red State Humor Turns Blue.
Johnson colorfully explains (with little regard for the usual P.C. sensitivities of the Times): It's been variously referred to as hick, redneck, Nascar or Wal-Mart comedy. The humor bends toward jokes about a grandmother's flatulence and deer hunting with the wife.
Johnson cant help making snide political and psychological assumptions about the comedians typical red-state audience: A look at the audience at any Blue Collar concert reveals a sea of white faces, and a large proportion of women. It's an audience that roars at Larry the Cable Guy's bawdy Southern good ol' boy observations (though Mr. Whitney is from Nebraska), appreciates that Mr. Foxworthy shuns four-letter words and titters at jokes that skewer their fear and distrust of minorities - as long as the humor doesn't express overt dislike for any single minority. Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore are targets of derision on general principle, but more pointed political commentary meets a cool reception.
For more of Johnson on blue red-state humor, click here:
The Far Right and a Racist Republican
A Sunday Week in Review editorial on the Senates agreement on voting on Bushs judiciary nominees is headlined The Center Can Hold, but its hardly bipartisan, twice going after what the Times considers the far right, besides other liberal name-calling: The vast majority of President Bush's judicial nominees have sailed through the Senate. But Democratic senators have, quite reasonably, blocked a handful of the most extreme ones.
The editorial goes on: The confrontational stance taken by Mr. Frist - a likely candidate for president in 2008 - is just what the far right wing of the Republican Party wants to hear.
Then the paper tries to suggest Sen. Lott is racist for blocking a vote against a black judge nominated by both Bush and former president Bill Clinton: The moderate Republicans who signed the agreement have done the country a service by preserving the filibuster, but they need to do more. Until last week, there were only two instances of a Republican senator voting against a Bush court of appeals nominee - and one of these was Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican, voting against an African-American judge who had originally been nominated by President Bill Clinton. Disgracefully, Senate Republicans continued their rubber-stamping in last week's vote on Janice Rogers Brown. Ms. Brown, who has likened the New Deal to a socialist revolution, did not draw a single Republican no vote.
The Times skips the inconvenient fact that Judge Brown is black as well. The Times position appears to be: Its bad for a Republican to vote against a black judge, and its also bad for Republicans to vote unanimously for one.
For the rest of the editorial on the far right, click here:
Italys He-Man Woman-Haters Club?
Elisabeth Rosenthal and Elisabetta Povoledo Saturday in a story reprinted from the Times international edition, Vote on Fertility Law Fires Passions in Italy. The Times has taken the liberal line on stem cell research and life issues in general on both its editorial and news pages, so its no surprise that even its coverage of such issues overseas is tainted with bias.
The story opens with this petulant phrasing, implying a betrayal of women by a clique of powerful men: As Italy's most powerful men - from politicians to bishops - debated the ethics of the country's restrictive fertility law this week, Lorena Pennati lay gingerly in a hospital bed here, rubbing the sore spot where doctors had just removed nine of her eggs. Because of the law's strict limits on the use of eggs, sperm and embryos - the subject of a contentious national referendum here this weekend - Ms. Pennati, 34, is embarking on what doctors universally regard as substandard infertility treatment.
The text box reads: Changing restrictive legislation faces a high quorum bar.
For more on Italys fertility law vote, click here:
The Survivor Clintons Victory Over His Haters
The Times clearly appreciated Alan Ehrenhalts favorable review of pro- Clinton Washington Post reporters book The Survivor - Bill Clinton in the White House.
Ehrenhalt, who is executive editor of Governing magazine, claims: Millions of Americans despise Bill Clinton. They have done so since he became a presence in national politics in the early 1990's, and they continue to do so today, more than four years after his retirement from public office. The passion of the Clinton haters is a phenomenon without equal in recent American politics.The only political obsession comparable to it in the past century is the hatred that a significant minority of Americans felt for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Ehrenhalt doesnt seem to remember Clintons trillion-dollar health-care proposal when he claims: Clinton, on the other hand, was a centrist who undertook no dramatic transformations of society or government and, what was more, showed himself to be an instinctive conciliator who believed in compromise almost to a fault. Viewed in historical perspective, Clinton-hatred is not easy to explain. Certainly the Monica Lewinsky affair does not explain it. The people who detested the president after that dalliance became public were essentially the same ones who had detested him in 1992. They merely grew louder.
He puts those Clinton-haters on the defensive: There is, of course, a simpler argument that some Clinton haters use to explain the persistence of their passion. They say that he was, to put it bluntly, a very bad president - immature, self-absorbed, indecisive in domestic affairs and disastrously weak when it came to representing America in the affairs of the world. It is this argument that John F. Harris utterly demolishes in 'The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House,' his thorough, readable and scrupulously honest account of the Clinton years. Harris, who was The Washington Post's White House correspondent from 1995 through 2000, is no Clinton apologist. His portraits of the decision-making process he witnessed reveal a president who indeed lacked discipline in his daily routine; examined and re-examined policy choices endlessly, to the frustration of his advisers; and was fearful about the use of military force abroad, even in behalf of the most defensible causes.
But Tim Graham of the Media Research Center quoted a May 2001 Harris piece, in which Harris asserted that Clinton had a much harder ride in the press than George W. Bush did.
Harris wrote: Washington's snarling public tone was caused more by [Clintons] opponents; he was as ready to meet with Republicans as Bush is with Democrats. Little of his rhetoric ever matched the vitriol that congressional Republicans aimed at him.
Ehrenhalt concludes with this gush: This is a complex, interesting and subtle book about a complex, interesting and subtle man.
For the review in full, click here: