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No Liberals For Gay Marriage? - August 4, 2003

Times Watch for August 4, 2003



No Liberals For Gay Marriage?

Elisabeth Bumillers Saturday story, President Steps Into Toxic Campaign Debate on Gay Marriage, is loaded with labels: Seven mentions of conservative without a single liberal, in a story on the liberal issue of gay marriage.

Bumiller opens her story by suggesting Bush should have kept his mouth shut: The amazing thing, gay Republicans said, was that President Bush was not even asked about gay marriage at a Rose Garden news conference on Wednesday. But he plowed ahead and offered his opinion anyway-he's against it, like most of America-while he sowed confusion when he addressed the actual question that was posed: What was his view on homosexuality? Mr. Bush's ambiguous, religious response, that we're all sinners, was taken by many gays to mean that the president considered them sinful.

Though Bumiller notes the issue is a Democratic dilemma as well, and that 50 percent of Democrats are also opposed to gay marriage (along with over 70 percent of Republicans), she keeps the focus on Bush: Mr. Bush's dilemma on the issue is that he must please his conservative supporters without alienating the more moderate voters he needs to win. But that political tap-dance has become increasingly difficult ever since the Supreme Court sodomy ruling, which enraged conservatives said would lead to gay marriage.Mr. Bush made sure to express tolerance for gays-he said it was important for society to "respect each individual"- to try to soothe swing voters who might see his denunciation of gay marriage as bigotry.

While Bumiller is happy to label conservatives, the Democrats dont have liberals fighting for gay marriage, only core voters. She writes: The Democrats' dilemma on the issue is that their core primary voters are in favor of gay marriage but the moderates within the party are not.

For the rest of Elisabeth Bumillers story on Bush and gay marriage, click here.



Elisabeth Bumiller | George W. Bush | Gay Rights | Labeling Bias



Not Ready for Prime Time On Crime

The Times editorial page has a hard time with crime. On Friday an editorial on The Growing Inmate Population lamented Federal, state and local governments have been putting more people behind bars even though crime, including violent crime, is down sharply. That blinkered thinking is a continuation of the Butterfield effect-the sensation of being surprised that crime falls when more criminals are in jail.

A Saturday editorial, Capitol Hill Cross-Fire, extends the Times ignorance with an attack on National Rifle Association propaganda and a fact-free defense of D.C.s gun-ban. Senator Orrin Hatch, always happy to do the bidding of the gun lobby as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has proposed the repeal of the handgun ban that Washington, D.C., has had in place for a generation. Erroneously proclaiming Washington the murder capital of the nation, Mr. Hatch, the Utah Republican, would make it easier for residents to brandish handguns at home and in the workplace.

Erroneously? The Times says Hatch is wrong, but doesnt say which city won the dubious honor of being murder capital of the U.S. By the accepted standard (murders per capita), D.C. was indeed the 2002 winner. The Washington Times notes the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, which tracks crime trends across the nation, revealed that the District had a higher homicide rate last year than any other city in the nation with more than 500,000 residents. The city had 262 killings last year, a rate of 45.82 per 100,000 residents. (Detroit was a close second.)

The editorial continues: It is stunning that anyone who lives and labors in Washington sees the city's gun problem as a Second Amendment campaign tableau rooted in the O.K. Corral. Almost half the guns used in the District's crimes have been tracked to the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland, where the laws are far easier for buyers to circumvent.

Besides trotting out the tired Wild West motif, the Times doesnt explain why, if guns are so much easier to obtain in Virginia and Maryland, the crime rates in those states are so much lower than the crime rate in D.C., where guns are illegal. The Times continues: Washington should be applauded for its greater attempt at law and order. The Times makes no mention of the abject failure of such attempts, but in the liberal worldview, good intentions are enough, even if they may run contrary to the Constitution.

For the rest of the Times defense of D.C. gun-control, click here.



Constitution | Crime | Fox Butterfield | Editorial | Gun Control | Sen. Orrin Hatch | NRA | Second Amendment



No Nukes!

Reporter Lydia Polgreen is sad that liberal environmentalists have been unable to shut down a nuclear power plant near Manhattan, and expects her readers to be as well. Her Sunday Metro section story, Theres Indian Point, and Counterpoints, regrets the missed opportunity that resulted from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center: If there was ever a moment when it seemed possible to force the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, it was after two planes flew into the World Trade Center. The attack on New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, transformed a movement once dominated by a small band of antinuclear activists and environmentalists into the cause of suburban soccer moms and Little League dads.

The article makes a brief statement of the rationale behind some in the movement: Alarmed that one of the planes carrying the hijackers had flown near Indian Point, about 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, and worried about how their families would get out of their densely populated suburban communities should disaster strike, many slapped Close Indian Point bumper stickers on their minivans and sport utility vehicles. But liberal environmentalists are the main drivers behind the movement, and they were in favor of shutting down the nuclear plant long before 9-11.

Polgreen continues: Yet nearly two years after the terrorist attack, the decades-old struggle to close Indian Point seems no nearer to its goal. The best evidence of this fact came last week, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency slammed shut the only window local communities had into the odd regulatory world that governs nuclear plants, endorsing an emergency evacuation plan that local and state officials said was seriously flawed.

Polgreen entirely bypasses the economic argument that New York cant afford to lose such a huge source of electricity, an argument put forth in a July 20 New York Daily News op-ed by Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute and Mark Mills of Digital Power Capital: Powering New York is already a challenge. The city could not stay lit, much less grow or prosper, if we shut down our largest, safest, cleanest and most efficient power plant. Not to mention the excellent overall safety record of nuclear plants.

For the rest of Lydia Polgreens story on Indian Point, click here.



Energy | Environmentalism | Nuclear Power | Lydia Polgreen | Public Lives



A Coal Mine of Bias

Is it just Times Watch, or have the papers editorials become even more strident lately? Were normally content to concentrate on the liberal slant of the Times news pages, but a Sunday editorial, like some previous ones, is sufficiently fact-challenged to merit mention.

It begins: Ever since George Bush renounced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming two years ago, the industrialized world has been waiting patiently for signs that Americans are ready to focus on the pressing issue of climate change. Lately some American politicians have begun to take the matter more seriously, even if Mr. Bush has not. Last week Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman extracted a pledge from their colleagues to hold a floor vote later this year on a promising and, by Senate standards, adventurous proposal for mandatory controls on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas.

The Times brave new forward-thinking energy plan? More coal: Mr. Bush's Energy Department, for example, is engaged in an experimental effort to build a new generation of power plants that will continue to run on coal-the world's cheapest, most abundant fuel-but emit no global warming gases. The Times says nothing about nuclear power, possibly the cheapest and safest fuel around (even France gets 78% of its electricity from nuclear power). This may be due to a general liberal paranoia about nuclear power.

The editorial concludes: McCain-Lieberman is not likely to pass, absent an unexpected conversion on the issue by Mr. Bush and senior Republicans. But every senator will now be required to take a stand one way or the other on an issue of great public concern, an issue on which the world has spoken clearly but Congress has remained irresponsibly silent for too long.

However, Congress has spoken on the issue, just not the way the Times would have wanted. In 1997, during the Clinton administration, the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 for a sense of the Senate resolution affirming that the Kyoto Protocol would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.

For the rest of the Times editorial on global warming, click here.



Editorial | Environment | Global Warming | Kyoto Protocol | Nuclear Power



The Times New Favorite Republican

A self-described Republican critical of Bushs tax cuts, Michael Retzer was guaranteed to be popular with Times reporters. Sure enough, heres Elisabeth Bumiller on Wednesday reporting from Wisconsin, where she followed three of Bushs cabinet secretaries on a tax-cut promotion tour: Michael Retzer, a Republican and a consultant to Ram Inc., a Harley-Davidson supplier, said he did not see how the administration's tax cuts would stimulate the economy when so many consumers would spend the extra money on goods manufactured overseas. Mr. Snow answered by saying that the rate cuts were pretty sizable tax relief, which did not satisfy Mr. Retzer. They danced around it, he said, adding, Right now I am very disillusioned with the Republicans' policies.

Mondays story by Bumiller, Like a Cloud, Economic Woes Follow Bus Tour, also tries its best to put a damper on Bushs tax-cut promotion-and also recycles the very same quote from Retzer, the Times new favorite Republican.

Heres Bumiller reporting Monday from the Bush ranch in Texas: Anyone on the [Wisconsin] tripcould see that the cabinet members charged with promoting the president's tax cuts also heard a lot of anger from workers about foreign competition and laid-off relatives and friends. Right now I am very disillusioned with the Republicans' policies, said Michael Retzer, a Republican and a consultant to a supplier for Harley-Davidson. Mr. Retzer told Mr. Snow at a Harley plant near Milwaukee that he did not see how the tax cuts would stimulate the economy when so many consumers would spend the extra money on goods made overseas.

Retzer may well vote Republican, but his main issue seems to be fair trade, judging by this op-ed in which he calls for tariffs on imports and criticizes the U.S. trade deficit. If Bumiller has to recycle quotes from a single self-described Republican to shore up her argument that Republicans dont like Bushs tax cuts, then Bushs tax cuts must not be doing too badly.

For Bumillers Monday story on Bushs tax cuts (and Retzers quote) click here.

For Bumillers story from last Wednesday on Bushs tax cuts (and Retzers quote) click here.



Elisabeth Bumiller | Cabinet | Economy | Gaffes | Michael Retzer | Tax Cuts