2. Stephanopoulos Ignores Spending: "What Taxes Would You Raise?"
3. Schieffer: Comments from Officials Remind Him of Vietnam Era
4. Reuters: "U.S. War Dead in Iraq Exceeds Early Vietnam Years"
5. Barnes Challenges Journalists to Persue Hussein-al Qaeda Ties
6. CBS Skips Kerry Opting
Out, Looks at DeLay Subverting Finance Law
7. Koppel Ridicules Cheney for Appearing Only on
Meet the Press
Howard Dean: A mainstream centrist? On the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift rejected Pat Buchanan's characterization of Dean's "radicalism," insisting: "What you call radical, Pat, the rest of us call mainstream." Over on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne asserted that Dean "is a closet centrist" and the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt agreed: "He's not really a liberal."
On the McLaughlin Group, when asked by host John McLaughlin if Dean could win the presidency, columnist Pat Buchanan suggested that "his radicalism is fine for the nomination, he'll move to the center." But he predicted he'd lose: "He's a Democratic Goldwater."
McLaughlin seemed flummoxed by Buchanan's Goldwater comment, prompting Clift to explain: "He's suggesting that he's going to lose and I disagree."
On the November 15 Capital Gang, E.J. Dionne, a former political reporter for the New York Times and then Washington Post, who now writes a column syndicated by the Post, posited of Dean: "In fact, in some ways, he is a closet centrist. It's the weirdest thing to see a-"
George Stephanopoulos' one-track mind: Reduce the deficit by raising taxes, not cutting spending. After gushing on This Week to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, "'Rubinomics.' How does it feel to have an economic doctrine named after you?", Stephanopoulos asked him: "So what would you do about those deficits if you were Treasury Secretary today? What taxes would you raise?"
Stephanopoulos introduced his pre-taped session with Rubin, timed to plug a new book, In an Uncertain World, written by the Treasury Secretary during most of the Clinton years: "For such a mild-mannered man, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin inspires some over-heated rhetoric. Comb through the Wall Street Journal and you'll see his economic views derided as 'fiction' on one page, with columnist Al Hunt calling him 'the most successful Treasury Secretary since Alexander Hamilton' on another."
While Stephanopoulos did challenge him a bit on factors other than Clinton policy leading to the boom in the 1990s and how deficits have not always led to higher interest rates, after Rubin lamented the high deficits under Bush, Stephanopoulos inquired:
Soaring spending might have something to do with the rising deficit, but Stephanopoulos didn't mention that. Last Wednesday, the Washington Post reported how "federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels."
The Heritage Foundation calculated that "defense and 9-11 related spending account for less than half of all spending increases since 2001," with 11 percent of it going to 9/11 response, 34 percent for defense, and a massive 55 percent for other spending.
For Heritage's November 13 report by Brian Riedl, "Most New Spending Since 2001 Unrelated to the War on Terrorism," see: www.heritage.org
Vietnam Memories I. CBS's Bob Schieffer contended on Face the Nation that "from the day the war turned bad in Iraq, you could take the words that were said back then," during Vietnam, "and put them into the mouths of today's administration spokesmen and never notice the difference, 'Good things are happening, if only the reporters would report it.'" But, he saw light ahead since "last week, when the violence reached levels that could no longer be ignored, we finally began to get a story that was closer to reality."
Schieffer ended the November 16 Face the Nation with this commentary:
Vietnam Memories II. "U.S. War Dead in Iraq Exceeds Early Vietnam Years," declared a headline over a Thursday night, November 13, Reuters dispatch from Philadelphia, as posted by Yahoo, which James Taranto of the "Best of the Web" column dismissed as an "utterly meaningless comparison."
An excerpt from the top of how Reuters reporter David Morgan ominously began his effort to link the dire impacts of the two wars:
The U.S. death toll in Iraq has surpassed the number of American soldiers killed during the first three years of the Vietnam War, the brutal Cold War conflict that cast a shadow over U.S. affairs for more than a generation.
A Reuters analysis of Defense Department statistics showed on Thursday that the Vietnam War, which the Army says officially began on Dec. 11, 1961, produced a combined 392 fatal casualties from 1962 through 1964, when American troop levels in Indochina stood at just over 17,000.
By comparison, a roadside bomb attack that killed a soldier in Baghdad on Wednesday brought to 397 the tally of American dead in Iraq, where U.S. forces number about 130,000 troops -- the same number reached in Vietnam by October 1965.
The casualty count for Iraq apparently surpassed the Vietnam figure last Sunday, when a U.S. soldier killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack south of Baghdad became the conflict's 393rd American casualty since Operation Iraqi Freedom began on March 20.
Larger still is the number of American casualties from the broader U.S. war on terrorism, which has produced 488 military deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Southwest Asia and other locations.
Statistics from battle zones outside Iraq show that 91 soldiers have died since Oct. 7, 2001, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which President Bush launched against Afghanistan's former Taliban regime after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington killed 3,000 people.
The Bush administration has rejected comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, which traumatized Americans a generation ago with a sad procession of military body bags and television footage of grim wartime cruelty.
Recent opinion polls show public support for the president eroding as he heads toward the 2004 election, partly because of public concern over the deadly cycle of guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings in Iraq....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: story.news.yahoo.com
On Fox News Sunday, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard challenged his journalistic colleagues to pick up a story in this week's issue which recounts a lengthy Department of Defense assessment of 13 years of connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. But so far, the mainstream media are ignoring it.
The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes led his November 24 edition cover story, which was released on Saturday, plugged by the DrudgeReport.com and reported by FNC: "Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda -- perhaps even for Mohamed Atta -- according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by The Weekly Standard."
Barnes observed during the panel segment on Fox News Sunday: "I love the press's in particular selective use of intelligence, which they accuse the Bush administration of, the same people who will raise doubts about this intelligence are praising the CIA assessment of what's going on in Iraq right now." That would be the CIA report saying that the situation is deteriorating rapidly.
But so far the media aren't paying much attention to the Weekly Standard disclosure. None of the other broadcast network Sunday shows mentioned it and neither did the broadcast network evening newscasts on Sunday night.
And on Fox News Sunday, NPR's Juan Williams ridiculed the Weekly Standard story while on Face the Nation, when Senator Ted Kennedy asserted that "the whole policy" toward Iraq "was based on the quicksand of false assumptions, that, one, that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which they weren't; secondly, that they were dominated by al-Qaeda, which they haven't been," host Bob Schieffer failed to follow up by citing the Weekly Standard story. Instead, he summed up Kennedy's claims for him: "Is what you're saying, Senator Kennedy, is that the administration decided it was going to war with Iraq and it didn't really care what the information was?"
(Schieffer also failed to ask Kennedy, his sole guest for the full program, about Kennedy's underhanded slam at blocked Bush judicial nominees, which include a black woman re-elected by over 70 percent to the California Supreme Court, as "neanderthals.")
On the November 16 Fox News Sunday, Snow set up Barnes: "Fred, let me ask you about a series of memos that were first reported by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard which seemed to indicate that our intelligence agencies thought that there were some very strong connections, or at least some coincidences, that would link Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda. Now, we haven't been able to get anybody to bite on this officially, but, looking at the memos, it does appear that the intelligence community thought there was pretty strong evidence that Saddam had been working with al Qaeda, and for a considerable period of time."
In the Weekly Standard, Hayes explained what is outlined in the memo he obtained. An excerpt:
The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.
According to the memo -- which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points -- Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.
The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."
The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that "al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said Iraq sought al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al Qaeda with training and instructors."...
END of Excerpt
For the complete article as published in the November 24 Weekly Standard magazine: weeklystandard.com
Friday's CBS Evening News didn't utter a syllable about Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry opting out of the federal campaign finance matching fund system for the primaries, a system much vaunted by the media and liberals, but devoted a full story to how Republicans Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, as Dan Rather put it, were "looking for loopholes to rake in donations" by subverting "the new campaign finance law designed to limit the power of special interests."
CBS's Bob Orr concluded his story, which was prompted by a front page story in Friday's New York Times, by lecturing the ethics of the conservatives on the very day Kerry announced that he would circumvent the campaign finance system so he can spend his wife's fortune: "Even if the charity fund-raising activities don't violate the letter of the law, there's no doubt about what's being offered. For big contributions, high rollers can still buy access to the powerful. It's the same old political game with a slightly new wrinkle."
"G.O.P. Leader Solicits Money for Charity Tied to Convention," announced the headline over the November 14 New York Times article by Michael Slackman. An excerpt:
It is an unusual charity brochure: a 13-page document, complete with pictures of fireworks and a golf course, that invites potential donors to give as much as $500,000 to spend time with Tom DeLay during the Republican convention in New York City next summer - and to have part of the money go to help abused and neglected children.
Representative DeLay, who has both done work for troubled children and drawn criticism for his aggressive political fund-raising in his career in Congress, said through his staff that the entire effort was fundamentally intended to help children. But aides to Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader from Texas, acknowledged that part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.
And so campaign finance watchdogs say Mr. DeLay's effort can be seen as, above all, a creative maneuver around the recently enacted law meant to limit the ability of federal officials to raise large donations known as soft money.
"They are using the idea of helping children as a blatant cover for financing activities in connection with a convention with huge unlimited, undisclosed, unregulated contributions," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington group that helped push through the recent overhaul of the campaign finance laws.
Other lawmakers may well follow Mr. DeLay's lead. Already Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, is planning to hold a concert and a reception in conjunction with the convention as a way of raising money for AIDS charities....
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.nytimes.com
CBS followed the New York Times script as Dan Rather set up the November 14 CBS Evening News story: "While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the new campaign finance law designed to limit the power of special interests, politicians are already looking for loopholes to rake in donations. CBS' Bob Orr looks tonight at one case in point."
Orr began: "For $50,000 a donor will get luxury box seats at the 2004 Republican Convention, tickets to Broadway shows and spots in an upscale golf tournament. A half-million dollars will buy all of that, plus a New York cruise and two dinners with House Majority Leader Tom Delay. That's the pitch DeLay is making in a new charity brochure which is advertising donor packages for next summer's New York convention. DeLay's Celebrations for Children brochure says the money raised will go to charities. A spokesman for DeLay concedes part of the proceeds will be used to pay for the donors' entertainment, but in the end it's all about helping abused and neglected children. Campaign finance reformer Fred Wertheimer isn't buying it.
Ted Koppel dissed Tim Russert. In his "closing thought" on Thursday's Nightline, which recounted the behind-the-scenes power of Vice President Dick Cheney in formulating the Bush administration's foreign policy, Koppel lectured Cheney about refusing to come on the program and be quizzed by him, charging that "transparency and accountability" means "something more than giving an occasional speech to a conservative foundation and making a couple of appearances on Meet the Press."
When Cheney is on Meet the Press, Russert, who certainly doesn't toss softballs at him, has him on for the whole show, about 45 minutes after ad time, which is substantially longer than the half-hour Nightline could offer.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed how Koppel concluded the November 13 Nightline, titled "the Quiet American," devoted to Cheney:
Sounds like he's as jealous of Russert as Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer are of each other.
-- Brent Baker