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Times distorts Obama’s public financing “pledge”

Cross-posted on [Kos]

Here is what Obama said with respect to public financing:

If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.

Here is what the “liberal” New York Times said he said:

If he won the nomination, he would limit himself to spending only the $85 million available in public financing between the convention and Election Day as long as his Republican opponent did the same.

The Times article does not quote Obama’s actual statement, nor does it link to it. Instead, it continually mischaracterizes it.

The authors are David Kirkpatrick and Jeff Zeleny.  Kirkpatrick, you may remember, “covered” conservatives for the Times for several years.  

The slant of the article is pure McCain spin, for example, stating that Obama’s statement constituted a “pledge” to spend only the $85 million public financing if his opponent would do the same. This is not what Obama said.  Saying that he would “aggressively pursue a publicly financed general election” clearly can encompass, for example, limits on Section 527 Swift Boat type groups.  But instead, the Times characterizes these as “new conditions,” which Obama is now adding to his initial “pledge.”

On the other hand, the article whitewashes McCain’s clear violations (e.g, using the pledge as collateral for a loan) as “technicalities.”  The impression is therefore created that Obama is the one with the real problem of “reneging” on a “pledge” to support public financing.

Kirkpatrick & Zeleny absurdly state that:

The issue may be more sensitive for Mr. Obama, though, because has run in part on his record as an advocate of stricter government integrity rules, including the public financing system.

I guess they haven’t heard that one of McCain’s raisons d’etre for being the straight-talkin’ “maverick” is his supposed commitment to public financing.

Finally, the Times rolls out the usual “reform” suspects, who have not been troubled by McCain’s blatant shenanigans, but are deeply concerned about Obama: The very serious Fred Werthheimer states:

This whole idea started with Senator Obama, and we think he and whoever the Republican nominee is ought to follow through, said Fred Wertheimer, founder of the advocacy group Democracy 21.

Yes, Fred.  The “whole idea” is to have real public financing that would not permit Ari Fleischer’s quarter billion dollar smear group to relentlessly go after Obama.

Either now, or shortly after he gets the nomination, Obama should consider laying out his entire conditions for true public financing (which would include muzzling Ari’s 2008 version of the Swift Boat liars).    

Kristof on McCain: Whaaaa?

Cross-posted on kos

Nicholas Kristof may be the most maddening of all the New York Times columnists.  His last two columns illustrate this perfectly. Last Thursday, he wrote a great column on the torture and incarceration of Sami al-Hajj  It was a rare traditional media expose and attack on this underreported story.  I wrote a comment to the piece suggesting that he do a follow-up column noting that Congress had just passed an anti-torture bill, but candidate McCain had voted no.

Today, his column is an inexplicable Valentine to McCain that excuses all of his pandering on numerous issues, and mentions merely in passing that he just voted for torture!

. . . for the Jews? Christmas Eve Jewish Thread

(Cross posted at Kos)

As a liberal Jew (which most of us are!), nothing infuriates me more than the hijacking of “Jewish Opinion” by the organized, powerful Jewish Groups like AIPAC, the ADL, etc. American Jews suffer guilt by association because people like Podhoretz, Crystal, Goldberg et al., ad nauseum are perceived as speaking  for us when quite the contrary is the case.

Eric Alterman does a great job of summarizing this problem in a piece at The Nation, Bad for the Jews..  As he puts it:

“Rather, it’s that they think like enlightened liberals yet allow belligerent right-wingers and neocons who frequently demonize, distort and denounce their values to speak for them in the US political arena.

(More below, if you should only be so inclined.)

Eric describes the overwhelming (most likely more than any other ethnic group) Jewish opinion against the war/neocon program:

According to the American Jewish Committee’s 2007 survey of American Jewry, released December 11, a majority of Jews in this country oppose virtually every aspect of the Bush Administration/neocon agenda. Not only do they disapprove of the Administration’s handling of its “campaign against terrorism” (59-31 percent), they believe by a 67-to-27 margin that we should never have invaded Iraq. They are unimpressed by the “surge”–68 percent say it has either made no difference or made things worse, and by a 57-to-35 percent majority they oppose an attack on Iran, even if it was undertaken “to prevent [Iran] from developing nuclear weapons.”

Jews are also impressively sensible when it comes to Israel/Palestine, all things considered. Though barely more than a third think peace is likely anytime soon, and more than 80 percent believe the goal of the Muslim states is to destroy Israel, a 46-to-43 percent plurality continues to support the creation of a Palestinian state.

He concludes:

It’s long past time, however, for the mainstream media to recognize just how out of touch they are with the values of the American Jewish mainstream

The problem as I see it is that there is no counterbalancing organized group to oppose the AIPACs, and break through to not only the mainstream media, but more importantly, the Congress that is cowed, e.g., into voting for Kyl/Lieberman.  

The main reason for this may be that while the Neocon Jews are clear and unanimous, there is no comparable unity on the center and the left.  The Tikkun/Lerner faction is probably too far in the other direction for most Jews, and thus far, there’s no wide support for another alternative.

Anyway, Gut Yontif to all of our Christian brethren here.  We may be of different faiths, but most of us are dangerous secular progressives at heart.

I’ve been “Rescued” on Kos

Well, despite your gallant efforts, Don’t give him my regards .  .  . Give him my respect did not quite break through the dueling Edwards, Obama, Impeachment, “We’re all doomed by giant rocks” diaries for a recommendation.  However, “Ranger” NYC in exile was kind enough to rescue it on tonight’s “Open Thread and Diary Rescue.”

Apologies for the short essay, and thank you again for your kind welcome to this site.

Don’t give him my regards . . . Give him my respect.

(cross-posted on Kos)

In the 1950’s, my Dad was the head counselor at a summer camp in in Pennsylvania. About 10 years ago, I ran into a friend who had gone to the camp.  After reminiscing for a few minutes, I asked him if he would like me to give his regards to my father.  His answer:

“Don’t give him my regards.”  He paused.  “Give him my respect.”

The comment captured his larger-than-life presence for generations of kids at summer camps and at the schools where he was a teacher and principal.

My Dad died on October 24 at the age of 91.  He was a quintessential member of the “Greatest Generation.” Born in 1916 to immigrant parents, he made it through the Depression, went to City College, served in W.W. II, took advantage of the G.I. Bill, raised a war baby (my big brother) and a boomer (me), moved to an “urban suburb” (Rockaway Beach, NY), worked two jobs — teacher and principal; and camp counselor and director.

Also, between 1973 and last month, he tenaciously and courageously fought his way through several heart attacks, a couple of “mini-strokes,” two multiple bypass surgeries, carotid artery surgery, gall bladder surgery (with complications), knee surgery and loss of most of his sight and hearing.  But another heart attack on January 1, 2007 began a series of events that even he could not withstand.  

In the Emergency Room that night, the doctor asked a series of questions to test his cognitive functions:  He aced “What’s your name?” and  “What’s your wife’s name?”  Then the doctor asked “Who’s the President?”  

His reply: “We have a President?”

We knew then that his mental functioning was fine.  

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