- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Leaks ‘n’ lawyers

“On the home front, a different kind of war has raged — a war not only against the Bush administration, but against the tools that this president, or any president, would find useful in the larger war on terror, transcending Iraq,” syndicated columnist James Pinkerton writes.

“The New York Times, for example, eagerly printed details about the National Security Agency’s wiretapping programs last December; amid the backlash against those disclosures, the journalistic establishment rallied ‘round the Times, awarding it a Pulitzer Prize for its report. For good measure, The Washington Post won a Pulitzer, too, for its report on the CIA’s secret prisons in Europe,” Mr. Pinkerton noted.

“And just last month, the Times, and other newspapers, did it again — printing information about the U.S. government’s effort to trace terrorists’ financial networks. The papers said, in effect, that ‘everybody knew’ about the effort, although one might ask: If there was no real news in the stories, why did they end up on the front page? …

“Working closely with the media on the anti-war cause, of course, are litigators and law professors. Reporters seem to think that law schools, instilling liberalism and proceduralism, are the proper gateway to public service. That’s why Jane Mayer, writing in the July 3 New Yorker, expressed dismay that so few top officials in the Bush administration are lawyers — in stark and unhappy contrast to the Clinton administration.

“The leaks ‘n’ lawyers crowd scored yet another victory over Bush last week, when the Supreme Court ruled against military tribunals for Guantanamo inmates. Reporters and editorialists cheered, but is it really good news that Congress and the country will be tied up on this issue for years to come? Let’s put it another way: Does this ruling increase the likelihood that more al Qaeda terrorists will come spilling out of Gitmo? And where will they go, and what will they do?”

News blackout

“No matter how good the U.S. economy gets, no matter how many new jobs are created, the red-hot economy still gets no respect from the media, leading the Wall Street Journal to call it the ‘Rodney Dangerfield economy,’” Mark J. Perry writes in the Hartford Courant.

“The media have consistently downplayed the turbocharged U.S. economy, now in its fifth year of solid economic expansion. And yet almost any country in the world would gladly trade its economic conditions for a U.S. economy,” said Mr. Perry, an associate professor of finance and economics at the University of Michigan at Flint, whose commentary was distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

“In Canada, it was headline news in June that the unemployment rate fell to a 32-year low of 6.1 percent. In more than a decade, the United States has not had an unemployment rate higher than 6 percent except for five months in 2003, and our media disparagingly dismissed that period as a ‘jobless recovery.’

“With the same unemployment rates of about 6 percent, it’s a ‘jobless recovery’ according to the U.S. media, and the strongest economic expansion in more than a generation in Canada!

“Another example of the media’s downplaying of the U.S. economy is its neglect of the history-making news that nine states have set record-low unemployment rates so far in 2006, and an additional 15 states are within a percent of their historical low jobless rates. Almost half of all states are at or near their lowest jobless rates in history, and we hear nothing about it from the media. Even though a national unemployment rate of 4.6 percent gets no respect from the media here, almost any country in Europe would love to have our labor market conditions. …

“Where are the reports today about the explosion in tax revenues generated by the strongest economy in a decade, and the increasing share of taxes paid by ‘the rich’?”

Foreign Hawaii

“Americans who visit Hawaii often feel they are in a foreign country, and if those tourists cared about the island’s politics that might make them even more likely to wonder if they really are in the United States,” Peter A. Brown writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Three recent developments raise the question of whether the people and politicians in the nation’s 50th state have much in common with the traditions and Constitution of the nation of which they are part.”

• The state’s political establishment is backing a school that wants to continue openly discriminating on the basis of race in its admissions practices.

• Hawaii’s government has, until rebuked by a federal court, banned the hiring of Americans who are not Hawaii residents from state jobs.

• Because Congress refused efforts to create self-rule for native Hawaiians, there is a growing movement to set up a native Hawaiian government that would seek billions of dollars in state assets.

“Hawaii’s demographics — more than two-thirds of residents are of Asian descent — lead to the cultural differences with the mainland. Its physical isolation exacerbates a sense of Hawaii exceptionalism,” said Mr. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“This mentality is best exemplified by the manager of one Marriott Hotel, who explained the chain’s properties on the islands operate under policies that govern its Asian, not U.S., facilities.”

Viral video

“Here’s an issue that’s near and dear to my heart: What does YouTube mean for American politics?” Ryan Sager writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“When slick, or not-so-slick, video advertisements can reach millions of people for only the cost of producing the spot, politics has changed — whether it’s for better or worse, or a little or a lot,” Mr. Sager said.

“The question is, ‘How?’ Does cheap, viral video make it easier for candidates to have unfiltered, not-reduced-to-sound bites discussions with the American voter? Or does it mean that every cough, sputter and misstep ends up in a million mailboxes as the outrage of the week?

“It probably means both.

“What’s important, I think, is not to overestimate the importance of viral video, or the Internet in general, as a means to reach the average American voter. The Internet is a user-directed medium, so advertising on it is going to do little or nothing to reach out to the average, unengaged citizen. (This is one reason, among many, that it makes absolutely zero sense to regulate spending on Internet campaigning under campaign-finance laws.)

“Instead, the Internet is mainly a tool to motivate your activists, a purpose to which viral video seems well-suited.

“As for reaching actual voters … well, nothing’s going to replace traditional radio and television buys anytime soon, as best I can tell.”

Turning left

“Amnesty International has long remained neutral on abortion. But now it’s considering whether to take a position on the practice — in favor. Some national branches already have,” the National Review says.

“If a majority of branches do the same, the decision could be made later this year, and, if not, the issue will be considered next year, at Amnesty’s international meeting. It is sad to watch an esteemed organization devolve into yet another appendage of contemporary liberalism.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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