Mark Mardell Lies About Health Care

Mark Mardell, the BBC’s US President editor, has published his first post of the new year, and it’s as awful as we’ve come to expect. Doesn’t anyone read this stuff for him before he published it? (H/T George R in the open thread)

A big year for Obama and the Democrats

First he says that making everyone purchase health insurance is the President’s greatest achievement.

The plan to make all Americans take out health insurance is Mr Obama’s main achievement in office, and it is the biggest change he has made to American society.

Actually, the President’s main achievement has been to divide the country and fan the flames of political and ideological hatred. But Mardell and the BBC have always blamed the Tea Party movement and anyone he can think of on the Right for that, so never mind.

He sets up his explanation with this bit of ideological and class war talking points:

At the end of last year I saw the Obamacare sign-up in action in two very different states, Mississippi and Kentucky.

They are both in the South and both of a conservative disposition. But in Mississippi the Republican governor will have nothing to do with the plan, whereas the Democratic governor in Kentucky has embraced its possibilities.

I hope I will get the chance this year to look at other examples but these trips have left me with the strong feeling the healthcare changes will play very differently in different states – and within social classes.

He went to Mississippi, of course, to hoe his usual race row. Helping poor black people is the legacy of ObamaCare, and anyone who objects to the plan is racist. He doesn’t say it out loud, but that’s been his theme since 2009: those who object to ObamaCare as wealth redistribution are really objecting to redistributing wealth to people not like them. He’s said that over and over again.

Then Mardell explains how ObamaCare is playing out in different States. The Democrats, he says, believe all will be mostly well once the website is fixed.

That may well be true in some places – those states which have chosen to embrace expanding Medicaid, a US healthcare programme for the poor, and run their own exchange websites.

Er, if the State is running its own exchange website, that has nothing to do with the ObamaCare national website being fixed. Hello? Ideology has clearly muddled his thinking here.

Note to Mardell and the BBC: Going on Medicaid IS NOT purchasing health insurance.

Like all intellectually honest people have been saying from the very beginning, the goal of ObamaCare is to pave the way towards Socialist, government-provided health care for all. I’ve only been saying it for more than three years. If a political junkie like Mardell can’t tell the difference between buying health insurance and being a ward of the State, he has no business being a journalist.

And then he blames evil Republicans for the reason why insurance premiums are much higher in the ObamaCare exchanges.

But in Republican states where they do neither (and so people have to rely on the glitchy federal website), it could end up being very expensive for individuals and firms, and have a very low take-up.

This is, of course, a total lie. Okay, a partial lie. Yes, expenses for the insurance companies will go up if they don’t get enough young people and middle class and wealthy people to pay into the system. That’s why some insurance companies are already preparing to line up for a bailout. Actually, a bailout was sneakily written into the damn law in the first place, and a bill has been introduced to stop it. They knew all along that this wouldn’t be sustainable, and wrote themselves some taxpayer cash handouts. Did the BBC ever tell you that?

However – and here’s where the lie comes in – the premiums are higher for people who are paying for it because the whole purpose is to get them to subsidize and cover costs of insurance companies being forced to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions who would otherwise be paying a lot more, as well as being forced to pay for birth control pills and maternity care for everyone, men included. Plus taxes are being stuck on top of it. In short, the premiums will in general be higher anyway, regardless of how many people sign up in a world where the website was launched without a hitch. In fact, premiums are already higher. Insurance companies didn’t start out with high prices and will lower them once more people sign up. They’re higher because that’s what it’s going to cost even if everybody signs up, and they will remain so. What he’s saying simply isn’t true.

Here’s a good explanation from Forbes (not Fox News, not Breitbart, not the Right-wing echo chamber), which was written 10 months before we found out that the website was screwed up. No blame on a glitchy website preventing it from working was possible. The actual premium figures still remain to be seen, but there’s no denying the underlying mess. Well, Mardell is denying it, but he’s wrong, and has to be dishonest in order to do it.

Even when people in the US are trying to defend against this charge, it’s framed as “Why the premiums are lower than expected”, which is clever way to say they’re higher but it’s not as bad as the doomsayers said. Not much of a defense. And this is from California, one of those Democrat States running its own exchange that Mardell claims would work out well. The reason the premiums aren’t as high as expected? Some of the biggest insurance companies are staying out. They know keeping costs down isn’t going to happen, and they’ll be screwed. There’s a whole other cluster@#$% waiting to happen there with limited provider networks and limited options for care, but that’s for another time. In any case, notice that even someone defending against the charge that ObamaCare is making premiums higher isn’t actually showing that they’re lower than they would have been if it didn’t happen.

The system is mathematically unsustainable, and was never intended to be otherwise. Think it’s just me? Think I’m simply echoing red meat falsehoods tossed to me by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh? Think again. Even Mardell’s fellow far-Left Progressives are admitting it.

How Obamacare Actually Paves the Way Toward Single Payer

Last week the liberal documentary-maker Michael Moore prompted indigestion across the progressive wonk community by pronouncing Obamacare “awful.” In a New York Times op-ed, he bemoaned the way the president’s law preserved the health insurance industry rather than replacing it with a Medicare-for-all style single-payer system. The good news, Moore conceded, is that the previously uninsured (and often previously uninsurable) can get finally get coverage. The bad news is that their coverage will often be lousy and pose an enormous financial burden. He ended by calling for activists to lean on state politicians in an effort to beef the law up.

********

And yet I’m still much more sympathetic to Obamacare than Moore. He thinks it’s awful. I consider it a deceptively sneaky way to get the health care system both of us really want.

Mark Mardell is a liar, for purely ideological purposes. He’s made it very clear in the past that he thinks government-provided health care is analogous to the government providing police and fire departments. At the same time he made it obvious that he sees no difference between the government requiring people to buy health insurance and requiring people to buy car insurance. His personal ideology colors his thinking and his reporting, in this case to the point of dishonesty and misleading his readers.

My opinion of ObamaCare is irrelevant here. I’m not demanding that Mardell reflect my opinion instead of the one that ObamaCare is correct. These are facts. It’s not ideology to say that going on Medicaid is not the same thing as buying insurance. It’s not ideology to point out the actual reasons why premiums are high. Mardell is not impartial: he is biased. That’s the whole point of his job as a titled BBC “editor”, and I think it’s wrong.

The BBC, Guns, and Mental Illness

There were two tragic shootings in the US this past week or so, and the BBC was keen to use them to promote their anti-gun agenda. Not only did they seek to exploit both events to further that agenda, but stooped to dishonesty, and in one case censorship, in the process. The fact that these occurred around the time the media was acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the sad Newtown massacre, what many of them felt certain was going to be the turning point for the anti-gun movement, only added to their urgency.

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the media seeking to exploit a tragedy to further a political agenda, Mark Mardell flew back from honoring his “secular saint” in Johannesburg to interview a mother of one of the little victims in Newtown.

(NB: Before I continue, let me warn you that this will be a very long post, the length of a magazine feature, as this is a complex issue and there’s a lot of ground – a lot of BBC coverage – to cover. If you’re one of those TL/DR types who believes all blog posts should be short and sweet, 500 words maximum, then please click away now. Also, it’s important to point out that my opinion and your opinion of gun control and of gun culture and gun laws in the US is irrelevant. This is about the BBC’s biased reporting on the issue. Whether or not one agrees with a given ideological perspective should neither deny the BBC’s right to report on something, nor give it carte blanche when it’s an issue with which one agrees. I’m going to repeat this more than once, because I don’t want discussion in the comments to degenerate into moaning about guns in the US. We should be able to discuss the bias on its face, with the evidence I’ve provided, whether we agree with the specifics of an ideological position or not.)

After painting the picture of a heartbroken town, using the tools of a professional wordsmith to evoke emotion and gently guide the reader towards the desired conclusion, Mardell presents the words of Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylon, one of the little victims of a mentally ill teenager who killed his own mother and stole her guns to use in a mass murder. It’s impossible not to be moved at least a little by her pain, the loss of love and the unimaginable potential of a young life. Her expression of the loss of the physical sensation of holding her child touches deeply. It’s why the media engages in this kind of reporting. They know it’s moving, they know people will feel deeply. Unfortunately, they know it can sometimes be used to manipulate, and in some cases it strays into exploitation. It’s also impossible not to detect Mardell’s disappointment that the woman seems to him not to have learned the correct lesson from the tragedy.

Mrs. Hockley knows something must change to prevent this kind of thing  from happening again, or at least make it so rare that nobody can make the case that, as Mardell has, it’s becoming as American as baseball. We’ll return to that highly biased bit of journalism later. Contrary to BBC reporting on the topic, nobody believes that nothing should change. Nobody wants these things to continue just so a few of us can keep our crazy arsenals. One of the lowest rhetorical tricks is to demonize one’s ideological opponent simply for disagreeing, denying the possibility that there might be a reasoned opinion on the other side worth discussing. With this trick, the debate is stifled before it begins, as Mardell demonstrates expertly:

President Barack Obama called for new gun laws after this act of mass murder. Congress has rebuffed every single one.

This makes it seems as if Congress (as usual with the BBC, it’s presented as a single, united body, which is dishonest), and by extension, the public who voted for them, opposed to any change, any improvement which might prevent further tragedies like this. For which laws did the President call? We aren’t told. Which laws doesn’t Congress want? We aren’t told. Does anyone in Congress have an alternative solution, or do they just want things to remain exactly as they are? We aren’t told. Informing you properly is not Mardell’s goal, of course. His purpose here is to make you believe that the US culture of gun ownership – in all its myriad forms, not the monolith nutter-with-an-arsenal portrait the BBC likes to present – is wrong, must be changed, and all right-thinking people seek a new momentum.

Nichole Hockley is disappointed but says she doesn’t back “gun control” and she doesn’t want, as some do, a ban on military-style rifles.

“Its not just about the gun at the end of the day. The gun is the weapon that was chosen to kill my son and others at Sandy Hook Elementary,” she said. “Certainly there are lots of common sense solutions required around gun safety – keep you guns locked up, make sure only people capable of having guns have them, report it if your gun is stolen.”

This reflects more of the consensus in the US than Mardell and his BBC colleagues are comfortable with. Contrary to the general BBC coverage of the issue, there are already plenty of laws controlling guns in the country. They vary from State to State (anathema to the BBC), yet we’re always given the impression that most of the country is one heated argument short of becoming the Wild West. (NB: Your opinion of whether or not people should own guns is irrelevant. The BBC’s reporting is biased, whether you agree with their ideology on the issue or not. Don’t appear to take the position that it’s okay for the BBC to be biased when you agree with them.) Fortunately, as the woman is being presented as an absolute moral authority, he must let her speak. No BBC censorship at this point.

But she says issues about mental health are just as important. There should be early intervention and programmes to stop people feeling isolated.

Now we get to the key element of this tragedy: mental illness. We aren’t properly reminded here, as the BBC expects we all know the details but anyone who remembers the story will know that a mentally ill young man killed his mother, stole her legally-owned weapons, and went on to commit mass murder against small children and their teachers. Here’s where the BBC begins to discuss the reality behind the tragedy, and to address the issues behind it.

Oh, hang on, no it isn’t. We’re back to gun control laws.

But she doesn’t see why Congress couldn’t have banned large ammunition magazines that can hold many bullets.

Connecticut has enacted such a ban on magazines of more than 10 rounds.

“The most lethal feature of a gun is the high-capacity magazine clips,” she said. “When you look at a lot of states there, hunters don’t have more than three or seven per clip because it is about being fair to the animals.

“I would like to see that same fairness given to humans,” she added.

That’s a great line, actually, better than just about anything put out by all the world-class, highly-trained, professional wordsmiths at the BBC. It’s so good it almost made me forget that she said the issue of mental illness was “just as important”. Mardell seems to have forgotten about it, because that’s the last we hear of it. The rest of the piece is about working to enforce more gun control laws. He even wheels out the traditional appeal to authority, this time in the form of the owner of a gun shop who denigrates some of the people who rushed to buy up certain unapproved weapons before laws banning them came into effect. Even the owner of a gun shop, you’re expected to feel, says that people who want to own these guns are idiots, and that it’s very dangerous. What more is there to say, right?

Wrong. There’s more – much, much more – to say about mental illness and the culture and laws surrounding it. Yet Mardell and the BBC swept it under the rug. Mardell simply doesn’t care that the woman – presented here as a voice you must listen to due to her absolute moral authority, remember – said that the issue of mental illness is of equal importance. That won’t do anything to push his or the BBC’s anti-gun agenda, so he ignored it entirely.

It’s likely that the journalist excuse for not spelling out the details of the mass murderer is that most people knew enough that it was unnecessary, and would have impeded the flow of the piece. I believe that one solitary sentence, not unlike the one I wrote above, would have sufficed, and would not have put a damper on the prose. It would, however, have detracted from the agenda. The victim’s mother said that it was just as important as what the BBC made into the main – and only – point of the story, so it’s hard to accept any excuse for leaving it out, practically denying the importance of the issue altogether.

Near the end of the article, after we hear the gun shop owner seemingly disparage many gun owners, Mardell amazing allows through one of the man’s sentiments, and perhaps the most important one of all on the issue of gun control:

He strongly believes that guns are not only a part of America’s constitution, they are also a part of its history and a bulwark against dictatorship – a frequently heard argument.

A frequently heard argument? Not from the BBC it isn’t. When was the last time you heard anyone from the BBC say this was part of the debate? It must be like racism and the Tea Party for Mardell. He’s admitted that he frequently hears people claiming legitimate opposition to Democrats’ and the President’s various Big-Government, redistributionist policies, and that he’s seen no overt evidence that it’s all due to racism, yet he remains convinced that it’s actually all due to racism – or crypto-racism – and pretty much all BBC reporting on opposition to any of the President’s policies is inspired by racism.

In the case of gun control laws, something that is apparently something Mardell hears frequently is never evident in his or his colleagues’ reporting on the issue. Right here, this tells us that he and the BBC just ignore a large portion of what they hear, because it doesn’t suit their agenda.

Getting back to the gun shop owner’s opinion, we get one more little mention of mental health issues, but it’s again subsumed by “common sense” gun control laws.

But he does insist that mental health is an issue and that people should be properly trained in using firearms.

Leaving it like this is sickening, as anyone who paid attention to the actual story will know that the mentally ill mass murderer was properly trained in using firearms, taken to training by his own mother. One can learn all sorts of hypothetical tactics from video games, but that doesn’t teach one how to actually hold, fire, and reload a weapon in meatspace. To claim, as many in the media did, that he learned it all from video games, is a lie, and is actually evidence of the naïvité endemic in the industry’s expert practitioners. So much for that point about proper training preventing this kind of tragedy, and so much for BBC honesty on the matter. Mardell should have pointed that out, but he didn’t, because he doesn’t give a damn. His real agenda is to promote the idea that the US needs to change.

There’s no doubt guns are one of the issues that are central to the wide political gulf in America.

Compromise seems unlikely but Ms Hockley insists what she calls “a conversation” is possible with the focus on the safety of children.

It’s not possible with anyone at the BBC, as their minds are already made up to take what for the majority of people in the US would be an extremist position. The BBC has never, and will never, discuss the fact that, due to the police taking twenty minutes to arrive on the scene, never mind getting in their and stopping a killer, Lanza could have used one of those hunting rifles with clips of only five rounds to kill just as many children and teachers. These were just about the most defenseless victims imaginable, and couldn’t have stopped him if they tried. Hell, he could almost have used a muzzle-loaded musket from the 1830s and done the same thing. Even an amateur can manage one round a minute, and it’s not like any of the little children or their young teachers would have known the difference or dared move when a lunatic with a gun was stalking them. In essence, none of the stricter gun control laws Mrs. Hockley nor most other not as extremist as BBC journalists are talking about would have prevented the tragedy. Only addressing the national culture on mental health issues will be able to even begin to deal with this. Yet Mardell swept it aside.

The second shooting tragedy this week was also covered by the BBC, and they had a difficult time using this one to push their agenda. Not that it stopped them from trying. And in this case, they stooped to censorship in order to aid it.

Gunman dead after Centennial, Colorado, school shooting

A student at a Colorado school shot and wounded two students, one seriously, before dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say.

If this hadn’t happened one day before the Newtown anniversary, would the BBC have even bother with it? Possibly, as it still would have been a good opportunity to send Jonny Dymond over to tell you that this occurred just a few miles away from the infamous Colombine mass murders.

“In the cold, outside their classrooms, waiting to be frisked, the students of another terrorized school,” Dymond intoned ominously, describing the scene with his voice carefully measured and modulated, placing emotive stress on “frisked”, in order to give the proper dark impression, like an actor giving a dramatic reading of a Gothic horror. Professional, world-class BBC journalism in action.

And thus begins the Narrative, one of too many schools cowering in fear of gun massacres. Whatever shall be done? More gun laws needed? Yes, of course. After all, this is the BBC, and that is their agenda.

Just like with , though, all the stricter gun control laws currently being revisited wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy.

The gunman brought a shotgun to the school and was looking for a specific teacher when confronted by a classmate, the Arapahoe County sheriff said.

Nobody in the gun control crowd is talking about banning shotguns. In fact, Vice President Biden recommends owning one for home defense. Even some people in Britain, such as farmers, are allowed to own shotguns. No way are shotguns going to be part of the national debate the BBC dreams of, nor are they going to be restricted or limited in any way. So this isn’t at all a useful tragedy to exploit to further the gun control agenda. Yet the BBC wanted to do it anyway, and so we get Dymond’s dramatic performance.

In addition, the BBC assigned David Botti (just how many Beeboids are working in the US these days? It’s getting ridiculous.) to do a “bespoke” video magazine piece on how US schools are so scared of these mass murders that they’re locking down. The point of his piece is actually not whether or not schools are over-reacting to an existential threat. In reality, the agenda is to stoke emotions against gun ownership and encourage approved thoughts about stricter gun control laws. Think of the children!

As for the Arapahoe shooting, since the BBC had little success in finding a way to push their agenda with that story, they engaged in censorship so it wouldn’t detract from another Narrative: who engages in gun violence.

It’s a behavior we’ve heard all too often from the BBC. I’ve lost count of how many times a shooting gets reported, and BBC journalists and on-air talent start speculating that it must be a Right-winger or white supremacist (to most BBC journalists they’re one and the same), before the facts come out. For example, we heard it with the Toulouse shootings (eventually Gavin Hewitt had enough evidence shoved in his face to make him wonder if it was something else), we heard it with Norwegian shootings, we heard it with the Tucson shootings (some Beeboids tweeted that bias and even blood libel of Sarah Palin as well: see Mark Blank-Settle Jim Hawkins, Katty Kay, and Rachel Kennedy, on our “In Their Own Tweets” page), and we heard it with the Boston bombings. There’s no need for an editorial directive for this biased agenda to be institutional if they all think the same way already. In only one of those cases – Anders Breivik in Norway – did the perpetrator turn out to be driven by some sort of Right-wing ideology. And he was clearly mentally ill. The Tucson murderer, Jared Loughner, also turned out be mentally ill. Yet the BBC reflexively leapt to assume that all of them must have been, before waiting for facts. And in Loughner’s case, tried to sweep the mental illness issue under the rug in favor of pushing their gun control agenda.

In the Arapahoe case, we do know the ideology of the shooter, and we know why the BBC decided to censor it.

Arapahoe High gunman held strong political beliefs, classmates said

The teenage gunman who entered Arapahoe High School on Friday afternoon and shot two fellow students with a shotgun was outspoken about politics, was a gifted debater and might have been bullied for his beliefs, according to students who knew him.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson identified the gunman as Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student.

“He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff,” said junior Abbey Skoda, who was in a class with Pierson during her freshman year. “I also heard he was bullied a lot.”

The part about being bullied has a parallel in the Columbine tragedy, actually. In addition to the easy connection for the lazy journalist of the geographical proximity, somebody decided to tack on a gratuitous mention of the Adam Lanza’s obsession with mass murder stories like Columbine. It’s completely irrelevant to the story itself. The Arapahoe shooter didn’t seem to keep a scrapbook like Lanza did, nor are we hearing about any other shared obsessions. The BBC included that for Narrative purposes only.

As for the Arapahoe shooters beliefs:

In one Facebook post, Pierson attacks the philosophies of economist Adam Smith, who through his invisible-hand theory pushed the notion that the free market was self-regulating. In another post, he describes himself as “Keynesian.”

“I was wondering to all the neoclassicals and neoliberals, why isn’t the market correcting itself?” he wrote. “If the invisible hand is so strong, shouldn’t it be able to overpower regulations?”

Pierson also appears to mock Republicans on another Facebook post, writing “you republicans are so cute” and posting an image that reads: “The Republican Party: Health Care: Let ‘em Die, Climate Change: Let ‘em Die, Gun Violence: Let ‘em Die, Women’s Rights: Let ‘em Die, More War: Let ‘em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?”

Carl Schmidt and Brendon Mendelson, both seniors at Arapahoe High, knew Pierson. They said he had political views that were “outside the mainstream,” but they did not elaborate.

And there you have it. He held similar political beliefs to most BBC journalists. This would have detracted from the anti-gun agenda, so they left it out. Unlike with other shootings where political motivations came from the other side, or at least when they assumed as much. Perhaps the cognitive dissonance was just too much for them.

(UPDATE Dec. 16: More info on the political beliefs of the Arapahoe shooter. This CNN report gives conflicting anecdotes from his fellow students:

Stutz, an offensive tackle on the football team, had known Pierson since the two shared a human behavior class when Stutz was a freshman and Pierson a sophomore. They worked on a class experiment together in which they went into the community and tried breaking unwritten rules, Stutz said.

“I did think he was a little weird, but I didn’t think he was, like, bad weird,” Stutz added. “He always kind of talked about how America was a communist country, how the government was, like, trying to take us over and stuff. I don’t know, just some weird stuff that I didn’t really pay close attention to, but nothing that alarmed me.

But then there’s this:

Senior Chris Davis, 18, was among many students Saturday trying to make sense of Pierson’s shooting rampage.

“He was a weird kid,” Davis said. “He’s a self-proclaimed communist, just wears Soviet shirts all the time.”

Pierson became easily aggravated, “always liked to be right” and didn’t like losing, Davis said.

“It seems realistic, now, that he did it,” Davis added.

It can’t be both. Either the football player misunderstood what Pierson was saying, or the other kid was hallucinating and imagined the Communist t-shirts. Of course we also get the usual “He seemed so nice, can’t imagine him doing this” statements, which never illuminate any of these stories. Two minutes of an internet search ignoring non-Left sites which seized on only one of those quotes found this from the Left-leaning LA Times:

Joe Redmond, an 18-year-old senior who was good friends with Pierson and was also on the debate team, praised his former teammate’s debating prowess, saying Pierson was the best on the team.

“He and I talked politics and economics a lot. He was very good when he was on the team, and he knew what he was talking about,” Redmond said.

Pierson, he said, was a self-proclaimed socialist. “But he also wore a Communist Party T-shirt to confuse people,” Redmond said. Pierson also sometimes wore an Air Force Academy hoodie and apparently wanted to attend the school, Redmond said. His political leanings, friends say, were more antiauthoritarian than communist.

Antiauthoriatarian. So not so much like your typical Beeboid. Although reading further about his arrogance and viciousness against people who disagreed with him politically, he’s sounding more and more like one. Actually, if he’s a self-proclaimed socialist but doesn’t trust the government, he’s like the Occupiers I’ve talked to. And one with emotional problems at least. This just makes it even more curious that the BBC didn’t bother following up on his political beliefs, seeing as how they usually aren’t shy about doing so. Perhaps it just added nothing to the Narrative, so never mind.)

The BBC, in fact, has a long history of pushing a gun-control agenda. And we have proof that it’s not mere supposition, something I’m only inferring, reading something that isn’t there. Mark Mardell himself admitted it. Near the beginning of this piece, I mentioned his quip that mass shootings were becoming “as American as baseball”. It came from this report on that shooting on a Naval base a couple months back.

In his online report about the incident, he admitted the agenda.

I’m standing in front of a yellow police cordon, the flashing lights of emergency vehicles in the background. The locations change, but the question from the presenters in London is as predictable as it is understandable.

“Will this tragedy make a difference to the debate on gun control?” The short and blunt answer: “No.”

Certainly the murders at the Navy Yard will give fresh impetus to a very old debate.

That’s what they were looking for, and came up empty-handed. Mardell’s disappointment was palpable (I wrote about that incident here). In fact, just like with the recent shooting at that Arapahoe school, the murderer brought only a shotgun to the party. As I said earlier, that’s not going to add one iota of support to the gun control agenda. VP Biden says we can have one, British farmers can have one, banning large-capacity magazines will change nothing. Funny how no Beeboids were tweeting that Biden had blood on his hands for encouraging people to get themselves a shotgun. Oh, and that killer was….wait for it….mentally ill. So was at least one of the Columbine murderers, come to think of it. And the BBC quickly abandoned the story once they realized it. Mardell swept the mental illness issue aside after paying lip service to its existence.

Actually, I have to admit that’s not quite true. BBC journalist Debbie Siegelbaum (I repeat: just how many BBC journalists are there in the US?) reported that one possible reason the man was able to kill so many people is that the SWAT team was ordered to stand down. The BBC got the scoop (I don’t know which one of them got it), and the US media picked up on it immediately. Why or how a BBC journalist got this scoop, I have no idea. Right place, right time, perhaps. However it happened, this was – or should have been – an example of good investigative journalism, placing the facts of the story over any ideology or preconceived notions about the surrounding issues. It was then that the BBC quickly abandoned it. Why? This should have been major, worthy of following up.

Instead, the BBC chose ideology over journalism. No aspect of this incident was useful for the anti-gun agenda, so they simply moved on to bloodier pastures. They thought they found them this week. Because the BBC has so many journalists in the US, including BBC News America, a daily news broadcast produced in and targeted at the US audience, it’s deserving of scrutiny and concern. This is one of the ways that the BBC tries, as Jeremy Paxman put it, to “spread influence”. So let’s not pretend any longer that the BBC doesn’t try to do this, or that they don’t believe the BBC doesn’t have some sort of Divine Right to do it.

The BBC should be doing stories about how we need a national debate on mental health issues, rather than constantly seeking to push gun control buttons. Perhaps they’re simply intellectually incapable of making the leap. They’re certainly ideologically incapable of dealing with the entire issue reasonably or impartially. Or honestly.

More evidence of the BBC’s history of an anti-gun agenda can be found here, here, and here.

The US, the BBC, and Guns: Bias? What Bias? Agenda? What Agenda?

Mardell just can’t help himself. He made a video report from just outside the Washington Navy Yard yesterday, featuring interviews BBC freelancers collected from a couple of the mass murderer’s friends, as well as his own analysis.

Mardell said that mass murder of this kind is now “as American as baseball.” Isn’t that charming? He wouldn’t dare say that child rape or honor killings or beheadings were as Islamic as a prayer rug. The BBC’s editorial double standards are clear.

Most people here will recall the not-so-prescient words of the BBC’s top man in the US the last time there was a mass shooting on a US military base:

The truth is of course cloudy. The alleged murderer was clearly a Muslim, but there is very little to suggest that he adhered to a hard-line interpretation of his religion or that he had political or religious motives.

And he closed with this classic:

Still, searching for patterns and for answers is part of what it is to be human. I loathe cliche, but perhaps, for once, this is a “senseless tragedy”, devoid of deeper meaning.

Mardell wrote these words even after it was known that Maj. Hassan shouted what the BBC has watered down to “an Islamic benediction”, and news of his jihadi leanings was coming out. In other words, his personal belief system – and an agenda to stamp down any possible unapproved thoughts – caused him not only to ignore facts, but to push what he must have known was a questionable Narrative.

This time around, because there’s a different agenda – the anti-gun movement – no way is he suggesting this was a senseless tragedy – even though it clearly was – because he and the BBC want to push it. He admitted he was asked to do this in his previous piece, so we know it’s not just him, and is acceptable practice in the BBC newsroom. It’s almost as if Mardell’s saying, “Don’t blame me for this sickening display: I’m only doing what London asked.” I’m not generous enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, I’m afraid, as he has form. This time around, the tragedy can be used to push an agenda of which he approves, so off he goes.

That’s fine, some may say, because it’s only natural that people will question what some see as the US free-for-all when it comes to weapons of mass murder when this kind of thing keeps happening with the regularity of the phases of the moon. Well, in this case, the leap to push that agenda was based on false reports, even though world-class, experienced professional journalists know all too well that all kinds of crazy stuff gets reported in the early hours of these tragedies. It’s human to speculate wildly, and opinion writers and pundits – as well as titled BBC editors and silly bloggers on obscure websites which nobody reads – can do so as much as they like, since opinion is their job, not reporting of facts. Yet the line is blurred at the BBC. People whose job includes giving opinion also do reporting, and it’s sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. In this case, facts were already decided upon, and the agenda was ordered. (My own local paper, the NY Daily News, is equally guilty of this sickness, and the writer I think I dislike most wrote the idiotic cover article. The steep decline of this paper since a News of the World/NY Post guy took over is a topic for another rant. And it’s not even owned by evil Uncle Rupert. But at least it’s not my official state broadcaster with a legacy of trust and deep cultural connection spanning generations, and I don’t have to pay for it if I don’t want to.)

Now once again Mardell is talking out of his own agenda even after facts are known to render it baseless. By the time this video was finished, news was already coming out that there was no AR-15 involved. It’s pretty hard to shrug this off as the understandable result of the fog of confusion common in the first few hours after this kind of incident. Not only that, but the murderer’s primary weapon was not the shotgun he brought, but guns he took from within the premises. The gun-control argument was rendered irrelevant, yet Mardell pushes it anyway.

Even here he closes with a sigh (my inference, yeah) that this tragedy won’t push the gun-control debate in the desired direction. If he didn’t think it needed changing in a stricter direction, why ask the question he asked? If he was impartial – or the BBC actually cared about impartiality on pet issues – he would have stopped asking about gun control laws once it was known to him that banning assault weapons wouldn’t have prevented this. All Alexis had on him when he walked in the door was a shotgun. Even British subjects are allowed to own shotguns, so nobody can claim cultural superiority here. Anyone insisting that stricter US gun laws would have prevented this must by definition be demanding even more draconian laws than the UK has. Any takers?

Mardell reports the killer had a checkered past that should have raised red flags. How many times have we heard this now? Sandy Hook, Colorado, Ft. Hood, the DC sniper of some years back. One could make the case that most or all the newsworthy multiple murders by AR-15 last year were done by people who would qualify as mentally ill in some way. It’s becoming, as the sage said, as American as baseball.

In spite of this, Mardell is worried about gun control laws which have absolutely nothing to do with this tragedy instead of what he knows is a systemic failure to keep seriously mentally ill people out of trouble. He knows this is the real problem. He brings it up himself in both the published article and this video report. It’s a big, big problem. I dare say it’s hard not to have developed even a tiny bit of pity or sympathy for the poor bastard who seems to have been a decent sort who just went mad. And now yet more families are hurt and diminished, lives cut short, hearts broken, because of a broken system. But not the one with which the BBC is obsessed.

Yet in his text piece he blamed lax gun control laws for the police deciding not to prosecute Alexis for shooting somebody’s tires and for firing a gun into a ceiling. Gun control laws aren’t relevant to those incidents either, but Mardell either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t care to.

The Ft. Hood murders were not a “senseless tragedy”, yet Mardell speculated that they were, because he had an agenda on his mind. This time it really was a senseless tragedy, but he’s not speculating that it was one and instead is finding a reason for it, because he has an agenda on his mind. Gosh, it’s a shame this tragedy can’t be exploited to change the debate, isn’t it? If that’s not on Mardell’s mind when he wrote and said this stuff, why did he keep saying it? Who other than anti-gun people have this perspective?

Mardell says that this tragedy will not change the debate about stricter gun laws, but gives the wrong reason for it. He said in his printed piece that US culture needs to change first. In fact – and he knew this by the time he made this video report – the reason it won’t change the debate is because it’s irrelevant. No assault weapon was involved, and the only weapon the killer brought to the party was one even BBC employees in Salford could own.

There is no other explanation for what he’s done. His judgment is clouded. And it’s not just Mardell.

Parallels

With all the recent fuss about BBC mandarins wasting and trousering public funds, this BBC news brief caught my eye:

NPR to shed 10% of staff amid budget shortfall

The BBC reports that US public radio network NPR is having to cut loose 10% of its staff due to financial difficulties. What the BBC doesn’t want you to know: anchor of BBC World News America, Katty Kay, is the regular guest host for NPR’s Diane Rehm show.

The BBC tells you this about NPR’s funding:

NPR, based in Washington DC, receives about 2% of its annual budget from federal funds, with the rest from grants, licence fees from local affiliates, and listener donations.

Its revenue was projected to be $178m in the upcoming financial year.

There’s no bias here yet; the importance of the information will become apparent in a moment.

The broadcaster has also seen several high-profile firings and turnover in its leadership in recent years, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance payments.

What the BBC doesn’t want you to know:

NPR host’s involvement in Occupy D.C. leads to her firing from another show

A public radio host was fired on Thursday after the conservative political site The Daily Caller exposed her role as a spokeswoman for “October 2011,” the faction of Occupy Wall Street movement occupying Washington’s Freedom Plaza.

Lisa Simeone, the host of the nationally syndicated “World of Opera” show, and former weekend host of “All Things Considered,” is a freelancer working for WDAV, NPR’s Davidson, N.C., affiliate, where “World of Opera” originates. She also was the host for the weekly D.C. show “Soundprint” on NPR’s WAMU affiliate.

NPR terminates contract with Juan Williams

Juan Williams once again got himself into trouble with NPR for comments he made at his other job, at Fox News. And NPR’s has unleashed an unprecedented firestorm of criticism directed not at Williams – but at NPR.

NPR fired Williams Wednesday night after 10 years with the network for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News.

Thursday was a day like none I’ve experienced since coming to NPR in October 2007. Office phone lines rang non-stop like an alarm bell with no off button. We’ve received more than 8,000 emails, a record with nothing a close second.

NPR’s garnered more than 6,800 comments, many supporting Williams and others asking why it took so long to fire him. Here’s Thursday’s .

At noon, the deluge of email crashed NPR’s “Contact Us” form on the web site.

The overwhelming majority are angry, furious, outraged. They want NPR to hire him back immediately. If NPR doesn’t, they want all public funding of public radio to stop. They promise to never donate again. They are as mad as hell, and want everyone to know it. It was daunting to answer the phone and hear so much unrestrained anger.

Schiller’s fall puts NPR funds at risk

News accounts of the sacking of National Public Radio Chief Executive Vivian Schiller are careful to point out that she is not a blood relation to Ron Schiller, who, until Tuesday, had been NPR’s senior vice president for development — before he was caught on tape disparaging Tea Party members and the Republican Party in general.

But, unfortunately for her, she is related to Ron Schiller in the sense that he was one of her first big hires after she took the top NPR job in January 2009. WNYC President Laura Walker referred to the duo as “The Schillers,” because they traveled the country together meeting with donors and local public radio officials attempting to build a fundraising juggernaut that would benefit all of public media, with NPR at the center.

As chief executive, Schiller defined her top priority to be creating a stable funding base for NPR to do its thing, which is a pretty important thing, actually: delivering high-quality journalism in which listeners of all political stripes can hear their issues addressed in a serious manner.

It is tragic that, by hiring Schiller and botching the firing last year of former NPR commentator Juan Williams, a favorite of conservatives, she has placed public radio funding on its most precarious footing in recent memory.

Emphases mine. Sounds eerily familiar, no?

In other words, this is a largely Left-wing network. Why is the aforementioned financial data important? Because the BBC then goes on to say this:

The network is a favourite target of conservatives and Republicans, who see it as biased and an inappropriate recipient of taxpayer funds.

Of course, right-on thinking people are supposed to snicker at this, because these terrible people are making a mountain out of a molehill, raising a fuss over a lousy 2%. I’m not putting up a straw man here. This argument has been going on for ages. And as we can see, there’s clearly something to those charges of bias. It’s bias not to see that, if you know what I mean.

However, I’d suggest that there might be a legitimate concern about giving $3.46 million (2% of $173 million) of taxpayer money to a media outlet catering almost exclusively to wealthy white people:

AIR Director: NPR Serves ‘Liberal, Highly Educated Elite,’ Wonders How to Justify Public Funding

After working in many parts of public radio — both deep inside it and now with one foot inside and one foot outside — I believe there’s an elephant in the room. There is something that I’m very conscious of as we consider this crisis that I’d like to speak to.

We have built an extraordinary franchise. It didn’t happen by accident. It happened because we used a very specific methodology to cultivate and build an audience. For years, in boardrooms, at conferences, with funders, we have talked about our highly educated, influential audience. We pursued David Giovannoni’s methodologies. We all participated. It was his research, his undaunted, clear strategy that we pursued to build the successful news journalism franchise we have today.

What happened as a result is that we unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite. “Super-serve the core” — that was the mantra, for many, many years. This focus has, in large part, brought us to our success today. It was never anyone’s intention to exclude anyone.

Nor was it ever, by her own admission, anyone’s intention to include anyone else. Then there was this more recently:

NPR: mostly white audience produces mostly white teen novels list

There’s controversy at NPR over the service’s latest 100 best-ever teen novels list. 75,220 NPR listeners voted for their favorite young adult novels. The list quickly drew fire for its lack of diversity.

“Only two—yes, two—books on the list are written about main characters of color,” noted reading and English teacher Shaker Laurie in a blog post, they being Sandra Cisneros’ ‘House on Mango Street’ and Sherman Alexie’s ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’.

How did this happen, you ask?

But NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos contends that the problem wasn’t with the judges:

“The issue with NPR’s audience is that it skews white and mature. As I detailed last year in a report on diversity in NPR, roughly 87 percent of the radio audience was white, compared to 77 of the country’s over-18 population, according to NPR’s Audience, Insight and Research Department. African-Americans and Hispanics are particularly under-represented; Asian Americans are slightly over-represented, but they are a much smaller group.”

“The poll result, in other words, was innocent, normal and natural,” he concluded. “If still sad.”

Why should any tax money go to fund this, when it could be used instead to help the poorest and most vulnerable (who tend not to be so hideously white) or, heaven forbid, not taken from taxpayers in the first place? The BBC wouldn’t dream of such an objection, apparently, or at least can’t be bothered to mention it. Sure, it’s only a news brief, but that shows how they don’t see the big picture behind the story, or choose not to. These own-goals certainly contributed to NPR’s current funding difficulties, and it’s worth discussing.

I ask any lurking journalists who wish to dismiss my point by saying that I simply don’t understand how news works to please spend a moment explaining why it’s not worth discussing. It’s an honest request.

Also, this goes some way to discredit Mark Mardell’s repeated assertion that conservatives and especially the Tea Party movement he loathes has no legitimate objection to wealth redistribution because they really object only to redistributing wealth to people not like them. Even when he admits that there are a few who aren’t racist, he goes on to tell anecdotes about people who are, and concludes that the whole issue is sharpened by redistribution to people who “are not like us”. Well, if the Tea Party movement is supposed to be made up of almost exclusively “white, largely well-off people” who mostly have a racial animus towards the misuse of their taxes, then by his logic they wouldn’t object to around $3.5 million going to NPR.

Of course most Beeboids (aside from Jeremy Paxman, apparently) wouldn’t see anything wrong with forcing all taxpayers to fund this kind of media organization.

Syria Crisis Raises Question of Mark Mardell’s Bias And Accuracy

As the President of the United States continues to fail in drumming up international support for bombing Syria, and the failure to win now-vital Congressional approval looms on the horizon, the BBC’s Mark Mardell is having a crisis of faith in which he reveals personal bias on the US, war, and the President. He also makes serious factual errors which reveal either his incompetence as a journalist or that a deep personal bias has clouded his judgment.

Syria crisis raises question of US role in the world

Right away, Mardell spells out his dilemma.

The president is clearing his desk, going all-out to persuade for a vote that he has said is vital for America’s credibility.

It is also a critical moment for American perception of itself as a power in the world. But in the details of the debate over Syria, the biggest questions and the larger picture are in danger of being lost.

In essence, it’s whether the world needs a super cop. And whether the US should simply assume that role.

I laughed out loud at this point. A little more than two years ago, back when the President was dithering deliberating over whether or not to send some humanitarian missiles at Libya, Mardell was engaged in contemplation of what he believed was the President’s internal personal struggle:

  • The tug between not wanting to be the world’s policeman and being the only guy with the gun and the muscle to stop a murder.

  • The whole-hearted desire to act in concert with other countries, and the realisation that implies going along with stuff they want to do and you don’t. (Being dragged into a war by the French, imagine.)

  • Not wanting to be out front when many world structures are designed in the expectation that like it or not, America will lead.

  • Intellectual appreciation that the ghost of Western colonialism is a powerful spirit never exorcised, and frustration that an untainted liberal interventionism hasn’t grown in other countries.

It took a long time for Mr Obama to decide to take action, and the route he has taken, a genuine commitment to acting with other nations with the US in the lead, has made for the appearance of more muddle. Now it is time for clarity.

How’s that working out now, Mark? Guess who demanded action first, and who’s our only ally now. Remember when Mardell was worried that the President had accidentally painted Himself into a corner with that “red line” business”? Just the other day, the President, like a child being asked who scribbled with crayons on the wall, told the world, “I didn’t didn’t set a red line: the world set a red line.”  Now Mardell seems to have happily forgotten about his original concern and dutifully shifted blame away from Him. Trapped In A World He Never Made.

The BBC’s top analyst of US affairs has been consistent in his anti-war stance, his defense of the President, and in placing blame anywhere except on Him. Most recently, we saw Mardell in Ohio, reporting about a couple of town hall meetings held by a Congressman, where he found a way to blame George Bush, sort of. Hyper-partisan, intransigent Republicans currently in Washington also shared the blame. Any lack of trust in the President Himself seemed non-existent.

Notice that Mardell portrays Rep. Johnson as having been “unimpressed” by the Administration’s secret intelligence briefing simply because neither the President nor Vice President were there. He says that Johnson merely “had to wait a while to find out” about what the situation was with the chemical weapons, and solid evidence of an actual war plan. Mardell plays his skepticism as personal pettiness, not as a perhaps sincere objection based on legitimately reached opinion. In fact, here’s what Johnson actually said in a public statement, which Mardell would have been given:

“Given how important this Congressional briefing was for the President to make his case for taking military action in Syria, I was surprised that neither he, nor the Vice President, nor any cabinet level official was in attendance.  The decision on whether or not to commit American troops and risk American lives when the United States is not directly threatened is a difficult one, and the President has the heavy burden of convincing the Congress and the American people of its merits. I left this afternoon’s briefing with more questions and concerns than I had when I arrived.”

Sure, he was surprised that nobody of any importance was there. But this appears to be a case where the President and His Administration demonstrated the contempt in which they hold Congress. This wasn’t a snub just at Johnson, it was a snub at all of them. And the bit I’ve bolded is rather important, don’t you think? And it’s not just Johnson who came away skeptical. Congress didn’t actually get satisfactory answers, and even top Democrats say so. Why would Mardell censor that piece of information? No wonder the President is now “clearing His desk”, as Mardell put it today.

Back to the Top Cop thing. Mardell goes on to explain what he sees as the two justifications being used for dropping a few bombs on Syria.

The first is national interest. Mr Obama says Syria does not pose an immediate threat to the US, but its willingness to use chemical weapons threatens its allies and bases in the region.

Less frequently his administration has suggested such weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists who could use them against America.

It is pretty obvious, the bigger the world power the more its vital interests may be harmed by something happening a long way away. If the whole Middle East is in uproar, it might not make a whole heap of difference to Paraguay or Latvia.

The argument for national interest is pretty clear. The desire to intervene for what you might call ‘moral reasons’, is far more murky.

Much of this is fair enough. It doesn’t take a genius to grasp the concepts. But why are moral reasons more murky? Because China and Russia don’t agree. No, really.

Mr Obama and even more forcefully Secretary of State John Kerry have said that the world can’t stand aside and witness such suffering. Particularly not when it breaches, if not international law, then international norms.

It is noticeable that it is senior politicians in the US, France and the UK who are keen on this argument of liberal interventionism. It is not just Russia that won’t go along with it. China won’t either.

On a recent trip there, I became convinced that this is fairly genuine. Academics and ordinary people find it baffling that America wants to impose its values on the rest of the world.

China forcefully repeats that it wants the denuclearisation of its ally North Korea. But it is reluctant to force the issue.

So we’re supposed to question Western moral values in this case because China is baffled by US imperialism? Oh, my goodness. On what other issues are we now supposed to back off now, Mark? Looks like he’s suffering from a little going native syndrome having spent a few weeks in China working on that documentary of his on how deeply entwined our national interests are and how China’s awesomeness may very well rescue the US economy (coming next Tuedsay on Radio 4 – can’t wait!).

Pardon me as I wipe the tears of laughter and dismay out of my eye. Mardell’s also saying that we could be wrong because we haven’t heard particularly loud demands to stop Assad from Brazil, Nigeria, or Japan, either. Well, Mugabe has been pretty silent, too. That’s me convinced. Are we in the world of adult, serious political discussion, or in the proverbial university bar? Hold that thought for later, actually.

So, we’ve gone from the President “accidentally” boxing Himself into a corner and being forced to act to save face, to Him blaming the world for boxing Him into a corner and being forced to act because of our high moral values, to questioning those moral values because they don’t come from Sweden. No, seriously:

I once put it to Tony Blair that the Iraq war might have been more credible if the call for action had come from Sweden. He made the obvious point: “Well, they couldn’t do it, could they?”

Now here’s where Mardell reveals his true bias on the larger issue:

Which makes me wonder about that old saying, “to a hammer, every problem is a nail”. In this case, you have to wonder why the hammer was forged in the first place.

Mardell’s not really old enough to be a child of the ’60s, but he sure is acting like the dippiest of hippies here. Why is there war, mommy? For heaven’s sake, Mark, why not quit the BBC and go to the nearest military base and start putting flowers in rifle barrels. How can anyone take this man seriously at this point?

Speaking of the ’60s, some people here may remember this little journey down the rabbit hole when Mardell was holding session at the BBC College of Journalism. His first reaction on landing in the US after being assigned to replace Justin Webb was, “What happened to the ’60s”? His real bias is on display here. In an attempt to explain himself, he continues:

The British developed their military to defend a globe-spanning empire. The US developed its military might to intervene in Europe and then to challenge the USSR.

The absence of the original purpose has not eliminated an instinct to intervene.

Maybe the word “imperialism” makes you think of arguments “that it is all about oil” or crude land grabs.

But those Victorian imperialists really did think they were bringing civilisation and Christianity, order and the rule of law to people who couldn’t climb to such dizzying heights on their own.

America’s belief in its own mission is more universal and not driven by racism, but there is a similar zealous enthusiasm to remake the rest of the world in its image.

No, there isn’t. This is pure anti-American drivel. And notice how this is suddenly about “America” again. Seems like every time the President does something Mardell or the BBC doesn’t like, He’s not mentioned, and it’s all about “America” as a whole acting unseemly. Is the President not involved? Wasn’t He elected to cure us of this demon? Nobody ‘s making Him do this. In any case, is that what we were doing when Clinton bombed the Serbs? How about when we removed Manuel Noriega from power? Grenada? Nobody in their right mind thought we were going to make Afghanistan into a modern, Western society. Dumbing down such complex situations and issues is silly, and betrays an ideological bias. Disagreeing with policy isn’t the same thing as demonizing it, but that’s what he’s doing here. Having Mark Mardell report on the US is like having St. Mark report on the Pharisees.

Of course, stopping the horror of chemical weapons is not the same as introducing democracy at the point of a gun.

But it raises the same question of who has the authority to make the judgment that norms have been violated, and who deals out the punishment.

Oh, does it now? I don’t know about people here, but I question the wisdom of listening to Russia and China and Nigeria on the issues of human rights. So, who has the authority?

The UN is meant to be the body that can order global cops into action. But the US says the Security Council is broken, because of the Russian veto.

You mean the Security Council which includes such moral heavyweights as Azerbaijan and Pakistan?  The UN which for a while had Libya as the Chair of their Human Rights Council? With Venezuela and Qatar as members? These people are supposed to set moral standards for us all?

While the Russian action does look cynical, it is a bit like a prosecutor saying the jury system doesn’t work because he didn’t get a conviction.

You mean like so many Beeboids said after the Zimmerman verdict?

Or indeed, if David Cameron said parliament didn’t work because of the “no” vote.

Or indeed, if Mark Mardell said Congress didn’t work because they wouldn’t vote for something the President wanted.

President Obama understands how it looks to the rest of the world if the US goes it alone.

But, I thought…..

Mardell again:

It is why he was so reluctant to take the lead over Libya, why he was so slow to develop a Syria strategy.

No, it isn’t. This is where Mardell reveals not only his bias about the President, but even more of his own personal political beliefs. The President took so long to develop a strategy, and has been flailing around ever since He got caught up in His own smart-ass rhetoric, because He and His advisers actually had one all along – only it turned out to be completely, tragically, absurdly wrong.

Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Syria at the Center for American Progress, Washington D.C.

You all remember Samantha Power, right? She’s the President’s former foreign policy adviser who blamed the Jewish Lobby for criticism about His policies, then had to resign when she called Hillary Clinton “a monster” in an interview. After working for George Soros for a while, she was brought back into the fold and is now our voice at Mardell’s voice of morality, the UN. Here’s what she had to say to the far-Left Center for American Progress recently:

We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country, on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks. Or if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran – itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 – to cast loose a regime that was gassing its people. We expanded and accelerated our assistance to the Syrian opposition.

In other words, the President and his super-smart advisers are, just like Mardell, as naive as your average angry student debating world affairs in the university bar. This is just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. And remember that last line about stepping up the help for the rebels for later.

Now we see that Mardell has been accidentally right, but wrong all along. The President wasn’t taking so long to develop a military strategy because He was worried about what the world would think. He was taking so long because He was working on another scheme entirely and never expected to need one. And then He thought He could get away with it, because He usually faces no consequences for anything. Just like He thought He could get away with that “red line” statement. How can Mardell not know this? He’s supposed to have been following the President’s every move closely, considering it all deeply and dutifully, researching, talking with experts, getting insider info. How can he have blown this so badly? Especially since this kind of naive negotiation is exactly the kind of thing he supports.

His bias has been driving his analysis. As I’ve maintained from the beginning, the President doesn’t have much interest or deep understanding of realpolitik and international affairs at this level. His ambitions and concerns have always been about domestic policies, domestic transformation. All these foreign issues are nuisances, distractions, things which should be delegated to various minions and apparatchiks. Where He does have opinions, they don’t seem to be very profound. And so we see here that the people doing it for Him share the most naive, ignorant views possible, and have accomplished precious little.

Why do you think we have less allies now after four years of Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State? And here’s another unasked, never mind unanswered question: If so much of the opposition to this war is due to Iraq fatigue, what about Libya? Why was Libya okay and now suddenly everyone is tired of war? That was even (illegal) regime change, he didn’t use unapproved weapons, and this is supposed to be some “proportional” limited bombing campaign.

What does “proportional” mean, anyway? Mardell isn’t interested. All he cares about is how the President looks now, and how He’ll look next week. It seems that the BBC’s North America editor’s job is not to really inform you properly about US issues, or about how the country works or what’s really going on, but how things affect the President. That’s why I often refer to him as the BBC’s US President editor.

Mardell’s journalism over the last five years has shown that his personal political ideology is very close to that of the President. This war campaign – as well as the one against Libya – is the only issue on which Mardell doesn’t approve. So he works to shift blame away from the President at every opportunity. And now he’s not only trying to analyze the situation around Him, he’s trying to figure out what the President can do to be successful. Is that really what the BBC is paying him to do?

Now about what Amb. Power said about accelerating assistance to the Syrian rebels. It’s really starting to look like this is all smoke and mirrors. As is obvious to everyone except Mardell by now, it’s impossible to think that a limited strike on a few military facilities will be the end of it. The President claims He’s not taking sides in the Syrian civil war here. He’s been very clear that this is about sending a message about killing lots of people in an unapproved method. I bet Ghaddafi’s ghost is wondering why the hell all this Iraq fatigue didn’t set in when it was his turn in the spotlight. But I digress.

Doing any real damage to Assad’s military capability is a de facto game changer in the civil war. It’s simply not credible to say that the military installations supposedly used to launch a rocket with a chemical warhead have no other purpose. I don’t mean specifically the rockets themselves which may already be armed with them, I’m talking about the larger picture. It’s impossible to believe that there can be some sort of surgical strikes so accurate that only the chemical weapons and a couple of rocket launchers will be hit. Any attack will limit Assad’s military capability, period, and it’s outrageous that we’re expected to believe that it won’t, and that any military action the US takes won’t affect – or isn’t meant to affect – the civil war. Of course it will.

Where’s Mardell’s astute analysis about that? He’s still caught up in the emotional world of teenage existential angst to notice. I’m trying not to take a position here about the rights or wrongs about taking sides or stopping Assad or regime change or what we should do next. I have opinions, obviously, but that’s not what this is about. This is about Mardell’s personal opinions coloring all his reporting and analysis in a way that makes his journalism unworthy of trusting or given much credence at all.

He’s not wondering about any of what I’ve just mentioned because he’s still stuck in his belief that The Obamessiah really is concerned only about chemical weapons, and truly doesn’t want to force regime change. We can see from Power’s speech that this simply isn’t true, that the US really is working to increase the chances of his downfall. So the President is essentially lying, Sec. of State Kerry is lying, and any BBC journalist who says the President doesn’t want to is either lying or just seriously deluded.

It’s either that, or the President and His entire Administration are a bunch of idiots and shouldn’t be trusted to run a nursery. Take your pick. In the end, this is a massive failure of BBC journalism. At your expense.

PS: Still no mention of His Nobel Prize for Peace. Come on, Mark, even Sweden has called Him on it.

Mark Mardell: What’s So Special?

Mark Mardell is having a little freak-out about his beloved Obamessiah’s relentless rush to war (or is it only a rush when Bush does it?), which I’m enjoying immensely. It’s caused him to reveal his ignorance on US politics and scramble to find something that makes sense to him.

UK Syria vote leaves US asking ‘what’s so special?’

That’s Mardell’s concern here: how an intransigent Parliament is hindering the President’s wishes. Forget about the questionable evidence of Assad using chemical weapons, as apparently Susan Rice (who lied to the world about Benghazi, on orders from the President) and John Kerry (who was against intervention before he was for it – or was it the other way round? Depends on who’s President, I think) have presented new evidence about an intercepted phone call from some Syrian officer saying something they did got out of hand. France is all for His Obombing plan, so that will help His cause, according to Mardell.

My guess is that there will be renewed emphasis on the role of the French, the Turks and perhaps others. It will strengthen the hand of those in Congress who argue they should have their own vote.

Yeah, we always look for France’s approval on these things…..

So it’s only an opinion of some Congressmen that they should have a vote on war? I despair of this man’s appalling journalism sometimes, I swear. How many years has he been here now? While the President can order a very limited military strike, any real action requires a vote from Congress. This isn’t some partisan interpretation or something that sprang out of Rush Limbaugh’s fevered imagination. It’s the law. Didn’t we go through this whole charade with Libya? Remember when the President violated the law by doing too much warmongering for too long, after the date passed when Congressional approval was required? Has Mardell forgotten all about that? He sure is aware when Congress has the ability not to grant the President every wish.

Nobody seriously believes that a single round of cruise missiles will be the beginning and end of it. Just like with Libya, military forces will be required to hang around in war-mode for more than 60 days, and any more action than that requires Congressional approval, period. It’s not just politicians’ egos or enemies of the President trying to tear Him down this time, and Mardell would do well to remember that.

Mardell’s expert analysis has been way off on the Syria story. He assured us only last week that the President wasn’t going to rush into anything. What Mardell somehow fails to realize after all these years is that the President is all about Himself and His image, first and foremost. He’s perfectly capable of going to war just to prove a point, to stick a finger in the eye of His detractors. Nobody who’s been seriously paying attention for the last five years would think that this President will just gracefully step back after making such bold statements. The BBC’s US President editor, though, remains convinced that He wants to keep on deliberating and deeply contemplating everything. We saw the same error of judgment in his coverage of Libya.

Also notice how all the discussion is about whether or not the President looks good doing this, and about who’s going to join in. Neither Mardell nor anyone else at the BBC seems to be worried that this might be as illegal as anything George Bush did, even though he had two UN resolutions behind him, while the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate-in-Chief doesn’t need any. He needed only one to engage in regime change in Libya, and I guess even that’s not necessary now. Sure, the President now says He’s not doing regime change this time. But He’s already publicly demanded that Assad step down. Is that a “never mind” now? Mardell doesn’t want you to remember that. In fact, just the other day, he told a little white lie about it, claiming that the President has actually “repeatedly” said that He’s not interested in regime change. Well, maybe He has, but He’s also demanded regime change, so it’s no use pretending that didn’t happen. Can we call it dithering yet?

Since all of His promises seem to have an expiration date, who believes that regime change in Syria isn’t inevitably the goal once the shooting starts? We’re not going to have a repeat of containing Sadaam Hussein for a decade, are we? Who’s Mardell trying to kid here?

Then there’s the whole “poodle” thing.

It may be a different story now that it is clear Britain, so often cast as America’s poodle, won’t take part at all.

So often? How often, really? Back in the heady days of the “rush to war” in Iraq, and the initial invasion of Afghanistan, sure, we heard that a lot. But do people still go around saying that? I don’t recall Britain being called a poodle regarding Libya. And wasn’t it Blair was Bush’s poodle, and not really the way Mardell presents it? What happened to everyone loving this President? Surely nobody would be ashamed to follow Him.

I then laughed out loud when I read this:

It undermines the effort of the president to sell action to his own people, who seem to be deeply unimpressed by his arguments so far (the last opinion poll I saw had just 9% backing intervention).

Only a couple days late on that score, Mark. We all knew about that already. Don’t we always say that if it’s in the WaPo, the Beeboids know about it? Or maybe he just read it on this disgusting website. Skype Emoticons   I hope he’s not going to claim he saw that poll before he wrote that Sec. of State Kerry was “of course right that most people will think as he does” about it being “common sense” that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack, “simply from watching the TV pictures”. Because that would be embarrassing.

Having said that, NBC has done a more recent poll, with more specific and helpful results.

  • Only 26% think we should take military action against Assad in general, aside from the question of chemical weapons
  • 50% are against military action against Assad for using chemical weapons, with 42% approving. Is that a mandate, I wonder?
  • 50% actually approve of a very limited air strikes using cruise missiles launched from U.S. naval ships that were meant to destroy military units and infrastructure that have been used to carry out chemical attacks. That’s rather hypothetical, assuming that we know exactly who did it and where, which we of course don’t, and probably won’t even after the UN busybodies get there days after it’s all been cleaned up. But at least it’s a token some can wave around as approval of His Obombing plan. If Mardell gets around to reading the NBC poll, he’ll probably see that as a mandate to act without Congress’s approval.
  • 79% think the President should have Congressional approval before taking military action, and 21% don’t. Argh. Some of us are as dopey as Mardell. But at least the vast majority think Congress is more relevant than he does.

Not coincidentally, more people disapprove of how the President is doing his job, 48% – 44%, and more disapprove of how He’s handling foreign policy, 49% – 41%. Probably all due to crypto-racism, right, Mark? They like going to war, they just don’t like going to war under the direction of a black President.

Worst of all, though, is the continued absence of any mention from the BBC’s top man in the US – an experienced, world-class political analyst – of the President’s Nobel Peace Prize. Sure, dithering over whether to act, drawing a silly red line in the sand, boxing Himself into a corner over going to war, and losing a top ally in the process makes the President look less than the God-like creature so many at the BBC seem to worship. But how ridiculous is it that a Nobel Peace Prize laureate is now talking about starting yet another war against yet another country, this time not even “leading from behind”. This President must have the highest body count of any Nobel laureate, with more to come, yet Mardell doesn’t say a word about it. Hack, failure. I admit it’s refreshing to see him not advocating for one of the President’s policies for a change, but his coverage of this issue is pathetic. Like Justin Webb before him, he’ll probably get promoted for it.

Has anyone at the BBC mentioned His Nobel in this context yet? Anywhere? Has even a favored edgy comedian made a joke about it on the radio?

A Toxic Tale Of….Economic Growth?

Remember back in February of this year, when the US government was facing an across-the-board 5% budget cut, known colloquially as the “sequester”, because nasty old Republicans wouldn’t bow down to the Presidents spending desires? At the time, the BBC’s US President editor couldn’t have been more cross, calling it a “toxic tale of cruel dismemberment and government by crisis”. Oh, how we were fed doom and gloom. The emotive language, the hand-wringing, the tales of woe just kept coming. Remember, titled BBC editors somehow don’t have to be impartial at all times. They give “expert analysis”, which is opinion when its at home. Is it bias when all the opinions come from the Left?

In any case, the President wasn’t getting His way, and it looked as if the nasty white Republicans wanted to prevent Him from saving us all. BBC went into full White House propaganda mode. As I wrote in that post, the BBC also lied about how the sequester came to be. It was such a bad idea, they felt, that it couldn’t possibly have come from the President. Yet, it had. And so the BBC pretended it wasn’t true. Mark Mardell repeated the falsehood:

Many Republicans say the idea for the “sequester” budget cuts was President Obama’s in the first place. The White House rejects that.

Whoever came up with the idea, the 2011 law meant failure to agree would cut both cherished Democratic programmes that helped the poor and defence spending beloved of Republicans.

We know who came up with it, and so did Mardell when he pretended to be unsure. The President did, because He believed it would be a threat so great that the Republicans would cave. Of course, only a fool would think that the Republican leadership, under pressure from Tea Partiers and other fiscal conservatives, would see cutting government spending as something to be avoided at all costs. So Rep. Boehner didn’t blink, and we got the cuts.

Either Mardell or a sub editor gave his post the headline: ‘Sequester budget cuts: America’s grim fairy tale ‘. It was a very dark day for the country, apparently.

And how’s that “cruel dismemberment” working out now? Here’s how:

US economic growth revised upwards to 2.5%

Now that is cruel….to anyone who believed that the sequester was going to destroy the recovery. What was the actual fairy tale, then: the real story of the budget negotiations, or the BBC’s tale of “cruel dismemberment”?

The US economy grew at an annualised pace of 2.5% in the second quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said in revised figures.

That was more than double the pace recorded in the previous three months, and above estimates of 2.2%.

The rise, helped by an increase in exports, is a further sign that the economy may be getting back on track.

The government had originally estimated that GDP grew at a 1.7% rate in the second quarter.

Others have noticed that maybe the sequester wasn’t the horror show Mardell and the BBC believed it would be. Sure, the usual water-carriers at the WaPo and HuffPo have said it’s been restricting growth, but who here thinks that growth would be rocketing past 5% or something now if there had been no spending cuts? If the sequester was really killing the economy for two quarters, the BBC would be all over it.

And the BBC analysis about how the sequester wasn’t such a catastrophe after all, and that the President was wrong?

What’s funny is that the Beeboids probably see this latest report as a sign that The Obamessiah is saving us, that His Economic Plan For Us is starting to bear fruit, in spite of Republican intransigence and enemies wanting to destroy Him. So bringing the sequester into the picture isn’t going to help that at all, as they sure can’t make a case that we’d be going like gangbusters without it. The BBC links to other articles they’ve run recently trumpeting signs of economic growth and recovery, and no mention of the sequester anywhere. If it was as bad as the BBC’s top experts warned us it was, how can this be?

I think we can safely ignore any BBC expert analysis on the US economy, budget, or politics.

BBC Censorship: The List Just Keeps Growing Edition

Everyone knows by now how the BBC got it wrong on Benghazi. I made a post about how the BBC was censoring news of what really happened on Sept. 13, 2012, two days after the attack. Plenty of people here from then on posted links to stories about it, and we all wondered why the BBC kept ignoring it or simply followed the White House talking points and dismissed those complaining. Now we know why they did this. As Mark Mardell has admitted (h/t DB), he thought it was all just partisan attack nonsense to which he needn’t pay attention.

In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I have not in the past been persuaded that allegations of a cover-up were a big deal. It seemed to me a partisan attack based on very little.

His very next sentence suggests that he was more convinced by a different spin on the incident, because it came from sources he was more likely to trust.

I remember listening to reports from the BBC and others at the time that did suggest the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a rather puerile anti-Islamic video.

Even though I’m not a journalist, I’ve heard enough from actual Beeboids who used to comment here, as well as from self-proclaimed journalists who’ve made attempts to explain it, not to mention the statements made by Mardell himself and the head of the BBC bureau in the US about how they decide what gets published/broadcast, to know that, no matter how hard everyone tries to be impartial, personal opinion is going to inform decisions on some level, at some point in time. The BBC’s top man in the US has now admitted that his personal opinion of both the sources of the complaints and what he understood of their merits prevented him from taking it seriously. It can’t be much of a stretch to conclude that the BBC in general took the same position. After all, they do tend to follow the lead of their fellow Left-wing journalists in the US.

One has to wonder just how much he knew about the complaints of mistakes regarding embassy security and the cover-up of what the Administration knew and the consequential lies to the victims’ families and the public about it, including lies told by someone at least one Beeboid sees as a global inspiration. Did Mardell simply dismiss it all because it was coming from Republicans, people he’s described on more than one occasion as “enemies” of the President? Not to mention the fact that everyone knew this was going to be a major issue in the campaign to re-elect Him. The BBC doesn’t like to report things which make Him look bad, and are more interested in demonizing opponents than investigating what’s going on. Mardell certainly has form on dismissing any criticism of Him as partisan attacks with little merit.

The day after the attacks, people were posting other news items on the open thread here about what actually happened, and showing what the BBC kept leaving out. It was clear even then that the President and His Administration was not being truthful, pushing the phony story about that video causing it. At the time, Mardell bought it hook, line, and sinker, and even seized on it to take a swipe at Mitt Romney (then the Republican nominee contesting His re-election). The BBC wasn’t interested in reality then, and continued to cover their eyes and ears for months. Defenders of the indefensible love to dismiss things because of the source (Fox News! Fox News!), refusing to even go into the merits of any of it. Yet who’s getting the last laugh now? One has to wonder if Mardell and the BBC similarly dismissed the merits of the stories simply because they didn’t like the source.

The fact that the BBC is only now getting around to admitting all of this and reporting it is revealing of how they prioritize news stories. It was only after the latest round of hearings started and the revelations were spread across the front pages of their preferred news outlets for more than a day that they decided is was newsworthy. The revelations had been out for days before that, and in some cases, weeks and months. Yet the BBC couldn’t be bothered. A simple news aggregator would have kept you better informed, and you could all decide for yourself what had merit and what didn’t. The gatekeepers failed you here.

The BBC has form on censoring deciding stories simply aren’t worth your time, only to be forced by reality to report it much later on, long after everyone here knows all about it. For example:

“Fast & Furious”, where the Administration oversaw guns being sold illegally to people who they knew would sell to Mexican drug cartels, without tracking them, in the hopes of creating a body count on which they could exploit to push for stricter gun laws, and then tried to cover it up.

The President’s mishandling of the Gulf oil spill cleanup.

They censored all kinds of stuff from the Trayvon Martin coverage.

They censored almost all news about the billions sent down the Green Toilet to failed green energy businesses run mostly by Democrat money-bundlers.

They’ve also censored news of all but two gaffes by the President, as it conflicts with the “He’s so suave and cool and far more intelligent than the inarticulate Bush” groupthink. Bush got no such protection, as even the slightest misstep was ridiculed for your benefit.

The BBC even censored a bit out of a speech by the President so it wouldn’t conflict with their Narrative about the budget and one round of debt negotiations.

There’s plenty of other stuff the BBC thought you didn’t need to know. Have a look at this list and judge for yourselves if any of it was newsworthy or not.

The latest major story the BBC has so far kept from you is the admission by the IRS that they’ve been illegally targeting and harassing Tea Party groups and other non-Left organizations. This has apparently been going on for some times, as a top Administration official (at the time) inadvertently mentioned over two years ago that the President’s inner circle had illegal access to tax information of their political opponents. It’s a big deal, but in the interests of keeping this from being yet another of my tediously lengthy posts, I’ll just link to an op-ed from the national newspaper perhaps respected most by the BBC: the Washington Post. Not Fox News, not Breitbart, not Jihadwatch, not Glen Beck. It’s simply not possible for defenders of the indefensible to dismiss this because of the source.

Playing politics with tax records

A BEDROCK principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends.

So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.

BBC: ZZZZzzzzzzz

With all this in mind, I say again that the BBC has given up being as serious news organization when it comes to US  issues. They may have a titled editor on the scene, and at least 100 employees beavering away at the website and producing those “bespoke” video magazine pieces, but it’s little more than a lightweight content producer these days, with an eye to attracting the MOR and low-information crowd, along with the ad and subscription revenue that comes with their eyeballs. Your license fee hard at work. Sure, most of this is technically paid for by the commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, but there’s plenty of sharing of resources and funding. And after all, this is your official state broadcaster expanding far beyond its original remit.

UPDATE, 5/13: The BBC has now reported it. Because the President spoke out about it, it’s new. He has condemned the actions and promised to deal with it, so all is well.

“I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it and I will make sure that we find out exactly what happened.”

Like He has with Benghazi, right, BBC?

Questions Begin For Mark Mardell Over Boston

The BBC’s top man in the US, Mark Mardell, has some questions for the FBI in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. And I have some questions for the BBC’s wrongly-titled North America editor.

Questions begin for FBI over Boston

The relief was palpable in a city where 19 April 2013 had been cancelled, paralysed, because of the manhunt for a terrorist.

When the news broke that the second suspect had been caught Boston residents who’d been cooped up under a day-long curfew poured onto the streets whooping with joy.

That raises a question before we even get to Mardell’s questions for the FBI. Why no mention that the only reason the second suspect was found is that the owner of the boat where he was hiding was able to find him only because the lockdown was lifted and he stepped outside for a smoke? Why no question from him as to why the lockdown in the first place? It clearly hindered the goal of finding the suspect, not to mention the ominous overtones of the government forcing citizens to remain indoors not because they were in danger but simply to make things easier for government officials to move around.

Mardell remarked in a previous blog post about how surprising it was to find the entire city shut down like that. But he felt it was necessary, and worried only that people wouldn’t feel safe again until the perpetrator was caught. Not that people got a bad impression from the government ordering them to remain indoors in a situation that wasn’t something immediately threatening to everyone, such as an imminent nuclear attack, but that this made them feel even more scared of the bad guy. The extreme exercise of State power didn’t bother him at all. Why not?

Back to Mardell’s “analysis”:

When President Obama spoke, the normal level of chatter returned and no-one seemed to be paying much attention. But he had something important to say.

Naturally, the President must be brought into the conversation, even if it’s just as a launchpad for the real point Mardell wants to make. Actually, it’s probably more than just his reflexive response to view everything through the prism of Him. Normalcy started to return not when news broke that one suspect had been found and killed while the other was now running scared, but because He spoke to us.

Now, about that point Mardell wants to make. The President asked the rhetorical question of “why did they do it”.

“How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help? The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers. The wounded, some of whom now have to learn how to stand and walk and live again, deserve answers.”

The president might be wise to start by asking President Putin. I have no evidence that the “foreign government” asking questions about Tamerlan Tsarnaev was Russia, but that is my strong suspicion.

It’s not His fault, you see. These young men were not radicalized by the Iraq War or Afghanistan, and definitely, no way in hell, never in a million years were they radicalized to murder their neighbors by seeing all those fellow Mohammedans get killed in cold blood – innocent women and children included – by drone bombs under the President’s orders. Nope, they’re Chechens now, not home-grown US terrorists anymore. So of course Putin must bear some responsibility because of that whole Russia/Chechnya scene. I do hope this won’t make any Beeboid start to have second thoughts about the theory that these people are all radicalized by Iraq/Afghanistan/US Foreign policy. To think that there might be some sort of global, pan-Islamist connection regardless of which country is oppressing them is one of the most unapproved thoughts imaginable.

Whoever it was, they warned the FBI that Tamerlan was a strong supporter of radical Islam. The FBI say they investigated, interviewed him, and found no links with terrorism. This is quite remarkable. Let me repeat it. The FBI had been warned that the man who apparently carried out the first terrorist attack on an American city since 9/11 was a strong supporter of radical Islam.

It’s actually not at all remarkable to anyone who follows reality outside the Beltway bubble and far-Left blogosphere. I don’t remember Mardell finding it so remarkable that the US Army knew for some time that Maj. Hasan was going radical and expressing disturbing thoughts. As most people here have known for some time, the FBI purged language about Islamic terrorism from their materials. (Actually, one change to the guidelines made at the same time is right on the money: the bit about how there really is no more international functional Al Qaeda super-group any longer, and it really is a hodge-podge of gangs and cells and freelancers and inspired lone wolves and wannabes.) Aside from that, it shouldn’t be remarkable to anyone who follows reality outside the Beltway bubble and far-Left blogosphere because even the Washington Post reported that Russia told the FBI about Tamerlan.

Why is Mardell being so coy? Why pretend he doesn’t know? Is there some BBC legal eagle keeping him from saying it out loud? Or is he just that far behind the times again? He knows Tamerlan traveled to Russia last year, because his colleagues mention it on the “Chechen links” section of the special feature on the bombers. So it’s silly for him to play this game. Maybe there’s just some legal reason he can’t say it, even though he and his colleagues can speculate all day long about right-wing connections.

People will want to know how far they delved, how hard they tried, how seriously they took the information. Some of the criticism will be unfair, based on hindsight – they must get thousands of such warnings ever year. Or perhaps they are quite rare. That is another question.

No, Mark. The real question is: who gave the order over a year ago to make the FBI turn a blind eye to the specific radical Islam component to these things. And why. One suspects that Mardell won’t be asking any of either his or my questions any time soon. Nor will anyone at the BBC, because that’s not what they do.

One last question for Mardell: Will you and your colleagues finally learn the lesson and not only stop speculating that these attacks are probably from Right-wingers, but also stop speculating that it can’t be connected to radical Islamists? Speculate about everyone or no one.

Mardell Tells A White House Lie

Yes, I say “lie”. Mark Mardell is lying. I say he’s lying and not merely reporting something when he’s misinformed, or making a claim based on false information for which he’s not responsible. I’m saying Mardell is lying because he knows what he’s saying is not true.

The BBC’s US President editor continues pushing the White House talking points about the “Sequester” budget cuts on Today, and here’s a link to the printed version.

Sequester budget cuts: America’s grim fairy tale

It’s more or less the same biased stuff he produced the other day, which I wrote about here. This time, though, instead of avoiding telling you who really came up with the Sequester plan, Mardell just openly lies about it.

Many Republicans say the idea for the “sequester” budget cuts was President Obama’s in the first place. The White House rejects that.

Whoever came up with the idea, the 2011 law meant failure to agree would cut both cherished Democratic programmes that helped the poor and defence spending beloved of Republicans.

There’s even a bit of bias in the last line there, which I’ll get to in a moment. First, to expose the lie.

It’s not just Republicans saying it. By phrasing it that way, Mardell leads you to believe that it’s a matter of opinion. In fact, as I showed in my previous post on Mardell’s spin, the White House has admitted that it was the President’s offer. I’ll just reprint the quote from CNBC (not Fox News, not Breitbart) about it, to save defenders of the indefensible the pain of having to read another post of mine:

Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.

“Fact”. Not good enough for you? Forbes says it was His idea. The Washington Post, which Mardell reads regularly, gives His claim Four Pinocchios, and provides evidence to back up the fact that it was His idea. Even Politifact rates the President’s claim that the cuts was Congress’s idea as “mostly false”Politico, which Mardell reads regularly, almost admitted it, but they couldn’t quite bring themselves to hurt Him and so framed it in an amusingly contorted bit of spin that would make Helen Boaden proud:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to give Obama the authority…

Then there’s this bit from a different Washington Post article (not Fox News, not Breitbart):

Last year, the House passed two bills that would have stopped the sequester and replaced some of the spending cuts with others. But the White House said the magnitude of the cuts was unacceptable and would imperil critical government programs.

Anyone who gets their information on US issues from the BBC will be very aware of which Party runs the House. The President could have prevented this, but chose not to. Curiously, Mardell chose not to tell you about it.

If none of this is good enough for you, here’s White House spokesman Jay Carney, personal friend of BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America Katty Kay, saying, “the sequester was one of the ideas yes put forward, yes, by the president’s team.”

In other words, Mardell knows exactly who started this, exactly whose idea the sequestered cuts are, and exactly what he’s doing when he misleads you. Blame must always be shifted from The Obamessiah. Trapped in a world He never made, it’s not His fault, you see.

Almost forgot about the bias in that sentence about which cuts supposedly hurt whom. Consider the pantomime caricatures Mardell uses: the Democrats want to help the poor, while it’s the war machine that’s so beloved by the Republicans. Can you tell where you’re meant to boo and hiss, and where you’re meant to cheer? I guess that makes Mardell the pantomime dame, although that’s probably an insult to the integrity of pantomime dames everywhere.

In case you didn’t come away from all this “journalism” with the idea that the cuts supposedly forced on Him by evil Republicans would be a catastrophe for the country (another White House talking point which is going to turn out not so true) and, by extension, the UK and the world (which is why it gets promoted on Today), the BBC’s US President editor ends with this bit of dramatic prose:

There is seemingly no end to this toxic tale of cruel dismemberment and government by crisis.

Emotive terms, value judgment, full stop. Notice whom he’s criticizing, and who gets a free pass. This is an editorial, an opinion piece, not journalism. Don’t trust him or the BBC on US issues.This is your license fee hard at work.

PS: I realize most people here don’t really care much about the US or much foreign stuff at all, and are mostly – and quite rightly – concerned with the BBC’s bias on domestic issues. All I can say is that you should be concerned that the BBC spreads poison elsewhere at your expense, and that they’ve clearly gone far beyond their remit of providing public service broadcasting and are actually dedicated to expanding the BBC’s tentacles across the globe purely because they can. The BBC exists now for itself, and not for you. It’s also a relentless drive for more revenue, something else that’s not supposed to be part of the BBC’s reason for existence. The BBC does this stuff in your name, and the BBC bias is everywhere, across the spectrum of broadcasting, all over the world.

BBC Spins For The White House Again

I’m sure by now everyone knows about the looming swinging budget cuts that will happen automatically if no new budget deal is reached between the Republicans and the President. This is known as the “sequester”, and is the result of them kicking the can down the road a while back.

The BBC reports that the President doesn’t want this to happen, thinks it’s a bad idea, and has called on Democrat Governors to try and influence the elected Representatives and/or Senators in their States to cave compromise.

He warned the $85bn (£56bn) cuts would put thousands of teachers out of work and bring economic uncertainty.

The president has called on Congress to pass revenue rises and narrow budget cuts to avoid the automatic reductions.

The Democratic president will travel to Virginia on Tuesday to discuss the cuts’ impact on the defence industry.

“These cuts do not have to happen,” Mr Obama told a bipartisan assembly of governors at the White House on Monday. “Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise.”

“Revenue rises”. Typical partisan language there. The Republicans refer to it as “tax rises”, of course, and the BBC uses instead the Left-wing terminology. Is the President offering to compromise as well? Don’t be silly. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t have to. According to Mark Mardell, when Congress is controlled by Democrats who don’t need to negotiate with Republicans to pass His plans, it’s a Golden Age.

Unsurprisingly, there’s another point of view that these cuts won’t really do much damage at all. In fact, spending will actually continue to rise and rise. The “cuts” just mean that the spending will rise slightly less than it would have otherwise. Does that sound familiar? Even Forbes admits this. Equally unsurprising is the fact that, not only does the BBC refuse to acknowledge this, but they even manage to quote a cuddly Republican, Sen. McCain, who says he doesn’t totally blame the President and is hoping for a compromise to protect the defense industry.

The BBC dutifully informs you that both sides of the aisle will try to blame each other. So, whose fault is this, really? The BBC reports it this way:

The budget cuts, known in Washington DC as the sequester, were devised in 2011 as an intentionally painful cudgel to encourage Democrats and Republicans in Congress to strike a deal to reduce the US budget deficit.

Note the passive voice, as if the cuts materialized out of thin air during some bi-partisan discussions. In actual fact, it was the President’s idea. He and the White House have been lying about it, and the BBC plays along like the good little propaganda organ it is.

Even the sainted Bob Woodward says so.

Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.

The BBC doesn’t want you to know this, so they spin for the White House and deliberately mislead you. Defenders of the indefensible cannot impugn Woodward here. After all, not only is the above not from Fox News or Breitbart, but a previous book on the President by Woodward was lauded by the former BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America, Matt Frei. A diehard Obamessiah worshiper himself, Frei’s only concern then was that all the fascinating issues in the book might get in the way of the reader appreciating “the nuance of his finely-tuned brain”.

The cuts probably won’t be a big deal at all, and in fact will be considered a good start in some circles. The possibility of this is so great that Democrats and their lobbyists are worried about what might happen if there is no disaster. That’s in the Washington Post, not Fox News, not Breitbart. So the President has to do as much fear-mongering as possible, and work behind the scenes (i.e. get the Democrat Governors to do political cuts in the manner of Labour councils in Britain) to ensure as bad an outcome as possible. Is the BBC providing any analysis from this angle? Of course not. He can do no wrong. It’s not His fault, you see. And in any case, cutting government spending is a sin.

Your license fee hard at work, providing a propaganda outlet for the leader of a foreign country.

Mark Mardell and the Crypto-Racism of the US

This post was inspired by a recent comment from Jim Dandy, one of our defenders of the indefensible. He said that he wanted opinion in his journalism. I expressed my disappointment that he wanted “opinionated” journalism, and he objected to what he thought was my deliberate twisting of his words.

You do know what opinionated means don’t you? It does not mean the condition of having an opinion. Or perhaps you are deliberately twisting my words.

Impartiality allows for opinion to be expressed.

I was confused by this, and asked for an explanation, which I got:

Opinionated is a perjorative term suggesting the person unduly, aggressively and dogmatically holds by their opinions.

It might be different in the US.

Still confused, I tried a different tack, and asked Jim if he felt that the BBC’s North America editor, Mark Mardell was the embodiment of his definition, to which he said, simply, “No.”

This led me to compile this collection of Mardell’s journalism to provide evidence that he does, in fact, unduly, aggressively and dogmatically hold by his opinion. Specifically his opinion that the Tea Party movement and, essentially, all opposition to the President is based on racism.

Read the following, and decide for yourselves whether or not Mardell allows his personal opinion to inform his reporting, and whether or not he has dogmatically stuck to his guns in spite of the evidence before him.

September 15, 2009, when Mardell was barely a month into his new job:

Is race a factor in Obama protests?

So I am describing and inviting debate, not passing comment. The relationship between black and white has been such an important driving factor in American political history that it would be strange if it now mattered not a jot. The allegation is that many of those who are calling their president “un-American” mean he is not white.

Democratic propaganda, over-sensitivity or truth? Tell me…

He says he’s not passing comment, then gives his opinion anyway. This is after he gives you a link to only one point of view from the vaunted NY Times: yes, opposition to the President is based on racism. Mardell came to the US knowing for a fact that this is a racist country. Let’s see if he learns anything in the coming years.

Just a couple of weeks later, Mardell eagerly reported that Jimmy Carter said that opposition to the President was due to racism. He then went out to try and find people to support that, but came away with only the suggestion that the African-American community thinks it’s all down to racism. To Mardell, this is proof enough. The President Himself said that He doesn’t think that’s the case, but Mardell believes He’s lying.

Just outside his restaurant, I chat to some African-American women and mention what we are doing.

“Woah woah for Carter,” one says, raising her hands above her head. “He tells it like it is.”

She cannot peer into the soul of the protesters, any more than President Carter can.

But many African-Americans may feel as though a subterranean stream has burst above ground, even if the president would rather not get caught in the spray.

This woman may not be able to peer into people’s souls, but obviously Mardell can. And he does, over and over.

January 26, 2010:

Tea Party seek purity and victory

Mardell and the sub editor who wrote the title are actually referring to what they see as ideological purity regarding taxation and small government, but nobody with any intellectual honesty can claim that they don’t realize the not-so-subtle reference to the idea of racial purity espoused by actual white supremacists. Mardell chose the word very carefully. After talking about policy stuff, he said this near the end of the post:

There is no display of the visceral hatred that dripped from the cable networks last summer, and little of the sense that Obama’s government is some how illegitimate, rather than just plain wrong. There is a feeling that the president promised to govern from the centre and he hasn’t. But I have to ask, is this movement really of the people, or of largely white, largely well-off people?

They’re white, so there must be an underlying reason behind their objection to expanding government and raising taxes and increasing our debt and leading us to government-provided health care. Never mind what they say out loud: Mardell is looking into their souls. This is journalism?

Curiously, when reports came out about Sen. Harry Reid’s unfortunate statements about The Obamessiah back in 2008, Mardell defended him against charges of racism.

Indeed is what he said racist, or in any other way reprehensible? Liz Cheney thinks it is racist. The Kansas Star calls the remarks “stinking racist comments”. A left wing blogger Field Negro says it is “ignorant stereotyping”. Mr Reid himself refers to the comments as “improper”.

But what has irritated me about the flood of articles is that there has been a lot of nudging and winking but few have come out and said what they find offensive.

Imagine that. The man who has no trouble declaring racism without pointing to specifics which he finds offensive is irritated by what he sees as vague hints by other people.

So let’s have a look at what he actually said. The comments come from a book out this week, Game Changes .The authors say Reid “was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”

Mardell then actually defends Reid by saying he’s just “old-fashioned”. Nothing to see here, move along. Why is this not racist, but someone who objects to wealth re-distribution, full stop, without a word about anyone’s dialect or skin color, is racist? Of course, Harry Reid is a Democrat. He holds approved thoughts, so cannot be racist. However, if one holds an unapproved thought about an economic or political issue, there must be something inherently wrong with one’s character, an underlying reason for disapproving of, say, the NHS. Reid gets a pass, but as we all saw recently with Mardell’s and the BBC’s coverage of Mitt Romney, a Republican is by definition flawed for making a much less dangerous gaffe (e.g. “binders of women”).

In closing, Mardell’s defense of Reid reached new heights of hilarity:

But the guts of what Reid was saying was that many American voters were still pretty racist but some wouldn’t see Obama as “really” black. He thought Obama was acceptable to the electorate because he was light-skinned and didn’t have a voice that identified him as black. That seems to be Reid’s attempt to describe a state of affairs that may be unpleasant, but may be true. He was explaining the lie of the land as he saw it, not endorsing the views he outlined. If you can’t do that you are no good as a strategist.

You read that right: Reid was making a racist statement to highlight the racism of other people. How clever of him. Mardell really does have a magical gift for peering into people’s souls, doesn’t he? Naturally, this supports his opinion that opposition to the President is based on racism.

Later that year, October 9, 2010:

Why is the Tea Party boiling?

So here there is a great paradox: a movement that boasts its theoretical love of America and democracy but which hates its real life institutions. It’s not their fairly mainstream economic theories I strain to understand, but the passion; a passion which means that political discourse has become increasingly uncivil, filled with vitriol and abuse.

It’s nice that Mardell admits his condescension, but this is where we depart the realm of journalism and enter the land of opinion. That’s the whole point of BBC editors, of course, which causes endless problems. Notice how remarkably different his reaction to the Tea Party movement was to his opinion of the Occupiers. He loved their passion. I wonder what the key difference is?

So why is the Tea Party boiling?

Some say it’s racism. Those I’ve met are not racist but I do wonder if for some there’s a sense of lost superiority. For all their lives there’s been a white man in the White House. It’s not just that Obama isn’t in this image, he does not fit any stereotype of a black person that they know. Cool, cosmopolitan, calm and aloof. There is a sense of disconnect for what ought to be their view of the natural order.

“Some say…” He says straight out he hasn’t met any racists yet, but refuses to let go of his suspicions. He’d been in the US for over a year by that point, gone to several Tea Party gatherings, spoken with lots of politicians. Yet it hadn’t changed his opinion one iota. Is he lying that he didn’t meet any racists? Or does he just think he hasn’t worked hard enough to find them under the bed? You can almost feel Mardell straining to justify his opinion in spite of what he sees in front of him.

A woman who told me that Obama was a socialist and her country was sliding into Marxism said when he was elected president she drew the curtains for three weeks and couldn’t answer the telephone. Only the Tea Party saved her.

America is changing fast and some in the Tea Party people don’t like the loss of the assumption that white, European, 1950s America is the norm, the benchmark.

He hasn’t met any racists, but is still confident enough to tell you that some in the Tea Party are concerned about race. Not only is no evidence provided to back this up, but he even says he’s never met any actual racists. How can he get away with this?

Just a couple weeks later, October 30, 2010:

Tea Party not so mad

The main speaker said: “Our name is being dragged through the mud, that we’re violent racists.” The all-white crowd cheer or just nod. I have never seen any overt racism at a Tea Party rally and don’t today.

No “overt racism”, eh? Then why bother pointing out the “all-white crowd”? A rhetorical question, I know. When people don’t hold approved thoughts, there must be something wrong with them. Having given up the struggle to justify his opinion that it’s based on racism in the face of no evidence, he’s moved on to qualifying his statements that he hasn’t found any evidence. He doesn’t have to provide any now.

Over the past year I have spoken to many supporters of the Tea Party and been to lots of rallies. I have spoken to people whose characterisation of Mr Obama and his aims seems to me way off beam, a cartoon enemy conjured from some 1950s nightmare. Some believe the constitution tightly constrains the sort of economy America must have, and that only they can define what is properly American.

Now he’s giving his opinion on Constitutional law and economics. This isn’t journalism at all. This is an op-ed piece. Like I said, this the inherent problem in the very concept of BBC (titled) editors.

There is a wide-eyed enthusiasm that is easy to mock.

Yes, very easy to mock. In fact, it’s so easy, that Mardell happily mocked one of them during an appearance at the BBC College of Journalism. First, of course, he has to give the disclaimer that he’s never seen any overt racism. The relevant bit begins at around 54:45 in, where a young Beeboid asks Mardell about the “visceral hatred” of the President.

We’re not racist, he says, “At least not in a straight-forward sense”. Oh, really? He says that underlying the concern about government spending our money, it’s really about not wanting the government to “spend money on people not like them”. No real evidence, but he remains as convinced of it as he was the day he arrived. Even if we don’t come out and wear the pointy white hoods and carry our lynchin’ ropes around, we’re still racist under the skin. And he happily mocks a woman with a Southern accent. “You knew exactly what it was.”  Oh, how they all laughed, eh? To Mardell, the Tea Party is driven by crypto-racism. This is what they really think of us, and it informs all BBC reporting on US issues.

(Full analysis of the BBC’s CoJ audience with Mardell can be read here.)

Right before the election last November, Mardell laid it all out:

A lot of time in my first two years was spent trying to understand what lay behind the anger that I had seen on TV.

As we’ve seen, he had a pre-conceived notion of what lay behind that anger: racism. So what has he learned in the intervening years?

Beyond a fairly conventional conservative concern about taxation and debt, there is an inchoate angst that their country is going in the wrong direction, that they need to “take it back”.

Some think this is code for “take it back from the black man in the White House”.

After all the evidence of his reporting on the subject, it’s quite clear that Mardell is using the standard hack trick of “Some say…” to present his own opinion. We know he’s being disingenuous here. He’s said quite openly a number of times that he thinks it’s all about race. Using this dodge is a big phony act.

It is not that simple. Nearly all of the people I met were white and most middle-aged or older. But few were racist in the conventional sense.

The only time I have seen that in the raw, I was off duty, at a dinner party. A woman growing increasingly passionate as the wine flowed called Obama a “monkey” and said “he’s trying to give OUR money to THEM”.

Not the poor, not the shiftless, “them”.

Since the woman Mardell mocked earlier was a crypto-racist and didn’t openly make any racist statements, we have to assume that this is now two clear incidents – to him – of racism, out of the hundreds of thousands or people Mardell’s seen at Tea Party rallies and whatever political gatherings he visits. Yet on the strength of this he still demonizes the entire movement, still convinced that tens of millions of people are driven by racism and not legitimate policy concerns.

“They” are part of a different America, with a different history who want a different path for their country.

A millionaire in a designer chair in his plush Chicago home, surrounded by modern art, makes the same point as the broken-toothed men perched on smashed-up office furniture outside a beat-up shotgun house in Texas.

Next to me in the pew of a Florida church, the man with a trim grey beard and a “veterans for Obama badge” tells me the same thing.

These very different people all had one thing in common. They’re black. And that means they share a history and often they also share a perception of the present.

Black Americans up and down this huge country tell me Mr Obama didn’t create this mess, and he needs time to clear it up.

They know all about patience. They know all about clearing up other people’s mess. They know about being shut out of this country’s narrative.

There’s a black history month. It rather implies that for the other 11 months, it is white history that will have its way. With Mr Obama they feel that has changed, just a little.

And with that, Mardell moves from demonizing the opposition for caring only about the color of a man’s skin to declaring that we must re-elect a President simply because of the color of the man’s skin. It means a lot to black people to see one of their own as President, so we must dismiss all other concerns. He was only recently pushing that Narrative, in September 2012. (Even then he was still declaring that opposition to the President’s  policies is really only objecting to redistributing wealth “to people not like us.”) This is racialist thinking at its finest. Anyone who watched the full video of Mardell’s appearance at the BBC CoJ will also have seen him admit that the President actually isn’t quite up to the job. In other words, we must keep a poor performer on simply because of the color of his skin. He’s not that competent, but it’s okay cos He is black. The soft racism of lowered expectations lives on at the BBC.

In the end, Mardell has learned nothing. He came here with a pre-conceived opinion, and steadfastly refused to let the evidence before him change his mind. His personal opinion remains unchanged, and informs all of his reporting. Since he’s the “North America editor”, his opinion also informs other aspects of BBC reporting on US issues.

Next, we can have a debate about what it means to have opinion in journalism, and how impartiality allows for it.

Evil Republicans Want To Harm The Elderly And The Poor

Or so says the BBC’s US President editor (the title “North America editor” bears no resemblance to the job he actually does: at best, his job title should be something like “political editor”, which he was for Newsnight a few years ago) when giving you White House propaganda disguised as analysis.

Fiscal cliff: What would Mrs Lincoln say to John Boehner?

You can already guess where this is going, no?

The Republicans’ rather huffy letter to US President Barack Obama made me think of a glorious moment in Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln.

The letter, signed by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, among others, says there has been a “status quo” election “in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected”.

They are claiming that this means the American people expect both the victors of the recent election to “come together on a fair middle ground”.

What a curious concept, eh? The House of Representatives and representational voting actually mean something? LOL.

It is reasonable to assume the White House see things rather more like Mrs Lincoln.

Her moment occurs at a White House reception when the president’s wife holds up a long reception line to give Thaddeus Stephens, a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, an almighty ear-bashing.

I cannot remember the exact words, but the gist of it is: “My husband is loved by the people, known to the people, he’s just been re-elected, and you are nobody – now just back off.”

Yes, just like our defenders of the indefensible implied after the election, l’état, c’est Lui. Votes for anyone but the President are worthless, and anyone who voted for their Representative to Congress should simply ignore the meaning of the term “representative”. In other words, screw you if you did not vote for Him and still think you voted for anything that matters. This is no longer a Constitutional Republic but is now a kingdom. I make no comment on how Mardell’s behavior resembles that of a wife defending her husband.

Mr Obama is betting that most Americans will feel the re-election of the president carries more moral weight than the re-election of the House.

Most, or just the small majority He won? Semantics mavens can parse this to the end of time, but the fact remains that the President won with less votes than in 2008.

He has been on Twitter repeating his demand for tax rises for the rich, opposition to deep cuts in education budgets, and so on.

Everything he has done has been about political positioning, not serious negotiating.

I’m glad Mardell has admitted this. The question is, why doesn’t He have to negotiate? Bill Clinton had to reach across the aisle after winning his second term. Why is this President exempt? What happened to all that desire for bi-partisanship and working together he’s been telling us for the last two years that the country really wants? I know, I know: we should work together so He gets His way. That’s why Mardell views the first two years of The Obamessiah Administration with its Democrat super-majority where they rammed legislation through without a single Republican vote as “a golden age”.

That has further outraged the prickly Republicans, who write of their shock that when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to see them he proposed a plan that was in their view “neither balanced nor realistic”.

“Huffy”. “Prickly”. The Republicans earn Mardell’s scorn, but the equally stubborn and angry President doesn’t get labeled. Even though Mardell knows exactly what He’s doing, as he will reveal later on.

So, they have countered by backing a plan – already passed by the House – to cut healthcare for the future elderly and food stamps for the poor.

Oh, no! Hurting grannies and the sainted poor! Is that it, though? Is that really all there is to the evil Republicans’ plans? Mardell seems to think that’s a fair summation. Of course, it’s pure spin and not fair at all, but that’s irrelevant to the foreign bureau of the White House press office.

Here’s some reality. By the way, the President’s Plan For Us also cuts $400 billion in Medicare – “healthcare for the future elderly” – over 10 years, and the President’s refusal to address trimming entitlements of any kind – Social Security, “food stamps for the poor”, etc. – is really just kicking the can down the road. Again. The Republicans plan (an earlier incarnation of which Mardell described as “hardline”) is not so far off from proposals from the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which was ordered by the President Himself. Which He then blew off because He really had no intention of doing anything other than continue to spend. The Republicans’ plan, on the other hand, intends to cut $600 billion from Medicare, but partly by raising the age at which people enroll. Not exactly how Mardell portrays it. Cutting other entitlements will actually amount to linking it to a metric which will keep costs from rising so much. Once again, the BBC defines a freeze or a lower increase as a “cut”. It’s dishonest, partisan language, but that’s the BBC’s US President editor for you.

There’s a lot more to it than simply cutting support for the poorest and most vulnerable Yet that’s all Mardell sees, all he wants you to know.

And never mind the $700+ billion that ObamaCare is going to take from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for all the new bureaucracy, exchanges, new anti-depression programs, and the like. Forbes has analyzed it as having a 15 -1 cuts to new benefits ratio, which shows just how dishonest Mardell is being here. That’s already a done deal, so we can actually say that the President Himself is going to take $1.1 billion and more away from the poorest and most vulnerable, whereas if Romney had won, thus assuming ObamaCare gets repealed (or watered way down), and the Republicans’ budget more or less gets passed, the damage done to the poorest and most vulnerable would be reduced by two thirds. But never mind all that, as you’re meant to think that only nasty Republicans want to harm the poorest and most vulnerable for the ideological reason that the government shouldn’t do anything for anyone (see here and here).

I’m not here to debate which side is right or wrong. I’m illustrating how dishonest and partisan Mardell is being.

 They demand a response and serious negotiation. Mr Obama, a more aggressive president than in his first term, is manoeuvring them where he wants them, by getting under their skin.

This is nothing short of an outright lie. In fact, the President Himself said He would not release a plan until the Republicans did first. Which is rather bizarre considering that they passed a budget in the House twice in the last two years, whereas He’s never gotten one out of the gate (the Stimulus spending spree doesn’t count). Now that they’ve done so, it’s the height of dishonesty to claim that they “demand a response”. They’re only asking for what He promised. Mardell is simply presenting a false representation of the facts. It’s also very curious that the man the BBC expects you to trust most on US issues doesn’t see anything odd in the President refusing to offer a budget when we’ve all know for two years what the Republicans want.

He is claiming the public label of the man who wants tax cuts for everybody, forcing them to champion deep spending cuts. This is not yet about doing a deal – it is about defining how a deal is seen, when it is done.

In other words, the President’s true goal is not to fix the economy but to destroy the Republican Party. And Mardell has no criticism to offer, not even the slightest frown in His direction. All his scorn is reserved for his beloved Obamessiah’s enemies.

Don’t trust the BBC on US issues.

Mardell’s Mandate Muddle

As the US Congress and the President head into negotiations over the looming never-ending budget crisis to figure out how to avert hitting the debt ceiling again, the BBC’s US President editor (a more accurate description than his actual job title) is on the case to give you his muddled view of how US government should work.

America’s fiscal suicide pact

He starts right in with the violent imagery, just to set the proper tone in which you should understand the scene.

America might be forgiven for thinking they suffered a concussion, instead of holding an election, on Tuesday night. The country now has double vision.

The violent imagery is supported by the now-obiligatory context of a deeply divided country, most-polarized-ever-ever-omg. And you’ll never guess whose fault that is.

Republicans in Congress have other ideas. House Speaker John Boehner is insisting tax rises for the wealthy can’t be allowed to happen.

Typical dishonest, class-war rhetoric, straight out of the White House propaganda machine. Actually, this comes naturally to Mardell, no prompting necessary. Boehner is insisting that no tax rises for anyone should be allowed. But since that includes the evil rich, it’s “accurate” to say that he doesn’t want tax increases for them. It’s not a particularly honest description of the proceedings, but I suppose it fits the BBC requirement for “accuracy”. Impartial it is not. Here’s what Boehner actually said:

Boehner today maintained that Republicans want to avert the fiscal cliff without raising any taxes and “in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.” Next year, he said, “should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform.”

The speaker added that he had a “cordial,” short conversation with Mr. Obama earlier this week and is hopeful that “productive conversations” can begin soon on the fiscal cliff. As he has for more than a year, Boehner said that he’s open to creating more tax revenue, by closing tax loopholes and eliminating some deductions, just not raising tax rates.

That last line sure looks to me like someone talking about increasing tax payments for the wealthy. Only a highly partisan, disingenuous person would describe Boehner’s position as refusing tax rises for the wealthy. Unless we’re playing semantic games about an increase in income tax rates as opposed to just increasing the taxes actually paid. Mardell cleverly left all that out and quoted this instead:

Speaking before the president did so this afternoon, he said: “Everyone wants to get our economy moving again. Everyone wants to get more Americans back to work again. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.”

He called on the president to lead.

So you really aren’t told at all the reality of what Boehner is thinking. Mardell continues:

Mr Obama did, but not in a direction that will delight Republicans. He is using the moral authority of his re-election to push his case. There is nothing new in his call for Congress to extend “middle-class tax cuts” at once. He’s said it repeatedly before the election.

But it’s different now. He has a renewed mandate and his demand has a fresh moral weight behind it. He pointed out even people who didn’t vote for him told opinion pollsters that taxes should go up for the richest.

And here’s where Mardell really starts to get it wrong. The President got fewer votes this time than in 2008. Almost 10 million fewer. Sure, Romney didn’t get as many as McCain did, but the difference wasn’t as great. So who actually did worse? Remember, we’re not talking about simply winning or losing: Mardell said “renewed mandate”, which requires much more than simply winning. Voter turnout was also substantially lower (except for places Philadelphia, which had a turnout that even Sadaam Hussein would have envied) The President may have dominated the Electoral College, but won the popular vote by only 2.5%.  Boris Johnson won his race for mayor of London by a slightly larger amount – 3% – but the BBC described that as a “tight margin”. Go figure. Anyone here expect Mardell to declare that Boris has a renewed mandate? Some projected counts (they’re still counting actual votes in places like Ohio and Florida) expect the President to crack that 3% mark, but that’s it. Still no mandate when it’s a non-Left politician.

When journalists make value judgments like this, it leaves the door wide open to personal opinions influencing their reporting. This is a classic example. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry by just over 3 million votes. The President’s popular vote victory over Romney was – you guessed it – just over 3 million votes. You will not find a BBC report saying that Bush had a renewed mandate in 2004. You’ll find analyses stating that Bush supporters and Christians were saying that, but you will not find a BBC editor or reporter stating it.

Now that he’s established that the President is supposed to get His way, Mardell lays out the doom and gloom if Republicans don’t let Him.

There has to be an agreement. If the two sides can’t get behind a plan to cut the deficit there will be pretty horrible consequences.

The ugly phrase “fiscal cliff” has stuck, but it is more like a ticking economic timebomb. The two sides agreed to a suicide pact if they couldn’t reach agreement – tax rises and defence spending cuts the Republicans loathe – as well as other spending cuts that are offensive to Democrats.

The trouble is if the bomb goes off, it is not just the politicians who will be hurt. It is American economy that would explode, probably taking what’s left of the world economy with it.

This is more or less true, and nobody’s denying that we’re looking at trouble here. We then get a bit of “balance”, where the President says this, and the Republicans say that. He even allows that some Republicans might think they, too, have a mandate.

President Obama said that people had voted for action but he would refuse to accept any approach that wasn’t balanced and made the middle class suffer alone. He said there shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out drama.

The Republicans won’t play along, and he will presumably portray them as churlish bad losers who won’t accept the people’s verdict. They will doubtless point out they too (or some of them) also have a fresh mandate.

Note the qualifier. You’re meant to understand that they really don’t have one. So Mardell wraps up with this:

While both Mr Obama and Mr Boehner sounded consensual they were in fact restating their mutually exclusive positions.

They are heading for confrontation, but this is only the first act – they are both stating a hard line, before the give and take of negotiations. They do have to get a move on. The drama can’t run for long before it turns into tragedy for all of us.

Except we already know whom to blame, don’t we? Mardell has already told us: Republicans who want to protect the wealthy. (I remember back when this budget agreement was passed. The US President editor was singing a slightly different tune then.)

But spot the missing upper house of Congress. This happens over and over again with both Mardell’s “reporting” and other BBC coverage: they leave out the Democrat-controlled Senate. Again and again we hear about how it’s all Republicans blocking Him. What about the Senate? And you’re expected to ignore Democrats who side with Republicans on certain issues.

While actual spending is really allocated by the House of Representatives, the Senate also has to pass an agreed version of the budget for the country to actually have one. Yet, unbeknownst to BBC audiences because you were never told, the Democrat-controlled Senate never passed one. In fact, even the Democrat-controlled Senate (it’s worth repeating) unanimously voted against the joke budget proposed by the President Himself. Oh, and let’s not forget either – no matter how much biased Beeboids like Daniel Nasaw would like you to – that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for His first two years in office. No budget then, either. And Mardell once actually referred to that as a Golden Age, because the President was able to ram some things through without a single Republican vote. Who’s really to blame here?

But that’s just the bias part. Now here’s where Mardell really gets muddled.  The real problem with Mardell declaring the President has a mandate is that he’s presenting the whole thing as if the President is king. He does not appear to understand – or perhaps just doesn’t approve – of the way the US government is set up.

There are two issues here. First, is the way the government is split into three separate branches: the Executive (the President and Administration), the Legislative (Congress – both Houses), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court and the lower Federal system). This is what’s known as “Checks and Balances”, the idea being that no one branch has too much power. Never mind that one of the Democrat operatives the BBC had on the panel of their election night coverage didn’t understand that, and thought it meant Republicans weren’t allowed to vote for what they wanted, and the Beeboids were too ignorant to correct her. Mardell certainly doesn’t understand it, and thinks if the President wins – even by a “tight” Boris Johnson-style margin – He has a “mandate”, and the Republicans should bow to it.

The House of Representatives is what is says on the tin: a group of legislators who are there to represent their individual constituencies. They’re not State-wide representatives, like Senators are: they represent a single collection of 500,000 voters in their State. Same as the Electoral College. Representatives are not elected to do the President’s bidding: they’re there to represent their own constituency. If a Republican gets elected on whatever issues, that’s his or her mandate, not a directive to obey the President. Because different States have dramatically different population totals, some have a much greater presence in the House than others. When a State loses population, they lose representation in the House. If more people move there, they get more Reps. The total number of Reps. in the House can change with each election if the national population does. If it seems a bit unfair, it’s meant to be. Sort of.

But New York and California do not run the country, even if the popular vote makes it appear that they might. Nor should they. The House of Representatives is not a mirror of the Electoral College vote, even though their numbers are the same. The House – ideally – represents the wishes of their individual constituencies. Representatives are not meant to be a reflection of some national conscience. This is all connected to another US concept the BBC neither likes nor fully understands: States’ rights. I use the upper case “S” here and always to emphasize the point that most Founding Fathers considered their State to be their country, and wanted that independence preserved. Some of us still understand that. The individuality inherent in the House of Representatives is part and parcel of that concept.

This is also why the Senate, the upper house, exists. Each State gets two Senators, and that’s it. In this way, each State has equal representation. But that’s also why real spending is decided in the House. The Senate is much more than a rubber stamp, though, as they have their own agenda and powers. But that’s all for another time.

What I’m talking about here is the idea that – contrary to how Mardell presents it – an election victory for a President does not actually translate into carte blanche. To really be successful, a President must also bring his political party along for the ride to victory as well. Failing that, he must compromise, triangulate, as, for example, Bill Clinton did. Funny how you don’t see much comparison of The Obamessiah to Clinton these days. That would make Him look petty and partisan and incompetent, though, so the astute BBC analysts tend to refrain from doing it.

The Republicans in the House are there to do the job they were sent to do, not merely the President’s bidding. If they were voted in to avoid taxing us all into oblivion, that’s what they need to focus on. They’re also not required to bend over backwards to compromise if it means doing something they believe will damage the country. Politicians get voted out when they do too much their constituents don’t like. Just ask all the Dems and Big-Government Republicans who got kicked out in 2010 for voting for ObamaCare.

The other party must try to compromise as well. But you never hear the BBC complaining about President “I won”, or that the President is the one drawing a line in the sand with His tax rises for the wealthy. Mardell may write a sentence saying both sides must work together – and he even admits that the President only sounds like He wants to compromise, but doesn’t appear to be just yet – but only after he’s already set you up to assign blame for who won’t. And again: what about the Senate? And why has neither Mardell nor anyone else at the BBC examined why the President never got a budget passed while He had both houses under Democrat control? Could it be because that might force them to learn that Congress isn’t simply a vehicle for a President’s policies? Or perhaps because they might be forced to admit that the President’s own fiscal policies are so ludicrously extreme that even the Democrats won’t vote for it?

Mardell either doesn’t understand how the US government is meant to work, or simply doesn’t care. He pays lip service to the notion that both sides must compromise, but he’s already framed it in the context of Republicans being in the wrong. Yet he’s the man the BBC wants you to trust most on US issues. Don’t.

 

Mardell Stares Into The Abyss

Mark Mardell seems to be preparing himself for a Romney win. Of course, it won’t be the President’s fault. From the BBC’s in-house magazine:

Mark Mardell… Our man in Washington

Millions more will turn out for the general election, but Mardell senses a great disillusionment in America and believes that this could be crucial to President Obama’s chances for reelection. Asked for a prediction, he replies that it will come down to turnout. ‘I think if he’s defeated he will be defeated by people who quite like him, don’t like Romney that much, but decide to stay at home [on election day].’

“Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!  (John XIII:38)

What’s this disillusionment about? Why would these people who like Him decline to vote for Him? They’re not racist all of a sudden, are they?

He admits that problems with the economy perhaps stem from American policies rather than presidential decisions….

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.  (Romans IX:30-32)

It’s not His fault, you see. Congress failed Him. The people failed Him. Nothing to do with His policies. However, by blaming the faithful for failing Him, the awkward question of why all those people are voting against Him can be avoided.

Plus a nice delusional dig at Romney:

…but believes that foreign policy will certainly take a different ‘tone’ under a Romney term, with ‘implications’ for the UK.

It’s hard to imagine Romney racking up a bigger body count than the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate-in-Chief. How many new countries has the President taken war into again?

Actually, Mardell has always been firmly against the UK helping the US in Iraq and Afghanistan (he mentions them specifically), and for some reason thinks Romney will be George Bush all over again and drag you into new wars. Hasn’t the President been very clear, for example, that He won’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, and that there were “no options off the table”? This is a White House talking point, nothing more. Of course, it could also be a tacit admission that in a second term, the President will let Iran, China, and Russia do whatever they like. Which makes Mardell’s focus on Bush’s wars and the (economic) “It all started in America” meme all the more curious. After all, the President did tell Medvedev to sit tight on the European missile situation for now because He’ll have more flexibility then. But Mardell’s worried about what Romney will do.

Read the rest of it for laughs. His continued bewilderment by us United Statesians would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad and a little tiresome. My favorite line, though, is this:

While Mardell is cautious with his language at times, worried about how it might be interpreted, there are hints that he is a passionate man with strong beliefs.

Understatement of the year. They know it, and Mardell knows it. They just don’t care. But by all means, they expect you to continue to trust them on US issues.