The "Sinister" Judge Pickering - January 20, 2004 -

Times Watch for January 20, 2004

The "Sinister" Judge Pickering

Paul Krugman (third-place Iowa finisher Howard Dean's favorite economist) in his Tuesday column, "Going For Broke," goes even further than the Times editorials in linking Pickering with racism. Though Krugman's reluctant to spell out his charge of racist Republicans directly, his thinking is clear (if paranoid): "While [Bush] poses as someone above the fray, he is continuing to solidify his base. The most sinister example was the recess appointment of Charles Pickering Sr., with his segregationist past and questionable record on voting rights, to the federal appeals court-the day after Martin Luther King's actual birthday. Was this careless timing? Don't be silly: it was a deliberate, if subtle, gesture of sympathy with a part of the Republican coalition that never gets mentioned in public."

Although liberal activists like Krugman may not like Pickering, blacks from his home town of Laurel, MS, support him, as the Times itself reported in a February 2002 story by David Firestone: "Back in Washington, his opponents have depicted Judge Charles W. Pickering as the personification of white Mississippi's oppressive past, a man so hostile to civil rights and black progress that he is unfit for promotion to a federal appeals court. But here on the streets of his small and largely black hometown, far from the bitterness of partisan agendas and position papers, Charles Pickering is a widely admired figure of a very different present."

For more on this piece, click here.

" George W. Bush | Campaign 2004 | Columnists | Paul Krugman | Judge Charles Pickering

Howard Dean Morphs Into Howard Beale

With Howard Dean's surprisingly poor showing in the Iowa caucuses, this portion of Todd Purdum's front-pager won't make the Deaniacs flooding the Times with complaints any happier: "At his post-caucus rally Monday night, Dr. Dean looked more like Howard Beale, the angry anchor in 'Network,' than 'Marcus Welby, M.D.,' while Mr. Kerry was every inch the veteran senator he is."

For Purdum on caucus winner Kerry, click here.

" Campaign 2004 | Howard Dean | Iowa Caucuses | Todd Purdum

Is Bush Going Too Far? Let's Ask Syria

Tuesday's front-page report by David Sanger and Neil MacFarquhar. "Bush to Portray Libya as an Example," shows the Times is still hung up on Bush's use of the term "axis of evil."

They write: "Two years after President Bush described Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an 'axis of evil'-perhaps the signature phrase of his presidency-his foreign policy aides contend that his uncompromising language and willingness to use military force have changed the behavior of potential enemies. But that change has come at a cost, government officials from Asia to the Islamic world say, as resistance to Mr. Bush's calls for reform and democratization has hardened in some places. Mr. Bush plans to return to the theme of reform in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, his aides say, though he will not repeat the phrase that prompted an outcry from his critics and allies alike."

Then it's on to Bush's "wrath" against Iraq: "Iraq, with its long record of defying the United Nations, was the first to absorb the Bush administration's wrath. But the decision to invade Iraq 14 months after the president's speech changed the diplomatic landscape."

They continue on the theme, later portraying Syria as a reasonable party trying to keep America off its back: "Whether it was smart or not, Muslim scholars and officials have acknowledged in interviews that Mr. Bush fundamentally altered the way the United States dealt with the Islamic world once he spoke in such stark terms".Syrians bridle at the idea that the Americans can teach others about democracy, making the argument, often heard throughout the Arab world, that civil rights have eroded in the United States itself since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But they concede that they have no choice but to try to work with the Bush administration."

For its part, Times Watch bridles at the idea that an anti-American argument from Syria (on the State Department's list of terror sponsors) carries any weight at all at the Times. For the rest of Sanger and MacFarquhar on Bush's foreign policy, click here.

Reciting Left-Wing Environmental Talking Points

Sunday's story by Michael Janofsky, "Critics Say the Park Service Is Letting Religion and Politics Affect Its Policies," delves into criticism of the National Park Service from (unlabelled) left-wingers, in a story strongly reminiscent of an article that appeared on a far-left website last month.

Janofsky's story opens: "To halt the removal of a cross placed in the Mojave National Preserve almost 70 years ago to commemorate World War I veterans, a Republican lawmaker from California has proposed swapping the land it sits on with a private group. The National Park Service recently ordered the return of plaques bearing biblical verses that had hung in Grand Canyon National Park for more than 30 years before they were taken down last summer. The Park Service also approved selling a book at the Grand Canyon that suggests the canyon was created in six days several thousand years ago. And here at the Lincoln Memorial, an eight-minute film that shows historical events at the memorial, including demonstrations for civil rights, abortion rights and gay rights, is being revised by the Park Service to add four minutes of more politically neutral events."

These are all suspicious actions, Janofsky explains: "While the Park Service says these are unrelated incidents, reflecting no overarching political policy, a national alliance of public environmental workers says the efforts are evidence of a new program of 'faith-based parks' promoted by the Bush administration with the strong support of conservative groups. The apparent trend, the alliance says, has resulted in a willingness by Republican appointees now in senior positions in the Park Service to resolve disputes by protecting religious or conservative content, even in the face of arguments that the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which safeguards the separation of church and state, is being violated."

Judging from the Times, this "alliance" of anti-conservative environmental workers has no political leaning.

Janofsky's liberal-themed story rehashes one from the far-left Counterpunch in December ("Bush's Faith-Based National Parks"). Both stories reference the plaques, the Grand Canyon creationist book, the Lincoln Memorial film, and both Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the liberal group leading the complaints.

For the rest of Janofsky's critique of "conservatives" at the Park Service, click here.

" Environment | Michael Janofsky | Labeling Bias | National Parks | Religion

Talking Up a "Fat Tax"

Tuesday's piece by Science Times writer Jane Brody, "The Widening of America, or How Size 4 Became a Size 0" outlines some nanny-state proposals for fighting what she terms the "epidemic of obesity." She suggests to readers: "You might also voice your support for a tax on snack items and a ban on television advertising on children's programs for nutritionally questionable foods, for example, those that exceed a certain fat or sugar ratio to healthful nutrients".An end result may be legislation that requires food companies to advertise healthy eating plans."

For the rest of Brody on fighting the flab, click here.

" Jane Brody | Fat Tax | Health | Obesity