Tag Archives: Mother Jones

Irony abounds in this NRA selection

Ohhh, the irony of it all.

Oliver North is set to become the next president of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s premier gun-rights advocacy group.

He’s a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who got caught up in a scandal that rocked the nation three decades ago.

The irony? Oh, it’s just that it involved sale of illegal weapons to our enemies in Iran, not to mention dealing with rebel fighters in Nicaragua.

North was accused of shading the truth and waffling on his explanation of what he was doing and for what purpose he was doing it.

It’s perfect, yes? He gets now to run the NRA, an organization with its share of critics who contend that the organization isn’t always truthful about its claims that more guns in the hands of more people create a safer society.


Maybe it’s just plain karma that puts Oliver North in charge of the NRA. As Mother Jones notes: The Iran-Contra scandal was a dark episode, in which the US government hooked up with shady arms dealers and a variety of sleazy crooks and con men around the globe, including drug-runners. At a time when Nancy Reagan was promoting her “just say no” campaign, the secret operators of her husband’s administration were saying yes to a host of shady miscreants. And North was among those making common cause with criminals.

The NRA brand needs a lot of help in many political circles throughout the United States. Naming a fellow such as Oliver North as its next president doesn’t do a thing to improve the NRA’s image.

That’s just my view. I am quite certain others of a different political ilk believe quite differently.

Debates may portend the election result


Some new polls are out and they show Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton stretching her lead over Republican Donald J. Trump in the race for the White House.

Don’t take it to the bank.


The link here is from Mother Jones, a liberal publication, which tells us that Trump’s support is collapsing across the board. Clinton is hammering Trump with virtually every demographic group imaginable and is holding her own with one group, white men, that Trump formerly dominated.

Don’t take that to the bank, either.

The biggest test of this contest for both of these candidates will occur when they square off in their joint appearances. As an aside, I dislike referring to these events as “debates,” given that they aren’t anything of the sort.

I intend to watch all of them, plus the vice-presidential contest between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence.

What should we look for as Clinton and Trump stand — or sit — together on the stage?

I’m going to watch for body language.

It’ll be quite instructive to me to see how these two candidates greet each other when they are introduced, how they react to the nastiness they’re going to say about each other during the questioning and how they act when it’s time to say “good night.”

I don’t expect Clinton to change her message much. Trump, on the other hand, might decide to revamp his entire campaign theme. Heck, he might change it multiple times in the first half of the first joint appearance!

If form holds, Clinton will be fully prepped and briefed for anything Trump is going to say. As for Trump, it remains to be seen if he even has a debate prep team formed to coach him through what Clinton is going to lob at him.

There well could be a classic line that will live on once the lights go out. We might hear a “There you go again,” or “Are you better off?” zinger. We could get a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” rejoinder.

One of my favorites blasts was a self-inflicted shot fired in 1960 — at the first one of these televised events — in which Vice President Richard Nixon — husband of Pat Nixon — told us “Americans cannot stand pat.”

Hillary Clinton is up — today! The main event, though, is yet to come.

Palin invites criticism


A former colleague of mine took me to task recently for some critical remarks I made about Sarah Palin, who endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination on the same day her son, Track, was arrested for domestic abuse.

I won’t respond to what he said, but I want to post these remarks from Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones magazine’s website:

“I know I said that last night’s Palin-palooza would ‘hold me for a year,’ but I guess I was wrong. Palin’s son Track was arrested Monday on domestic violence charges, and today Palin addressed this:

“‘My own family, my son, a combat vet having served in the Stryker brigade … my son like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened, they come back wondering if there is that respect … and that starts right at the top.’

“I’m not happy with liberals who use Track’s problems as a way of snickering at Sarah. Yes, when you use your kids as campaign props, you open yourself up to some of this. But parents do their best, and kids sometimes have problems. Whatever Track’s problems are, he and his family should be allowed to deal with them in their own way.

“That said, if you decide to use your son’s problems as a political cudgel, you can hardly expect to others to hold back forever. Palin should be ashamed of herself.'”

Indeed, this is the steep price any politician pays by dragging private, personal family grief into the public arena.



Hey, didn’t JFK settle this religious thing already?


I’ve always thought — or hoped, at least — that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech in Houston settled the notion that a candidate’s religion should have no bearing on whether he could serve as president of the United States.

He told some Protestant clergy that the Vatican would not dictate to the Catholic candidate how he should govern, that he would swear to be faithful only to the U.S. Constitution.

Well, silly me. The issue is coming up again. The target this time is Dr. Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose faith is of the Seventh-day Adventist variety.

Donald Trump raised the issue the other day in typical tactless Trump fashion. Now comes a well-known lefty commentator, David Corn, editor of Mother Jones, to wonder aloud whether Carson’s faith would inform the way he would govern should he “take control of the government.”

This is a ridiculous debate.

First of all, presidents don’t control the government. We have this notion that power is spread among two other governmental branches — the courts and the Congress.

The Constitution says there should be “no religious test” for candidates seeking any public office. That includes the presidency.

Yes, Carson has brought up his own faith. He’s talked about how his faith would guide him. He hasn’t said he would toss the Constitution aside any more than then-Sen. Kennedy said he would more than five decades ago.

Corn is playing to voters’ fears when he says of Carson: “Now, he is running on the basis that he has faith. And I think it’s going to open, you know, a big can here. Because, you know, he does come from a church that believes in end times, prophesies, and he’s said he believes in the church’s teachings.”

A simple declarative question is in order: Dr. Carson, do you vow to uphold the law under the Constitution of the United States?

I believe he’s already pledged to do so.


O'Reilly sees the light on name-calling?

Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly had an eye-opening commentary Wednesday night in which he said Republicans should avoid name-calling and “smearing” of Democrats, namely President Obama and the woman who wants to succeed him, Hillary Rodham Clinton.


I don’t know what to make of this.

O’Reilly said this, according to Politico: “But any Republican candidate who says personal things about either the president or Mrs. Clinton will be making a tremendous mistake,” he added. Most Americans don’t like that line of attack, he said. “Once in a while, a takedown is necessary, but to make a living out of guttersniping” would be a “ticket to defeat,” he commented. “Smearing anyone should be unacceptable.”

So, let’s backtrack a few days. Mother Jones published a scathing report questioning O’Reilly’s coverage of the Falklands War in 1982. O’Reilly went immediately on the attack. What did he call David Corn, a co-writer of the lengthy essay? Why, an “irresponsible guttersnipe,” of course.

O’Reilly is correct to caution Republicans about the personal attacks. The Politico link attached to this post details some of the points he made on his “O’Reilly Factor” talk show.

However, whenever anyone gets under his skin and riles the fellow, O’Reilly is pretty quick to pull the hair-trigger on those who disagree with him.

Still, let’s hope he follows his own advice. Then again, his visible and vocal righteous anger is a big part of what draws his audience to his show.

'Kill zone' just a figure of speech?

Bill O’Reilly needs to settle down.

Mother Jones has written a scathing piece alleging that the Fox News talk show star fibbed about his coverage of the Falklands War in 1982 while he was working for CBS News.

O’Reilly has lashed out — savagely — against Mother Jones and one of the co-writers of the piece, David Corn. He said Corn will end up in the “kill zone. Where he deserves to be.”


Corn took the “kill zone” remark badly. Mother Jones editors have demanded an apology. They won’t get one. O’Reilly called it a “figure of speech.”

Oh, that Bill. He’s such a kidder.

I’m still waiting for O’Reilly to prove he actually prowled the battlefield in the Falklands while covering the brief conflict between Great Britain and Argentina. He hasn’t done that. Instead, O’Reilly has lashed out with a barrage of pejorative terms to describe Corn, Mother Jones and — as is his modus operandi — all those on the “loony left” who have criticized his work over many years.

Let’s get to the issue at hand, Bill: Were you on the battlefield — or not?

O'Reilly, Williams put media under the scope

Yes, there’s actually a lot of good that can come from the controversies surrounding two prominent broadcast journalists.

It is that the media — both print and broadcast — have been put on high alert to be sure they’re telling the truth and leave no doubt to their readers, viewers and listeners.

The world is watching. Carefully.


* Brian Williams of NBC News has suspended without pay for six months. His transgression? “Misremembering,” which is what he calls it, an event in which he reported being shot down by a rocket in Iraq in 2003. It didn’t happen that way, despite Williams’s telling of the tale. His credibility is in tatters and likely is damaged beyond repair.

* Now comes a blistering report that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly allegedly misrepresented his reporting from the 1982 Falklands War fought between Britain and Argentina. O’Reilly has said repeatedly he reported from the remote island battlefields. Mother Jones magazine has challenged O’Reilly’s assertion, to which O’Reilly — as is his style — responded by calling the writer David Corn a “guttersnipe” and a liar. A former colleague at CBS, where O’Reilly was working at the time, also has challenged Bill O’s account of where he was during that brief war. This one isn’t over.

Throughout all of this has been an interesting analysis of how the media do their job.

The U.S. Constitution protects the media from government interference, so there cannot be a government policing arm established to ensure the media tell the truth. That has to come from within the industry. And within all broadcast and cable news networks, as well as all print organizations, there must be some serious in-house discussions taking place to ensure that everyone who reports the news does so with impeccably.

There can be no doubt about the truth of what’s being reported.

The good that comes from all this tempest and tumult must be that journalists of all stripes are put on notice that the world is watching them with keen eyes and is tuning in with ears that hear everything.


Williams is unlikely to return to his anchor desk at NBC. As for O’Reilly and his career at Fox, well, stay tuned for that one. O’Reilly is always — always! — ready to unload against his accusers. He’ll just have to answer one question: Can you prove you were in the middle of the fight? If so, then let’s see the proof.


'Bloviator' O'Reilly's war coverage challenged

Bill O’Reilly’s brand on TV news is one of confrontation and — some would suggest — self-serving excess.

OK, I’ll suggest it, too. O’Reilly is full of himself at times.

He’s been all over the Brian Williams story and the now-admitted “misremembering” about the NBC News anchor being shot down in Iraq in 2003.

Well, the self-proclaimed bloviator is now facing a challenge of his own, from Mother Jones magazine, over whether O’Reilly actually witnessed combat during the brief war in the remote Falkland Islands in 1982, when Great Britain sent a flotilla to its territorial possession to rid the place of Argentine troops who had taken the island illegally.

“I was there,” O’Reilly has contended all along. Mother Jones disputes O’Reilly’s assertion.


This story is still developing, but as MSN reported, O’Reilly has been quick — imagine that — to respond to the allegations that Mother Jones has made that the correspondent did not face hostile fire, as he has reported for more than three decades.

MSN reports: “The (Mother Jones) website’s David Corn highlights several instances where the Fox News primetime host claimed to have covered the 1982 fighting in the Falklands War between Argentina and England up close–the issue is few reporters were able to cover the conflict up close due to the remote location of the war zone.”

I’m not going to make an assessment here of whether O’Reilly fibbed about his war coverage. I will, however, suggest that the Fox News TV talk show star’s aggressive reporting of others’ troubles — such as Brian Williams — exposes him to careful scrutiny by other watchdogs to ensure that he’s as righteous as he claims to be.

Here’s the Mother Jones article that O’Reilly asserts is “bulls***.” It’s lengthy. It’s also quite interesting and carefully detailed.


See for yourself. Is David Corn merely a “left-wing assassin,” as O’Reilly asserts, or is he an aggressive reporter?

As for O’Reilly, it appears he has to explain himself — without resorting to name-calling.


Oh, how I miss Molly Ivins

Watching the unfolding Texas political campaign for statewide office — and seeing how it mirrors the intense partisanship that divides the nation — I keep thinking of Molly Ivins.

I wish she were around to see and hear the things coming out of politicians’ mouths.

Ivins died in 2007. She was just 62. She could skewer a politician — usually conservative and Republican — with the kind of skill that hasn’t yet been found since her death.

She coined the term “Gov. Goodhair” when referring to our lame-duck governor, Rick Perry. She wrote with flash, panache and she packed a tremendous rhetorical wallop.

I found this link from Mother Jones looking back on Miss Molly’s career. The folks at Mother Jones were anticipating the presidential campaign of Gov. Goodhair and thought they’d share some of Ivins’s pearls with their readers.


With Texas politics leaning ever more rightward, Lone Star State pols needed someone who could hold them accountable for their silliness and outright frightening policies. Ivins was the one to do it.

In all the years I worked in daily journalism in Texas I was proud to publish Ivins’s work in the two Texas papers where I worked. One was in Beaumont, the other in Amarillo.

You know what I learned about readers in both communities, even with their disparate political leanings and demographic composition? Her fans loved her and her foes loved to hate her.

It’s that latter category of readers that fascinates me.

If she didn’t appear in either paper — for whatever reason — on a given day, my phone would ring. The conversation would go something like this:

Me: Hello?

Caller: Yeah, where’s Molly today? I missed her column in the paper. I don’t agree with her, but I sure like reading her work. She makes me laugh.

Me: She’s taking a break. She’ll be back.

Caller: Good. She’d better be or else I’m cancelling my subscription.

There aren’t many journalists who can count “fans” among those who disagree with their commentary.

Former Sen. Phil Gramm visited us in Amarillo once years ago and we asked him to comment on a biting criticism Ivins had made about him. Gramm laughed and said, “Oh, Molly probably cried when the Berlin Wall came down.”

Well, she wasn’t a godless communist. She was as patriotic as any American I’ve ever met.

Her brand of patriotism doesn’t wear well in some circles these days. Her biting humor, though, would go a long way in the midst of what passes for political discourse these days.