Tag Archives: Paris

'No-go zones' myth builds

Fox News got itself into some trouble recently when it reported something about European countries establishing “no-go zones” where Muslims reportedly don’t allow non-Muslims to enter.

The story turned out to be false. The media have piled on, chortling and laughing out loud at Fox for its insistence on these zones, particularly in Paris. The mayor of Paris threatened to sue Fox over its false reporting. Good luck with that, Mme. Mayor.

Fox News anchors apologized repeatedly for the mistake.


But some on the right have wondered out loud why Fox is getting hammered. The Amarillo Globe-News questioned in an Opinion page comment today whether other media would have been beaten up as badly as Fox has been. The commentary suggested much of the criticism is unfair, but noted that the criticism the network has received has been justified “to an extent.”

I have a possible answer as to why the piling on has occurred.

Fox News has done a very good job of demonizing other media outlets for transgressions real and sometimes imagined. Its talking heads quite often disparage other media’s coverage of issues on the basis of a perceived bias.

Listen to some of the network’s talk shows and you get the clear and distinct impression that their side is correct and the so-called “mainstream media” is wrong.

I must add that Fox News is as mainstream as other media, given its prominence among the broadcast and cable networks that are on the air these days.

The piling on over its mistaken reporting about the no-go zones and the coverage of its repeated on-air apology for messing up is a consequence of its own making.

Payback can be harsh.

Politics determines ambassador picks

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta wanted to know whether a campaign “bundler” for President Obama is the best person to represent the United States at its embassy in Paris.

Well, what difference does it make? Ambassadorships are political prizes. Always have been. Republican presidents dole out these gifts and so do Democratic presidents.

Acosta’s question came while wondering whether U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley questioned the White House about the “optics” that might occur if we didn’t send a high-ranking emissary to the unity rally.


Then came the query about Hartley’s role as someone who gathered up campaign cash from contributors to the Obama campaign; she and her husband had hosted a high-dollar campaign dinner at their New York home for conributors, which apparently earned her an ambassadorial appointment to Paris.

With few exceptions, ambassadorships go to political allies and those who have contributed tangibly to the winning presidential candidate’s political effort.

Take the time George W. Bush appointed the late Teel Bivins to be our ambassador to Sweden. Was the state senator from Amarillo an expert on Sweden? Did he have keen insight into the geopolitical relationship between the nations? No on both counts.

He was a longtime friend of the Bush family and he worked tirelessly to get President Bush elected in 2000.

Thus, he got himself a ticket to Stockholm.

I wish it weren’t that way. Jane Hartley is no different than the vast majority of ambassadors representing this country at overseas posts.

This issue, though, does make me wonder: What does someone have to do to get an ambassadorial appointment to a hellhole of a country?


Let's quit the Hitler references

Randy Weber is making a strong case for the title of looniest Texas member of Congress.

The right-wing Republican who represents Southeast Texas — where I used to live — has gone overboard in criticizing President Obama for his absence from the massive Paris “unity rally” the other day.


The GOP nimrod posted on Twitter that Adolph Hitler bothered to go to Paris for the wrong reasons, while the president didn’t go “for the right reason.”

Good bleeping grief, dude.

Hitler went to Paris in 1940 to declare victory over the French during World War II. And this episode has reached some sort of moral equivalency? Give me a break.

I’ve criticized the president for failing to attend, or for the absence of a high-level, high-profile American official at the event; the U.S. ambassador to France did attend. And the White House did offer an unusual admission that it erred by not sending, say, the secretary of state to the enormous rally.

To compare the president of the United States to the 20th century’s most hideous dictator?

Keep your mouth shut, congressman.


Terrorists strike yet again

Terrorists opened fire in Paris today. Twelve people are dead. Two gunmen are on the loose. And French authorities have begun an exhaustive search to find the killers.

Meanwhile, we’re hearing from those in this country who blame the attack on Islam. The gunmen were Muslims, they contend. Therefore, it is their religion that has taught them to be killers.

I refuse to believe that.


The tragedy came today at a satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo, which had poked fun at Mohammed, the Muslim prophet. Yes, they shouted “God is great” in Arabic and they proclaimed some fealty to Islam.

But these monsters are terrorists who, just like other Islamist fanatics, have perverted their religion to make a terrible political point.

According to CNN.com, the men apparently speak French fluently with no accent. They opened fire at the magazine’s office reportedly to avenge the satirical depiction of Mohammed.

The usual critics in right-wing media here are declaring that this validates the “holy war” aspect of the conflict against international terror. In my view, it doesn’t. It does remind us that the war on terror is being waged against an enemy that will use any pretext possible to “justify” its attacks on innocent victims.

President Obama today expressed appropriate outrage over the attack in France, which he described as the United States’s “oldest ally,” dating back to the days of the American Revolution.

We are dealing with perverted monsters. Pure and simple.


Envoy posts: political payoffs

It’s not exactly a dirty little secret, as many folks know this already … but ambassadorial appointments are more likely than not going to individuals who’ve helped presidents get elected or re-elected.

You can be sure as shootin’ on this one: President Obama’s appointment of Jane Hartley as the next U.S. ambassador to France is going to bring out the critics who’ll say they’re simply “shocked, shocked!” that the president would pick someone who so darn political.


That’s been the custom since the beginning of the Republic.

Hartley is a well-known “bundler” who helped the president win re-election in 2012. Bundlers are those who go around collecting large sums of money from various interest groups and then contribute that money to whatever political cause or candidate they support.

I have no clue whether she’s an expert on France or whether she even knows anything about The Bastille. She is yet another in a long line of ambassadorial appointments that fall into this category of so-called “political hack.”

The vast majority of the complaints will come, of course, from Republicans.

I shouldn’t have to remind our friends in the GOP — but I will anyway — that presidents from their party do the same thing. I’ll cite one example quite close to home.

The late Teel Bivins of Amarillo served in the Texas Senate for 15 years before President George W. Bush tapped him to become U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Did Bivins get the nod because he was an expert on preparing pickled herring? Oh no. He got it because of his own campaign grunt work raising money and speaking on behalf of President Bush during the 2000 campaign.

One of Bivins’s top Senate aides actually told me at the time the president was rewarding the senator for “15 years of service to Texas.” Sure thing.

Well, Teel Bivins’s service to Texas wasn’t the reason he was sent to Stockholm. Hartley’s service won’t matter when Hartley jets off — once the U.S. Senate confirms her — to take her post in Paris. It hardly ever is the case whenever presidents make these appointments.

These folks are rewarded for their “service,” all right. It’s all politics.