Picture — unretouched — is shot No. 11 of 21. Write your own caption. I'm sure you'll do a heckuva job.
Picture — unretouched — is shot No. 11 of 21. Write your own caption. I'm sure you'll do a heckuva job.
Very interesting German perspectives — more interesting than most U.S. press coverage
Apparently following the lead of the New York Times, practically all of the U.S. press is ignoring some harsh — and insightful — criticism by European conservative pols of the Wall Street meltdown and bailout.
So much of the press (TV and print) is so used to waiting until the Times deems something newsworthy before letting the rest of us in on the news, Harkavy said, stating the obvious as he has so many times — making him so crazy that he's starting to refer to himself in the third person.
In any case, a load of stark, fact-based criticism of the U.S. by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others has somehow escaped mention by the Times and other U.S. outlets.
You would of course expect other governments to be pissed off at the U.S. right now, but this criticism has some real meat to it, and German commentators show more empathy with the average American than our own press does.
Go to Der Spiegel, where you'll read that Merkel "says the Bush administration has mishandled Wall Street, and that its refusal to adopt stricter rules led to the current crisis."
Merkel's no Hugo Chavez, nor even a Lula. She's a conservative, for Rockefeller's sake. And all she is asking is give voluntary regulation a chance.
But even that self-regulation was too much for the Bush-Cheney regime and the rest of the GOP to stomach. Here's a passage from the Spiegel story that helps explain:
See, if you don't click on non-U.S. sites, you miss out on some good angles, like the Basel II one, which has gotten almost zilch play over here.
And in " 'Bad News for the Ferrari Salesmen of the World,' " Der Spiegel's Rachel Nolan rounds up some shrewd assessments of the moves by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to give up being investment banks and run for cover to the Federal Reserve Bank. Nolan notes:
She quotes the business daily Handelsblatt as saying:
Predictably, the lefty segment of the German press points to this as an earthshaking collapse leading to another way of doing business. Papers further to the right know better than to think that Goldman and Morgan will have to change everything about the way they operate. The two didn't forsake their status as investment banks for altruistic reasons, after all. For instance, from Financial Times Deutschland:
Another Der Spiegel story, by Corinna Kreiler, focuses on German economists. But don't let your eyes glaze over, because this is the lede of the lively piece:
And here's a passage that resonates with a question that is being drowned out by the wailing of Wall Streeters:
That's the same thing that happened when the government set up the Resolution Trust Corp. to bail out the savings and loan industry in the '80s and '90s. We taxpayers paid for that cleanup and didn't get so much as a reacharound in return.
Now let's see . . . that savings and loan crisis was caused in large part by deregulation and out-of-control real-estate lending practices. (One of its main financiopaths was Charlie Keating, who was John McCain's good buddy, vacation host, and campaign financier.)
And after taxpayers bailed out the S&L industry, the pols and bankers promised that they had learned a valuable lesson and would never, never be so reckless again.
Until the next time and the next bailout.
Who says the Germans have no sense of humor? The Lehman collapse puts the lie to that.
Brits have for years made fun of the supposed lameness of German humor — see Monty Pythonite John Cleese's Fawlty Towers, which ragged on the stiffness of German tourists.
Stewart Lee's 2006 Guardian (U.K.) piece "Lost in Translation" tried to debunk that prejudice, explaining that Germans really can be funny. And I freely and warmly accept that, despite the fact that many of my relatives were slaughtered by Hitler's minions several decades ago.
Just last month, a Deutsche Welle story, "German Comedians Play Up to Stereotypes in UK Show", noted that Germans can even laugh at themselves — even in front of British audiences — for supposedly having no sense of humor.
Now, amid the Wall Street gnashing of teeth comes one of Germany's highest-ranking politicians to inject the kind of mordant humor that his U.S. counterpart Hammerin' Hank Paulson would never say for publication.
In today's Der Spiegel piece "What the Lehman Bankruptcy Means for Germany," reporter Stefan Schulz ends his sober and grim appraisal this way:
Running down the press:
Great news for Wall Streeters this morning! The public's going to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it's only going to cost you $100 billion or so, and you (and perhaps the Democrats) will be taking on an additional $6 trillion in debt.
When blacks were recently freed slaves and not presidential candidates, this financial system was referred to as sharecropping and owing your soul to the company store.
But the average American in the 21st century will be doing global investors a big favor, as the Wall Street Journal reports, amid the news of booming stock markets around the globe:
In other bailout news, MSNBC bailed out of news coverage of the presidential campaign by pulling the anchor chairs out from beneath Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.
The cynic and yeller, respectively, added too much color to a campaign that already includes a black candidate. Republicans were enraged at Olbermann's sneering at Sarah Palin.
Brian Stelter at the Times broke the news yesterday, noting:
MSNBC's bailout was great news for Fox, whose screaming TV talking heads paved the way for MSNBC's attempt to grab a liberal audience by doing kinda the same thing.
Fox now stands alone, and its sister Murdoch property, the Post, celebrated by bannering its official endorsement of John McCain for president. There's a shocker, but that "enthusiastically urges" opinion is expected to have no effect on the paper's news coverage of the race.
The Post's Page Six — "Chris & Keith 'Left' Out" —has more on MSNBC's swift-boot maneuver, in addition to the gossip page's daily scoop about Britney Spears again being pissed off about too much publicity (this time it's about her mom's book).
Regarding the bailout of the less shapely Fannie, which Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson portrayed as a positive move for taxpayers that may even result in gains for them as well, today's New York Sun chips in with the most interesting take, editorializing that the move was, in effect, the nationalizing of the companies:
So if Paulson is wrong, the downside of that tighter regulation of, say, an oil company, as the Sun's analogy has it, would be . . .?
If you really want to cut through the bullshit, go to the BBC, which reports that the bailout staves off a "'30s style depression" in the U.S. Or see McClatchy, whose Kevin G. Hall had the guts to point out way high, in his fifth graf, that the seizure is akin to bankruptcy proceedings:
The words "depression," "bankruptcy," and "Chapter 11" didn't make their way into the Times's main story.
The BBC explains things better than most:
Veteran crimebuster Murray Weiss took time out to watch some golf on TV and produced this interesting piece:
Why would Kelly do this? Weiss notes:
Weiss doesn't mention it, but Kelly was paid plenty — in free publicity should he decide to run for mayor.
Post: 'HAMPTONS HOLY WAR'
The infidel Selim Algar's fine coverage of a Jew vs. Jew battle:
Clearly, Westhampton is more of an Irv or Sid hamlet than a Tony one.
A chickenshit cop-out headline on a pretty good story whose subhead foreshadows the meat of a real tale that, unfortunately, also steps gingerly into the debate over her lack of qualifications: "Some who have worked with the Alaska governor say her bold approach is lacking in follow-through, and that she punishes those who dare say 'no.' "
Ignored by papers on this side of the Atlantic is the troublemaking of McCain, who isn't even the U.S. president yet.
If you think that the Georgia-Russia war is bad news, a spread into full-scale conflict involving big bad Russia and the other crazy Caucasoid republics would be even worse, and guess who's lighting the match? The German site reports:
And we don't have the oil to spare, unless Palin and McCain tap Alaska's big butt.
Oh, yes, frequent flyer-by-the-seat-of-his-pants McCain, please thrust us into Chechnya. Talk about Vietnam all over again. How about sending some "advisers" over there? Then it would be the entire U.S., not just McCain, held hostage by an unwinnable war.
In a world where a no-name Alaskan could suddenly become an aging heartbeat from the U.S. presidency, as Don LaFontaine might have intoned it if he hadn't died before I could hire him, the stunning desperation of that very move got glossed over by 99 percent of the U.S. media.
Like an ER team using the paddles to jump-start a dead patient.
As if they were reporting on the emperor's new clothes, Elizabeth Bumiller and Michael Cooper pronounced the Republican ticket healthy:
What a shock that the delegates said yes.
Of course, Times reporters didn't have to play into the McCain campaign's hands by describing him that way. Closer to the truth is that McCain is an admiral's son who married an Arizona liquor magnate's daughter, carpetbagged into Congress, and built his career by sucking up to the rich and powerful, including financiopath S&L schnook Charles Keating and newspaper publisher/phony war hero Darrow "Duke" Tully.
They got Palin right, however. She really is a hockey mom — even the father of her accidental grandchild is a high-school kid who plays hockey with his buddies.
Is she really a good choice for the ticket? I don't know. Alaska.
A look-see at how the rest of the press handled the GOP's desperate move to offer a Snow White alternative to the Democrats' Negro candidate:
The Wall Street Journal was more rational, steering clear of the kind of glib labeling used by the likes of the Times and me. The lede by Jerry Seib and Laura Meckler:
Perhaps influenced by Fashion Week, the big event going on this week in New York City, our hometown Post picked a glamor image and ran with it:
Michael Vick's pit bulls also had red mouths, but in their case it was blood. Anyway, here's Brendan Scott and Chuck Bennett's lede:
Not the kind of tongue-lashing Larry Craig — the last unknown Republican from the West to make a splash in Minnesota — was prepared to give in that airport bathroom stall, but at least Palin got it done.
(By the way, she didn't "prove her chops." She tried to prove her chops. That's why the WSJ's "countered" is more accurate.)
The Daily News promo'd its coverage nicely with "Hockey mom drops gloves," but its lede slipped and fell:
This is a theme with Republican pols. Rudy Giuliani in drag was also a pit bull with lipstick.
McClatchy noted that Palin "defined herself as someone irritated with the news media and Washington."
Well, who isn't?
Nice job by Newsday's Craig Gordon:
But so what. For all the talk about the feistiness of Palin's speech, you have to remember that the words came from former George W. Bush speechwriter Scully, who's been spraying similar vitriol at liberals since he was an Arizona college student harassing professors two decades ago.
A surprisingly humdrum lede by the Washington Post:
(Yes, a black man in America is accused of being "elitist," and it's reported with a straight face.)
But the WashPost deserves kudos for Dan Balz's front-page story yesterday that detailed the GOP's desperation and shoddy vetting of Palin:
Interesting blog analysis from the BBC's U.S. guy Justin Webb:
Webb doesn't point this out, but it's pretty funny that Giuliani has the nerve to talk about what the GOP calls "family values." This is the same mayor who famously shucked his wife and shunted his kids to the sidelines. (See my colleague Wayne Barrett's 2007 piece "Public Displays of Disaffection.")
The Times (U.K.) had the guts to use the most accurate label for Palin:
The most clever review of last night's sitcom pilot comes from Der Spiegel. The German outlet's headline and typically (in the foreign press) long subhed:
Gabor Steingart's story is somewhat snooty, but at least it's original, so you can forgive him the factual boo-boo of confusing Alaska with Arizona. (How's a German copy editor going to catch that mistake unless he or she grew up reading Karl May's novels?) Quoting at length from Steingart:
We'll see about that, but congratulations to Steingart for working in a mention of Cheney, who has been our de facto president for the past eight years.
More to the current point, it probably takes a furriner like Steingart to observe our moralistic brand of politics at a safe remove:
Steingart can get away with using "schadenfreude" in a daily news story. He is German, after all. And the Palin melodrama does have its enjoyable moments.
Running down the press:
As expected, Bristol mire was highly profitable this morning:
Good adjectival application, except for the usual fuckin' bowdlerizing:
Der Spiegel: 'McCain's Bush-Style Campaign Worries the Center'
Before you settle in for yet another day of Jerry Springer-style Palin family drama, go to Germany for some other news about the Republicans:
And the German site doesn't neglect der kinder mutter; it simply treats it as political news:
Straight shooting from the Germans that cuts through the bullshit over here: "poorly disguised gambit to get the religious right behind McCain."
Yes, the Palin choice smells like a Rovian maneuver. Wonder if we'll ever find out whether he was the one behind it.
The morning's best creepshow stuff:
Nope, no problem, Jeromie. Listen, have a good day. Gotta run now.
Doing its best to attach a smiley face to the situation, the paper dispatched Patrick McGeehan to find people who don't think the economy is rapidly sinking. In a city this big, you're bound to find some, and in a story that smacks of small-town reporting, he did:
Vague bullshit that's mostly stiff-upper-lip quotes from merchants and which includes zero from, say, the tens of thousands of people who have been laid off or fired. "To a surprising degree"? Not backed up.
The problem for readers: If you just read the headline, you're being misled. But then if you go on and read the story, you're wasting your time with boring misinformation. Misled or bored — you decide.
For a more realistic look at the economy — even for those of us who don't dine at hoity-toity restaurants — turn to the food section for Frank Bruni's 'As Belts Tighten, Lobsters Shrink and Bar Menus Grow.' That's a real story with real information about how we're being fricasseed.
Already tired of the Republicans and their catering to the Good Book evangelicals? Go to Ireland:
By the way, as the story doesn't note, Obama appears to be the favorite over McCain, according to the Irish site's punters.
Tired old headline style, not to mention the mixed-metaphoric lede:
Fred Thompson's name makes the first paragraph of your Palin story, you gotta problem.
Great head, supported by a cute lede:
James Rainey, the paper's "On the Media" reporter, paints a dramatic picture:
Then he continues with what has to be the worst idea for a lede in the history of political-convention coverage:
Huh? He's interviewing one of his colleagues? About something that happened 20 years ago? Rainey continues:
Yes, it could have, but it didn't.
In fact, another mediocre West Coast paper snared an anecdote that really did happen in St. Paul. Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times trolled the convention floor asking about George W. Bush and came up with this:
Rupert Murdoch's London paper is your better choice than Murdoch's New York City paper — or any other NYC paper — if you want political news. If you want to put the Palin news in perspective, here's part of how the Brit paper's Hannah Strange portrays it:
Yo, bitch, you ain't all that. "Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!"
A German journalist tries to peel back America's real presidential race.
Race is of course not totally hidden in the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. But how much racism is bubbling under the surface? Leave it to them furriners to rub our noses in it.
Der Speigel's Gerhard Spörl has a fresh piece, "The Hidden Issue in the US Presidential Campaign," that delves into it as few U.S. outlets have the guts to do.
Race, he says, is getting "short shrift" in this race. Here's an excerpt:
A couple of weeks ago, Spörl, the paper's foreign-desk chief, did an interesting piece (which I wrote about in "Bush and the Caucasians") trying to link the Caucasus madness to Bush's foreign-policy flops.
His new piece doesn't give you any new facts, but he's produced a provocative take that probably only a non-American can write. Here's some more:
And after noting that the Clintons "prefer to attribute all their defeats to plots, conspiracies or monumental injustices," Spörl writes:
The closer to the end of his term, the less funny (and more disastrous) Bush seems.
While the New York Times continues to report with a straight face the rhetoric of George W. Bush — the doofus POTUS demands that “the sovereign and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected," as if the rest of the world listens — the real situation is shrewdly analyzed by international outlets such as Der Spiegel.
We're not crazy. It's the world that's acting bipolar. Good luck figuring out why if you rely on just the feeble U.S. press.
Writing today on the German site's opinion page, Gerhard Spörl notes:
Do you really think that Iraq and a sinking economy are the only messes the Bush-Cheney regime will turn over to either Obama or McCain?
The past eight years have crippled U.S. foreign policy in ways that go far beyond the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. The rivalry between Russia and the U.S. would be bad enough without the Bush regime's hamhandedness and bully bluster.
Spörl, the chief editor of Der Spiegel's foreign desk — and the author of a clear-headed, provocative Obama piece ("No. 44 Has Spoken") a short while back — adds some context to this schizoid Caucasoid series of bloody events:
And what does this have to do with Bush's "legacy"? Well, who's been more smug about being the planet's supposed lone superpower than the Bush regime? Spörl writes:
Spörl also notes the Cold War mentality of McCain:
I can't resist one more interesting passage from Spörl's piece:
Damn it, one more slice of Spörl, but this one helps explain why the planet's behavior seems particularly bipolar these days: