September 11, 2004
HERE ARE SOME 9/11 PHOTOS taken by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein. More about them, along with other, more cheerful, photos, on his blog.
DON'T FORGET TOMORROW'S RALLY IN NEW YORK CITY AGAINST THE DARFUR GENOCIDE: I'm hoping to have a few pictures to post tomorrow night.
BILL AT INDCJOURNAL earlier reported that the Boston Globe misquoted the statement of forensic expert Philip Bouffard. [LATER: Maybe "deceptively presented" is better?] He has posted the results of a telephone interview with Bouffard, where Bouffard says they misrepresent his conclusions, suggesting that the documents may be genuine when he didn't say that, and reports that he's "pissed."
Now Bill reports that CBS is repeating the Globe misquote as part of its efforts to defend its own position. Bill has posted the Globe ombudsman's address and suggests that you contact her.
UPDATE: I don't know what they said on the air, but CBS is amazingly sloppy on their website, where they get Bouffard's name wrong, calling him "Phillip Broussard" -- even though they're referencing the Globe story which, despite misquoting Bouffard, at least gets his name right. CBS reports: "Saturday's issue of the Boston Globe reports that one document expert, Phillip Broussard, who had expressed suspicions about the documents, said 'he now believes the documents could have been prepared on an IBM Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time.'"
Bear in mind that to be quoting from the Globe article they must have had it in front of them, and they still got the name wrong. (Even adding an extra "l" to the first name.) Sheesh. Get these guys some pajamas, fast!
ANOTHER UPDATE: David Hogberg saw the broadcast and reports. They seem to have gotten the name wrong on the air, too. [LATER: Hogberg updates and says he's not sure what they said on the air -- he checked the CBS website for the name. Bad move, David!]
Meanwhile, Brian Carnell notes that although Dan Rather last night said that CBS's expert authenticated all the documents, the Los Angeles Times says that he only looked at one.
MORE: I notice that some commenters over at INDCJournal think that the Big Media is trying to bury this story. I actually don't think so. I was interviewed today by a journalist for a major paper who's doing a story, and it's getting big play in the latest Weekly Standard. Plus, as a scroll down will demonstrate, it's getting a lot of major-media coverage already.
And the thing is, even if CBS never admits that the documents are forged and just lets the story die, it's suffered a crippling blow. Sure the diehard Bush-haters will still listen. But if CBS becomes known as the broadcast equivalent of the Democratic Underground (which seems about right, lately), its ability to affect events goes way down.
With all this noise and fury, and lost credibility, their ability to initiate some sort of last-minute anti-Bush scandal and make it work is gone. (Even people who might have been persuaded have by now, as several readers email, gone numb from the constant onslaughts of "Bush lied" over the past years). And the ability of the Big Media to maintain preference falsification by presenting a unified message is already long gone. Those costs exist regardless of whether Rather fesses up to either forgery or carelessness.
STILL MORE: A reader offers this take on the Bouffard/Broussard bellyflop:
In addition to the unnamed experts who originally verified the documents, CBS has now added confirmation from a source whose name they don't know.
MORE STILL: A journalist reader offers this speculation:
I'm wondering if anyone is going to do to Dan Rather what they did to Stephen Glass of "Shattered Glass" fame- suggest that it's unlikely that this is the first time he "cooked" a story. Maybe rob him of his legacy, somewhat? If anyone wanted to do the fact-checking on old Rather stories that seemed to be "too good". . . .
I think it's kind of like lifeboat ethics at this point, for the MSM (print and network news). The little market-share pie that they're dividing is ever-shrinking as their readership ages and dies off, the young news junkies go for cable news and the internet, and now the last few haggard old survivors-desperate and hungry, now ganging up on the weakest guy (CBS) as the picture grows more bleak.
That seems a bit dramatic, but not entirely implausible. In fact, I'll have a related post tomorrow.
THIS DAN RATHER INTERVIEW is as genuine as the Bush National Guard documents! As reliable as a Boston Globe photo essay on prison abuse in Iraq! As honest as an AP report of booing crowds!
OK, it's probably more truthful than those. But it's still a satire. And it's funny.
UPDATE: Link went bad at the other end. Jeff Goldstein has fixed it, and the new link above works now.
JOURNALISTIC MALPRACTICE: Elliot Minor of the Associated Press has a story on veterans' reactions to the CBS National Guard documents -- and it makes no mention of the likelihood, or even the claim, that they're fraudulent.
Forget editors -- do these guys have lawyers?
UPDATE: A reader points to a sentence saying that "questions have been raised" about the documents' authenticity. Did I miss that, or was it added later? Not sure, but it's hardly adequate to describe the importance of the debate.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader sends a link to this earlier version, which doesn't mention the problems (except in the headline, which I don't think came from AP) but which is, overall, much more sympathetic to Bush than the one linked above.
NEW TIME POLL: "Last week’s seismic voter shift to George W. Bush showed no signs of dwindling in this week’s Time Poll. Bush continues to lead Democratic challenger John Kerry among likely voters by double digits, 52% - 41%, in the three way race, with Nader at 3%, the same as last week."
UPDATE: Has Dan Rather re-elected Bush? Look at how the TradeSports market moved for Bush on Friday after RatherGate broke.
I WASN'T HAPPY with the photos the MSNBC folks ran with my September 11 post over at GlennReynolds.com, so I asked them to make some changes. They did, and now there's an excellent slideshow and video links.
JIM GERAGHTY ON CBS: "Game over."
MEGAN MCARDLE: "Yes, Virginia, they're fake:"
The chances that you could produce, by accident, a typewritten document that looks exactly like what comes out of your laser printer when you write the same thing in Microsoft Word, is a hell of a lot smaller than the chance that the earth will be destroyed by an asteroid: i.e. too small to worry about.
What flabbergasts me is how Dan Rather could have been taken in. He's old. He knows what typewritten things look like. These documents don't look like that. It also makes me wonder if 60 minutes is staffing its newsroom with twelve-year-old Pakistani children in order to save money on labour. How else could not one person say "y'know, this looks an awful lot like the stuff I type on my computer."
Indeed. (Note: Since she blogged this from an Internet cafe in
Ireland London, she presumably wasn't pajama-blogging.)
BILL AT INDCJOURNAL REPORTS that the Boston Globe misquoted a forensic expert regarding the allegedly forged CBS memos. The expert is quite unhappy, and Bill has a lot of quotes from him.
THIS IMAGE comes with the following message:
The proud warriors of Baker Company wanted to do something to pay tribute to our fallen comrades. So since we are part of the only Marine Infantry Battalion left in Iraq the one way that we could think of doing that is by taking a picture of Baker Company saying the way we feel. It would be awesome if you could find a way to share this with our fellow countrymen.
I was wondering if there was any way to get this into your papers to let the world know that "WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN" and are proud to serve our country." Semper Fi
1stSgt Dave Jobe
(Via American Daughter). However, since -- unlike CBS, apparently -- I try to vet my sources, I should note that this picture is actually from last year. Don't think that undercuts the message, though. I'm sure that the Marines, at least, still remember.
UPDATE: Read this letter from Iraq, too.
MARK STEYN IS MERCILESS: "CBS Falls for Kerry Campaign's Fake Memo:"
Are Dan Rather and ''60 Minutes'' a bunch of patsies suckered by the Kerry campaign? Not exactly. According to the American Spectator, ''The CBS producer said that some alarm bells went off last week when the signatures and initials of Killian on the documents in hand did not match up with other documents available on the public record, but producers chose to move ahead with the story.''
Hey, why not? Who's gonna spot it? If CBS says it's so, that's good enough for Thomas Oliphant's Boston Globe, the New York Times and the Washington Post, all of whom rushed the story onto their front pages because it met their ''basic standards.'' On Friday morning, Paul Krugman, the New York Times' excitable economist, filed a column called, ''The Dishonesty Thing,'' and for one moment I thought he was about to upbraid CBS for rushing on air with their laughably fake memos. But no, he was droning on about how the National Guard story demonstrated George W. Bush's ''pattern of lies: his assertions that he fulfilled his obligations when he obviously didn't ..."
The tragedy for Rather, Oliphant, Krugman and Co. is that even if the memos were authentic nobody would care. Their boy Kerry had a crummy August not because he didn't hammer Bush for being AWOL in the Spanish-American War but because the senator's AWOL in the present war. Big Media are trashing their own reputations in service to a man who can never win.
That last certainly seems right. Meanwhile Jay Bryant asks: "What Did Rather Know, and When Did He Know It?"
As of this writing, the network is said to be investigating the situation. Of course, this is not a real investigation, in the police sense. CBS leaves that sort of thing to fiction, on its CSI programs, for example. What they're investigating is how to minimize the public relations damage. . . .
For someone like Sandy Berger, it is always better to claim sloppiness than evil intent, but for a news organization, the issue is not nearly as clear. It is the job of an organization like CBS to sort out the real from the phony. If they don't do that, what earthly good are they?
UPDATE: The New York Post asks, in an editorial, "What are CBS — and anchor Dan Rather — trying to hide?"
Sure, news organizations sometimes need to protect sources.
But it's one thing for CBS to withhold information about the documents' origin — and quite another for it to refuse to disclose the names of those who (it claims) authenticated them.
Why, after all, would folks who make their living doing such analyses want to remain anonymous?
By continuing to "shield" their experts after two days of mounting controversy, Rather and CBS left folks to wonder how they authenticated the documents.
More to the point, by airing last night's segment at all, CBS and Rather were admitting something extraordinary had happened — that serious challenges to their original reporting had been mounted.
But no challenger was brought on the show.
Rather defined the terms of the discussion, asked the questions, picked the individuals who responded, presumably screened their answers — and basically declared himself innocent.
That is, he stuck in his thumb, pulled out a plum — and said: "What a fine anchor am I."
That probably won't cut it. In the age of the Internet, the truth will out.
Dan Rather can count on that.
MORE BAD NEWS FOR CBS:
A handwriting expert says the two signatures on purported Texas National Guard memos aired by CBS News this week are not those of President Bush's squadron commander, as asserted by "60 Minutes."
Until now, press scrutiny of the memos supposedly written by the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian focused on the finding that the documents were, in the opinion of experts, produced by computers not yet in use in the early 1970s.
Then there's this: "Gary Killian said one paper with his father's signature appears legitimate, but he said another -- in which his father says he was under pressure to 'sugar coat' Bush's performance -- seems fake." I'm no handwriting expert, but the signatures sure look different to me.
CBS needs to come clean by explaining where it got the documents (chain of custody matters!) and making its original (or, as it appears, its original copy") available to independent experts.
Reader John MacDonald thinks that CBS will go on the offensive, instead of answering questions: "Wait for them to do hard hitting analysis of the blogosphere in order to diminish its credibility."
Well, they can try that, but it won't help them. Indeed, the more you disparage the blogosphere as a bunch of guys in pajamas, the more embarrassing it is when they show you up. (No word yet on what Pajama Pundit thinks about his newfound fame. . . .) [LATER: My mistake -- Pajama Pundit is a she, not a he. This revelation will no doubt produce additional traffic.]
And as I've said before even if -- as seems increasingly unlikely -- these documents were to turn out to be real, it now seems pretty clear that CBS was gravely irresponsible in taking these documents public and presenting them as unimpeachably accurate without looking at them more closely first. No amount of after-the-fact lawyering will change that.
MY SEPTEMBER 11 MEMORIAL POST IS UP over at GlennReynolds.com. There's nothing terribly poetic or deep about it. If you want that, read this piece by Lileks.
I don't know if I'll post nonstop like I did in 2002, or post hardly at all, like I did in 2003. Or maybe I'll just react to events as they happen, like I did in 2001.
It's important that people remember what we're about here. But those who want to forget (those who are part of what Andrew Sullivan, back in September of 2001, called a "paralyzing, pseudo-clever, morally nihilist fifth column," plus those who are just tired of the war, or those who just naturally live in the eternal present) will forget -- or already have forgotten -- and the rest of us don't need a lot of reminding.
But maybe I'm wrong. Back in September of 2001, some people were already looking to the future, and thinking that we'd forget.
That's why they made this memorial video. It's still hard to watch, three years later. But it should be hard to watch.
One day, I suppose, these images will be like the images of the exploding Hindenburg, or woodcuts of the Chicago fire: historical, without much power to move people. We're not there yet. And we won't be, for quite a while.
UPDATE: In a related vein, this post from Harry's Place is a must-read.
And Ed Cone links some columns he wrote in the year following 9/11.
Howard Lovy takes a more positive perspective.
Arthur Chrenkoff has more reminiscences.
So does GayPatriot, who remembers a friend who died that day.
Ryan Sager has more memories of lost loved ones.
Pejman Yousefzadeh adds his own thoughts.
September 10, 2004
JUST CAUGHT Jonathan Klein debating Stephen Hayes about the CBS forgery scandal. Klein says that "Bloggers have no checks and balances . . . [it's] a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas."
But ABC has this report:
HODGES SAID HE WAS MISLED BY CBS: Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian's supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were "handwritten" and after CBS read him excerpts he said, "well if he wrote them that's what he felt."
Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70's and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been "computer generated" and are a "fraud".
I guess this is the independent verification that Rather was talking about.
But it gets worse. Much worse:
The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugar coat" President Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written, his own service record shows.
An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt was honorably discharged on March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of Bush's service, was dated Aug. 18, 1973.
That added to mounting questions about the authenticity of documents that seem to suggest Bush sought special favors and did not fulfill his service.
You don't say. To paraphrase Lincoln's remarks on Ulysses S. Grant, maybe CBS should get its journalists some of those pajamas. . . . Or maybe, in light of what we've learned, some of these Pajamas.
UPDATE: Reader Allen Roberts emails:
Bloggers ARE the checks and balances.
Driving along today and listening to talk radio mention LGF and Powerline, with others was just a terrific experience today. Finally, a real use for the Internet.
Not everyone is as pleased.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, Patterico notes that NPR and Media Matters can't tell time. Funny that they should both make the same obvious error. (Well, it was really ABC's The Note that made the original time-stamp error, but it was so obvious that picking it up was an obvious error.)
MORE: Mickey Kaus:
NPR hasn't corrected the error, according to Patterico, and David Brock's Media Matters still posts it. ... P.S.: Media Matters might want to decide if a) the documents are authentic, as argued at the top of their Web page or b) the documents are forgeries planted by Republicans, as argued at the bottom of their Web page. Lawyers are allowed to plead in the alternative, but a) and b) can't both be true, and the evidence for each of those propositions is also evidence against the other one.
Neither NPR, nor Media Matters, is covering itself with glory here.
Send them some pajamas, too.
STILL MORE: Charles Johnson: "I’d like you all to know that despite the intensely humid SoCal heat I have been blogging all day in a three piece Giorgio Armani suit. I haven’t owned pajamas for at least 20 years."
Brings a whole new meaning to the term "fact-check your ass."
MORE PROBLEMS FOR DAN RATHER?
The Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes' recollections over how he helped President Bush get into the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War have evolved over the years from fuzzy to distinct.
Barnes, who once claimed he did not help Bush enter the National Guard, reversed his story and told CBS News 60 Minutes that he in fact did help Bush.
Mr. Barnes daughter, Amy Barnes called the Mark Davis Show and spoke with guest host Monica Crowley on WBAP September 9th dismissing Barnes' claims as political and opportunistic.
Ouch. More here.
THIS DAN RATHER TRANSCRIPT is surprisingly close to what I watched earlier. . . .
MICKEY KAUS and Andrew Breitbart will be on the Dennis Miller show shortly, talking about the CBS forgery story.
UPDATE: Kaus on CBS: "They'll be throwing bodies out the window" before this is over.
Kaus on Kerry: "He's just an awful candidate. I gave the guy 300 bucks -- maybe I should ask for it back."
He's quite funny -- he should be on TV more.
HUGH HEWITT has further thoughts on open-source journalism, and why we love the Internet.
As further evidence, the CBS forgery story has reached Norway. The Aftenposten story even links Little Green Footballs. (Thanks to reader Kjell Hagen for the tip.)
Meanwhile, The Belmont Club analyzes Rather's defense. And -- continuing a metaphor? -- Powerline wonders if Rather is waiting for the cavalry.
UPDATE: Now here's a real reason to love the Internet. So much for the theory that it could have been done on an IBM Selectric Composer, even had such a machine been available on an Air National Guard base, and used by someone who couldn't type.
ANOTHER UPDATE: On the Selectric Composer, reader Sean Fitzpatrick points out:
Re: the IBM Composer
A $4,000 typewriter bought in 1972 would be the equivalent of a $17,900 dollar piece of equipment [today]. . . Air National Guard? I doubt it.
And not likely to be used for memos to the file, even if present. Fitzpatrick also observes:
Why is CBS working from "copies"?
Isn't the very definition of a CYA memo a memorandum that you yourself privately place in a folder so that if others ever do investigate the folder, your personal objection is noted? I have NEVER heard of a individual writing a CYA memo, then making many copies and then "copie of copies". This is why it is so important for the blogosphere to demand CBS tell where the memos are from. The only reason I know to make many copes of copies of a CYA memo is to "make it look old"....hmmm.
Also, I have never heard of anyone using the term "CYA" in the subject heading of a memo. One might write "SUBJECT: Bush Issue", but you'd never write CYA, especially in the military! Besides the typography the whole thing doesn't pass the smell test. I'm still open minded on it, but CBS needs to answer these questions.
As I've said before, in light of all of these questions, it was grossly irresponsible of CBS to put this stuff in public without acknowledging them, much less answering them.
More on kerning here.
MORE: Still more on kerning and the lack thereof here from Jon Henke. He's updating this post, so keep checking back.
And read these observations from Thomas Lifson, too.
DRIPPING-WITH-IRONY QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
"To err is human but to really foul up requires a computer."
Author: Dan Rather
Heh. And thanks to reader Greg Freitag for the tip.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE IN NEW YORK CITY on Sunday, 9/12, consider attending this rally against the genocide in Darfur. And if you go, try to take a digital camera and send me some pics. I'd appreciate it.
HERE'S AN INTERVIEW WITH DAN GILLMOR, about his new book, We, the Media. It's worth reading.
JUST WATCHED DAN RATHER ON CBS: The thing that struck me most was his voice -- as in the CNN interview linked below, he sounded as nervous and uncomfortable as any news anchor I've heard. Compared to the voluminous material about these documents on the Internet and in the Washington Post and on ABC, his story didn't offer much. And nothing about the widow and the son, who dispute the authenticity of the story: They say that writing memos like this would have been out of character for Killian; Rather instead produced an author of anti-Bush books who said it was in character, but ignored the comments of people much closer to the facts. All told, it was consistent with Power Line's prediction.
UPDATE: Somebody is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can replicate the CBS documents on a typewriter.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nick Gillespie is calling it "cover your assgate" and observes: "Maybe this is Dandy Dan's payback for the tongue-lashing Poppa Bush gave him way back when? Or maybe it's just a precursor to a flood of 'Kenneth, What Is the Point Size?' t-shirts flooding the streets of America."
MORE: Possible criminal liability for forging these documents is discussed by Eugene Volokh, though I think it's fair to say that the likelihood of any prosecution is low.
And SayUncle watched the segment repeatedly thanks to TiVo, and has some observations. Plus The Comedian has produced the charming logo visible on the right.
Jeff Quinton liveblogged it. Wizbang looks at the credentials of CBS's document expert, and observes: "Anyway the Forensics guy said (in a nut shell) that since the signatures match (which they don't to my layman's eye) the whole document is legit. Because obviously nobody would scan a signature and paste it into Word.. No, never."
Here's some speculation on where Rather might have gotten the documents. It's just speculation -- but, then, Rather won't say. Here's a transcript of an interview with a guy who served with Bush and doesn't think the documents are legit.
And Byron Matthews thinks he knows what the real agenda is here:
I think Rather is not really trying to defend the documents as real; he only needs to build a case that they are good enough fakes so that he and CBS can be excused for being fooled.
At that point the documents will be dismissed as not all that crucial, anyway, old news, who cares, and attention will shift to the he-said/he-said aspects of the case against Bush and his NG service. He started that shift of emphasis tonight.
This may work well enough to save Rather's job.
Here's more on CBS's expert Marcel Matley.
And a reader emails to ask "If the TANG documents are from Killian's personal file, then why have they been photocopied so many times?"
Good question. And reader Patrick Graham observes: "None of the persons who appeared on camera was on the other side of the issue from CBS. All were defenders of CBS. Such fairness!" They're noted for that.
Finally, Chris Kanis observes:
Isn't that interesting?
CBS's standard for accusing the President of lying, corruption, fraud, dereliction of duty, etc., is "a preponderance of the evidence."
CBS's standard for reporting on evidence that contradicts CBS's initial take, on the other hand, is "definitive evidence."
In other words, if CBS finds a story bashing the President is 51% likely to be true, they'll run it. But if the story questions the Gospel according to Dan Rather, CBS won't touch it unless it's handed down on stone tablets.
I guess they deserve points for being honest about their agenda.
Or something. And reader Harry Helms -- who works in publishing -- emails:
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it seems like CBS is implying they have originals or "near-originals" of the documents.
Do they? If so, they really need to produce them fast for independent examination before they lose what credibility they have left.
I remember the McGraw-Hill/"Howard Hughes autobiography" and Newsweek/"Hitler diaries" fiascoes, and so far CBS is following the McGraw-Hill and Newsweek playbooks exactly.
Seems like a poor choice.
ONE MORE UPDATE: Brian Carnell has more, including a revealing screen capture. "How stupid do they think we are?"
I think they've been making that clear for years. . . .
And reader Bob Conyne emails with an amusing analogy:
Dan Rather, 9/10/04:
"I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that MORE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS THAN HOW WE GOT THE STORY, which is where those who don't like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is WHAT ARE THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS RAISED IN THE STORY, which I just gave you earlier."
Dan Rather, interviewed using CBS' own standard of journalistic ethics:
“Mr. Rather, when did you stop beating your wife?”
“I have never beaten my wife – where did you hear this?”
“It’s not important where I heard it, or even whether it’s true – only your answer to these lingering questions about your wife-beating.”
Heh. That sounds about right.
Meryl Yourish, who has a long background in typesetting and desktop publishing, is mocking Dan Rather's defenders. "You cannot become an expert in typography by simply Googling information. That's like saying you're now a lawyer because you Googled some cases in online law libraries."
Perhaps we need the IANAT disclaimer, to go with IANAL.
THE POWERLINE GUYS are on Hugh Hewitt right now. Listen online here.
You can see a Dan Rather interview here. He looks, and sounds, nervous and defensive. And he spends most of his time making counter-accusations. It's an astoundingly unconvincing performance.
He doesn't help his credibility when he makes an obvious lie: that he stands behind the President in wartime. Riiigghht.
What we need from CBS is (1) the provenance of the documents; (2) chain of custody; (3) extrinsic evidence of reliability -- and the original documents, not just PDF copies on the web, made available to independent outside experts for review.
I think what we're getting is "trust us" and after-the-fact lawyering.
VANDALISM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE: John Brown notes that a 9/11 memorial on campus was vandalized:
As hard as it may be to believe, the 9/11 memorial placed on campus here at UT Tuesday night has been vandalized.
Apparently, some cowardly and despicable individuals snuck onto the amphitheater Wednesday night and removed all 3,000 flags. They moved them to Humanities Plaza (about 100 yards away) and replanted them, spelling out "The World Suffers." They also chalked various antiwar and anti-Bush slogans on the buildings and on the pavement - in direct violation of University rules.
Fortunately, we were on top of this by 8 am. We quickly washed away the libelous cliches, and returned the flags to where they belong. The memorial stands again, despite the wishes of these idiots.
This is quite disturbing for many reasons. First of all, the memorial was a nonpartisan one - the College Democrats were invited to attend. People of all political persuasions were involved. It had nothing to do with the Iraq war. Yet apparently in this world of rabid antiwar sentiment, even a 9/11 memorial can be considered offensive by certain activists.
Secondly, the cowardice of those responsible is also telling. Why, pray tell, did they not do this during the day? Were they ashamed to be seen? Or were they simply cowards?
Finally, how could someone be so callous as to remove this? 3,000 flags were involved. Every one was taken out of the ground, moved about 100 yards, and planted in the ground again. This was not something that was done in five minutes. These people obviously put a lot of efforts into their vandalism. What message does the fact that they are willing to do this send to the families of those who died on September 11, 2001? Whose side are these people on?
Whose, indeed? He's got photos, too. More here. (Via Michael Silence).
WE'LL KNOW THAT BLOGGERS HAVE HIT THE BIG TIME when they start to have problems like this. I think Kaus will be the first.
POWERLINE NOTES that the Kerry campaign is playing the Creedence Clearwater song Fortunate Son, as a subtle dig at George W. Bush's National Guard service. (Okay, it's not that subtle.)
It's a great song. But, of course, the song was written by John Fogerty, who served stateside in the Reserves:
John went to college but in 66 Uncle Sam knocked, Doug and John became reservists in the Coast Guard and Army respectively. John married and had a child.
Or as Salon reports it:
Fogerty, who until two years earlier was serving once a month in the Army Reserve, wrote "Fortunate Son" in 20 minutes, sitting on the edge of a bed with a legal pad in his lap. "It's a confrontation between me and Richard Nixon," he once said.
(Emphasis added.) Does the Kerry Campaign think that John Fogerty betrayed his country by not serving in Vietnam? (Mary Anne Marsh transcript here).
Call me crazy, but I think that a better song for this campaign would be the lesser-known single by John's brother Tom, entitled Goodbye Media Man:
You spread your paranoia all over this land
Creating situations you don't understand
If I could get next to you & turn you around
At place that we all could share & get on the ground
But that's just me.
THE BELMONT CLUB notes the shot heard 'round the world.
DAN RATHER IS DIGGING IN, and RatherBiased.com has Bernard Goldberg's reaction. (Er, the part after the helpless chortling wore off, I guess. . . .)
And for Dan Rather, perhaps a copy of Intellectual Morons : How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas would be in order. Though I've never really thought of Dan as an intellectual.
UPDATE: Reader Addison Laurent emails:
All that's missing from the CBS fiasco is Dan Rather being tied up, on a floor somewhere, someone pulling a mask off of his face as the police grab him, and him snarling "And I would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for you MEDDLING KIDS!"
That does seem to sum up Old Media's attitude toward the blogosphere.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here it is!
EVEN WITHOUT THE DOCUMENT-FORGERY BUSINESS, what in the world were the Democrats thinking when they trotted out already-exposed fake Vietnam war hero Tom Harkin to attack Bush's National Guard service?
TOM MAGUIRE and Power Line once again have lots of stuff worth reading.
ASK ME NO QUESTIONS, AND . . . .
NEW ORLEANS -- Who knows what lurks in the heart and mind of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry?
Not the traveling press corps, that's for sure.
Kerry has been under wraps for the last month, declining to subject himself to what must surely be the painful process of answering national reporters' questions.
Kerry used to regularly assure his audiences that, if elected president, he would hold a press conference every month to communicate with the nation's citizenry. (That was a not-so-subtle dig at President Bush, who has held only 12 formal press conferences during his four years in office, a record low number.)
"I have pledged that I am going to have a press conference at least once a month to talk to the nation about what I'm doing because I don't have anything to hide," Kerry said during a campaign stop in Beloit, Wis., after the Democratic National Convention. "I want America to know what I'm doing. I want you to know what I'm fighting for. I want you to ask me questions."
But Kerry doesn't make that promise anymore.
(Via Romenesko, who now has a sidebar link to the WP CBS-forgery story).
JAY CURRIE: Blogs 1, 60 Minutes 0. "The more basic question is how could a rabble of bloggers, in one day, provide hard core proof of forgery when major news organizations took those documents at face value?"
UPDATE: Colby Cosh is merciless:
This, I guess, explains just why traditional print and electronic journalists sometimes speak of the Internet as a large, frightening, amorphous, destructive force. Considering that the most respected journalistic entity in the world has been revealed at this hour to be sky-high on goofballs, it also explains why anyone who attempts to defend the exclusive privileges of "traditional media" is eligible for physical annihilation on the grounds of incurable virulent idiocy. Sorry: I know you've heard this before--there's even a lame term of art for it ("blogger triumphalism"). But I have, if you'll forgive me for pointing it out, blundered into a forefront-ish position in Internet journalism as practiced in a G7 country. And this 60 Minutes business is still making me go "Holy shit."
Yeah. And even in the -- highly unlikely -- event that CBS can somehow show, after the fact, that these documents were genuine, it's obvious now that they acted with enormous sloppiness and disregard for obvious questions about their genuineness before publishing. The journalism is over now, and the most they can do is lawyering.
Hugh Hewitt has more thoughts on old vs. new media. And here's a much lengthier commentary on the same topic: "Yesterday, the man bit the dog. Boy howdy, did he ever."
ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's the sad result when the blogosphere employs CBS's standards.
Hey, Dan Rather's job may be open soon. . . .
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The culprit has been exposed. I never liked that guy.
BEHIND THE CURVE: Bill Hobbs emails to note that, as of the moment, Romenesko has nothing about the CBS forgery story. Isn't that pretty big, er, Media News? (Bigger than "Bloomberg News techie: I was punished for sex harass complaint!")
Message to Romenesko -- plenty of links below. Feel free to crib! And read this analysis by Donald Sensing, too.
UPDATE: Lots of good stuff to crib from over at Beldar's place, too! And Beldar once represented CBS in a libel case.
And this just-discovered document will be on Sixty Minutes next week!
ALL THIS BAD NEWS FOR KERRY is good news for Ralph Nader. That, plus thoughts on disaster preparedness, over at GlennReynolds.com.
THE PROWLER reports that CBS got the dubious documents from the Kerry campaign:
More than six weeks ago, an opposition research staffer for the Democratic National Committee received documents purportedly written by President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard squadron commander, the late Col. Jerry Killian. . . .
A CBS producer, who initially tipped off The Prowler about the 60 Minutes story, says that despite seeking professional assurances that the documents were legitimate, there was uncertainty even among the group of producers and researchers working on the story.
"The problem was we had one set of documents from Bush's file that had Killian calling Bush 'an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot.' And someone who Killian said 'performed in an outstanding manner.' Then you have these new documents and the tone and content are so different."
The CBS producer said that some alarms bells went off last week when the signatures and initials of Killian on the documents in hand did not match up with other documents available on the public record, but producers chose to move ahead with the story. "This was too hot not to push. If there were doubts, those people didn't show it," says the producer, who works on a rival CBS News program.
Now people are wondering if the whole thing was a Karl Rove setup. Could be, I guess, if Karl Rove is really an invincibly brilliant genius, in which case Kerry might as well just give up now.
Or it could be a case of self-defeating Bush hatred syndrome. They went ahead even though they noticed the signatures didn't match and the tone was different? But Power Line reports that Chris Lehane is blaming the Bush campaign. He would, wouldn't he?
UPDATE: Cached version of the Prowler item here, since a Drudge link is shutting them down.
WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT THIS CHICAGO SUN-TIMES REPORT on the CBS forged-documents story is that it treats Power Line and other blogs as just another news source:
The morning after the "60 Minutes II" airing, the Internet was buzzing with claims that the documents were forged.
Powerlineblog first aired speculation that there was persuasive evidence from the typefaces and spacing that the documents supposedly prepared in the age of typewriters in the early 1970s showed the unmistakable characteristics of computer printing.
Another blogger, Bill Ardolino at INDC Journal, who had read Powerline, said, "I decided to find a top typeface expert and ran his analysis on my Web site."
Ardolino's expert, Philip D. Bouffard, is a nationally recognized forensic authority in typewriter and electronic typefaces.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, John Podhoretz writes: "The populist revolution against the so- called mainstream media continues."
Drudge reports that CBS has launched an internal investigation into what went wrong.
UPDATE: James Lileks:
Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. Put it this way: you’ve see films of old buildings detonated by precision demolitionists. First you see the puffs of smoke – then the building just hangs there for a second, even though every column that held it up has been severed. We’ve been living in that second for years, waiting for the next frame. Well, here it is. Roll tape. Down she goes. And when the dust settles we will be right back where we were 100 years ago, with dozens of fiercely competitive media outlets throwing elbows to earn your pennies.
And that will be an improvement. It might not be an improvement over the media that some media folks claim we've had in recent decades, but it will be an improvement over the media that we've actually had.
September 09, 2004
WASHINGTON POST / ABC NEWS POLL: Bush 52-43 among likely voters.
DID CBS PRESENT FORGED DOCUMENTS LAST NIGHT? I don't know, but it looks as if there's reason for further inquiry. The Command Post has a roundup on the subject. Power Line seems to have raised this first. INDC Journal has a report from a forensic document examiner. And Hugh Hewitt has an expert on his radio show (I just heard him say he doesn't think the documents came from a typewriter, as they should have in 1972/73, when word processors were, ahem, scarce), and a roundup on his blog. Here's a news story on the subject.
I'm not up to expanding on this inquiry, but I feel certain that other people will be looking into it. And CBS -- which I heard Hugh Hewitt say wouldn't answer questions -- needs to step up and explain what's going on.
Meanwhile, Scott Ott will taunt them some more: "Mr. Rather said the authenticity of the 32-year-old email has been confirmed by several Nigerian officials who specialize in electronic funds transfer by email."
UPDATE: More here, here, and here. Plus this: "The authenticity of newly unearthed memos stating that George W. Bush failed to meet standards of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War was questioned Thursday by the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote the memos."
Plus this:"Very likely forgeries." And these forensics experts, unlike CBS's, have names.
Roger Simon is already talking Jayson Blair. Are these things forgeries? And if so, by whom? I don't know. But the evidence that they're bogus is stronger than the evidence that Bush didn't fulfil his National Guard service.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A media contact emails: "ABC'S NIGHTLINE DOING THE forgeries tonight, and their experts say most likely forgeries. CBS had serious meetings this evening over this."
I'll bet they did. . . . Meanwhile the widow is questioning the documents, too:
"The wording in these documents is very suspect to me," she told ABC News Radio in an exclusive phone interview from her Texas home. She added that she "just can't believe these are his words."
Much more in this story, which probably prefigures what's coming on Nightline:
More than half a dozen document experts contacted by ABC News said they had doubts about the memos' authenticity.
"These documents do not appear to have been the result of technology that was available in 1972 and 1973," said Bill Flynn, one of country's top authorities on document authentication. "The cumulative evidence that's available … indicates that these documents were produced on a computer, not a typewriter:"
Read the whole thing. We can't yet say for certain that it's a forgery, I suppose -- but it looks that way. And we can say for certain that CBS was unforgivably sloppy, at the very most charitable, to bring documents like this forward and present them as genuine without noticing, and answering, these questions beforehand.
Speculations on whodunit, and why, here.
MORE: The forgery story is on page A1 of the Washington Post for tomorrow.
EVAN COYNE MALONEY has a new film out, called Brainwashing 101. You can see it online, or order a DVD (it's 46 minutes long).
BLOGGING WILL BE LIGHT, as I am sick. Just came from the dentist a little while ago, oral surgery will be required, and it's probably not a good idea to do too much blogging while medicated.
Check out Tom Maguire and Power Line for a number of interesting new developments. And read this, and this, too. It makes me wonder if my earlier speculation about Karl Rove trying to encourage media self-destruction didn't have some basis.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that abuses by government-supported Arab militias in Sudan qualify as genocide against the black African population in the Darfur region — a determination that should pressure the government to rein in the fighters.
Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the conclusion was based on interviews conducted with refugees from the Darfur violence as well as other evidence.
"We concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed (Arab militias) bear responsibility — and genocide may still be occurring," he said.
No doubt the government of Sudan can count on French support, though.
HERE'S A COLUMN by an old-media guy who isn't happy about having his work fact-checked by the great unwashed.
It's worth reading in conjunction with this piece, and this one, on a recent example of fact-checking. You can decide for yourself who comes off better. . . .
UPDATE: Susanna Cornett has some questions.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh offers a Fisking.
And some extremely valuable advice for journalists from the legal world, here.
MORE ON THE FRANCE-IRAQ CONNECTION, and why it led the French to oppose U.S. intervention:
The intelligence reports showing French assistance to Saddam ongoing in the late winter of 2002 helped explain why France refused to deal harshly with Iraq and blocked U.S. moves at the United Nations.
"No wonder the French are opposing us," one U.S. intelligence official remarked after illegal sales to Iraq of military and dual-use parts, originating in France, were discovered early last year before the war began. . . .
U.S. intelligence would not discover the pipeline until the eve of war last year; sensitive intelligence indicated that parts had been smuggled to Iraq as recently as that January. . . .
As of last year, Iraq owed France an estimated $4 billion for arms and infrastructure projects, according to French government estimates. U.S. officials thought this massive debt was one reason France opposed a military operation to oust Saddam.
The fact that illegal deals continued even as war loomed indicated France viewed Saddam's regime as a future source of income.
Nice to be reminded of this. Meanwhile, Chirac isn't exactly living up to the spirit of Kyoto: "The answer was simple: the French air force, which operates the presidential Airbus 319, was ordered to tack another 1,200 miles on to its flight so that Mr Chirac could sleep undisturbed."
BRENDAN LOY is blogging Hurricane Ivan, which at Cat 5 is looking pretty grim.
TOM MAGUIRE: "Is Nick Kristof Lying, Or Was He Duped?"
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Kevin Aylward unveils the 60 Minutes equal time clock!
Spirit-crushing foolishness from my candidate, John Kerry. The nation is trying to figure out how to fight global terrorism and he's talking about having "not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness." How about a Department of F***ing Perspective? If Bush is smart he'll be ridiculing Kerry about this for the rest of the month. ...Thanks, Iowa!
That last is a recurring theme. Perhaps the Democrats ought to rethink their nominating process.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here: "Americans with grave concerns about Iraq actually deserve a better advocate than Kerry, who wants to reduce those concerns to a false monetary calculation. This is a serious country, and Iraq is a serious business."
September 08, 2004
JULIAN SANCHEZ IS RELUCTANTLY DEFENDING DICK CHENEY, who he says has been widely misquoted:
As I read this, he's not saying the danger is that if we elect Kerry, then the danger is that we'll be attacked. He's saying that if we elect Kerry and we're attacked, then the danger is that we'll treat it as a criminal act rather than an act of war. And in context, it's actually pretty transparent that this is what Cheney intended. So transparent once you look at the full transcript, in fact, that I wonder whether some of the misreading isn't deliberate, either as a partisan tactic or an attempt to generate a news story.
Surely not. Interesting discussion in the comments. Meanwhile, Nick Gillespie says that Kerry has actually been consistent on nation-building. He takes off points for speaking style, though.
UPDATE: While Julian Sanchez defends Cheney, Rick Brookhiser at NRO is criticizing him. . . . Hey, where did Spock get that beard?
LEADERS OF THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS AND THE AMERICAN LEGION have both just endorsed Bush. "George W. Bush picked up the endorsement of two veterans' group leaders Wednesday as questions about his service in the Texas Air National Guard resurfaced." (They're actually influential ex-leaders, according to the story.)
It strikes me that one side-effect of Kerry's emphasis on his Vietnam service -- and his attacks on Bush's service -- is an empowerment of veterans, and veterans organizations. These endorsements wouldn't have meant much otherwise. Now they do. Is this good for Democrats?
INDEED: "Isn't strange that the biggest difference between the Bush National Guard stories and the Kerry Vietnam controversy is that, in the President's case, it's the major media dogging the story to death?"
What could possibly account for the difference?
UPDATE: John Cole offers the story to the Big Media, free of charge. But will they take it?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's some stuff that seems to have been missed by the press. (George Magazine covered the Bush National Guard story back in 2000? Who knew?) [LATER: Some questions here and here.] And here's a Chicago Sun-Times article from February that lays out a lot of facts that don't seem to be getting much attention today. It's worth reading.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a summary of Bush's National Guard Service in The Hill. Seems like he put in more hours in the air than Kerry did in Swift boats:
After training, Bush kept flying, racking up hundreds of hours in F-102 jets. As he did, he accumulated points toward his National Guard service requirements. At the time, guardsmen were required to accumulate a minimum of 50 points to meet their yearly obligation.
According to records released earlier this year, Bush earned 253 points in his first year, May 1968 to May 1969 (since he joined in May 1968, his service thereafter was measured on a May-to-May basis).
Bush earned 340 points in 1969-1970. He earned 137 points in 1970-1971. And he earned 112 points in 1971-1972. . . .
That brings the story to May 1972 — the time that has been the focus of so many news reports — when Bush “deserted” (according to anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore) or went “AWOL” (according to Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee).
Bush asked for permission to go to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign. His superior officers said OK. Requests like that weren’t unusual, says retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971.
“In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots,” Campenni says. “The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In ’72 or ’73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.”
So Bush stopped flying. From May 1972 to May 1973, he earned just 56 points — not much, but enough to meet his requirement.
Then, in 1973, as Bush made plans to leave the Guard and go to Harvard Business School, he again started showing up frequently.
In June and July of 1973, he accumulated 56 points, enough to meet the minimum requirement for the 1973-1974 year.
Then, at his request, he was given permission to go.
Reading further in this story, I note that the Bush folks seem to want to press this issue, in order to demand that Kerry release his military records in full. Is this another rope-a-dope? Hmm. It just might be: "Kerry Navy probe to expand scope?"
MORE: Reader Ed Brenegar emails: "What is most strange to me is that Kerry bases his qualifications for the presidency on his Vietnam experience, and Bush doesn’t give much credence at all to his NG experience."
I continue to think that Kerry's emphasis on Vietnam is a mistake.
Matthew Hoy has further thoughts: "So, what have the Globe and Lechliter done? They've looked at all the documents, determined that they are not to be taken at face value and reinterpreted them as they see fit. . . . Is the mainstream media carrying water for the Kerry campaign? I'd have to say so."
And reader Ellis Disch doesn't think it matters:
The 'swing voters' went overwhelmingly for President Clinton, an admitted draft dodger, over two bona fide war heroes.
This President is not pushing his warrior status for re-election, his opponent is pressing his own. Why does the media think that all of a sudden a swath of voters who could care less what Clinton did during that era (when he wasn't making it the rationale for his election) will care now?
Barking up the wrong tree. Again.
Well, it gives them something to talk about. Perhaps this is what this commenter at The Belmont Club predicted -- a sort of news-media "denial of service" attack, flooding the information channels with this story so that there's not room for more damaging stuff.
IT'S NOT JUST EVERY BLOG that gives you photos of pig-racing.
ACCORDING TO THE VOTE SMART WEBSITE, John Kerry gets a zero rating from the American Legion. Even Ted Kennedy gets a 50.
Since I don't know what the votes are for, I don't know what this means, exactly. But it probably accounts, in some part, for Kerry's cool reception in front of the American Legion last week.
UPDATE: Reader Greg Campbell writes:
You may notice that Senators received either 0, 50, or 100% ratings from the American Legion for 2003 votes. This is due to the fact that the Legion apparently only endorsed two Senate issues during that year:
As you will note, John Kerry got a 0 because he voted "No" on the first issue (the budget resolution), and did not vote on the second issue (the Tom Ridge confirmation). The budget resolution was mostly a party-line vote (except for John McCain and Zell Miller), and the Tom Ridge confirmation was obviously not in any danger of being voted down (passing 94-0), so I assume Kerry (along with Joe Lieberman) felt it was acceptable to skip it and focus on campaigning.
Hmm. The link above doesn't make clear that these are the same votes, but this explanation makes sense. Kind of makes you wonder why the Legion bothers with the ratings, then. It also suggests that Kerry's cool reception didn't stem from his missing these fairly trivial votes.
IT'S ZELL MILLER VS. FRED KAPLAN: Over at Bainbridge's place.
JEFF SOYER HAS MORE on the rather hysterical media coverage of the Assault Weapon ban expiration.
Me, I'll just quote Tom Diaz of the anti-gun Violence Policy Center:
If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another.
That's right. It was always a political and aesthetic issue -- not a crime-control issue. And, of course, that's the point. As Jacob Sullum observed:
The "assault weapon" ban is important as a precedent precisely because its justification is so slight. It suggests that you don't need a good reason to limit Second Amendment rights. It also invites further infringements down the road, as supporters take the critics' arguments to heart and start arguing that the ban is not broad enough. After all, it covers only a very small percentage of the guns used in crimes.
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has a lot of interesting stuff. And it's now selling blogads! Greyhawk, who's leaving for Iraq shortly, offers this point among others:
John Kerry: 'Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time'
Me: Thanks - I'll keep that in mind on the flight over.
APPARENTLY, I LACK FIRE: "Reynolds, at his most, barely reaches the level of mildly peeved."
I'm the John Kerry of the blogosphere!
(Thanks to Jeff for fixing the permalinks on his page).
GAYPATRIOT and Andrew Sullivan comment on the Log Cabin Republicans.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT.
RAND SIMBERG has a lengthy essay on space policy in The New Atlantis.
THE GENESIS SPACE PROBE CRASHED: Bummer. Unclear whether they'll be able to get any useful data out of it.
DON'T MISS THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES: You may find some blogs you like better than this one.
MIKE BARNICLE ON POLITICAL RHETORIC, from Hardball:
[T]he difference between listening to John Kerry and listening to George Bush is the difference between reading Elmore Leonard and James Joyce. The language of his campaign is so lame that he can‘t connect. He has not yet connected with the American voter. You listen to the president of the United States, whether you agree or disagree with Iraq. . . . his language is direct.
The other problem for the Kerry campaign is that Kerry probably thinks it's a good thing when you're compared to James Joyce. . . .
But his waffling has got both pro-war Democrats ("Speaking as an embarrassed and fed-up Democrat, I have to say to the national leaders of my own party: What were you thinking when you nominated this man! ") and anti-war Democrats ("Kerry is imploding because he threw away his most important advantage. He had an energized, passionate base, and he took them for granted. Now he's losing them . . . Some of them will vote for Nader, but unless Kerry throws them some red meat during the debates, most of them will stay home.") disgusted with him.
If you try to please everyone, you usually wind up pleasing no one.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Micahel Duff, who's at the anti-war Democrat link above, emails that he's not a Democrat. From his email and his post, I had thought that he was. Nonetheless, I think he's right that anti-war democrats are losing interest in Kerry.
MARK CUBAN ON WHY HE BLOGS: Another vote of confidence for the media!
FROM NATION-STATE TO MARKET STATE: Interesting.
IS THE DEBATE OVER STEM CELLS recapitulating the debate over In-Vitro Fertilization? To some degree. And here's an interesting Leon Kass bit: "Leon Kass (of the President's Council on Bioethics) was strongly opposed to IVF until its acceptance was more or less a given."
I think that Bush made a big mistake choosing Kass to head the Council.
SOME TROUBLING STUFF on electrical power grid vulnerabilities. "[F]ailures in a fairly small portion of the network can lead to a major disruption."
AT SLASHDOT: "Should Star Trek die?"
HUGH HEWITT: "[T]he weakness of Kerrry as a candidate is obvious from the fact that it has now been 38 days since Kerry sat down on camera with a major figure from American journalism for an in-depth interview that would be certain to bring up Kerry's whoppers about his Vietnam service. Kerry's still in the box he built from himself of fables of CIA men and hats and gun-running to Cambodia."
AUSTIN BAY IS BACK FROM IRAQ, and he's got a column up on what he's learned. Excerpt:
If there is one mistake I think we've made in fighting this war, it's been the way we've soft-pedaled the ideological dimensions. This really is a fight for the future, between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and Islamo-fascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty.
Iraq -- long plundered by despotism -- should be a wealthy country. It has water, an agricultural base, a source of capital (oil) and people willing to work. It is the best place to begin to reform the dysfunctional political systems that shackle and rob the vast the majority of Middle Easterners. The lesson of 9-11, three years on, is that liberty must sustain a focused offensive if it is to survive.
Read the whole thing.
TOM MAGUIRE OFFERS ADVICE TO THE BUSH CAMPAIGN on how to respond to the various attacks coming from the Kerry campaign:
Karl Rove can actually use these stories to his advantage. First, spin it as a last gasp, say-anything attempt by the media to win this for their guy Kerry. (Waddya mean, "spin"?). This will rally a newly-aggrieved base.
Secondly (and here comes your sound-bite), turn the AWOL story back on Kerry. "The President is running on his record of leadership and his vision for a safer, more propserous America. We are only having this discussion about new documents because the President has signed the Form 180 authorizing the release of all of his records.
The President is not running on a service record he has nonetheless fully disclosed; John Kerry is running on a service record he has not fully disclosed.. If we are going to compare the two candidates' records, we need full disclosure from both sides." (See "MORE", below).
Finally, timing is everything - the Kitty Kelley book, coupled with the new AWOL charges, looks like a liberal media mudslide, and increases the effectiveness of the "this is a say-anything assault by the media" meme.
(Emphasis in original). Read the whole thing.
The press will call this Kerry move shrewd, but after things like the bogus-boos story from the AP, the press isn't exactly riding high in the credibility department. In fact, I sometimes wonder if part of Karl Rove's strategy isn't aimed at eviscerating media credibility -- or, more accurately, encouraging media folks to eviscerate their own credibility -- so as to give Bush a freer hand in the second term. If so, the press is certainly cooperating.
UPDATE: Several readers note that -- in addition to failing to open his military records -- Kerry has refused to release his medical records, as well as Teresa's tax records. I don't think the press would allow such behavior by a Republican to pass with so little comment.
ANOTHER UPDATE: RealClearPolitics has further thoughts on what's going on. And here's a roundup of Bush AWOL stuff. (Via Dodd Harris, who has much more). And read this by Byron York, too.
And here's some more Doug Brinkley backpedaling that I had missed:
John Kerry's biographer today called on the presidential candidate to release his military records and warned a Navy investigation into his medals could prove to be the "death knell" of his campaign.
In the past, Kerry has said he could not release some documents because of contractual obligations to Douglas Brinkley, author of "Tour of Duty." Brinkley said he has no contractual claims to any of the papers.
No contractual obligations? Interesting. So where are the records?
SIMS RULES FOR A COMPLEX WORLD: My TechCentralStation column, which features more thoughts on the largely positive impact of gaming on today's youth, is up. There's a Neal Stephenson angle, too.
ANYONE WHO SAYS THAT IRAQ was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," doesn't have the judgment or the credibility to be President.
But don't take my word for it -- ask John Kerry.
UPDATE: A question:
John Kerry (at least one of them) says that the war on Iraq is not part of the war on terror. He also said that the 1,000th American died in Iraq in the war against terror. How does that work? Is the war in Iraq the war against terror or is it not? Are the soldiers who are there fighting the "wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time" suddenly become martyrs to the war on terror when they die there?
The message remains a bit muddled.
BESLAN, USA: Froggy Ruminations has some thoughts on the implications of Beslan for law enforcement training. Personally, I think that these lessons are more significant. But both are worth reading.
UPDATE: Mark Steyn observes:
Could what happened in Beslan happen in the US? Two months ago, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on a fellow called Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, a suspected terrorist who'd fought with his fellow jihadi in Chechnya and somehow wound up in Minnesota, where he'd applied for licences to transport hazardous materials and drive school buses.
As always, his whole column is worth reading.
September 07, 2004
MY YOUNGEST BROTHER'S BAND, Copper, is on tour. Check out the schedule -- they may be coming to a town near you.
Plus, they've got free downloads.
HERE'S AN AMUSING LIVEBLOG SUMMARY from the American Political Science Association panel on blogs. Shockingly, Wonkette was talking dirty. (Via Papa Drezner).
WILL IT HELP KERRY WIN VOTES IN THE SOUTH, when his campaign is making fun of Southern accents?
I wouldn't post so much on this stuff, but it's like a car wreck -- you just can't make yourself look away, even though you know you should.
UPDATE: The Gilligan theme continues. (But I like Gilligan!). And read more substantive analysis, with a Kennedy angle, too.
ARNOLD KLING: "Turning to government to help maintain anonymity on the Internet is like going to the Pope for help in keeping abortion safe and legal."
MICHAEL NOVAK WRITES on "Preacher Zell."
EFFECTS OF A NATIONAL SALES TAX: TaxProf links to a study.
UPDATE: Gary Comer notes the source:
The link to the TaxProf blog regarding the idea of a national sales tax is interesting, but I do notice that the study that is referenced by TaxProf is from ITEP, an organization funded in part by The Streisand Foundation (yes, as in Barbara Streisand) and having on its board as Vice President Robert Kuttner of the very liberal publication The American Prospect and as board member Robert Reich, the former Clinton Secretary of Labor and now a leading spokesperson for the political left.
So while I can't necessarily at this point speak to the accuracy of the report itself, not having fully analyzed it, it does seem as if the source of the report has a distinct bias.
Perhaps one of the econobloggers will post a fuller analysis.
SPEAKING OF KERRY AND GUNS, he just shot himself in the foot again:
But in so doing he seemed to forget that Republicans have been tearing him down for months as a vacillating, indecisive, finger-in-the-wind politician of the worst order.
"Everybody told me, 'God, if you're coming to Canonsburg, you've got to find time to go to Toy's, and he'll take care of you,'" Mr. Kerry said, dropping the name of a restaurant his motorcade had passed on the way in. "I understand it's my kind of place, because you don't have to - you know, when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling: Ah, what do you want?
"He just gives you what he's got, right?" Mr. Kerry added, continuing steadily off a gangplank of his own making: "And you don't have to worry, it's whatever he's cooked up that day. And I think that's the way it ought to work, for confused people like me who can't make up our minds."
Is there anyone running this campaign? (Via BarcePundit).
UPDATE: Tom Maguire notes the symmetry: "George Bush sometimes lets the wrong word hop out of his mouth, and John Kerry is unable to make even a simple decision."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Libertyblog says I'm missing the point:
This isn’t about Kerry’s indecision, it’s about his eagerness to empower specialists and elites. This restaurateur gets to decide what Kerry has for dinner, Kerry gets to decide who the restaurateur hires, how his employees get health care, whether he can own a gun, ...
He just wants to free us from all those burdensome choices! A couple of other readers suggested that this was self-deprecating humor. If Kerry had shown any sign that he was capable of self-deprecating humor -- and if the Times had given even a hint that this was going on -- that might be plausible.
ANN ALTHOUSE is photoblogging from Madison. Very nice!
I am amazed that the Times is using military casualties to build a potential toehold for the Kerry campaign.
The Times isn't the only one. Here's an email I got from one Daniel Burosh, who opposes the war, in connection with a recent bombing in Iraq:
I Guess the baby soldier body parts flew just EVERYWHERE! Imagine the game:
"Look Abdul, I found an arm!"
"Here's a couple of ears!"
"Gee, Mustafa. I think a found a scrotum, and the ball are still inside!"
Hoo-ray! 985 and counting... When it hits 1000, my friends and I are going to PAR-TAY!
I get a steady flow of emails along these lines. Rooting for American soldiers to die strikes me as a poor strategy for the anti-Bush forces.
UPDATE: Further thoughts here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.
MORE: Read this, from Slantpoint, too.
CAN'T COUNT: Steve Verdon notes misleading reports on the deficit.
DRUDGE OFFERS A KERRY GUN FLIP-FLOP REPORT: "KERRY COSPONSORED BILL BANNING GUN HE WAVES."
I believe, however, that the other legal issues mentioned in the story don't apply to guns that are transferred between individuals, as gifts. But statutory firearms regulation isn't a specialty of mine. Perhaps Dave Kopel will know.
Also -- though I'm not positive it's the same gun -- there's no pistol grip in this photograph, though there appears to be one in the Drudge photo. In the second photo it looks like a "Monte Carlo" stock, which might fall under the rather crappy definition in the bill Kerry co-sponsored, but which might not (and shouldn't). So unless there are two guns involved, or I'm missing something, this seems to me to be a bit of a reach. It's more likely an indictment for inept legislative drafting than for hypocrisy.
Anyway, I think Drudge is burying the lede, since this seems like the big deal part of the story to me:
Kerry was presented with the semiautomatic shotgun during a Labor Day stop in Racine, West Virginia.
"I thank you for the gift, but I can't take it to the debate with me," Kerry told a cheering crowd as he held up the device.
Or maybe he's just angling for the Zell Miller vote!
UPDATE: Hmm. On the other hand, here's a gun with a Monte Carlo stock that's described as a "pistol grip," and here's another. So I guess it's not quite so much of a stretch. To me, the term "pistol grip" calls to mind something more along these lines, or like this. But common sense and gun-control legislation seldom go together, as I guess this illustrates. If Kerry could be caught in this position, what innocent gun owner is safe?
Meanwhile reader Boyd Klingler emails: "NYT headline if Bush had said it: Bush Regrets He Can't Shoot Kerry." No doubt.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails:
"In as much as virtually all sport rifles and shotguns have a 'pistol grip' as defined in practice, the focus of SB 23 was on "conspicuous protrusion." Sentence construction indicates that pistol grips that protrude conspicuously constitute an 'assault weapon' feature. Pistol grips that only protrude are not. Determination of whether the protrusion is conspicuous is accomplished by using the action as a reference point. However, the use of this term in the statute introduces another element of vagueness since the 'action' is neither a part nor a specific location on a firearm."
The point, I think, is that the devil's in the details - which is exactly how the antigun lobby likes it. And why it's relevant.
Meanwhile, Kerry may want to fall back on this discussion of the "pistol grip" question and its complexity.
And Charles Austin notes that Kerry has serious problems with gun safety.
MORE: Gunblogger SayUncle thinks the Drudge story is wrong, and offers much more information. On the other hand, reader Brian O'Connor sends a photo, and emails: "The reference to "pistol grip" is accurate. This is a non-pistol grip, on a 1903 Springfield. You see this on some shotguns nowadays, but hardly ever on a sporting rifle." And reader Jack Ward emails:
Ahem. All of the guns pictured so far have a pistol grip, including the one Kerry is waving around. As can be seen in the photo of the folding stock shotgun, a "pistol grip" can take a variety of forms. All monte carlo stocks have a pistol grip, even the thumbhole variety, as do almost all currently manufactured rifles and shotguns. An exception would be the Winchester Model 94 and similar lever action guns. God only knows what our congressmen "The World's Greatest Deliberative Body" (heh) meant by "pistol grip", including themselves.
This is what happens when you legislate based on aesthetics, I guess. Which is all the "Assault Weapons Ban" ever did.
STILL MORE: Dave Kopel weighs in and says Drudge is right:
S. 1431, co-sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, says that an "assault weapon" is any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun with a "pistol grip." According to the bill, "(42) PISTOL GRIP- The term 'pistol grip' means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip." Kerry's new semi-automatic gun has a protrusion below the stock, which a person could grip. The protrusion is not a "pistol grip" in the ordinary meaning of the term, but it is a "pistol grip" as defined by S. 1431.
Lousy legislative drafting, indeed. Though many readers note that the language is probably drafted to cover far more guns than is obvious on its face, in which case it's devious legislative drafting, and Kerry really is guilty of hypocrisy.
STILL MORE: Here's the Browning Citori 525 (either the model Kerry is holding or a close match) -- with a "close radius pistol-grip stock." I guess that makes it a dread Assault Weapon. And yet it looks just like a hunting shotgun!
MORE STILL: I'm wrong about the gun Kerry is holding -- at least, the National Shooting Sports Foundation says it's a Remington 1187. (I confused the gun Kerry was holding in the Drudge photos with the different gun he's using in these photos of unsafe shooting practices. Sorry.) That doesn't change the point much, though, as the NSSF says the Remington would have been covered under Kerry's proposed ban.
But if you want more, Donald Sensing, who knows far more about this stuff than a mild-mannered law professor such as myself, has a thorough post with lots of pictures.
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology writes: "A recent report published by the U.S. National Science Foundation highlights their systematic failure to address the most important issues raised by nanotechnology. By ignoring the societal impacts of molecular manufacturing, they miss the major significance of the technology."
MESSAGE TO REPUBLICANS: Don't get cocky! Good advice.
UPDATE: More don't-get-cocky advice here.
WHAT'S WITH BESLAN AND CHECHNYA? Dan Darling has a very useful and information-rich roundup over at Winds of Change.
ANOTHER KERRY-DUKAKIS PARALLEL: Well, when you hire the same people, I guess you get similar campaigns. But why would you do that?
And Patterico looks at a parallel the Washington Post is drawing and pronounces it parallel, but not in the fashion the Post thinks.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz has your Kerry-Dukakis roundup, and observes: "Comparisons to Michael Dukakis are popping up everywhere."
DARFUR UPDATE: Here's satellite imagery of the refugee camps.
TIM BLAIR NOTES that James Wolcott got his wish.
September 06, 2004
KERRY'S UPHILL BATTLE, over at GlennReynolds.com.
THE INSTA-DAUGHTER and all her little-girl friends are totally into The Sims. Now there's The Sims 2. The good news: It apparently conveys the message that if you marry a loser, he'll probably stay a loser, and your kids are likely to be losers, too.
I got a column out of this insight.
JAMES LILEKS' LABOR DAY POST is better than mine. Like that's a surprise.
TOM MAGUIRE WONDERS why the Kerry Campaign thinks it's a good idea to call John McCain a liar. Me too. In a related post, he's soliciting advice for Kerry from his readers.
UPDATE: Lorie Byrd notes some McCain truth-telling.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Kerry Campaign seems to have taken down the page, something that has happened before. This isn't making them look better organized. Begging to Differ has more. And one of The Mudville Gazette's commenters makes a good point: "Just a bit OT, but the fact that [Kerry] thinks that it's beneficial to publish a list of 143 vague and droning things, rather than relentlessly hounding on three or four . . . can you say wonky bureaucrat? Out of touch? Over-lawyered?"
Yeah. Though a good lawyer would have focused on the important stuff.
THE FOLKS AT DEMOCRATIC UNDERGROUND are awfully excited about the new Kitty Kelley book. No doubt the New York Times and other reputable media will refuse to cover such scurrilous accusations without substantiation.
UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge thinks their hopes are exaggerated.
JEFF GOLDSTEIN is questioning the timing.
IS COMPUSA IN TROUBLE? Ed Morrissey has had a notably lousy experience. So did my sister-in-law recently. And so did Doug Weinstein. The stories are surprisingly similar, which suggests a systemic problem.
Anyway, I don't think I'll be buying anything from CompUsa.
UPDATE: But Donald Sensing reports a good experience.
SOME RATHER CRITICAL THOUGHTS on the President's Council on Bioethics, and on the bioethics profession in general.
I've been pretty critical of the White House bioethics council myself. I will say, though, that I've read the chapter on aging in this report as part of a law review piece I'm writing, and although I certainly disagree with the Kass slant on ethics, the treatment of the science isn't too bad, really, and the ethical arguments are straightforward even though I disagree with them. When they ask, "Is the purpose of medicine and biotechnology, in principle, to let us live endless, painless lives of perfect bliss?" however, my answer is "yes, if at all possible."
MISCONCEPTIONS: This post by Bill Quick drastically overstates InstaPundit's influence, I think. But a misconception in his comments -- though quickly corrected by Steven Den Beste, no less, in the subsequent comment -- may be widespread enough to be worth mentioning here.
I don't get a bandwidth subsidy from the University of Tennessee. Although other faculty-run blogs are hosted at their universities (I'm pretty sure that The Volokh Conspiracy is, for example), InstaPundit never has been. It was on blogspot, and now it's hosted by the swell folks at HostingMatters.
I could have hosted it at UT, I guess -- my Dean is very supportive of InstaPundit, and regards it as scholarship because it's part of an ongoing experiment in communications and technology, and the University President had some nice things to say about the blog when we met at a dinner last June -- but I've always kept it separate from the day job. Though only a fool would think that I, or any other faculty member, speaks for the University, it's just always seemed smart to keep it a distinct thing, though I couldn't quite tell you why it's seemed that way to me. I understand that other faculty bloggers may feel differently, but that's always been my instinct.
UPDATE: Reader Robert Mandel notes that all the guy had to do was to look InstaPundit up on Netcraft. Yeah. Or just look at the "Hosting provided by HostingMatters" button over on the right. . . .
HOW GEORGE BUSH COULD LOSE: By letting the Assault Weapons Ban, which is scheduled to expire next week, be extended. Pro-gun folks aren't happy with his vague support for the extension, but have been willing to believe that it wouldn't matter as the extension (like the Federal Marriage Amendment) wasn't going anywhere. They might well abandon him if it were to pass, and he were to sign it. (For me, the war is the only issue this election, but not everyone feels that way). Jeff Soyer has a lot more information. And here, by the way, is a post from almost exactly three years ago on this topic. I rather doubt it will pass, but I suspect that Democrats will try extra hard in the hopes of putting Bush in a tight spot.
IT'S A SEVEN-POINT LEAD FOR BUSH according to the Gallup poll. Mickey Kaus has more on why people think that's more reliable than the Time and Newsweek polls mentioned earlier. Who's right? Beats me.
UPDATE: Interesting observations on the polls from TurkeyBlog.
IT'S LABOR DAY, and I had a nice run down Cherokee Boulevard (below and to the right). Yesterday I did Lakeshore park (at top). Tomorrow, I'll give my knees a break and go to the gym instead, which is just as well since Frances' remnants are supposed to bring us clouds and rain.
The "Vol Navy" was headed back downriver after last night's football game, the sun was shining, there were people jogging, and sunbathing, and reading on the park benches.
It was a perfectly ordinary nice day. But if we've learned anything over the past three years -- though some of us, alas, knew it even before then -- a perfectly ordinary nice day is a kind of a miracle. It's something to be savored, and not taken for granted, because there are plenty of extraordinarily bad days out there that could happen at any time.
Ann Althouse notes the final line of a story about the schoolhouse massacre in Beslan. Before it happened, says one of the survivors, "we never knew how happy we were."
It's been my experience that whenever anything dreadful happens in your life, you look back on those perfectly ordinary days and say just that. We never knew how happy we were.
Try to know that now. Happy Labor Day!
DUKAKISIZATION! Soxblog is taking credit for predicting this first.
UPDATE: Roger Simon writes that this comparison is unfair -- to Dukakis:
Dukakis, whatever his (considerable) deficiencies as a candidate, was a man who usually tried to fight for his principles, whether you agreed with them or not. Even in his worst moments like the stammering answer to the hypothetical about his wife being murdered during a debate on capital punishment, you see a man wrestling with his commitment to an issue.
Kerry is the opposite. He has never seemed committed to any issue. That goes back to the days when he supposedly was against the war in Vietnam and then volunteered to fight in it (the only one I knew of at Yale then to do such a thing - we all assumed it was resume padding for future electoral battles and we were right). And now he brags about his heroism in that same war after coming back to oppose it vehemently. No wonder Clinton is advising him to shut up. I'd advise him to resign. To have a man with this lack of values in the White House in this era is terrifying.
Leave Michael Dukakis alone.
Kerry should wish for such defenders.
TIM WORSTALL HAS THOUGHTS ON THE ECONOMY, inspired by Bob Herbert:
There was a time, roughly 1980-1995, when 5.4% unemployment would be regarded as a very tight labour market indeed. Indeed, it would be regarded as below the structural norm for the USA and would inevitably lead to wage inflation. We now have a 5.4% unemployment rate and we do not have wage inflation. So, we must conclude that there has been some structural change in the US economy. That's pretty much one of those "Yeah, Duh" statements.
Bill Clinton is the hero of this story, kind of.
I REMAIN DEEPLY SKEPTICAL of the Kerry/China money-laundering story, but it does seem to be getting some major-media attention. Funny that they'd pay attention to this while ignoring the Cambodia story.
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis seems unhappy with this post. In the earlier post, linked above, I explain why I don't think this story is particularly credible at this point. In Jeff's post, on the other hand, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where the story appeared, is simply denounced as a right-wing crackpot paper. (I do think, though, that it's a major-media outlet. It's a major metropolitan paper. So it's "major-media" attention, though not -- as Jeff makes it by omitting the hyphen -- "major media attention.") Lots of people are emailing me with this stuff, and I do think it's worth pointing out, as I did, why I think it's not very persuasive at this point.
I also think that it's interesting that the exploding of the Kerry Christmas-in-Cambodia story -- which the Kerry campaign has admitted is false -- has gotten so little attention, and that it would be ironic if this story, which I think is probably bogus, got more. Perhaps Jeff would prefer for me to simply not mention any stories that reflect badly on Kerry, even to pooh-pooh them. I don't think I'll oblige, and I think that Jeff would do better to explain why he regards information as not credible (as I did in my earlier post on the China story), rather than resorting to name-calling.
You know that Democrats are grasping for straws these days. Their candidate has fallen behind by double digits in a race that was never supposed to be separated by more than four points.
In Indiana, the Democratic Party is gay-baiting...sending messages to Republican faithful warning that GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Mitch Daniels might be trying to court the gay vote.
The horror! Then again: "Perhaps Daniels and Bush are continuing the tradition of the Grand Old Party... as Mayor Bloomberg said at the Big Tent Party, Abraham Lincoln was the original Log Cabin Republican!" Well, only Nixon could go to China. Only a Republican could come out in favor of gay marriage. Kerry certainly hasn't.
September 05, 2004
THE KERRY AS DUKAKIS MEME seems to be taking off. Jay Reding has further thoughts.
Hey, it's better to be compared to Dukakis than to Hitler, right?
WHEN, OH, WHEN, WILL WE GET A DECENT PRESS CORPS? Today's New York Times contains an article by Kate Zernike with this passage:
Like the helmeted Michael Dukakis peeking out of the tank, or the first George Bush bewildered at the grocery scanner, the photo of Mr. Kerry windsurfing played into the negative stereotype his opponents are trying to play up - in this case, that of the out-of-touch, elitist Massachusetts liberal.
Maybe she copped that from Juan Gonzales in the Daily News a couple of days earlier, who wrote: "Can we ever forget the look of utter amazement on Bush, the father, the first time he found himself facing an electronic scanner at a supermarket counter 12 years ago?"
Of course, as Snopes notes, the story isn't true. And it's even a famous error by The New York Times itself:
Claim: During a photo opportunity at a 1988 grocers' convention, President George Bush was "amazed" at encountering supermarket scanners for the first time.
Status: False. . . .
One of the exhibits Bush visited was a demonstration of NCR's checkout scanning technology, an event New York Times reporter Andrew Rosenthal turned into a chiding front page story about Bush's lack of familiarity with the details of ordinary life in America. . . . Then the details of the story started to dribble out. Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times hadn't even been present at the grocers' convention. He based his article on a two-paragraph report filed by the lone pool newspaperman allowed to cover the event, Gregg McDonald of the Houston Chronicle, who merely wrote that Bush had a "look of wonder" on his face and didn't find the event significant enough to mention in his own story. Moreover, Bush had good reason to express wonder: He wasn't being shown then-standard scanner technology, but a new type of scanner that could weigh groceries and read mangled and torn bar codes.
Dana Milbank has recycled this urban myth, too. ("Recall George H.W. Bush's wonderment in the 1992 campaign upon coming across a supermarket scanner.")
Good thing they're not sloppy, careless, incapable of research, and prone to spout urban legends and bogus reports of events they didn't even witness, like us bloggers.
UPDATE: In a related development Ann Althouse shows up Joe Klein, through the miracle of counting! "That took less than five minutes to figure out. Come on, Klein!"
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Economist isn't looking so good, either. What's going on here?
MORE: Reader Bob Kingsbery emails:
One reason I got a degree in journalism was because it required the fewest math classes.
This explains a lot, actually.
BOI FROM TROY has an article on blog fatigue that's worth a look.
IF ANYONE GOES TO THE CLUB SPACE hurricane relief party tonight, send me a report, preferably with pictures.
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH would like your help on a movie project involving Neal Stephenson.
WILL HUTTON: "With all eyes fixed on the American presidential elections, the scale of the looming crisis in France and Germany has gone largely unremarked."
Well, the blogosphere has been remarking on it. But Hutton hasn't given up yet. And neither (quite) have I, though I suspect I differ from Hutton on many particulars. (Via Custos Morum).
UPDATE: Another election loss for Gerhard Schroeder. I guess anti-Bush sentiment isn't enough to sustain a party.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this article on Europe's foreign policy problems, too.
And David Carr has more thoughts about Hutton's article.
INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE from StrategyPage:
American combat losses continue at a historically low level. Since March, 2003, American troops have suffered 7,900 casualties (including 976 dead.) This is an unprecedented killed to wounded ratio of 1:8. In past wars, the ration had been 1:4 or 1:5. American combat deaths over the Summer were 42 in June, 54 in July and 66 in August. There are the equivalent of three American combat divisions in Iraq, each running several hundred patrols and other combat operations each day. Never have combat divisions, operating in hostile territory, kept their casualties this low. The news media, concentrating on any losses as the story have generally missed the historical significance of the low casualties. The American armed forces have developed new equipment, weapons and tactics that have transformed combat operations in an unprecedented way. This is recognized within the military, but is generally ignored, or misunderstood, by the general media.
Well, that last is no surprise. . . .
FRANK RICH WRITES: "Though the major newspapers, including this one, did vet and challenge the Swifties' claims, aggressive reporting on TV was rare." Hmm. I don't remember the Times "vetting" the Cambodia claim. I remember them ignoring it, then burying the Kerry campaign's admission that it was true.
But now there's some more serious vetting going on:
The Pentagon has ordered an investigation into the awarding of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's five Vietnam War decorations.
The highly unusual inquiry is to be carried out by the Inspector-General's Office of the US Navy. Senator Kerry served as a Swift boat captain for four months in 1968, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam.
Hmm. No wonder Doug Brinkley seems to be hedging.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, apparently this counts as "vetting" at the Times.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More here. And what happened to the promised Brinkley New Yorker piece?
And more thoughts on Rich's column here. "Issues matter guys!! That's what elections are about. . . . It's not acting or what the stages look like. At the end of the day, it's issues -- and the NY Times hasn't gotten it for a long time."
POWERLINE NOTES MORE MISREPORTING from the AP.
UPDATE: Maybe they're just being "filters for truth!"
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire has more on the AP's misreporting of Schwarzenegger -- which makes it seem as if he lied when he didn't, by misstating what he said -- and is led to observe: "So often I find myself wondering - is this true, or was it just something reported by the Associated Press?"
Harsh, but we're looking at two serious and inexcusable errors over the course of a weekend, both of which serve to undercut the Bush campaign. Coincidence? Maybe, if you believe that the AP is so sloppy that errors like this aren't unusual.
THE SLAUGHTER IN THE SCHOOLHOUSE: Mark Steyn writes that being sad isn't enough.
IT'S DUKAKIS ALL OVER AGAIN: Once Al Gore dropped out of the race in 1988, I became a -- not terribly enthusiastic -- Dukakis supporter, and I remember that as the campaign looked worse, people were investing a lot of hope in the notion that rumors of an affair involving George H.W. Bush would emerge and deep-six his Presidency. Lots of people tried to give the stories traction, to no avail. I even remember the night of the election, on the way to the ghastly "Dukakis Victory Party" in D.C., passing a crowd of people near DuPont Circle holding up a big banner with the alleged paramour's name. (Nowadays it would be a MoveOn commercial, which is ironic if you think about it. . . .)
Now, between former Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich's wild threats of dirty tricks and Kevin Drum's related thoughts, I think it's fair to say that Kerry supporters are in the same unhappy place.
At any rate, Stephen Bainbridge notes that, this time around, it's hard to argue that the Kerry campaign's problems stem from fighting too fair. Bainbridge offers a rather lengthy list of reasons why fairness has not been at the forefront of their efforts to date.
Meanwhile, speaking of Dukakis, Eileen MacNamara of the Boston Globe notes the return of Dukakis henchman John Sasso, now in the capacity of Kerry hitman:
The problem with soliciting contributions to end the "smug and arrogant tactics of misinformation" that Sasso's letter rightly attributes to Republicans is that it only works when the purveyor holds the moral high ground. That would not be Sasso, he of the attack video that torpedoed the presidential campaign of Democratic Senator Joseph R. Biden of Delaware in 1987, he of the audiotape that ridiculed the physical disabilities of the wife of Edward King, Michael Dukakis's gubernatorial primary opponent in 1982. . . .
I agree with Prof. Bainbridge that the Kerry campaign's problem isn't that it has been too reluctant to sling mud. In fact, I agree with Chris Dodd, who says that Kerry's real problem is that he hasn't given people any sort of positive vision of a Kerry presidency.
UPDATE: The Estrich link above was wrong before; fixed now. Meanwhile Polipundit observes: "It has now been one month and four days since John Kerry last answered questions from a real reporter."
In a non-Dukakis vein, the Los Angeles Times is channeling its Gray Davis coverage. Kerry aides are increasingly confident! But Mickey Kaus isn't panicking yet.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Is Doug Brinkley abandoning ship? Sounds like he's at least got a toe in the water.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Trouble for Kerry in Ohio. And now he's on vacation again. And LaShawn Barber notes bitterness at the New York Times. Hugh Hewitt observes: "When the lefty pundits start bringing up Jerry Voorhis and Helen Gahagan Douglas, you know they are whipped. . . .Today's New York Times piece is a desperate plea by party regulars for Kerry to play a 'keep-it-close-so-the-party-doesn't-get-annihilated' campaign, like Dole in 1996." Don't get cocky, Hugh!
A READER SENDS THIS BBC LINK FROM BRITAIN, with the following observation:
"State of the Union" is the spot which has replaced Alistair Cooke's "Letter From America".
Radio 4 provides a listen again function (which you will get if you click on the link above) and ordinarily runs a transcript of the latest talk in the "America" news section of their website.
No transcript this week.
This is perhaps because the 10-minute feature looks at current war heroes, who have not made any brags about their injuries, have not asked to go home, and have more or less no chance for promotion -- or, what is more to the point, self-promotion.
Give it a whirl. You'll be glad you did.
I did listen, and it's quite good.
ROBERT TAGORDA worries about the future of Harvard undergraduates. Yale people have been doing that for years!
BRIAN GOEBEL WRITES:
Although homeland security appears to be one of the dominant issues in the upcoming election, there has been relatively little meaningful debate between the candidates or the two parties on most issues.
True enough. And too bad.
N.Z. BEAR HAS A POST on 527 money and where it's going next.
UPDATE: Some interesting related stuff here.
THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The most-wanted Saddam Hussein aide in Iraq, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, was captured in the town of Tikrit on Sunday, Iraq's defense ministry said.
The ministry said Ibrahim was captured by members of Iraq's national guard backed by U.S. forces. Tikrit was Saddam's hometown and one of the powerbases of his regime.
Iraqi Minister of State Wael Abdul al-Latif told Reuters it was "75 to 90 percent certain" the captured man was Ibrahim. He said 70 of the man's supporters were killed and 80 captured when they tried to prevent him being seized.
UPDATE: Wizbang: "I question the timing."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Izzat him? Maybe not, according to this report. But it must have been somebody important, if they put up that much of a fight, I'd think.
MORE THOUGHTS ON CHECHNYA AND TERROR, over at Winds of Change.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here:
Obviously, we must eliminate terrorists wherever we find them, but we must also provide an example of moral leadership and devote resources to transforming education in the Muslim world, replacing the odious madrasahs that are the breeding grounds for hate. These so-called religious schools are often financed by Saudi Arabia, which has halfway awakened to the fatal disease it has incubated, but Shiite Iran remains the greatest threat. It is radically ideological, seeks nuclear weapons, and sponsors Syrian terrorism as well as most of the terrorism in Iraq. If that weren't enough, it also sponsors and arms most of the face cards in terrorism's unholy deck--Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah. Iran, truly, is the problem of the future. So we must promote political democracy whenever we can in the region. Remember what Abu Musab Zarqawi, the ruthless terrorist leader in Iraq, wrote in his memo to al Qaeda? "Democracy is coming. There will be no excuse thereafter for terrorism in Iraq."
Perhaps we can start democratizing Iran next.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon notes the politics of Pirandello at the New York Times.
DONALD SENSING has an interesting roundup of news.
UPDATE: Lots of interesting stuff at Brothers Judd, too.
SEE, THEY COULD HAVE LEARNED THIS sooner (and cheaper) by reading the right blogs:
Senator Christopher J. Dodd, an influential Democrat from Connecticut, said his party's standard-bearer had "a very confused message in August, and the Republicans had a very clear and concise one."
Mr. Dodd was one of several Democrats who said they now thought Mr. Kerry had made a mistake at his convention in July by talking mainly about his history as a Vietnam War veteran and criticizing Mr. Bush's policies, without offering a vision of what a Kerry term would be like.
"We did not adequately lay out the contrast, compare and contrast what a Kerry administration would do and what the Bush administration has done," Mr. Dodd said of the Democrats' convention in Boston. "That was a mistake. Vietnam, in terms of John Kerry's service, that was a good point to make, but making it such a central point sort of invited the kind of response you've seen."
Gee, do you think? Check out this timeline for more perspective, though it doesn't include the Thursday night debacle. (Emph. added).
UPDATE: More blog wisdom for the Kerry campaign, here. And here.
THE FOLKS AT CLUB SPACE IN MIAMI tell me that they'll be having a hurricane relief party tonight. Wish I could be there.