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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 31 August 2004

Topic: For policy wonks...

Nuance for Dummies

Think golf. Josh Marshall at Talking Point Memo tees up the ball...

Three quotes from President Bush -

From a White Press conference 13 April 2004, this -

"One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we're asking questions, is, can you ever win the war on terror? Of course, you can."

From 28 August 2004 this -

"I don't think you can win it (i.e., the war on terror). But I think you can create conditions so that the -- those who use terror as a tool are -- less acceptable in parts of the world."

From 31 August 2004 this -

"We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war (i.e., the war on terror) we did not start yet one that we will win."

Which is it? Fooled ya, suckers! You don't know, do you?

Marshall comments -
Come to think of it, this may be an ingenious way to pump up viewership for the president's speech on Thursday night. Tune in to find out his final answer: can we win or can't we? We'll be on the edge of our seats.

We're told that later today the president will be commenting on whether the war between Oceania and East Asia is winnable.
Yeah, yeah.

Not important. As Elizabeth Bumiller points out in the New York Times -
President Bush, in an interview broadcast on Monday, said he did not think America could win the war on terror but that it could make terrorism less acceptable around the world, a departure from his previous optimistic statements that the United States would eventually prevail.

In the interview with Matt Lauer of the NBC News program "Today," conducted on Saturday but shown on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, Mr. Bush was asked if the United States could win the war against terrorism, which he has made the focus of his administration and the central thrust of his re-election campaign.

"I don't think you can win it," Mr. Bush replied. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

As recently as July 14, Mr. Bush had drawn a far sunnier picture. "I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror," he said.

At a prime-time news conference in the East Room of the White House on April 13, Mr. Bush said: "One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we are asking questions, is, 'Can you ever win the war on terror?' Of course you can."

It was unclear if Mr. Bush had meant to make the remark to Mr. Lauer, or if he misspoke. But White House officials said the president was not signaling a change in policy, and they sought to explain his statement by saying he was emphasizing the long-term nature of the struggle.

Taken at face value, however, Mr. Bush's words would put him closer to the positions of the United States' European allies, who have considered Mr. Bush's talk of victory simplistic and unhelpful. ...
Oh geez! Bush is getting all French on us now?

Ah, he must have misspoken. No change. Not really.

He takes it back, or, well, adds nuance. Or what passes for nuance these days when you speak to a convention of the American Legion.

Bush: 'We Will Win' the War on Terror
President Reverses Statements Made in 'Today' Show Interview
Mike Allen, The Washington Post, Tuesday, August 31, 2004; 4:48 PM
NASHVILLE, Aug. 31 -- President Bush rushed Tuesday morning to reverse his assertion that the war on terror cannot be won, trying to deflect a planned barrage of Democratic attacks by telling the nation's largest veterans group that "we are winning, and we will win."

Bush, asked about "this war on terror" in an interview aired Monday on NBC's "Today" show, had said: "I don't think you can win it." But with Democrats castigating him as a defeatist, he told the annual convention of the American Legion that "in this different kind of way, we may never sit down at a peace table."
Ah, you see when you talk about a table it becomes more clear. We will win, but we won't be sitting down at any tables, so it might not look like we won.

Got it?

Well, to clarify any problem you have with the subtlety of that idea, President Bush decided that he had better explain this all in more detail and nuance to the largest political audience available at any one time in North America - the listeners to the Rush Limbaugh radio show.

So he dropped by the Limbaugh show as a special guest and said this -
I should have made my point more clear about what I meant. What I meant was that this is not a conventional war. It is a different kind of war. We're fighting people who have got a dark ideology who use terrorists, terrorism, as a tool. They're trying to shake our conscience. They're trying to shake our will, and so in the short run the strategy has got to be to find them where they lurk. I tell people all the time, "We will find them on the offense. We will bring them to justice on foreign lands so we don't have to face them here at home," and that's because you cannot negotiate with these people. And in a conventional war there would be a peace treaty or there would be a moment where somebody would sit on the side and say we quit. That's not the kind of war we're in, and that's what I was saying. The kind of war we're in requires, you know, steadfast resolve, and I will continue to be resolved to bring them to justice, but as well as to spread liberty ... There's no doubt in my mind, so long as this country stays resolved and strong and determined, and by winning, I just would remind your listeners that Pakistan is now an ally in the war on terror.
They lurk, you see. And that makes things complicated. And Pakistan is an ally. Case closed.

Marshall adds this -
The president deserves every whack he gets for changing his position twice in three days on the issue he has made the centerpiece of his campaign. But folks should also start using his bobbling to make the point that the issue is less whether the president thinks the 'terror war' is winnable than the fact that he doesn't even have any clear idea of how to fight it

(A reader makes a good point: Reading the above, you can see why President Bush doesn't 'do nuance.' It ain't his strong suit.)
Yeah, well, he tried.

The actual conversation that started all this? From the Matt Lauer interview on "The Today Show" note this -
LAUER: You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war of ter--on terror? For example, in the next four years?

Pres. BUSH: I have never said we can win it in four years?

LAUER: No, I'm just saying, can we win it? Do you say that?

Pres. BUSH: I don't--I don't think we can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the--those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in part of the world, let's put it that way. I have a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us. And that's necessary. I'm telling you it's necessary.
Okay, he's just a little vague here, but hoping we get the general idea. Or he's trying to show us he's a deeper thinker than we imagined, as he can be are nuanced as that Kerry guy.

Many, many commentators have pointed out that had Kerry said such a thing - that we cannot win this war on terror by the usual definitions of winning - the Republicans would have tarred and feathered him and run him out of town on a rail. Kerry would be pilloried as weak on terror and a traitor and a defeatist and so on and so forth - as cowardly and timid as, say, Max Cleland. Max Cleland and John Kerry don't like facing the enemy. Did either of them join the Texas Air National Guard and fly missions to protect Houston from the deadly, daily attacks of the Viet Cong air force? I think not! Cowards!

The conservative but gay, American but once British writer Andrew Sullivan says the obvious -
The odd thing is that this really does sound like a parody of Kerry. And if Kerry had indeed said that, we would be hearing nothing else for weeks. And indeed, every time I hear the president talk extemporaneously about the war - his interview with Tim Russert last February was a classic - he does seem to have almost no conceptual grasp of what he's talking about. Back then, he seemed flummoxed by the very concept of a distinction between a war of choice and a war of necessity. Now he seems to be parroting a Council on Foreign Relations confab on the permanence of terrorism.

We're all told that the president knows what he believes about this war and today he corrected himself. But the issues here - how to fight Islamist terror, what constitutes success, the necessary blend of military action, diplomacy, police work, etc. - are not minor.

You have to be impressed by this president's resilience in the war and his aggression. He also deserves enormous credit for shifting U.S. policy toward democratization in that part of the world. But there are times when you have to wonder whether he really understands this issue as deeply as he needs to; and whether that limited grasp has led to some of the calamitous "miscalculations" that even he has now acknowledged.
Yeah, but folks don't care. Read the poll numbers.

Items like Fitness for Command (August 22, 2004 - No one wants to mention the elephant in the room, but things change...) - and the August 29 follow-up here - just reinforce the idea the pointy-headed intellectuals have it in for a guy who is just trying to do the right thing. He may be weak on the concepts, but he relishes killing the bad guys real dead. Why would you want more?

Punishment and revenge matter to people.

Even if we kill the wrong folks - yeah, no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and no ties to al-Qaeda or Osama and no real threat - and even if we mess up a bit (as it is still a but dicey on the streets there now) - at least we're doing something. Maybe the wrong thing, but something, unlike those who want us to be so thoughtful and prissy and follow the rules. Even if we lock up people for years with no charges and keep in from communicating with anyone at all - and maybe we got the wrong folks - at least we're doing something.

Remember the words of Marge Simpson - "We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it." Doing something now is better than thinking things through and doing something clever after you figure out what might happen when you do it? Maybe.

Action trumps thoughtfulness. This is America.

Apropos of that, this Associated Press item caught my attention -

U.S. May Shift Billions for Iraq Security
Monday Aug 30, 5:38 PM ET
The State Department is considering whether $3.34 billion intended for public works projects in Iraq should be thrown at security, a State Department official said Monday.

The money would be part of $18.4 billion Congress approved last year for rebuilding Iraq.

Though Bush said this money was needed "urgently," little has been spent because of bureaucratic delays and security problems.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, has recommended that the $3.34 billion be reallocated from water, sewage and electricity projects. If security is improved, oil production could be increased, eventually making more money available for reconstruction, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. ...
Yep, making it up as we go along.

We don't do ready, aim, FIRE!

Not our style.

We do ready, fire, AIM!

Does it matter? You make adjustments.

We will soon reach the inevitable milestone in the war - one thousand dead American soldiers. Our scoffing at planning? Our quick but wrong-headed assessment of what the situation was and what it was likely to be if we acted this way or that - where we were not supposed to ask questions but just trust the guys in charge? Does it matter? It might matter to these one thousand soldiers, but they're dead.

Move on.

Posted by Alan at 17:56 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 August 2004 18:08 PDT home

Monday, 30 August 2004

Topic: Photos

Now on line!
Just Above Sunset ...

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the parent site to this web log, is online now.

Volume 2, Number 34 of contains...

[>] A special guest column from Rick Brown, the News Guy in Atlanta.
[>] Breaking news on the spy story from Friday
[>] Three sequential items on Political Character (if there is such a thing)
[>] A photo-essay on last week's celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of The Liberation of Paris, with words and pictures from Ric Erickson on the spot, along with links to items (in French) on how the French see California
[>] A surreal story, via Ric Erickson, of an odd event in Ch?tellerault
[>] Bob Patterson goes wild with two columns - digging deep for what is really what!
[>] Snazzy photography - working close-up and personal pretentious
[>] The usual odd quotes to amuse you...

... and more!

One of the photos?

Posted by Alan at 20:19 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Sunday, 29 August 2004

Topic: Photos

Coming soon!
Just Above Sunset should be on line in a few hours...

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the parent site to this web log, should go online late today. If you wandered over here from there, last week's issue is still current. That would be Volume 2, Number 33.

Volume 2, Number 34 is almost completed, but the Just Above Sunset web hosting service has crapped out, again. Earthlink has been telling me since yesterday morning they are working on it. We shall see.

On this end I will be trying every workaround I can imagine.

In the meantime? A pretty picture -

Posted by Alan at 12:42 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 28 August 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

News Cycles: Friday Afternoon Follies

Why does the interesting news break late Friday afternoon after the press put their Saturday newspapers to bed and the nightly newscasts were over, and the weekend television programming turns to sports? Sometimes if you have bad news you hold release of it for the least possible exposure. Maybe no one will notice. Then too, sometimes life just doesn't follow the news cycle.

Bush and the Texas Air National Guard

Is Ben Barnes, the former Speaker of the House in Texas, the person who got President Bush into the Texas Air National Guard? Late Friday a video clip [Windows Media] started going around, and the wire services started picking it up.

If you have a slow connection or cannot stream the video, Barnes says this -
Let's talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush and I know them both. And I'm not namedropping to say I know `em both. I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard when I was Lt. Gov. of Texas and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do, when you're in office you helped a lot of rich people. And I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because it was the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard and I'm very sorry about that and I'm very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas.
Oh man, this is trouble

Jeff Horwitz adds this -
Barnes then condemned the Republican attacks on John Kerry's war service: "And I tell you that for the Republicans to jump on John Kerry and say that he is not a patriot after he went to Vietnam and was shot at and fought for our freedom and came back here and protested against the war, he's a flip-flopper, let me tell you: John Kerry is a 100 times better patriot than George Bush or Dick Cheney."

The video of Barnes was filmed by Todd Phelan and Mike Nicholson, organizers of a political group called Austin4Kerry. Phelan is currently an organizer for the Travis County Democrats. The video first appeared on the Austin4Kerry Web site on June 25, but was widely overlooked until Friday. The video also includes a separate interview conducted by the same two filmmakers in which Barnes speaks with admiration about Kerry's valor.

Phelan and Nicholson recall they were surprised by the candor of Barnes' remarks while they were filming him at the rally. "To be honest with you, my eyes lit up instantaneously," Phelan told Salon. "I looked at Mike, he looked at me, and it was like 'Did he just say that?'"
Yep, he did.

But is he lying? Did he help a rich white kid take the coward's way out of fighting in a war the kid said he totally supported? We shall see if this is so.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, wants the facts.
I'd like to hear him give some details as to how he did that. Who approached him? Is there evidence that George W Bush was aware it was happening? Was his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, demonstrably aware? What strings did Barnes have to pull?
Yep, Rick has the instincts of a newsman. This is just one guy saying he did this, and a lifelong Democrat at that. He is not happy with the younger Bush, but is he making this all up?

Did the younger Bush receive special favors? As noted here by James C. Moore, the fellow who wrote "Bush's Brain" - the recent book about Karl Rove - the answer from Bush is no, and Moore provides a direct quote from Bush: "I certainly didn't ask for any. And I'm sure my father didn't either. They just had an opening for a pilot and I was there at the right time."

If Barnes is telling the truth? Bush can always say he had no idea Barnes did anything. Bush will say he didn't ask for any favors, nor did his father. Barnes must have been freelancing or something.

If Barnes is lying? Well then Bush looks good. Some guys are just lucky, as I'm sure you understand.


More interesting is the Friday late-breaking news that someone high up in Douglas Feith's office at the Pentagon has been feeding Israel top-secret planning documents and got caught. CBS broke the story late in the afternoon, Pacific Time.

The most detailed version of this mess is here, from an investigative reporter who has been working this story for many months and was going to publish soon - but got blindsided.

Of course this Isreali-mole-in-the-Pentagon expos? confirms everything the Muslim world knows, or think they know. This won't play well in all the capitals from Amman to Cairo to Islamabad. We are, it seems, really the Likud Party West and Israel is the fifty-first state. More fodder of the evil-doers who hate us. The only word is, for now, a "high level official" turns out to be a spy for Israel, and Sharon has had all our planning documents and details of our military array for some time. The word going around this is an employee at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, one Larry Franklin, reporting up through Douglas Feith to Rumsfeld. My money would have on Richard Perle, the former head advisor to Rumsfeld. Perle ran the Jerusalem Post for Conrad Black, and Perle was the chief advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu way back when. Oh well. The story will play out early next week, and it may have to do with how the US and Israel plan to deal with Iran and its nuclear threat - bomb them, or invade and occupy the place, or fund a coup? Whatever.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds this -
I do hope we nail and jail whoever is responsible. (Remember Jonathan Pollard? Is my recollection correct that Clinton would not pardon him during the mid east talks, nor would he as he left office?)

If Bush takes this lightly, which may help him in Israel and certain segments of the American Jewish community, it will definitely further hurt America's image around the world - which, of course, this crowd has heretofore not given a flying fart.
And as I said to Ric, yes, Pollard is still in jail. Clinton wouldn't let him out. And Israel is still protesting his sentence. And by the way, all polling I've seen shows Bush is not getting any more of the Jewish vote than he ever got - which is not much. Kissing Sharon's ass these last three years hasn't moved the figures at all. It must be frustrating.

As for America's image around the world, these guys prove they're tough by ticking off the number of former allies who are appalled and scornful of what we now do or say - their objections are a badge of honor.

This just gets more interesting all the time.

Posted by Alan at 12:38 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 27 August 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Trends: The Coming Bush Victory

Late in the week my friend Phillip in Atlanta asked me if I still believed Bush would win the election in November.

Will Bush win? Given this week's polls - I'm still pretty sure. Close, but trending to Bush - and I'll plug in some figures in Excel and do a regression analysis later (something I learned as a professional geek years ago - how to do double regression trend lines). Of course, the electoral vote is another matter. Rick Brown is on that one (see his column It's the Electoral College, Stupid! from earlier in the week).

You can always find the latest polling data at The Daily Kos, as Markos Moulitsas Z?niga (Kos) tracks it all -
CNN/Gallup Likely Voters - 8/25 (Prev: 8/1)
Bush 48% (51)
Kerry 46% (45)
Nader 3% (2)

FOX News
Likely Voters - 8/25 (Previous: 8/4)
Bush 43% (43)
Kerry 44% (47)
Nader 3% (2)

Registered Voters - 8/25 (Prev: 8/18)
Bush 44% (41)
Kerry 47% (48)
Nader 2% (2)

LA Times
Registered Voters - 8/24 (Prev: 7/21)
Bush 47% (44)
Kerry 44% (46)
Nader 3% (3)

Registered Voters - 8/23 (Prev: 8/5)
Bush 43% (42)
Kerry 43% (45)
Nader 5% (5)
Other factors? There's a new Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad due out soon. CNN has shifted its wording - and its folks all now say, as they introduce one more item on it all, that the facts are in dispute (Kerry may not have saved Rasmussen's life - we don't know - so he may be dead? But? Should we tell they guy?) Just being fair - the Swifties say this, all the Navy records and other facts of time and place say something else, so to be fair, all is in dispute (CNN can't take sides). [See footnote.]

Also the Republican Convention in New York City will give Bush a boost next week.

Beyond the Polls - The Economy

The economic numbers this week were bad for Bush - poverty is and issue - "The number of people living in poverty rose by 1.3 million to 35.9 million people, or 12.5 percent of the population, up from 12.1 percent in 2002." And this - "The poverty rate has risen from a recent low of 11.3 percent in 2000, meaning an additional 4.3 million people are living in poverty as defined by the government." Ands there is the issue of healthcare - "The number of people with health insurance increased by 1.0 million to 243.3 million between 2002 and 2003, and the number without such coverage rose by 1.4 million to 45.0 million. The percentage of the nation's population without coverage grew from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 15.6 percent in 2003."

But most folks would rather be jobless and starve as long as Lars and Spanky don't marry each other. Social issues regarding queers and perverts, so to speak, carry weight. And there is the idea Bush was chosen by God, so you know what to do.

And finally, after all, Bush may be dangerous, but Kerry is just dull, and he flip-flops, and he speaks French when no one is looking.

And folks get off when Bush smirks. They find it funny that he says "Fuck You" to the world - and it makes them proud. That's what everyone secretly wants to say to the world, about everything.

Thus he wins.


Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, has a question about these economic figures - "If 12.5 percent of Americans are impoverished; while 15.6 percent are without health insurance, doesn't this indicate that about 3.0 percent of the non-impoverished are maintaining their status by not having health insurance?"

Yes. That is exactly what happens. The three percent difference represents people whose employers no longer offer and health benefits at all - a growing number of firms large and small, as those who run businesses are supposed to show profits and growth to shareholders and health benefits are a drag on the bottom line. That's illegal in California, where if you have two hundred or more employees you must provide the benefits. No choice. But laws vary state to state. With the glut of folks on the market who need work, the desperate-but-qualified, no longer offering benefits just does not hamper a firm's ability to hire or retain good people. Folks would rather work without benefits than not work at all.

Employers too have shifted the cost of the benefits more and more to the employees - you must now chip in some of your own money if benefits are offered. We had a four-month grocery workers strike out here on that issue - and the union caved. Most everywhere the percent you as a worker must chip in will rise, next year, by an average of over nine percent more.

Wal-Mart has a benefits plan where they only cover "catastrophic" expenses - all else is your problem. Our emergency rooms here are thus not only flooded by the uninsured, and illegal immigrants, but also by fulltime employed Wal-Mart workers with broken bones and such. Three Los Angeles emergency rooms have shut down this year so far because they just cannot sustain the losses involved - no one can pay for the services and they are required by law to treat anyone who walks in the door. Catholic Healthcare West's Sherman Way room shut down last week - in Northridge, out in the San Fernando Valley. (I thinking they're closing the whole hospital, actually. I used to work for CHW and know their General Ledger and Accounts Payable systems well - that was my job for three years, managing those systems.) The remaining six emergency rooms in Los Angeles county are now even more flooded and making sounds like they too might shut down. The city and the county, and the state, don't have the money to do much about this. Our governor, Arnold, the charismatic Austrian fellow who speaks German and talks tough, has just arranged to float twenty-two billion in bonds to keep us solvent for a bit longer on borrowed money. There is nothing available for this. The Feds say it's not their problem.

Too, many of those employed, as Ric guessed, with bills and debts, opt to waive whatever heath coverage is offered - a growing number of young workers who feel healthy, and economically squeezed. It's a choice. You're young. You take your chances.

But we're free, and don't have to suffer under socialized medicine like in France, Canada or Sweden, or the UK. We are willing to pay the cost of freedom from the evil Marxist ideas of the old Soviet Union and those godless communists. Think of the state motto of New Hampshire - "Live Free or Die." Change the "or" to "and" and you get the idea.

Bush can campaign effectively on the evils of socialized medicine. That always works. As for the poverty figures? We have turned the corner? Harder to sell, but folks may buy it.

Steph, my friend in London, Ontario, says things in Canada are not that good there really -
Healthcare in Canada? If you were still here in Ontario, Alan, this year you would have to shell out $750 for a new Health Care tax above and beyond what already goes to health care from your income taxes.

Add to that an average auto insurance increase of 30-40% (yup, just this year compared to last) here in Ontario, and the city of London's 10.5% increase in property taxes and 7% on water taxes. Oddly enough I don't know anyone getting anywhere near the raise needed to keep up with all this.
I guess things are tough all over.

And Ric in Paris shot this back -
All that is a piffle. In France some companies are saying to workers that if they don't start working 40 hours a week for 35 hours' pay, they'll move the factory to Poland. Bosch did that two weeks ago. Their French help is now working longer - until Bosch decides to move the factory to Poland in two years anyway.

Other companies have not bothered with this 'politesse.' They call in the CRS riot police and moving vans, strip the factory and truck it to Poland - leaving the workers behind to carry on with their 35-hour work week in an empty shell. Shown on TV-news tonight. If it keeps up France should be totally delocalized within six months. The natives will be in an ugly mood; tourists need to be warned!

In situations like this it hardly matters how high taxes are getting. And in Canada's particular case we should remember that those huge percentage increases are based on piddly Canadian dollars, probably worth no more than a handful of alloy pesos. Heaven help us all if taxes had to be paid in petro-euros!
Ah, tough times everywhere. And is a reference, one US dollar is worth 0.85586 euros, and one Canadian dollar is worth 1.68789 USD - right now. You do the math.

Gee, Bush could run on the economy-is-fine idea. We don't have toy currency like Canada, and businesses are bailing out of France. So we must be doing just fine.

Still, I think Bush will probably run on the social issues, and character, as he calls it.

He will win.


The Press

Footnote on CNN:

On the function of the press there was this satiric exchange on Jon Stewart's Daily Show this week (it's a comic faux news show)
STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontrovertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

STEWART: So, basically, you're saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.

CORDDRY: No, Jon -- in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleagues, challenging the president's activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They've apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in '71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized pi?ata. Jon -- they just want to set the record straight. That's all they're out for.

STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We'll be right back.
Well, Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, who used to work for CNN and was actually in at the start of it, takes exception -
Naw, that phony journalist guy's confusing "objectivity" (which is when you try to get at the truth) with "fair and balanced" (which is when you try to give every bozo with a sizeable constituency a few moments control of the microphone).

The real problem with "fair and balanced," of course, is that liars have an advantage.

For example, you might find some group of right-wing veterans willing to fudge their recollections in defense of the "good cause," but there would be no such group as "Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability," because if they really were what they say they are, they'd all be voting for Bush and would just keep their mouths shut.

But if they weren't what they say they are? Then that would be lying, and once again, liars tend to voting for Bush, so once again, they would just keep their mouths shut!
Yep, but Rick's CNN, where his wife still works as one of the VP's, is in fact giving every bozo with a sizeable constituency a few moments control of the microphone.

Josh Marshall caught these:

Daryn Kagan from Tuesday morning...

KAGAN: And so here comes a new ad by the Swift Boat Veterans and they're not just attacking the medals that John Kerry might have won but they are attacking what he did after he came back from the war. Is that going to be effective?

Miles O'Brien the next day...

O'BRIEN: All right, we are listening to Max Cleland, former senator from Georgia and former Lieutenant Jim Rassmann, a former Green Beret whose life was saved by John Kerry in the Mekong Delta in 1969. Although, that is a point of dispute, given what has all transpired here with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Okay. A group of people say the moon is made of green cheese and the earth is flat, and you report it. You report others say it's not. You report that too. Fair is fair.

Bull. If you know something is just not so, don't you report that?

It's not just CNN, it's the Washington Post and many others -
Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said he believes the Swift Boat Veterans coverage had been fair and properly scrutinizing. "We have printed the facts and some of those facts have undermined Kerry's opponents," he said. "We are not judging the credibility of Kerry or the (Swift Boat) Veterans, we just print the facts."

He defended a lengthy Post story that ran Sunday which appeared to give equal credibility to both Kerry's version of the events in Vietnam (which is supported by his crewmates and largely backed up by a paper trail) and the Swift Boat Veterans, despite the fact that previous stories in the Post and the New York Times had debunked many of the group's accounts.
That is from a discussion of this all in Editor and Publisher you will find here.

Advantage Bush. Anything you say, even blatant lies, will be reported extensively, and given equal time. So if you are willing to lie through your teeth, the press will advance the story.

They just report, and report anything at all. It's not their business to sort out the truth. And that's another reason Bush will win.

Bush has called for an end to all these "issue ads" of course. From New York Times: President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly. (Full story here.)

That's cute. Let the lies stay out there. The press will help out. And they will dutifully report you say you don't personally think the guy is a lair. But some do. And you think all such ads should stop, but won't say the one ad you clearly imply is full of lies, well, you have no comment. Cute.

The economy may be shaky, at best, and the war has turned out to be quite a mess, but the press is toothless and, if his friends spread enough poison, this is over now. Bush wins.

Posted by Alan at 21:41 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 27 August 2004 21:54 PDT home

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