Thursday, May 31, 2007

the war on Terry

I knew it. I just knew it.

You see, last week, when I received a second reply from Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran—chockfull with another correction, a lengthy verbatim, and an additional, uh, let’s call it a “dig”—it sent my mind and my googling fingers off in so many different directions, that, when it came to composing a further response, I really couldn’t decide where to begin. But, somehow, somewhere, in the back of said mind, I just knew that if I waited long enough, Terry would show me the way.

And so he did on Wednesday’s edition of Nightline.

During the live lead-in to the taped piece on former Senator/TV personality Fred Thompson’s latest move toward maybe running for the Republican nomination for president, Moran stated that “Nine percent of leaned Republicans” favor Fred in a preference poll. Yes, he used that word—that “term of art,” as Terry himself referred to it in his comments here—“leaned,” and he did so without explanation or, I might add with a note of disappointment, even so much as a raised eyebrow.

I make this point because, as you might recall from last week, Mr. Moran commented on this blog that he used this term “leaned” even though he “was worried” that “some people might not grasp it.” Moran then added as, again, let’s call it a “dig,” that he now could see his prediction that we wouldn’t understand his “term of art” was “correct.”

As I explained then, his summary judgment was incorrect because it specifically referenced the section of the post where I explained what “leaned” could mean—something Terry never attempted, either during last week’s broadcast or in his comments. (More on Gore and his 17% of leaned Democrats later in this post.)

Nor did Moran attempt to explain “leaned” when he again used this insider lingo on Wednesday night—six days after he stated that he now knew his audience didn’t understand what the term meant! Which, of course, plays right to the point I made after his initial comment (plays so much so, that I will repeat it):

[I]f Terry Moran thinks this “term of art” (AKA “lingo” or “insider-speak”) is too obscure for the typical viewer, then why did he use it? Isn’t his job to communicate and educate, rather than impress and/or confuse his audience?

Which brings me to the broader point: Terry Moran’s responsibilities as a television journalist, and, perhaps, my responsibilities as a blogger.

Mr. Moran begins his second comment with a second correction:

I wasn't at "the Texas Statehouse on an early November night back in the year 2000." I was at the War Memorial Plaza in Nashville, Tennessee, covering the Gore campaign--an assignment I had been doing for ABC News for more than a year.

And, for a second time, I stand corrected. I was wrong, Moran was covering Gore’s campaign in 2000, and was in Tennessee, not Texas. I am actually a bit embarrassed about this. I pride myself on my memory, and I hate that the events of election night 2000 have now, six-and-a-half years later, run together in my mind. I am actually curious as to what made my brain form an image of Terry in front of the Austin statehouse.

(I will add, not so much in my defense but as a note of interest, that it is not actually that easy to find via web searches just who covered which campaigns back in 2000. The ABC News site has no obvious link back to that coverage, and a search of the site with terms like “Bush campaign 2000” and “Texas” and “November” yields 18 pages of results, but none prior to 2006. After about forty minutes of googling, I stumbled upon transcripts of programs stored at the Vanderbilt Television News Archive—a fascinating resource—and from them I feel like I can conclude that the ABC Bush correspondent was Dean Reynolds—but I could be completely wrong, too.)

Alas, again, my mistake gives Mr. Moran an opportunity to avoid a broader point, but, since I do not possess, it seems, a perfect memory, nor the videotape of ABC’s broadcast from 11/7 – 11/8/2000, I will have to let this one go.

Next up for Moran, in his second comment, is his issue with my critique of his Gore interview:

Far from "ignoring the content of Al Gore's book," I covered it at length in the Nightline piece.

Terry then pastes a lengthy excerpt—“the relevant section from [his] script.” It is long to be block-quoting, but I want to make sure Mr. Moran is fully heard here:

"To Gore, the Bush administration is a prime example of what he says is all wrong in American politics--an emphasis on fear and faith over logic and reason.

"But he stops short of agreeing with Jimmy Carter recent declaration."







"What Gore says he would rather do right now is help fix the American democracy, which he says is broken--facts are ignored, debate is twisted in an 'Assault on Reason.'"


"It begins with television, Gore claims--a medium he says is prone to fearmongering and emotional appeals, and far less able than newspapers and other print media to sustain reasoned, logical debate.

"And today, he says, powerful interests are able to manipulate fear and emotion through television so thoroughly that democracy itself is damaged."


V/O: Bush and Rove together

"The Bush administration--Gore believes--has simply taken the current system to an extreme--an opinion that isn't surprising coming from the Democrat who lost to Bush in 2000."



I must thank Mr. Moran for this, because without it I really wouldn’t feel as confident in saying that not only does this “relevant section” prove my point—the Nightline piece had very little to do with Gore’s book except to inadvertently prove its thesis—it is a terrible interview! To quote one reader that sent an e-mail after reading Moran’s comment:

It looks like he could have culled most of the excerpt he pasted from the jacket flap of the book--it's like a lazy child's book report--and the only question he "asked" Gore about the book was questioning Gore's thesis based on the fact that he belongs to a party. The first question wasn't even about the book! And, it was just baiting, given the manufactured controversy around Carter's statement.

I really couldn’t have said it better myself. I know, because I tried last Tuesday when I originally critiqued the interview. Rather than refute my contentions that his interview tries to provoke a tabloid headline and searches for sensation over substance, Moran’s reply sets in electronic type a perfect confirmation.

I have not read The Assault on Reason, I will tell you that straight away, but I have now read, seen, or heard at least half-a-dozen interviews with Gore, along with a couple of reviews of his book, and I feel pretty safe in saying that the book does not address President Jimmy Carter’s recent comments about George W. Bush’s administration (being that Gore’s book was already printed when Carter made his comments). I also doubt that Carter cleared his comments with Gore, and I doubt that Gore conferred with Carter before his book tour—so why does Moran feel that grilling Gore once, twice, three times about Carter’s comment is proof that the interview was about The Assault on Reason?

And then, after Terry—not Al—summarizes Gore’s thesis, Moran sets to immediately (and you don’t have to believe me—because there it is in the transcript that Terry provided) undermine the book by using the now all-too-familiar tactic of attacking the messenger (along with using the cowardly “some people say” construction).


Get it? First, Moran is not saying this, he’s just supposin’ somebody else might, but second, by contrast, Terry is more than implying that Gore’s point is a partisan one—and, so, one unworthy of much more consideration.

Gore objects, but the discussion, for the purposes of this edition of Nightline, is over. In the end, we are left with: “Gore refuses to admit he agrees with Carter,” “Gore’s book is probably partisan, certainly more of the same politics as usual,” and, though Moran does not provide this part in his selective selection, “Will Al run?”

The Nightline promos for the Gore show promised “fireworks,” and Moran, his producers, and editors tried to manufacture some. One would think that the subject of Gore’s book would be incendiary enough—but I’m not going to put words in the Vice President’s mouth. Here, from a note he posted on, is what Gore has to say:

[F]ear has become a more powerful political tool than trust, public consumption of entertainment has dramatically surpassed that of serious news, and blind faith has proven more potent than truth.

We are at a pivotal moment in American democracy. The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, has reached levels that were previously unimaginable. It's too easy and too partisan to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes.

Reasoned, focused discourse is vital to our democracy to ensure a well-informed citizenry. But this is difficult in an environment in which we are experiencing a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time--from the O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson trials to Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith.

Is that ‘nuff said, or would now be a good time to point out that Terry Moran came to national prominence in the early ‘90’s as anchor of Court TV’s coverage of the murder trials of the Menendez brothers and O.J. Simpson?

But back to me—Moran’s third point in his most recent comment reads thusly:

Gore's 17 percent of "leaned Democrats" in the ABC News poll I cited put him in third place in a crowded field, behind Clinton and Obama and ahead of Edwards. In politics, a non-candidate pulling that kind of number is significant.

Well. . . maybe, and maybe not. Perhaps this goes to a larger point I have made in the past about how both television and print journalists cover polling, but the fact is, based on Terry’s “term of art”—and even with the additional information Terry has since provided in his second comment published here—we cannot asses how significant this number really is (and I mean this in both the technical and popular senses of “significant”). It would have been cool if Moran could have provided a link to the full results of the poll, but without that, I can only guess at how to analyze that number 17.

Does Gore’s “leaned” 17 come in third behind first blush/volunteered answers supporting the other candidates, or is this a tally of all leaners? How many points did the other top-tier candidates register? Are the point differentials statistically significant? How many were polled? How many of those polled expressed no preference until they were leaned upon? What did Gore poll without leaners?

Those are only some of the questions I have. And, while I would like to say it is interesting to compare Gore’s 17% of “leaned Democrats” with Fred Thompson’s 9% of “leaned Republicans,” I can’t. Without more information, without access to raw data (or, at least, rawer data), I, and any other news consumer, for that matter, can’t do anything with those numbers but draw rash, baseless, and meaningless conclusions.

And that is to say nothing about how little even a better fleshed-out ranking would reveal. Telling us that people prefer Hillary, Barak, Al, and/or John more or less than the others does little to explain why—it is not about their positions on the issues, it is just about their positions in a poll. It is about the horserace, not the horses.

Which all sounds an awful lot like the kind of thing Al Gore is railing against.

So far, so good, I think. All of this, all of the back and forth, the exchange of ideas, the documentation of facts, is good for the information stream. It adds to the public record and encourages dialogue and thought—and I’m all for it. I’ll make a point, correct me if I make a mistake, defend your point, and I will defend mine.

But that’s not where Terry Moran leaves things—even as he leaves. Again showing his affinity for those famed horsemen of the Iranian Plateau, Moran finishes his comment this way:

In my business, when someone repeatedly gets basic, checkable facts wrong, they lose all credibility.

So, farewell.

Yeah. Well, news flash, Terry: I’m not in your business! You are officially a journalist—that is your paid vocation. I am blogger by avocation. You likely pull down a six-figure salary for your work. I do what I do here for free—I don’t even run blog ads for the few pennies it might send my way. I don’t have a staff, I don’t have a fact-checker, I don’t have a LexisNexis account, or any of the other resources afforded an employee of a multi-million-dollar, multinational news and entertainment conglomerate. All I have is a TV, a five-year-old computer, an internet connection, my two hands, and a love of (as mentioned way up top) politics, popular culture, and the occasional mixed drink.

So, to recap: Nightline, guy2k—not the same thing.

That said, I like to think I have standards. I like to think that I care about getting it “right”—so, when someone writes in with a correction, I happily, and with humility, post it. That is how, I think, blogs should work. Because they are about immediacy and, to a greater extent, opinion, blogs are more dependant on the give and take of electronic dialogue and the evolving information stream. I like to be right, or, at least, in the right, and I try hard to be so, but I expect on occasion to be wrong. When I am, and someone can show me how, I will post a correction, and, if necessary, an apology.

I would think that you, Terry, might know that.

For those less immersed in all of this, perhaps I should now direct readers to Pushback, Terry Moran’s own attempt at a blog—one that seems to have died on the vine six weeks ago.

There is much to explore in the less than four months of posts that make up the entirety of Moran’s foray into blogging, but let me start with this entry from mid February. In a post titled “I Stand Corrected,” Terry acknowledges his “significant factual errors” made three days prior when he asserted that “Republicans had never nominated a candidate for national office,” that Spiro Agnew was the only ethnic American to run on a national Republican ticket, and that John Kerry was an Irish-American/Irish Catholic.

None of those assertions turned out to be true, readers of Pushback wrote in with corrections, and Moran posted those corrections with “sincere thanks” and apologies for his “sloppiness.” Moran then went on to defend the broader point he had wanted to make in his original post.

That sounds great to me. Terry’s behavior was responsible and appropriate in this case, and, as best I can tell, no one responded to his correction by telling him he had lost “all credibility” and/or wishing him “farewell.”

But that’s an example of what happens in the blogosphere—what about when someone repeatedly gets it wrong in what Moran refers to as his “business”?

Someone like Terry Moran.

This has already become one the longest posts I’ve ever written, so I will only mention a few recent examples, but let me say that it is not hard to find instances where Moran’s on-air pronouncements are contradicted by the facts—“basic, checkable” facts.

For example, back in March, Moran followed Senator John (asshole) McCain as he stumped for support in New Hampshire. During the hagiography, Terry makes repeated assertions about McCain’s positions and his character while ignoring the volumes of evidence (and hours of videotape) to the contrary. There is an exhaustive rundown of the contradictions, errors, and friendly spin over at Media Matters, but let me try to summarize:

Moran asserts that McCain takes “all comers on all questions” playing it “as straight as possible” with a “directness that still startles.” Moran ignores McCain’s recent stumbles on contraception and HIV, and his refusal to answer questions about his stand on homosexuality.

Moran states that McCain has been “unyielding” in his position on Iraq, and adds “McCain backed the war from the start, has called for sending more troops to Iraq ever since, and strongly supports Bush's surge of troops to Baghdad now.”

That assertion leads into a clip of Sen. McCain saying,

. . . there's a little irony that I was the greatest critic of the way the war was mismanaged. But life isn't fair.

Moran then adds, “That's pure John McCain. Blunt, unyielding, deploying his principles as political weapons.”

Media Matters notes—as many including myself have, as well—that John McCain has been nothing if not wildly inconsistent in his proclamations about the war:

While McCain has assailed the White House's execution of the war, he has also asserted that the United States is on "the right course" in Iraq, said that President Bush "has a good team around him" on national security issues, and, as recently as August 2006, expressed his confidence in Bush's ability to "lead the war."

But Moran introduces none of that into the piece, nor does he really confront McCain with any of these contradictions about the war. Instead, Terry not only takes the Senator at his word, he reinforces and deifies him:

Only a truly confident or cagey politician would invite voters to think less of him. But McCain has branded himself as a man whose personal experience of war, shot down in Vietnam 40 years ago, held prisoner and tortured for five years, equips him now to face anything life can throw at him.

The maverick candidate still. John McCain.

That is wrong on its face, and so very wrong under the skin. Terry fails to present McCain or the viewers with basic, checkable facts that contradict McCain’s claims—but he goes even further, time and again suppressing independent doubt with his own interpretation or reinterpretation of what his subject has said.

Another example, a Nightline piece from late October, just before the midterm elections. Here, Moran, referring to political attack ads, claims, “both sides are playing a serious game of hardball,” with “mudslinging” and “hitting below the belt.” Terry asks, “How low can they go?”

Problem was, both sides weren’t slinging the same level of mud. Nightline ran a clip of the anti-Harold Ford ad from the Tennessee Senate race (the same one that Moran references in the recent Gore interview), but could not come up with anything equivalent from the Democrats. At all. From anywhere.

That was, as best I could find, then and now, because there was nothing equivalent. If there were, I would think that Nightline would have used it. If there was no evidence of anything that muddy from the Democrats, then it just can’t be truthfully said that “both sides” were involved.

Then there was the case I wrote about last year when Nightline regurgitated repackaged the Brit Hume/FOX News interview with Dead Eye Dick Cheney after he shot his pal on a Texas ranch. There, Moran again reinterprets for us, calling a freakishly deadpan Vice President “clearly emotional.” Calling on Republican heavy Ed Rollins to reinforce his assessment, Moran never asks a Democrat for an evaluation of the situation, nor does he report any of the actual news (you know, facts) about the shooting that had emerged that same day.

It is in the light of these—and so many more—unchecked and uncorrected errors that I have to take particular umbrage at Moran’s assessment of my credibility, and it is in light of all of his editorial choices and slanted summations that I have to question his.

However, since Terry has bid me “farewell,” I suppose he doesn’t much care what I think.

But let’s give Terry something he doesn’t offer in return—the benefit of the doubt. I don’t really see it this way, and he never says anything in his comments to contradict my persistent perceptions about his bias, but perhaps Moran is not reporting from the right—perhaps he is just doing what he has to do to keep his big TV job, or to maintain what he perceives as vital access to the powers that be. If that is true, then that is a shame, for his reportage is not well served by his survival instincts.

So, is it then his survival instincts that explain some of his off-air behavior?

As I previously noted, Terry tried his hand at blogging for a brief stretch. And in that brief stretch, Moran wrote posts with titles like: “Why is Hollywood So Liberal?” in which he asserts:

A conservative Democrat or a Republican is simply not going to find anywhere near as much money out here as a liberal--a "real" liberal.

Beyond my serious questions about whether I or many others would call Hollywood darling Hillary Clinton a “’real’ liberal,” I have two words for Terry: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And then there is the already much commented upon post: “Does John Edwards Condone Hate Speech?” There, Moran extrapolates on the dustup over the writings of Pandagon blogger Amanda Marcotte (from a time prior to when she was hired by Edwards) to ask a series of “rhetorical” questions in the same vein as the headline.

What, if anything, does it tell us about Edwards that he's joined up with this blogger? Is Edwards' association with a person who has written these things a legitimate issue for voters, as they wonder -- among other things -- whom he might appoint to high office if he's elected? If a Republican candidate teamed up with a right-wing blogger who spewed this kind of venom, how would people react?

Of course, posing everything as a question is a cheap trick—not unlike a trial attorney saying something clearly open to objection, only to withdraw the statement or question after opposing counsel objects—it puts it out there, but disavows any real connection to the insinuation. That wouldn’t be a way of providing cover for partisan opinions, would it?

However, even if we take the questions at face value, Moran chooses to ignore the answer. As many have observed throughout the blogosphere and in the New York Times, Moran’s “maverick” John McCain has relationships with bloggers that McCain himself says have stepped “over the line.”

But let’s not leave it with McCain—it would be unfair to only tar politicians with their favorite bloggers when there are members of the establishment media that also have a blogger problem. Quoting a 2005 interview of Terry Moran conducted by right wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, Glenn Greenwald reveals:

Hewitt also asked Moran if he reads blogs, and Moran immediately declared: "I always start out at Instapundit." I bet he does. Next came: "I take a look at LGF." He then tacked on Daily Kos and Josh Marshall as blogs he "looks at," and then proudly added: "My brother has a blog, Right Wing Nut House."

For the uninitiated, Instapundit and Little Green Footballs (LGF) are two of the leading blogs on the right and are frequently filled with assertions and comments that more than cross the line and could easily be defined as “hate speech.” (No, I won’t link to it—they don’t need the hits.) They are also blogs that famously suck at posting corrections or retractions.

Moran doesn’t disavow his interest in these blogs, and he promotes his brother’s right wing blog, as well (though in comments on Pushback, Moran does say he often disagrees with his brother, he obviously feels it favorable to associate with him when talking to Hewitt). Does Terry Moran Condone Hate Speech?

I actually don’t think that Moran does—but you see how that works. And, perhaps, you also see how Terry works from other parts of his interview with Hugh Hewitt. Here’s one exchange (again, via Greenwald):

HH: My brother called me a journalist once during a conversation about this blog. I was offended. That is a general impression among the American military about the media, Terry. Where does that come from?

TM: It comes from, I think, a huge gulf of misunderstanding, for which I lay plenty of blame on the media itself. There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous.

It is, of course, bad enough that Moran sells out his brethren in exchange for Hewitt’s approval, but I can’t help but add that, yet again, Moran gets it wrong. As Greenwald can’t help but throw in:

Moran's depiction of his own profession as "deep[ly] anti-military" and reflexively opposed to American military force is so persuasive. After all, if there is one lesson that we learned in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, it is that the American media is so very, very hostile to the military and reflexively opposed to all assertions of U.S. military force.

That was why they unquestioningly printed on their front pages and recited on their news broadcasts every single claim that emanated from the Pentagon, and it is also why they cheered on as loudly and enthusiastically as anyone else the President's glorious march to war. How eager must Moran be to win the Right's approval if -- in 2005 -- he could make the transparently ludicrous claim that his fellow journalists hate the military and hate the use of U.S. military force?

And then there is this revealing passage from the same interview:

HH: What's your guess about the percentage of the White House Press Corps that voted for Kerry?

TM: Oh, very high. Very, very high. . . .

HH: Who'd you vote for?

TM: Well, that's a secret ballot, isn't it?

HH: Well, it is. I'm just asking, though.

TM: I'd prefer not to answer that.

HH: I know you would, but...

TM: It might surprise you, but I'd prefer not to.

Holy phony coyness, Batman! Really, what is up with this? What is it about the likes of Moran and his former ABC bunkmate Mark Halperin that inspires them to go on a show like Hewitt’s, rat out their fellow journalists as (by their assessment) biased, and then hint hint, wink wink, nod nod about their own, more acceptable, rightward leanings?

Or, more importantly to this post, what is it about Moran’s behavior, his biases, and his mistakes that somehow allow him to keep or even enhance his credibility in his business, while my writings and actions as a blogger somehow cause me—in Terry’s eyes—to lose all of mine?

As always, I encourage and look forward to any and all answers to that question.

And, one final note, despite my “clever” title, I would rather end this post with an un-sarcastic “Why can’t we all just get along?”

I continue to be extremely perplexed by the need of a good swath of the establishment media to dismiss and disparage the blogosphere. I have a deep and abiding respect for the good work done by many, many professional journalists, and freely acknowledge when I reference their reportage.

I also have great admiration for the work done by many bloggers—many of whom do original reporting and/or original analysis themselves. I don’t claim everything from the blogosphere is pure information gold, and I like to think that I apply the same level of informed skepticism when I read either a blog or a newspaper, but there is clearly much to be learned from both spheres. As bloggers sometimes build on the work of traditional journalists, journalist should be open to building on and acknowledging good work done by bloggers.

That way, we can all fight the assault on reason. . . instead of one-another.

Till we meet again. . . .

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

tone deaf or pitch perfect?

I have written in the past with some degree of shock and amazement about the words chosen by the Bush Administration when it sets out to pitch its so-called security initiatives to a post 9/11 America. There was The New Way Forward, which reminded me of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and, most notably, the constant references to “homeland” and “homeland security,” words that (as I’ve said before) “instantly reminded me of apartheid South African Pass Laws and Bantustans, and Nazi Germany’s Heimatland.”

So, should I be any more surprised to now discover that the Bush Bunch has once again reached into the Nazi phrasebook?

. . . the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis.

I know I shouldn’t be. Sadly, I am more shocked by the choice of words than I am by the choice of techniques.

The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.

Nor am I the least bit surprised that for all the security programs pimped and all the money spent, the reality proves the promotion singularly meretricious:

A group of experts advising the intelligence agencies on interrogation techniques are arguing that “the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.”

The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.

Still, with the billions the administration has spent on high-tech wizardry and “total information awareness,” you would think there is some propaganda equivalent of “spell check” available to White House pitchmen to help flag unfortunate references to previous totalitarian regimes. Or, maybe, this track record of frightening phraseology is proof they indeed have just such a tool.

(Oh, and, speaking of tools, I know some of you are waiting for my response to Terry’s response to my response to Terry’s response. . . soon, very soon. Somebody opened up a big can of worms, and I’m searching for just the right hook.)

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Terry talks—we listen

Imagine my surprise when I discovered late yesterday that my Tuesday post got a comment—any comment. But, really, imagine my surprise when I saw that said comment was from the named subject of said post:

Terry Moran said...

Thanks for the critique, and thanks for watching. But FYI--in my original lead-in into the piece, I did indeed say "leaned Democrats." It is a term of art in polling, and I was worried about using it precisely because some people might not grasp it. I see i was correct. Thanks again, Terry Moran.

First off, as I replied in the comments, I stand corrected. I have no reason to believe that Mr. Moran would take the time to write in if the broadcast version said differently—even if I don’t have a tape, a tape of the Monday show does exist—so, I’ll concede that I heard Terry wrong.

Second, let me thank Terry Moran for setting the record straight, for taking the time to read my post, and for taking the time to leave a comment. In case you readers have not observed this in the past, I encourage dialogue and appreciate the feedback.

But, allow me now, knowing that there is a small chance that Mr. Moran will be looking in again, to continue.

I might have misheard Terry on Monday, but that I did might be more a testament to my expectations than to my poor hearing. Moran did not say “you Democrats,” but I was primed to hear it. I was primed to misinterpret the fuzzy word, to make the cognitive leap, to, I’m afraid, assume that the message that left this media mouthpiece’s mouth was one that labeled Democrats as “other,” because that is the message I have heard so many times from Terry Moran.

Of course, Terry is not so crass or overtly unprofessional as to blurt out “Democrats suck! Especially you liberal ones!” But, in so many words, in the shape of a question, in the misinterpretation or misrepresentation of a left-leaning argument, in the little impromptu summations Moran often adds at the end of an interview or tape piece, I hear a bias that favors the political right (as opposed to left, not wrong, naturally), and favors the sensational headline over the more subtle or sensitive story. I have borne witness to this bias since Moran breathlessly reported from in front of the Texas Statehouse on an early November night back in the year 2000. I really had no ideas about Terry before that night, I barely knew who he was, but I knew instantly how he felt and where he stood.

And, in some respects, that’s OK. Members of the media, establishment or otherwise, are allowed to have opinions. The problem comes with the assumption that they keep those opinions to themselves—with the assumption that they are “unbiased.”

That is not to say that all journalism is somehow polluted by bias. There is a difference between a journalist and a pundit, a difference between reporting and interpreting, and a difference between asking hard questions and providing easy answers—the problem comes when establishment outlets allow the distinctions to blur.

Further, Terry’s gracious comment frames the problem as one of misunderstanding his word, but fails to address the larger point, namely, that he and his ABC colleagues chose to ignore the content of Al Gore’s book to instead focus on (what has been, and increasingly becomes more so) a non-issue.

Sure, some of us like Al Gore. We like what he has to say about the assault on reason, or about the environment, or about the war in Iraq (some of us also remember and dislike how he botched his 2000 presidential campaign), but because we are interested in his ideas, doesn’t mean that we are waiting with bated breath for our mystical leader to announce that he will lead us back to the White House. When he decides to join the race, if he decides to join the race, then I will evaluate and revisit my allegiances. Until then, well, there is no shortage of interesting candidates for us Democrats (I’m a blogger, I can do that) to observe, asses, and support. (Compared to what Republicans have—and what they are waiting for, too—it’s an embarrassment of riches.)

I feel pretty safe in saying that’s how most of “us Democrats” see things. I feel safe because of Moran’s own cited statistic—those “17% of leaned Democrats” that pine for a Gore candidacy. Fewer than one in five leaners is hardly a groundswell.

And that brings me to Terry’s Parthian shot—his “term of art” that he feels we did not, and cannot, grasp. I may not have heard it, but, as my update to my post makes very clear, once I heard it, I grasped it just fine.

I have been working with “leaned” respondents for over a decade. I am, after all, not just a blogger, I am also a strategic consultant. I know all the polling tricks to tease out the bias behind the assertion, to discern preference, to attempt to limn the consumer or voter. I know how to push a respondent, and how to “push” a poll, and I usually work overtime to gracefully do the former, and avoid doing the latter.

Pushing an “undecided” or a DK/NR (don’t know/no response) to weigh in on a question is a useful tool, but it is only a tool—one of many available to me in the drafting of the polling instrument and the interpretation of the data. I know that because of what I do, and others might know it, too. But if Terry Moran thinks this “term of art” (AKA “lingo” or “insider-speak”) is too obscure for the typical viewer, then why did he use it? Isn’t his job to communicate and educate, rather than impress and/or confuse his audience?

Again, I appreciate the correction. But alas, to the broader point and the parting broadside, I’m afraid I see that Mr. Moran was not correct at all.

Thanks again.

Labels: , , , , ,

cancel the blankity-blank blank check

Action alert: The vote on the so-called “compromise supplemental”—the bill that will fund Bush’s Iraq “strategy” for the next 120 days—could come as early as today. Please call your Representative—especially if he or she supported the McGovern amendment—and call your two Senators—especially if they had voted for the Feingold-Reid resolution last week—and tell them to stand strong and vote “no” on this version of the supplemental spending bill.

Need more reasons to remind the majority party what the majority of Americans want? Follow me over to capitoilette. . . .

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

mayor Mike finally listens to me

I have been saying for some time now—most of this millennium, I dare say—that if I were ever elected mayor (fat chance!), one of the first things I would do is require that every new New York City taxi be a hybrid (originally, I meant gas/electric, today I’d like to see plug-in/gas/electric). With the city mandating a maximum three-year lifespan on cabs (in reality, most only make it two), that would mean a completely hybridized fleet by the end of the decade. Imagine the savings in gas. . . and the reductions in pollution and noise!

Hybrids are ideal for the stop-and-start short-haul driving that is the stock-and-trade of city cab traffic (plug-in hybrids would be even more ideal).

But wait, you say, I ain’t climbing into the backseat of no Prius! Well, first off, the Prius’s backseat is roomier than you think (look at this chart), but, more importantly, in a generation (that’s a taxi generation—three years), if not less, that Prius is going to be replaced by a car that will make you forget you ever had a fondness for the Ford Crown Victorias that make up most of the fleet today. (Do you have a fondness for that car? Really?) Don’t forget, the Crown Vic Stretch was designed and built specifically to win the certification of the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission. . . and so, the business that would result from a certification. Mandate that New York taxicabs have to be hybrids, publish the specs, and watch as the automotive world suddenly learns how to make a bigger, better hybrid. A move by New York would incentivize innovation and force improvements in hybrid automobile technology, and those improvements could easily make inroads (no pun intended) into the rest of the civil and the consumer markets.

So, it is on this occasion (rare though it may be) that I take the opportunity to congratulate New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for finally getting with the program (my program) and requiring that the entire fleet of New York City cabs be gas/electric hybrids by 2012.

Do I think that’s two years longer than anyone needs? Yes. Would I have rather he said hybrids by 2010, plug-in hybrids by 2012? Sure. Do I think he could do even more to push the automotive industry with additional requirements for NYC cabs? You bet. Do I wish that he would also move to severely reduce the number of medallions any single company can own, and make more provisions to safeguard the cabbies that might be forced to pay for part of this conversion? Absolutely. But the road is made by walking, and this a very good first step. (OK, not the perfect metaphor, here. Sorry.)

Bloomberg, aspirations for higher office or no, is doing a lot lately to make his legacy a green one. If only his attitude toward real estate development wasn’t all about that other green. Then maybe all of this city’s residents would be in clover.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Terry outs himself—"only on Nightline"

I wish I had it on tape. I wish ABC would get with the 21st century and actually make a real webcast of an entire Nightline available instead of pawning off the painfully hipified “Nightline Webcast” as their e-presence.

But, I don’t, and they don’t, so, unless you TiVo Terry, Cynthia, and Martin (you poor, poor soul), you are going to have to take my word on this one.

On Monday night’s edition of Nightline, Terry Moran introduced an interview with Assault on Reason author (and, oh yeah, former Vice President) Al Gore by—well, not by talking about what’s in the new book, but by talking about what ABC had been pushing since Good Morning America, namely (yawn), will Gore run for president.

Of course, this is exactly the sort of thing that Gore complains about in his book. Rather than addressing a real issue at hand, establishment media news divisions focus on speculation, celebrity, and fluff. They search for sizzle devoid of steak, afraid that the vast nation of media eaters has gone strictly vegetarian.

The tabloidization of TV news, that self-fulfilling prophesy, was made infuriatingly clear on ABC’s Good Morning America. There, producers plastered a “Will he run?” banner across the bottom of the live interview while a tedious Diane Sawyer time and again said something like: I will get to the other stuff, but when are you going to tell us whether you are running for president?

It was utterly awful, but that awfulness, at least, you can watch, both on the ABC site, and over at Think Progress.

Nightline’s piece, however, is e-MIA. Not that you need to watch Terry Moran try to give us some “fireworks” (as is promised in the “webcast”). He, too, dwells on the will he or won’t he of the ’08 race, and tries to get Gore to say “Bush = Satan” or some permutation thereof, all the while refusing to address the thesis of Gore’s book.

But the part I wanted to mention—the part I set out to tell you about all those paragraphs ago—was in Terry’s intro to the annoyingly edited tape piece where he talks about Gore’s persistent popularity in presidential preference polls. Moran says that “you Democrats” want him to run.

“You Democrats.”

As opposed to?

What we know, because we have seen it revealed in his reporting at least since the 2000 race, and because I have had it confirmed by folks inside the Mouse, is that Terry’s “we” breaks solidly to the right. The wingnut right, I am told.

But don’t take my word for it—there it is. . . though you kind of have to take my word for it because I don’t have a link. . . to Terry Moran, Democrats are “you,” Democrats are the other.

Liberal media my eye/ass/nut—choose whatever part you like.

Or, to put it a much funnier way—watch this other thing I can’t believe I didn’t tape.

Update: Nightline
has now posted a web version of last night’s segment; the Moran intro has clearly been re-taped for this edition (he mentions that it’s a webcast). In the online version, Terry replaces “you Democrats” with the rather awkward “leaned Democrats”—a reference, I suppose, to a poll number that comes from pressing respondents that originally answered a preference question as “undecided.” Which makes the 17% pro-Gore number Moran cites even more dodgy, and makes ABC’s trope even more trite and strained.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, May 18, 2007

what to write about?

Thursday was a day so full of real news, it made my head spin. More fallout from James Comey’s testimony (and more fallout still), Paul Wolfowitz’s resignation, Cheney’s lawyers claiming total immunity in the Plame civil suit, Bush not answering one question, and smirking at another—I wanted to write a piece that pulled it all together, culminating in one or two undeniable conclusions. But, I’ll leave that to your imagination for now, that post is growing very long, and there is something else that I just can’t get off of my mind.

It’s kind of a small thing, really, but in another way, kind of not. It involves, of all things, last night’s episode of the long-running NBC hospital drama ER. The show, the season finale, itself wasn’t great (I’m not sure there has been a “great” episode of ER in a very, very long time), but some of the things in it really struck me. Struck me not so much because they were rendered that artfully, but rather, it struck me because they were rendered at all.

Over the years (and I am not a regular, each and every week viewer, but I see my share), ER has been good about bringing the outside world into the TV one—adding a line or a short subplot about the state of healthcare in America, or about other social issues—but last night, well. . . .

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

(almost) everybody must get stoned

These guys kill me. I mean, I know that they literally kill others, through their actions, but they, you know, in a head-shaking kind of disbelief way, stone-dead kill me.

Yesterday, it was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales taking the convenient opportunity to seize upon the resignation of his Deputy AG Paul McNulty to announce that, even though Gonzales had previously sworn little knowledge of what was going on regarding the US attorneys, and even though he had earlier the same day claimed that his chief deputy wasn’t actually a “top aid,” Abu-G now knew that the whole was USA-purge-gate mess was squarely McNulty’s fault.

Today, we read that the other guy vying for the title “Most Embattled Bushie,” World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, is holding his organization hostage by insisting the Bank take the blame for his, Wolfie’s, misdeeds:

After six weeks of combating efforts to oust him as president of the World Bank, Paul D. Wolfowitz began Wednesday to negotiate the terms under which he would resign, in return for the dropping or softening of the charge that he had engaged in misconduct, bank officials said.

Mr. Wolfowitz was said to be adamant that he be cleared of wrongdoing before he resigned, according to people familiar with his thinking.

This is after Wolfowitz already laid the blame for his troubles on his “companion” (or maybe former companion?) Shaha Riza:

Wolfowitz effectively blamed Riza for his predicament as well, saying that her "intractable position" in demanding a salary increase as compensation for her career disruption forced him to grant one to pre-empt a lawsuit.

Indeed, these are the kinds of men we want in charge of the Justice Department and the World Bank. This is an example of the high moral and ethical standards that America wants to hold up as a beacon to the rest of the planet. This is the kind of dedication to self and others, to friends, to country, to the institution you serve, run, and pretend to honor that it makes each of us want to stand up, salute, and vow to be better ourselves.


Rather, this is the kind of behavior that makes people turn off to public service, distrust their governments, and assume that rules are different for the rich and powerful. In short, it makes people cynical.

Which is likely a happy byproduct for the members of this cult of irresponsibility. Sure, first and foremost, it is an innate sense of entitlement and an imperial hubris that results in such behavior—and the likes of Gonzales and Wolfowitz (not to mention the likes of Bush and Cheney) probably don’t even realize it could or should be any other way. But, their religious dedication to blaming others, this pathological inability to see that the fault lies not in the stars, but somewhere much, much closer to home, thrives in the climate it creates, thus allowing the self-anointed forgivers of their own sins to continue in the same self-obsessed vein, and maybe contributing to even bigger abuses and grander claims of immunity.

What’s really funny, too, is how any number of these sorts like to wear their piety on their sleeves—so quick to tell everyone else they’ve got it wrong, have erred, have transgressed, are not worthy of trust or respect. . . . I guess if you are so certain that you yourself are without guilt, it is easier to cast that first stone.

Like I said, these guys kill me. Stone-dead kill me.

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

waterboarding is for pussies

I suppose that the mayor who was sued for violating the constitution 17 times during his tenure, praised the police after the killing of Amadou Diallo, and provided the namesake war cry for the cops that sodomized Abner Louima with a wooden stick and then shoved the same stick in Louima’s mouth wouldn’t have a problem with waterboarding. . . but what are the other guys’ excuses?

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

all this oversight makes me wet

Drew Weston has a nice piece up on TAP about building a stronger Democratic brand for the 2008 elections. While I find much of the advice sound, I think Weston’s parting shot misses the mark:

The only other prerequisite to building a coherent brand is to know what you stand for. That may be the hardest one of all.

Or maybe I should have said “doesn’t hold water.” Swim with me over to capitoilette and I will explain.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

and the band played on. . .

The commander conductor guy does his best Wallace Hartley impression at a ceremony commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement.

Meanwhile, our ship of state (and its “captain”) keeps sinking. . . and sinking. . . and sinking.

Photo: AP

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

not coming to a paper near you

Here’s a story that has flown under my radar, and, it seems, just about everybody else’s, too (with one notable exception)—which is amazing, because it has everything. Everything, that is, we’ve come to expect from the agents of catastrophe, cronyism, and corruption affectionately known as the Bush Administration.

In a time when dirty bombs and mushroom clouds are all the rage. . .

In a place where terrorism has already left still-visible scars. . .

One small agency huddles above a Latin music club, waiting. . .

watching. . .

wondering. . . .

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

listen. . .

Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

Oh, sorry, I was just singing to myself in order to calm my nerves. You see, Steven Aftergood, over at Secrecy News, posted a piece on Wednesday that starts this way:

U.S. intelligence recently undertook a "significant" covert action without notifying Congress, as required by law, the House Intelligence Committee disclosed in a new report on the 2008 intelligence authorization bill.

"The Committee was dismayed at a recent incident wherein the Intelligence Community failed to inform the Congress of a significant covert action activity. This failure to notify Congress constitutes a violation of the National Security Act of 1947."

"Despite agency explanations that the failure was inadvertent, the Committee is deeply troubled over the fact that such an oversight could occur, whether intentionally or inadvertently."

The Committee is deeply troubled? Well, if the Committee is deeply troubled, then I am abysmally troubled. What covert action could the Bush Administration’s edition of “US intelligence” undertake that would be deemed “significant” by the committee that deals with these things all the time? What covert action is so unseemly that the Intel Community risked sanction by the tiny handful of Representatives with whom they have a regular working relationship rather than share the outlines of such an action with this close-knit group?

The Aftergood post doesn’t say. He may not know. He or his source may no be at liberty to divulge it. I get no hints from the piece, and a quick google-round the webby doesn’t provide me with much beyond links back to the Secrecy News page. But, let me tell you, the mind—my mind—reels. . . .

Given that in almost every case over the last six years the Bush Bunch has exceeded my most cynical expectations—in acting out of partisan self-interest, in lining the pockets of crooks and cronies, in overturning or trampling everything about America I actually like, in doing the very opposite of what would be good for our national interests and the interests of the world—I actually get a little sick thinking about what this un-reported, un-vetted “significant covert action” could be.

If anyone has read anything about this action, about what it could possibly be, please send me a link.

Of course, while the great brains over at National Intelligence were playing Risk with real people instead of little plastic whojemawhatsits, they, um, kind of forgot to, uh, do their jobs:

"The recent 100-day agenda released by the DNI contained a great deal of bureaucratic verbiage but failed to articulate a clear and compelling plan for addressing chronic problems plaguing the Intelligence Community, such as deficiencies in foreign language capability, lack of diversity, information-sharing impediments, overclassification, and the lack of common security clearance practices," the report said.

Closer. . . .

And now the good news:

The bill does not include changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act sought by the Administration.

"Before the Committee will support any change to existing law, it is essential that the President provide some measure of assurance that were he to sign a bill modifying FISA into law, he would agree to be bound by it," the report stated.

Say the words I want to hear. . . .

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

as suspected. . .

The case against the suspects is suspect:

[T]he criminal complaint that details the plot describes an effort that was alternately ambitious and clumsy, with the men at turns declaring themselves eager to sacrifice their lives in the name of Allah and worrying about getting arrested or deported for buying weapons or possessing a map of a military base.

And lookie here: The US Attorney that is bringing this case against the Fort Dix Six (it does have such a nice ring) is none other than Chris Christie, the former Bush “pioneer” who issued a string of squirrelly subpoenas last year against Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). In what is now an all too familiar story, Christie used his position to attempt to exert influence on an election. Christie’s investigation seemed at the time to dovetail very conveniently with the themes raised by the campaign of Republican challenger Tom Kean, Jr. With Kean’s loss last November, the always-silly investigation of Menendez seems to have taken a backseat to the GWOT ™.

I would also like to point out something else: Assuming there is something to this “terror plot” (a big assumption, I know), let us all take note of how this “plot” was uncovered.

The authorities first caught up with the men in January 2006, when personnel at a video store alerted the authorities after the suspects requested that he transfer onto a DVD a videotape of the group shouting about jihad as they fired assault weapons at a range in the Pocono Mountains.

Got that? A video store employee dropped a dime on these guys. That was followed up with good, old-fashioned human surveillance and the recruiting of an informant. There were no high-tech, extralegal, NSA electronic intercepts, no FISA warrants, no National Security Letters—there were absolutely none of the newfangled constitution trampling tools or Patriot Act hooey that the Bush Administration claims it absolutely must have to win this new “war.” None of that was needed here. . . it has yet to be shown how any of it is needed anywhere.

Of course, all of that secret surveillance could come in handy when doing opposition research for the next election cycle. . . and we’ve got about seven-dozen United States Attorneys in position to run with the “evidence.”

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

breaking: more security theater?

Remains to be seen, but I bet this becomes more a story for laughs or ridicule than a cause for concern (concern about a domestic terror plot, that is—concern about abridged civil liberties? That’s always a concern):

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- Six men from the former Yugoslavia were arrested on charges they plotted to attack the Fort Dix Army base and ''kill as many soldiers as possible,'' federal authorities said Tuesday.

The suspects were described as ''Islamic radicals,'' said U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Greg Reinert.

. . . .

Authorities believe the men trained in the Poconos for the attack and also conducted surveillance at other area military institutions, including Fort Monmouth, the official said. The official said that the men had lived in the United States for some time.

The six were arrested trying to buy automatic weapons in a sale set-up by law enforcement authorities, the official said.

State Police Capt. Al Della Fave said Tuesday that the investigation had been in the works for about a year. The arrests were first reported by WNBC-TV in New York.

Investigations for “about a year”? “Planning stages”? Wonder what this “breaking news” is supposed to distract us from. . . .

Perhaps the degradation of real homeland security:

Kansas is currently missing approximately 60 percent of its National Guard equipment because of the war in Iraq, hampering its ability to respond to the recent tornadoes. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) said that she has “written the Pentagon twice and spoke about the issue at great length with Bush in January 2006.” “He assured me that he had additional equipment in his budget a year ago. … Meanwhile, it doesn’t get any better. I’m at a loss,”

And, speaking of phony homeland security, today (at 5pm) is the deadline for comments on the “real ID” law, an incredible infringement on our rights, masquerading as a security provision. You can use this link to send an e-mail asking for the law’s repeal. Please take a moment to let Skeletor know how you feel.

Labels: , , , , , ,

this must be why I have so much time to blog. . .

Worst job creation record since Hoover Administration. A growing economy should be good news for those seeking jobs. But over the course of President Bush's term in office, his Administration has the worst overall job creation record since Herbert Hoover more than 70 years ago.

Overall non-farm payroll employment has increased by just 5.2 million since President Bush took office in January 2001 compared with 22.7 million during the Clinton presidency. Overall employment growth has averaged just 70,000 per month under President Bush - much lower than the approximately 150,000 jobs needed each month to keep up with population growth. It was not uncommon to see monthly job gains of 300,000 and even 400,000 during economic expansions under previous Administrations.

Private sector job creation has been especially poor during the Bush presidency, with an average annual job growth rate of only 0.5 percent per year since 2001. Just 3.8 million private sector jobs have been created during the Bush presidency, compared with over 20 million private sector jobs during the Clinton presidency.

The manufacturing sector, often the source of jobs with good pay and benefits, has lost three million jobs since the start of the Bush Administration. Nearly half of the jobs created since 2001 were part-time and freelance positions without benefits. This slow pace of private sector job creation is particularly troubling given that we are so far into the economic recovery.

Unemployment has increased 7.1 percent and long-term joblessness has nearly doubled. In part because of this failure to create a sufficient number of jobs, the national unemployment rate stands at 4.5 percent, which is 7.1 percent higher than the 4.2 percent rate when President Bush took office. Unfortunately, once unemployed, America's workers also are staying unemployed longer. In 2006, over one in six of the unemployed had been out of work for more than 26 weeks. The number of long-term unemployed has increased by 61 percent since President Bush took office.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 07, 2007

avec des amis de ce type. . .

Addressing France’s “American friends,” he said, “I want to tell them that France will always be by their side when they need her. . . .”

I comfort myself with the hope that, in about at year and a half, I get to start making fun of the French government again.

Photo: NYT - Eric Bouvet/Getty Images

Labels: ,

Friday, May 04, 2007

credit where credit is due (gray lady edition)

Back in January, I read a piece on Radar Online (!) about the contrasting fortunes of pundits and reporters who weighed in on the Iraqi incursion before its start. The results of the survey, as written up by Jebidiah Reed are, quite frankly, disheartening: those that were pro-war and predicted easy success were richly rewarded and continue to thrive, while those that dared to raise questions or predict trouble have been marginalized. It is a trend that sadly seems to have continued mostly unabated through four-plus years of bloody and brutal failure. . .

Until yesterday.

Regular consumers of my spleen know that I have a healthy portion reserved for the establishment media, their indiscriminant noblesse oblige inside the beltway, their unwarranted hostility to new media, and their regular inability to grasp just how terribly wrong things have gone in the last six years. So, let me step up and take note, extend a laurel and hardy handshake, and congratulate the most established of the establishment, the “gray lady,” “the paper of record”—The New York Times got this one right.

Recently, there were rumors that the position of Public Editor at the Times would disappear when the tenure of current PE Byron “Barney” Calame ended later this month. Instead, Times’ Executive Editor Bill Keller announced Thursday that starting May 14, Clark Hoyt will take over as the Times’ new Public Editor. In Keller’s words:

Clark has spent 38 years with Knight Ridder newspapers as a reporter, editor and executive. As a reporter, he shared a Pulitzer, and as an editor he earned a reputation as a reporter's editor. Until the sale of Knight Ridder last year, he was, for seven years, the Knight Ridder Washington Editor. In that role he presided over a body of aggressive reporting in the runup to the war in Iraq -- journalism that has been widely praised for sometimes being more skeptical about the pre-war intelligence than bigger news organizations, including our own.

That’s right, Hoyt, as Washington Editor for Knight Ridder, presided over some of the only establishment reportage that doubted Bush Administration claims of Saddam-al Qaeda connections and smoking guns in forms resembling cremini cumulous. As recently featured in a Bill Moyers documentary for PBS, Knight Ridder’s work lays waste to the protestations of so many that they had little choice but to support the Iraqi expedition back in 2002-03 because all of the information available at the time was so convincing.

Hoyt wasn’t convinced, and now his skepticism has been rewarded. And I might actually start looking forward to reading the Public Editor column again. That’s two plusses, and here are three cheers for the gray lady: hip hip hooray.

(h/t Think Progress)

(cross-posted to capitoilette and Daily Kos)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 03, 2007

snow in may?

Appearing today on NPR's All Things Considered, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow once again claimed (falsely) that the Bush Administration has never asserted a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, and then, almost without taking a breath, he goes on to imply a connection between Iraq and the attacks of 9/11/01.

I don’t have a transcript, but you can take a listen (the al-Qaeda part comes after “discussion” of the negotiations between Congress and the President on supplemental Iraq funding).

Labels: , , , ,

my message to the Democrats

My shorter message, anyway. I was a little more, uh, literary yesterday, and it seems that all that typing, on top of a lot of computer-centric work in the last month, has left my left arm and hand a lot worse for wear.

So here’s what you get from my right hand. . . which is odd, because that would be from my left brain, which is. . . aaah, too much typing!

Labels: , , ,

so many jobs!

So little brain!

I don’t know how he handles it all—first he’s “The Decider,” then he’s “The Decisioner,” and now, he tells us he’s “The Commander Guy”???

President Bush coined a new nickname for himself — ‘’the commander guy” — on Wednesday, as he criticized Congressional Democrats in a speech to the annual gathering of the Associated General Contractors of America, a construction industry trade group.

The man who last year proclaimed “I’m the decider,’’ in response to a question about whether he would fire Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, came up with this latest moniker in explaining why he vetoed an Iraq war spending bill that dictated a timeline for troops to withdraw from Iraq.

“The question is, ‘Who ought to make that decision, the Congress or the commanders?,’’ Mr. Bush said. “As you know, my position is clear – I’m the commander guy.”

Still, worse, I think, than the fact that men and women are being sent to their deaths and dismemberments by a mental midget, is that said midget thinks it’s funny. It may not be clear in print, but if you listen to the audio of this speech (sorry, heard it on the news, can’t find a link), you can hear the smile and the smirk.

At this point, I should point out that Commander Guy has issued only two vetoes during his time as President—Tuesday, to reject Iraq occupation timelines, and last year, to prevent federal funding for new stem cell research—and in both cases, Bush has dismissed the hopes and desires of large majorities of the American people.

Bush, the Commander Guy, is saying—and not too subtly, I might add—“Most of you want to invest in this research? Most of you want to bring the troops home? Well, fuck you—I’m king of the world!”

(h/t HufPo)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

mission not accomplished

It is easy—really easy—to look at the beady-eyed maniac who vetoed the Iraq supplemental (now! with timelines!) and laugh at the folly of his flyboy stunt and photo-op speech of four years prior. Since then, over 3,200 more dead Americans, 360 billion more dollars down the sinkhole, the number of Sunni insurgents increased 14-fold, the number of attacks up by a factor of 17—mission so not accomplished.

It is easy, too, to laugh at the rationale President Bush used when issuing only the second veto of his administration: timelines are a “prescription for chaos and confusion; an early American exit would turn Iraq into a “cauldron of chaos”—as if Iraq today is a model of warm, fuzzy order rivaled only by Build-a-Bear Workshop.

But, it is because of the additional dollars and the additional dead, because of the inflating number of terrorists and the inflamed global tensions, and because of the current carnage and chaos that I cannot laugh.

Republicans and reporters might want to frame the debate over the future of the occupation as a game, pissing match, or staring contest between Bush and the Democratic leadership, but what is truly at stake is not just bragging rights or a stack of play money. Everyday the US stays the course and continues to splurge on the “surge,” the numbers of dead and wounded Americans, the numbers of dead and wounded Iraqis, the numbers of radicalized Moslems, and the numbers of dollars that could have been spent on something better will continue to increase—and the power that we as a nation have to do anything about it all will continue to decrease.

The clearly deteriorating situation in Iraq—with violence of all kinds as high as ever, the Iraqi parliament in disarray and now on hiatus, the al Maliki government using the US to kill Sunnis and arm their own Shiite militias—coupled with the contempt held by the White House for the feelings and wisdom of the majority here at home, makes this no time for easy jokes. . . or expedient compromises.

And that is why when I say “Mission not accomplished,” I am not looking at the president—not this time—I am looking at the Democrats. George W. Bush has vetoed one strategy to end the occupation—and more the visible fool he for doing so—but that is not an invitation to the Democrats to find their own USS Abraham Lincoln and declare major combat over. Democrats may have won the day, but they have not accomplished their mission.

Voters made it clear last November—America wants its troops out of Iraq. And while this round has done much to tie the Bush Administration and its Republican enablers to a fiasco of historic proportions, it has not stopped the architects of our misfortune from perpetuating, and exacerbating, the nightmare. If Democrats take this moment to feel satisfied with the political points gained, victory will be beyond pyrrhic, and voters will all too soon come to mock them as much as they now do the calcified commander-in-chief.

Any talk of compromise that does not include real and binding restrictions on the President’s long war is not so much compromise as capitulation. Any discussion of drafting a bill that Bush might sign must keep the Democrats’ mission—emphasizing political and diplomatic solutions over military force—in mind, and the final goal—effectively withdrawing all US combat forces from Iraq—in plain sight. Returning to the status quo ante, voting for another supplemental funding bill while paying aggressive lip service to the president’s problems, will not end the carnage nor calm the chaos, and thus, it will not do.

Over four years in, Bush’s original mission—however you frame it—lies in blood-soaked ruin. It is not accomplished, but it needs to be over. The occupation must end. American troops must come home.

President Bush has now made it his mission to prevent that from happening—it is the Democrats’ mission to see that this time, this Bush mission is (also) not accomplished.

(photo: Doug Mills/NYT)

(cross-posted to capitoilette and Daily Kos)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,