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September 30, 2004

The Dem party faithful

The Democrats - never ones to fight dirty or stack the deck.

Here is the first part of an email sent to the Dem faithful today from Terry McAuliffe, via Powerline blog:

Tonight, don't let George Bush's henchmen steal another victory. We need your online help immediately after the debate, so save this email, print it out, and have it ready with you as you watch the first Presidential debate tonight.

We all know what happened in 2000. Al Gore won the first debate on the issues, but Republicans stole the post-debate spin. We are not going to let that happen again, and you will play a big role.

Immediately after the debate, we need you to do three things: vote in online polls, write a letter to the editor, and call in to talk radio programs. Your 10 minutes of activism following the debate can make the difference.

And here are two of the polls - screen shots taken between 11:50 p.m. and 12:10 a.m. following the debate:




Keep that in mind when the spin machine reaches full speed tomorrow.

Posted by susanna at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How do you spell "twit"?



Posted by susanna at 03:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Liars and the lying liars who tell them

My latest post is up on DetNews - "Bringing back the draft - Part I - a Democrat lie".

Not that I'm, you know, testy about it.

UPDATE: The second post is up, which includes the link to the Selective Service. And, I'm sorry to say, the third (and last, for the DetNews blog) post is up, because, well, I couldn't help myself. Go here to see them all.

Posted by susanna at 10:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 29, 2004

Don't we have fun!

On a hot tip from Scott Ott, I found out about the Detroit News political weblog, which is allowing bloggers from anywhere in the country to apply to post on their blog. I applied last week (remember? I posted what I sent, thinking it had been rejected), and found out yesterday I'd been accepted. And tonight I'm up and running!

I've only put up two posts so far. But how cool is it that I get to blog in a state where it might actually do some good? Win some votes? Or at the very least really really really annoy the liberals on the DetNews blog.


Posted by susanna at 11:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Put down that coffee cup!!

Make sure you aren't drinking or eating before you go read this latest screed from that keenly intelligent and widely respected political commentator Barbra Streisand:

If you cross this administration you get your head handed to you... [I]f you choose to air a story about George Bush's military service, or lack thereof, like CBS did last week, you and your award winning news anchor, get investigated by the FCC.

...Never mind that CBS's story included substantive and uncontested evidence that Bush didn't show up for duty when he was supposed to, that he skipped a required physical that grounded him from flying, and that he mysteriously received an honorable discharge. Yes...the documents CBS presented could not be confirmed for their authenticity, but these details of Bush's military record have been out for public consumption for years... The media's attention is diverted from the real story because we now live in a time where the fear of revenge by this administration sends a chill through the corporations that control our media and overwhelms the press' responsibility to investigate, educate and hold our leaders accountable.

Hmm. No one appears to have tried to remove her head, although it clearly is doing her no good at all. It might be scientifically useful to have an MRI done on it, though, just to see how she manages to continue walking upright and speaking when her brain has atrophied.

However, it is useful to read her material as it gives you insight into the alternate universe she and her outlandishly wealthy liberal circle live in. It is possible to refute her point for point, but it seems an exercise in futility. She wouldn't be able to hear it. She's decided what she believes, and that's that. Lest you think I'm being partisan in ignoring her argument instead of engaging it, I'll just point out that she's claiming Bush is threatening the press with retaliation even though she can't come up with any solid evidence that it's happening, and her own ability to spout vicious nonsense has continued unhindered. And she also is tossing about the "fake, but accurate!" meme on the Bush Nat'l Guard duty, although plenty of evidence exists that he met his obligation. She's showing that she isn't digging to facts, but instead has a reflexive belief in her politician and political agenda. And I object to that from anyone, liberal or conservative.

She's just much funnier when she does it, because she is so completely disconnected from any type of reality that doesn't require millions to sustain. I loved these bits from previous posts:

I am flabbergasted by the American public's continued support for Bush... I am perplexed by the American public's continued support and willingness to give Bush high marks on the question of national security... President Bush is not embarrassed by his lack of intellect... The Republican Party and the Bush administration like to keep the public uninformed and in the dark as to what they are doing...

And just to cap off your morning, here are a few lines from A Special Song sung by Ms. Streisand for Her Man Kerry back in June:


I MEAN G - O - P - EOPLE -



Babs, baby, I think you're out of luck this go-around. But then, you work so hard to keep away from the little people that you even sue someone trying to do a job that has nothing to do with you except for a few long distance photos of your estate, so it's no wonder that you're still shocked, shocked! by what the average American thinks. You wouldn't know one if you saw one - and if you did, you'd probably send a bodyguard to remove them from your sight.

Posted by susanna at 08:24 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 28, 2004

Where's my tattoo needle?

Someone needs to tattoo the URL "" on the dominant hand of Richard Schlesinger, reporter for CBS News. Then they need to suggest that he learn to read. The inability to read or recognize hoaxes are the only two excuses he could have for this piece of asinine reporting.

Idiot. You'd think CBS would learn. You'd be wrong.

Posted by susanna at 11:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 27, 2004

Carter "unconscionable"

He's at it again. The lamest president of the 20th century is setting up Florida to be a battleground again, laying accusations but not giving clear caveats about his claims. I like this one particularly:

He also said: "A fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons."

All felons should be prevented from voting, because that's the law, whether or not you agree with it. What I want to know is, what did this "fumbling attempt" entail, why is it "fumbling", and how many total black felons live in Florida vs the number of Hispanic felons? I'm not saying that there isn't a disparity in trying to disqualify one over the other, I'm just saying his statement is absolutely not evidence enough that there is disparity, much less collusion.

Carter: A man desperately seeking a brain.

Now here's my caveat: It's an article by the BBC, which is biased and skewed to a degree that makes Dan Rather and the AP look like pikers. I haven't read the WaPo article it ostensibly lifts from. And I'm late for a meeting. So I will check it later, or you can check it for me and tell me in the comments if the WaPo version makes Carter seem less like some Kerry/UN puppet.

Posted by susanna at 11:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Good news, marginal news

As usually happens, when my site stats climb I find that life suddenly bursts with activity, and my posting time plummets. Difficult to keep you all coming back in that instance, but I hope you won't give up on me. I invite you to look through my archives where there are lots of interesting posts and photographs (and if you're here for my most common search string hit, the Scandanavian airport urinal with the bug painted in it is here).

That's essentially my marginal news (not good, not bad, depends on your perspective) - you won't see much of me today and tomorrow. I'm racing to finish a grant proposal that is due tomorrow night at 9 p.m. I'm feeling the pressure. But it's a great project and I have some hopes of funding - it's the first time I've submitted a grant proposal to fund a research project of my very own, so it's very exciting.

The good news is - I passed my core area! For those of you not following the story, I'm in a criminal justice doctoral program at Rutgers University Newark. There are two exams you have to pass to move into the dissertation (last) stage of the degree. I took the second one in December 2003, just barely didn't pass it, had to expand on it during an exam-taking session in early April, and have been waiting since then to learn if I passed. I got an email last week from my major professor telling me that he had spoken to the other professors on my committee and they both agreed I should pass. He said he would do the paperwork this week! So I'm very happy about that, I feel released to move on to the dissertation prospectus. I've been working on it, but this lights up my motivational fires. I hope to defend the proposal by the end of this semester and do the research in the spring.

I'll celebrate... after this grant proposal is in!!

Posted by susanna at 09:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 25, 2004

AP channels DNC

Powerline Blog has excerpts from an unabashedly partisan hack job done on Bush by an AP reporter under the guise of news. It's noxious. Go read, then read on to see the background of the reporter. Then imagine all her bosses saying, "Of course she's impartial! Why, she's one of our best. You're just a partisan rightwing operative". And then write to the AP and let them know coverage like that is just not acceptable.

Be firm. Be calm. Be reasonable. Don't give them justification to ignore you.

Posted by susanna at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Essential reading

John Podhoretz puts Rathergate into its historical context in this fascinating and powerful article in Weekly Standard. If you read nothing else today, read this.

Posted by susanna at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

God and crime in Romania

Sounds like a good idea to me, but the ACLU would go into spastic fits at the mere mention of such a program in the US. Of course, for it to work people have to actually believe in God. I fear not many do in the US, at least to the extent that they think He gets touchy when you do wrong. Sometimes, scary as it may be, I think there's too much love in the world. At least squishy lefty love that encompasses all evil and frequently castigates the good.

Posted by susanna at 08:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 24, 2004

Mexinese? Chinican?

Today my mom and I went to Collinsville, in northeastern Alabama, for the annual Quilt Walk. It's a lovely tour of 10 homes in downtown Collinsville, a small burg, with the inside of each home literally draped in quilts of all design and size and age - some as old as the mid 1800s, up through today. I have photos, which I will post in a bit. My mom went with me, and after a two hour drive and more than three hours of walking and touring, we were ready for dinner. We asked the bus driver what was good, and she recommended The China House just north of town.

The front was somewhat rundown, looking forlorn as only a flat-roofed nondescript building from the 1970s could look. The parking lot was rough, with broken asphalt and gravel strewn about. It wasn't a place we would have stopped if it hadn't been recommended. But we ventured inside where we were greeted by... a Mexican woman speaking heavily accented English.

Mexican? In a Chinese restaurant? Was it a time machine, or had it bent space and dumped us in Childersburg or some other Mexican restaurant? No, there were Chinese paper lanterns in a pass through and little paper Chinese symbols about, so we were in the right place. The Mexican woman seated us, brought us water and took our orders. While we waited, she came back to chat, then continued chatting after bringing our food. She wanted to know if we'd come from the Quilt Walk, and what we thought of it. Then she wanted to know where we were from, and she knew of Columbiana and Wilsonville. Returning the favor, we asked her about her home, how long she'd been in the US, and, finally, the question that had been burning on my tongue since I'd seen her:

How did a nice Mexican lady like her wind up hostessing in a Chinese restaurant?

The answer was simple: Her husband is Chinese.

Her husband is Chinese.

And not just of Chinese ancestry. Both of them grew up in their native countries, both came to the US as adults, and both somehow wound up in North Carolina, where they met and married. They now have two young children, half Chinese and half Hispanic. They speak English at home, she said; she can't speak Chinese, although she's trying to learn while her husband teaches the children. Their son is 6, and fluent in Spanish; the girl is 18 months and not fluent in anything but babble. The Mexican lady is not an American citizen, but plans to be as soon as she can. So what does that make her kids? Mexinese? Chinican? Just American, I think.

And what does she think of America?

A wonderful place to live, she said. She couldn't think of any place she'd rather be. Everyone in North Carolina was so nice, so respectable, she said. So friendly. And the people in Collinsville were just the same. She loves it. It is the best country, she said, and shrugged, obviously a little frustrated that she couldn't speak the English for her feelings. But it was obviously all good, so good that she wanted to keep on saying it, in as many different ways as she could.

So we said we were very happy that she and her husband are now in the US. We wished her well in getting citizenship, and truthfully told her the food her husband made for us was excellent. Suddenly the room about us didn't seem so worn, the Chinese lanterns in the 1970s era room so incongrous. We realized that we were sitting right in the middle of her American dream.

If you're ever traveling down I-59 in northeast Alabama, take exit #205 at Collinsville. Turn south and drive about a mile into the edge of downtown, then turn left at the traffic light where the big red brick church sits on a hill to your left. Just a third of a mile up the road, you'll see a bright yellow sign proclaiming China House, in front of an old 70s style building. Take the time to visit, and sit for a while in an American dream made of Chinese and Mexican hope and sweat. It may make you even more appreciative of this great country.

UPDATE: Here's Mom at the first stop of the Quilt Walk - it's actually an outbuilding, not precisely a barn but not precisely a house. As you can see, it set the tone with many quilts. These are just a few of the more than a dozen that were in that first place. She's posing here because the quilt behind her is her very favorite pattern - an English Flower Garden.

Mom with the English Flower Garden

Mom at first house.jpg

The rest of the photos are in the extended entry, so as not to bog down the computers of those still using mice and a treadmill to power their Internet.

The first house was the second stop - the outbuilding was on its property. It was lovely from the outside, but breathtaking inside - large rooms, huge windows, and wide expanses of oak. In fact, most of the houses we visited had oak trim everywhere, many times coupled with oak pocket doors. Have I mentioned I love oak? Here is a photo from inside the first house, so you can see what I mean:

Living room of the first house

House2 quilts.jpg

We must have seen at least a hundred quilts, likely more. There were 10 stops, and I know each house had more than 10 quilts. Many I loved, some I liked, some I could give or take, some I didn't like at all. But I admired the love and artistry in each one - yes, even the 100% double-knit polyester circa 1970 quilt. Here was one of my very favorites, reflecting my love of mini-quilts.

Mini Christmas Tree Quilt


The houses were worth the price of admission, without question. Sometimes I nearly forgot to look at the quilts for excitement over an oak mantel or a Craftsman style original chandelier in a dining room. In this dining room, a floor to ceiling mural sat between two wooden half-pillars and behind a wrought iron gate. Spectacular, but not quite my taste. At the same time... well, the jury's still out. What do you think?

Dining Room Mural

Dining room mural.jpg

Below is one of the larger houses, with a porch wrapping around on two sides. We were greeted by two women dressed in southern belle hooped skirts, then allowed to roam both the porch and the interior of the house, quilts everywhere. (In a number of the homes, they were even draped over shower rods.) While other homes were not as large, every one of them was just as beautiful.

Southern Belle House

Outside southrn belle house.jpg

The last house was by no means the least. We were greeted at the door by the owners; the husband of the couple told us that the house was built in 1881, and sold to his grandparents in 1920. It's been in the family ever since, so this home of 123 years has only been owned by two families. The detailing was exquisite, even in the furnishings - one bed ruffle - a bed ruffle! had a piped hem. I got many decorating ideas from it, some of them actually within my budget. As we headed off to the bus, tired but well-sated with beauty, I snapped a photo of Mom in front of the last house, quilts hanging over the railings of its generous wooden porch.

Mom at the last house


Then we headed to The China House for dinner, already described above. Could there be a better day?

Posted by susanna at 09:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tragedy in Iraq

Ancient Sumerian cities are being destroyed by looters who have threatened to kill legitimate archaeologists.

Posted by susanna at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kidnapped, released Turkish journalist tells story

A young Turkish journalist was kidnapped along with a Canadian journalist she was traveling with; both were released four days later. In this NYT story, she tells what it was like.

Here is what she told her captors about her reasons for being where she was when she was taken:

They took a taxi to the city. When they stopped to ask a policeman in Tal Afar to direct them, he waved over a car with three masked men inside who ordered them to get in. They were taken to a nondescript house, unaware of what lay ahead.

She was busy memorizing details - how many men, what they wore, the color of the walls - for the exciting story she expected to write about a night with the insurgents in Tal Afar. Then the armed men stood Mr. Taylor against a wall with his hands above his head and pointed a Kalashnikov assault rifle at his chest.

"A night with the insurgents in Tal Afar". Sounds a little like "a night at the county fair" or "a night with the hookers on East Street". I'm very sorry they were kidnapped - it's unlikely they'll be the people they were before, any more - and I'm very glad they were released. But they walked into the lion's mouth, and the jaws closed. A lion doesn't become a kitten just because you refuse to call it by it's real name. "Insurgents" are "terrorists", and everyone would do well to remember that, including journalists.

Here's a point a lot of people have made that she confirms:

"These are people who think they are living in the time of the Crusades," Ms. Tugrul recalled in a four-hour conversation at an Ankara cafe this week. "They say they are fighting for Islam first and Iraq second. They think their religion is being attacked."

It's a religious war, it's not about an "occupied country" to a lot of the terrorists, or at least only secondarily and that because it is a Muslim country so must be defended against "kafir" invasion. I've heard many times over the course of the months since war there began, although less in recent months, that Iraq is the open front on the war on terror. It's not just about Iraq. The fight is sucking in terrorists from all over and giving the US a chance to kill them now. It's like a powerful magnet that draws out all the people who have been magnetized by the evil desire to rule the world their own fanatical Muslim way.

And Tugrul makes the nature of the terrorists clear:

"Please understand why we have to make sure who you are," said the man who had seemed so friendly, the one everyone called the emir, or leader. "There have been lots of spies here, and we had to cut their heads off."

..."I saw that around Mosul, everybody is the resistance - not terrorists, but not civilians really either," she said. "They used the small kids to bring them water, and nobody treated them like children. They'd be with the men who were talking about cutting heads, and the kids would be standing guard, like little men, so you become afraid of the children too."

"...You become afraid of the children too". Think about that. Sound like, oh, maybe, Palestine?

All those who held them, she said, were equally hostile to anyone they called kafir, or infidel. Again and again, they lashed out at Mr. Taylor, calling him a "Jewish pig" or an American spy.

"For them, there's no difference between a Christian and a Jew, a Canadian and an American," Ms. Tugrul said...

"The last group," she said, shuddering as she recalled how they kicked her and whipped her with a spiked belt, "they just wanted to torture for nothing."

...Ms. Tugrul's language skills no longer counted. "I couldn't make eye contact," she said. "Everybody kept looking at us and making that cutting sign across their throat."

The Arab men wrapped a red and white scarf around her face, so tightly that she thought she would go blind. They led her to a hallway and started beating her. It was only then, she said, that she realized how numb she had become.

"I know it sounds strange," she said, "but I was happy at that moment because at least I could feel my body. I felt like I was coming back to myself."

I hope she truly does come back to herself. And I hope others who read her story who have doubted the truth about who we're fighting will come back to their senses. But someone I doubt it. Somehow the nature of these terrorists will be blamed on the United States. I have no doubt.

Here are accounts from Steve Taylor, who was kidnapped with Tugrul: here, here and a first person account here. He has this to say:

Taylor said he has been to Iraq 20 times, but wouldn't go back. "It's not safe for anybody, not safe at all."

And this:

He said he was handed from group to group that shared hostages and weapons, including one he called the Taliban, the militants who controlled Afghanistan until the U.S. drove them out.

No connection between Iraq and Afghanistan. None at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Apparently no one had reported Taylor missing, and the Canadian government is essentially saying that since they didn't know he was gone and couldn't confirm it themselves, they're just going to let the episode pass. Again, nothing to see here.

Posted by susanna at 07:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 23, 2004

Spot on

Sometimes immediate and bold action is the best way to handle a situation, but it's easy to underthink it and fail. However, at the same time, if you begin to analyze every little piece you may wind up overthinking it and never actually acting.

I understand that war is ultimately about strategy, a thinking game with spikes of bold action. But we at home don't see much of the strategizing because the media doesn't report it - and shouldn't, lest it endanger our people. It's a good thing, though, to explain strategies after the fact, to help us understand that the action is the tip of the iceberg for the military.

And that's why this post at The Belmont Club is so excellent - it lets us know not only what the strategy was (so we can admire it and feel more secure), but also that strategery is being done - something the MSM seem loathe to admit.

Posted by susanna at 11:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A bit bitter, Tina?

Tina Brown, no slouch in the failure department herself, castigates the mainstream media for being chased into bad journalism by the "new-media mujahadin". Yes, she actually blames bloggers for CBS's bad judgment:

Fear of missing the bandwagon is behind all the hype about the brilliance of bloggers who blew the whistle. You'd think "Buckhead," who first spotted the flaws in the documents, is the cyberworld's Woodward and Bernstein. Now the conventional wisdom is that the media will be kept honest and decent by an army of incorruptible amateur gumshoes. In fact, cyberspace is populated by a coalition of political obsessives and pundits on speed who get it wrong as much as they get it right. It's just that they type so much they are bound to nail a story from time to time.

The rapturing about the bloggers is the journalistic equivalent of the stock market's Internet bubble...

The equivalent today is when news outfits that built their reputations on check-and-double-check pick up almost any kind of assertion and call it a "source." Or feel so chased by the new-media mujaheddin they start trusting tips garnered from God-knows-where by a partisan wack job in Texas.

Obviously Brown doesn't read the blogs. Maybe she herself would be more accurate if she did.

Posted by susanna at 08:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Apparently Mapes can do anything she wants

FoxNews has a letter sent from the US Department of Prisons to CBS Producer Mary Mapes in late 2001 revoking her confidential mail privileges, as well as visiting and phone privileges, because she agreed to help a high-security inmate contact another inmate without going through the prison's security procedures. From the letter:

Recently, an investigation determined that the above named inmate requested your assistance in circumventing Federal Bureau of Prisons mail procedures. Specifically, inmate Langan requested your cooperation in mailing information intended for another inmate... Phone monitoring reveals that you agreed to this request...

If inmates are permitted to send unmonitored messages between prisons, they could pass information that poses a threat to the security and good order of the various facilities and could have facilitated possible criminal activity...

Therefore, your telephone call and visiting privileges are revoked. In addition your special mail privileges are revoked... If you continue to attempt to circumvent our security procedures in any manner, I will be forced to take additional steps to ensure the security of this facility, which may include referring your actions to the appropriate law enforcement authorities...

This is very serious business. Nobody is in a high-security federal prison for snatching Girl Scout cookies or jaywalking. A Google search for "Peter Langan prison" nets several interesting links, including this one that identifies Langan as a witness in the trial of Terry Nichols, later convicted of helping Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing. There's the description of Langan:

Peter Langan, former member of a white-supremacist bank robbery gang. Serving life in prison, Langan has said at least three fellow gang members were in Oklahoma around the time of the bombing and one later confided to him that they had become involved. Nichols' attorneys claim McVeigh had help in planning the bombing.

A member of a white-supremacist bank robbery gang who may have a connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. Innocent enough, yes? Why not circumvent the security procedures of a federal prison? It couldn't really put anyone at risk, would it?

This is a "highly regarded" producer at CBS, who is starting to look more and more like attorney Lynne Stewart, a civil rights attorney accused of helping a terrorist communicate with his followers from prison:

In May of 2000, Lynne Stewart signed an affirmation in which she agreed to adhere to SAMs. These SAMs allowed her to be accompanied by translators when speaking to Abdel Rahman, but only to communicate with her client about legal matters. The SAMs also prohibited the dissemination of Rahman's communications to third parties.

A few days after agreeing to these conditions, Stewart allegedly visited with her client and pretended to consult with him on legal matters. In actuality, however, the government claims that she was permitting Abdel Rahman to discuss with his interpreter whether "the Islamic Group" should continue its ceasefire with Egypt...

Stewart is accused as well of having played a role in facilitating (by pretending to be consulting with her client) the release of other instructions given by Rahman. Among them was the issuance of a fatwah under Rahman's name, calling on "brother scholars everywhere in the Muslim world to do their part and issue a unanimous fatwah that urges the Muslim nation to fight the Jews and to kill them wherever they are."

Mapes, like Stewart, is apparently someone who thinks that what she does should be beyond scrutiny because, well, she's who she is - Mapes a journalist, Stewart an attorney, both seeing "privilege" in their communications beyond what the law allows. Both are learning that there are limits after all. In this analysis of what Stewart did, Sherry Colb at Findlaw is also explaining why what Mapes did may have had serious consequences had it played out:

What Stewart is accused of having communicated, instead, is an instruction to kill people, an instruction that is and ought to be illegal regardless of whether or not SAMs are in place. And it may indeed be precisely the concern that such violent orders could be camouflaged for a well-meaning attorney that led to the broad gag orders contained in existing SAMs. In other words, Stewart may be a poster child for the sorts of government crackdowns that impede legitimate and protected attorney/client interactions.

Lynne Stewart is alleged to have gone public with a violent instruction that Rahman did not even bother camouflaging. This is deplorable conduct, no matter how objectionable one might consider the SAMs. It further brings shame to a profession that depends on lawyers' ability to remember that no matter what anyone says of us, we are not and must never become hired guns.

We don't know what information Langan meant to pass along to his fellow inmate below the radar of the federal prison system. It could have been an innocuous, "Hey, dude, how's it going?" But if that's true, why go beneath the radar of the prison system? Mapes had to know the risk of what she was agreeing to do, but (if I had to guess) probably thought she was bright and knowledgeable enough to be able to discern whether the communication she was passing along would in fact cause close the circle in a deadly conspiracy. The problem there is that she could not know even as much as prison officials do about any kind of codes the inmates might use between themselves that may appear innocent to Mapes. And prison officials probably don't know everything, which is why I'm sure any communication between Langan and any other inmate would receive sharpest scrutiny.

And this is establishing Mapes as someone who has a pattern of assuming herself above the ethics and even laws that the rest of us must go by - all in the name of journalism. She clearly is as arrogant as Dan Rather. It puts her actions in calling Joe Lockhart in much greater relief, and as part of a pattern, not an aberration. She's willing to make deals with a dangerous prison inmate as well as a discredited (yet somehow "unimpeachable") partisan hack, even calling a presidential campaign to put them in touch with someone who has potentially explosive information about their opposition, in clear violation of journalism ethics, all in the name of getting a story.

"Highly regarded" indeed.

Mapes must absolutely go. And I'm disturbed that she wasn't axed after agreeing to serve as a message maid for a dangerous prison inmate.

Posted by susanna at 07:25 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Not getting it - Part 2,498,381

Apparently John Edwards came on the Kerry ticket at least in part to appeal to rural voters:

Edwards is supposed to appeal to the rural voters that Al Gore lost overwhelmingly four years ago. Kerry's selection of Edwards as his vice presidential nominee will not be judged by whether the ticket carries Edwards' home state of North Carolina. Instead, the verdict will be determined by whether Edwards can bring at least some of the voters from the place that Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., calls " 'Merica."

This is so wrong in such a resounding way that it's breathtaking.

Contrary to what is apparently the prevailing opinion in the Kerry campaign, your average rural voter is not stupid. Many of them actually can read, and some even have access to rudimentary forms of modern media. Some few local opinion makers have even left the vast emptiness of rural life to taste the feasts of urban living, only to return with stories hard to believe about the intelligence, erudition and sheer political perspicacity of city folk.


As the descendent of generations of rural-dwellers, raised in the foothills of Appalachia, someone who lived for eight years in the shadow of New York City yet found small town Alabama more to her liking, I think I can speak to this sense on the Kerry camp's part that John Edwards is going to appeal to the average rural person:


The first problem is the condescension. I'm sure you caught that my earlier paragraph about rural dwellers was mocking the elitist attitude many city dwellers, especially northeastern and left coast urbanites, have toward anyone living elsewhere. The thought that a homespun slow-talker is going to win their vote just by some kind of rural-referent behavior is insulting, but not surprising considering the source. And the extent to which Edwards tries that condescension on the rural folk, as opposed to just talking straight about the issues, is the extent to which he will fail. I suspect he will fail badly. As for Kerry, well, the only thing Kerry knows about the country is that his wife has a few houses there, bought with her ex-husband's money. It's a playground for him.

The second problem is Edwards himself. Yes, he's from a southern state, but not all southerners are created equal. A snakeoil salesman is a snakeoil salesman, whether he speaks with a clipped Yankee accent that makes "car" into "cah", or with a Southern drawl dripping with the speed and sweetness of molasses. He's a trial lawyer, and that won't be lost on the people he's talking to. It also won't be lost on them that no matter what his upbringing, he's a city slicker now with all the airs and condescensions (see above) of the most noxious of that breed. Any efforts to be homespun will fall very flat, because they will be very fake and obviously so to anyone who actually does live in rural areas.

The third problem is that rural people have much the same education and world knowledge as city people in this time of information technology. Yes, there are pea-brained yahoos in the country, but they're matched one-to-one with pea-brained yahoos in the city. There are also many professional people in the rural areas, people with degrees from community colleges right on through to ivy league schools. The vast majority of them have cable television and Internet access, and use it just as much (if not more, there being fewer other things to do) than city folks. So the knowledge of issues in the country are similar to the knowledge of them in all other population density categories.

The fourth problem is centered on a genuine difference between city and rural people. In the country, you're more likely to know your neighbors; the families in an area are likely to have known each other for generations. In that environment you don't have as much occasion to take someone on face value and move on. The person matters as much as the message because you aren't going to be dealing with them for a short time - it could be decades. So you assess someone based on their potential to be trustworthy in the long run, not just this week or through November or into 2005. I don't think the Kerry/Edwards ticket looks strong in that way, and I don't think Edwards can make it stick even when the haughty flip-flopping Kerry is not at his side.

There is one other genuine difference between rural and city, and it's highlighted (without irony, I suspect) in the same Salon article linked above:

Kerry and Edwards don't need the support of the majority of the people in this Second America. They just need to close the gap, to not lose in Gore-like fashion. Before settling on Edwards, Kerry already had enough of the Democratic base, the city dwellers who will likely turn out in even greater numbers this year than they did in 2000. Picking Edwards was, in part, an attempt to offset the huge get-out-the-vote effort that Karl Rove and the Republicans plan in rural America.

The city people don't care about the rural people, politically speaking, except to the extent that the rural people can help the city people reach their goals. We are "fly-over" country to the majority of the Kerry campaign (if not all), and we know that very well. If Kerry could win without coming into the middle of the country, he wouldn't show his face here or send Edwards. And there may come a time when that's a possibility (something I think needs to be addressed and soon - I don't want to become completely irrelevant to the president of the country). The city issues are different from the rural issues, and rural people are keenly aware of that too. The city is where those people who wouldn't recognize a real cow rail about people killing animals for food. The city is where people care more about a displaced spotted owl than a farmer being able to feed his children. The city is where people try to implement policies that create all manner of difficulties for rural dwellers without having any negative impact on their own lives. So when Trial Lawyer and Slick Talker John Edwards shows up in town trying to sell the Kerry ticket, the rural people aren't going to want to hear his ruralized version of what a Kerry/Edwards administration will do, knowing as they do that Kerry and Edwards are city people. The smart, savvy and hard-working country folk want to hear about issues, about solutions. They want acknowledgment that their concerns won't get washed out by the hammering voices of special interest groups whose views are antithetical in so many ways to the rural way of life. They're not stupid.

And that's why Edwards will fail.

I won't even get into the fact that their opposing Republican ticket includes two men who have lived their lives straddling the rural/city divide, and have proven themselves successful in both.

UPDATE: A caveat, and you knew it was coming. The point about John Edwards being southern is because, well, he is, and will likely use that frame when presenting himself to the rural public. I know there are a lot of rural dwellers (or non-urban, depending on how you want to approach it) who are not in the South at all. However, I think this discussion applies to them as well. The northerners and westerners may tend more liberal than the South generally, but the things that matter to them as rural dwellers won't be much different.

Posted by susanna at 10:06 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 21, 2004

War games

[I wrote this as an "application post" for a blogging berth at the Detroit News political blog, which includes writers from all over the nation, even our fine Scott "Scrappleface" Ott. I wrote and sent it in on Friday, and haven't heard back from them, so I'm posting it here. One hates to waste a good post.]

I'm getting whiplash watching John Kerry change his rhetoric from Vietnam to Iraq and back. His name has, for all practical purposes, become "John I-fought-in-Vietnam Kerry". He opened his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention saying he was "reporting for duty", and he's been refighting the Vietnam War ever since. Except... except when people start asking questions about his service, like, just where was he in Christmas 1968? It wasn't in Cambodia, although he said in 1986 that the memory of Christmas in Cambodia in 1968 was "seared - seared in me". And then there's the question of the medals - or was that ribbons? When the questions go there, Kerry suddenly becomes intensely concerned about President George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard or about what's happening in Iraq.

Yet he runs into difficulties there too. He and his minions keep trying to prove Bush behaved badly during his Guard service, but nothing really sticks. And when Dan Rather started carrying water for the Kerry bench on that issue, he got in trouble too. Time for another diversionary tactic - what about Bush taking the US into war illegitimately? Kerry is horrified - horrified! - by Bush's actions. But Kerry joined his fellow Senators in giving Bush a "blank check" in how he approached the war, so it seems he abrogated his accountability early, when he didn't think Iraq was "a real issue". When did that change? Apparently when it seemed the people of America thought it was a "real issue".

But Kerry can't stay there long either, because while he gave Bush a blank check on how the administration prosecuted the war, he then voted to essentially lock the bank. When asked how he would prosecute the war, he has little of value to say, except that he'll bring the US military home and hand Iraq over to NATO. Yet NATO is only now agreeing to strengthen its forces by less than 20,000 soldiers. It's a promising sign, but is that enough to "win the peace"?

That's when the talk turns to domestic policies, but... can't stay there long either. Unemployment is down. Crime is down. What's a self-respecting Dem candidate to do?

Why, talk about Vietnam. Did you know that John Kerry served in Vietnam...?

Posted by susanna at 02:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Originals of Rathergate docs supposedly burned

USA Today has a truly excellent and important article today about the Rathergate documents, consisting mainly of reporting on interviews with Bill Burkett, who has admitted he was the one who gave the documents to CBS producer Mary Mapes. He says he's had them since March, and his description of the way he got them is worthy of a movie. You really must read it if you're interested at all in this story. This is the most important part to me:

After he received the documents in Houston, Burkett said, he drove home, stopping on the way at a Kinko's shop in Waco to copy the six memos. In the parking lot outside, he said, he burned the ones he had been given and the envelope they were in. Ramirez was worried about leaving forensic evidence on them that might lead back to her, Burkett said, acknowledging that the story sounded fantastic. "This is going to sound like some damn sci-fi movie," he said.

So, if Burkett is to be believed, all traces of the originals he says were given to him have been destroyed by this fire. Just how convenient is that? This makes me think that we won't be learning who actually forged them, unless someone comes forward with knowledge of them. That may still happen, but given that they had to have been forged by someone who hates GW, that seems unlikely.

However, an investigation could still expose the full extent of connection between the Kerry campaign and the CBS work on this story, as well as CBS's general partisan complicity in rushing it to the screen.

Posted by susanna at 09:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 20, 2004

It's a bizarro world

CBS producer Mary Mapes pimped Bill Burkett to Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign in return for forged documents.

Meanwhile, John Kerry breaks his weeks-long moratorium about interviews with the media... to talk to that hard-hitting journalist, Dave Letterman, who is softballing questions and letting Kerry essentially give a monologue about how wonderful he is and how awful the current administration is. I'd like a consultation about the equal time rule.

Now I'm waiting to find out that Barbra Streisand wrote the memoes and got them to Bill Burkett via a CBS courier, perhaps driving this van. Dan Rather will come clean on Dave Letterman, crying into his coffee, and then he will leave CBS to become the Kerry campaign spokesman in a last fevered rush to get the candidate through the White House door.

Posted by susanna at 11:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Must I scour the world for unChristian Christians?

Apparently Jimmy Swaggert is at it again, and according to Eugene Volokh I have a responsibility as a Christian to denounce him.

Specifically, Swaggert said:

"I'm trying to find the correct name for it ... this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. ... I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."

Let me fulfill my obligation: I think Jimmy Swaggert is absolutely, completely wrong to threaten to kill any gay man who looks at him "like that", and his audience was wrong to laugh and clap. I've never cared for Jimmy Swaggert, or any of his ilk, whom I think to be money-grubbers using Christianity as a means to financial gain. I won't impugn the motives of all televangelists in the same way, although generally I find little to recommend any of them, up to and including Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and, yes, the venerable Billy Graham, although I find him the least objectionable. At the same time, I find it hypocritical for anyone to call out Christians to denounce Swaggert without in the same sentence demanding denunciations of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as likewise a blot on Christianity.

I've said before on my blog that anyone who wants to or does harm someone who lives a homosexual lifestyle, either male or female, on the basis of their lifestyle, is wrong. Sinful. Behaving against God's will. But then it's sinful to want to murder anyone (and I say "murder" specifically to exclude legitimate killing such as self-defense, capital punishment or times of war). I see this in much the same way I see the anti-abortion activists who harm people to "advance" their cause: Abortion is sinful, but it's just as sinful to murder people who do it or support it. Practicing homosexuality is sinful, but so is both the desire to and action of hurting someone just because they are homosexual. It's the classic "two wrongs don't make a right".

I'm annoyed with Volokh, however, for this:

When someone who is a Christian minister, and still something of a Christian leader, makes a claim about what Christian scriptures mean, it seems to me that those Christians who condemn his views -- and condemn them as deeply evil, rather than just subtly or slightly wrong -- do have a responsibility to speak out.

How much speaking out do I need to do? Must I follow Swaggert around the country and protest him, in much the way that Madelyn Murray O'Hair's oldest son did, after he grew up and became a Christian? What about all the others who blaspheme God by their unholy and wicked actions in His name? There are a lot of them, and I include in that group anyone who professes Christianity yet lives a life of debauchery. And yes, I am saying that Swaggert is unholy and wicked when he says things like what is quoted above.

None of us are perfect - God knows, intimately, just how imperfect I am, how many times I've cried for forgiveness and then gone and done whatever I asked forgiveness for yet again. David was a man after God's own heart, but it wasn't because he was sinless - it was because he throughout his life was capable of being touched with shame and remorse when he failed, and each time he begged for God's forgiveness sincerely. He tried to do better, and he loved God. The apostle Peter loved God, knew Christ personally, and yet he denied Him three times in the cruelest of ways, when Christ was completely abandoned and betrayed. Afterward, the Bible tells us, he "wept bitterly". I can't imagine the pain of that. So I'm not claiming perfection for followers of God, then or now. But I do become angry about being tarred with the same brush as Swaggert just because I don't post a weekly update that I still think he's a charletan with more in common with Simon the Sorcerer than Paul the apostle.

So, for the record, In Re Swaggert: He's a blasphemer for the life he leads, speaking in a way that is directly counter to God's teaching while claiming to do God's will. I denounce his behavior and his comments about murder. I will pray for his soul.

And for the record, In Re Homosexuality: The Bible says practicing it is a sin. I believe the Bible is God's Word, and means what it says.

Excuse me while I go make signs for my journeys around the world to protect the good name of Christianity in the eyes of those who can't separate the wheat from the chaff on their own.

Posted by susanna at 10:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

He'd Rather not

Dan Rather apologized, for himself and for CBS News, for using the forged documents. He still says it was "in good faith". I don't see how they can support that conclusion other than "we say so". Although he interviewed Bill Burkett, he never pressed him (at least on the shown clip) about who DID forge the documents. Where did Burkett get them? And why did they believe him? Who was the go-between? Until CBS explains all that, they're not done.

Posted by susanna at 05:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Do you know if you're a conservative or a liberal progressive? How do you know? Do you base your judgment on where you stand versus others you know, or on established philosophical principles?

Russell Kirk knew.

One of the most important and prominent thinkers of the conservative movement beginning in mid-century, Kirk spent decades defining and explaining conservatism in challenging yet accessible ways. Now, 10 years after his death, one of his disciples, professor W. Wesley McDonald, explores Kirk's political philosophies in a new book, Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology. Alan Cornett, who worked as Kirk's assistant for a year shortly before Kirk's death, has written a review of the book posted here. I recommend you read it.

[Full disclosure! Alan is my brother (but you knew that), and the proprietor of Theosebes (and you knew that too).]

Posted by susanna at 05:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CBS: Documents are fake

CBS News is giving its mea culpa.

Dan Rather:

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Official statement:

Bill Burkett, in a weekend interview with CBS News Anchor and Correspondent Dan Rather, has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents used in the Sept. 8 "60 Minutes Wednesday" report on President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Burkett, a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel, also admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents’ origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source...

CBS News and CBS management are commissioning an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken. The names of the people conducting the review will be announced shortly, and their findings will be made public.

That last is a good start, almost two weeks late. At least they didn't say "but the story is true". Not yet, anyway. But there's still a lot on the table, including the ultimate source of the documents. Was it Burkett? Or someone else?

Interesting to see where this goes, especially given Burkett's long history of hatred for the Bushes, and his widely reported comments online that were available to any CBS staffer with access to Google (e.g. all of them). The "good faith" bit is something of a stretch in that light.

I'll link responses to it as I see them.

UPDATE: Powerline Blog's view: Still behind the curve.

UPDATE II: Bill at INDC Journal says, who gave the docs to CBS? Who vouched for them? He's also checked out the legal liabilities for such a forgery in Texas.

Hugh Hewitt calls Rather's apology "pathetic".

Jim Geraghty at Kerry Spot hammers Rather for the source of the documents, including a quote from Burkett's lawyer that he would "stake his reputation" that Burkett did not create them and that he believed they were real. This from a man (lawyer Van Os) who is running for office now in Texas. Interesting.

Charles Johnson also says CBS has to name their source, and meanwhile has a photo of a CBS News van that indicates political statements aren't allowed at work only if it's, say, flags after an attack on your country. No liberal media, none at all, move along.

Dead Parrot Society blogger Ryan, a journalist in Spokane, WA, calls foul on CBS's claim of good faith. It's a shame that good journalists like Ryan have to deal with the cynicism of the public resulting from behavior like CBS's. Internet watchdogs watching the media watchdogs is a great thing, but it doesn't have to be assumed that the media is all bad. They're not. Difficult point to make sometimes, though, in a world of Rathers and Mapeses and Blairs.

Posted by susanna at 12:07 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Higher and lower

Kerry served in Vietnam, and by all accounts served bravely while he was there. He swaggered, and apparently loved to wallow in his own glory, but that doesn't mean he wasn't brave. And President Bush did not go to Vietnam, staying stateside as a member of the Texas Air National Guard where he flew fighter planes for three years. Doing so also required some level of bravery, but not the same level as flying under fire. As the war wound down, Bush's opportunities to fly lessened, as did the need for his services, and his thoughts turned to other things. Although he may not have crossed all his Ts and dotted all his Is, he did receive an honorable discharge, evidence that he fulfilled his duty.

All that is nothing new to the average blogreader - we've had details about Kerry and Bush in the 1968-1973 years all but tattooed on the inside of our eyelids for the past several months. But in the wake of Rathergate, which some say will result today in an official "fake, but accurate!" admission from CBS News, it's reasonable to ask this broader question of the media: Where's the fairness in the coverage of Kerry's downside and Bush's upside?

It's not that the media has been MIA on either. They've reported about Kerry's anti-war activities, and about Bush's fighter plane history. But the degree is vastly different. In many articles about Kerry, his service in Vietnam comes up: "Kerry, a Vietnam veteran"... and it goes on from there. You don't see, "Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who returned from war to tell Congress that American soldiers were gleefully killing babies...". Likewise, with Bush, you see the equivalent of, "Bush, who avoided Vietnam by entering the Air National Guard where he screwed around the last year..." and not "Bush, who served as a fighter pilot stateside with the Texas Air National Guard..." or even "Bush, who served stateside during Vietnam"...

I'm not complaining about articles admiring Kerry for what he did right, because he, like all military personnel, deserve admiration and honor for brave service. But while he unquestionably had much higher highs during the Vietnam War than did Bush, in terms of service, he also had much lower lows in terms of harm to the country and the war effort. Yes, Bush stayed stateside, and eased out of the TANG at the end with a sigh rather than a bang. A little high, a little low. But look at this:

On April 22, 1971, Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Most controversial is his allegation that American soldiers were committing war crimes, "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." He spoke of "the 200,000 [Vietnamese] a year who are murdered by the United States of America."

...On the basis of Winter Solider, young Kerry told the senators that American soldiers had "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam . . . "

Former POW Air Force pilot Jim Warner and others have told of how the North Vietnamese forced American prisoners of war to listen to these words and other speeches by Kerry as part of their effort to make prisoners confess to war crimes.

If you need perspective about this, think how it would be covered if Bush had done those things. It would be an endless litany of how horrible it is to have a man in office during wartime who materially contributed to American soldiers' horrible ordeal as prisoners of war. We would be seeing interviews all over the place from Jim Warner and those others. They'd be on the platform with Kerry. We would see reports from soldiers now serving in Iraq about how they'd feel having a Commander in Chief who talked about the soldiers of his day in the way that Kerry did in 1971. It would be nearly impossible to get away from. And if the Bush campaign were truly interested in smearing Kerry, there would be that very litany like a drumbeat from distant sacrificial fires.

But that isn't what you see. Instead, you see Rathergate, as a major network news organization self-immolates in an effort to provide a "gotcha" on a sitting president. What is the gotcha? That he deliberately disobeyed an order to have a physical. The documents have been proven false, yet CBS tries to claim the story is still true. Based on what evidence? None that seems better than their last try.

And then there's this:

...[H]oneymooning was not John Kerry's only purpose in traveling to Paris. Kerry's presidential campaign has now acknowledged that he "talked privately with a leading communist representative" there.

On April 22, 1971, as he testified before Senator Fulbright's Committee on Foreign Relations, John Kerry mentioned that in Paris he had meetings with "both sides" of the Paris Peace Talks.

Kerry had no official role there, and his only "in" with the Communist representative would have been his anti-war activities in the US. So, while his fellow soldiers and Marines and airmen and others were still fighting and dying in Vietnam, he meets with a Communist representative (and how fitting it should be in Paris). The linked article gives a lot more information about the whole episode, and here's more.

Kerry's anti-war activities represent a clear "low" in his Vietnam-era record - at least to most Americans. So why does a search for "Kerry Madame Binh" bring up only non-MSM links while a search for "Bush National Guard" shows eight links to MSM in the first two pages? You can say that is because of the CBS debacle, and you'd be partially correct, but that is part of the point itself: the reason why there is a CBS debacle is because Mary Mapes spent five years trying to deep six the President on his National Guard service and finally got so eager she allowed herself to be duped. Has anyone in the MSM spent even the past five weeks researching and reporting on the downside of Kerry's Vietnam years? Only on the military service itself, not the anti-war activities, and then only to debunk the SwiftVet ads.

Part of the reason is, I think, that many in the MSM media think that Kerry was exactly right in his anti-war activities - they see nothing wrong here, move along, nothing to see. Part of it is that they see "Bush=bad, Kerry=good" or, perhaps more accurately, "Bush=bad, Democrat candidate=good", although Kerry's losing some of his shine as he shows up on the wrong side of the polls with increasing frequency. And some of it is that it's much more fun and journalistically important to find dirt on a sitting president than on his opponent.

Continually I hear media complaints that there's not enough coverage of "the issues" in this race. I'm 100% fine with that. For all that I think Kerry has more to lose than Bush if the MSM fairly approached coverage of their respective activities during 1968-1973, I'd be fine with their just seriously covering Kerry's record as a public official. It's damning enough, and sufficient compared to Bush's record to haul him even lower in the polls. But even that doesn't happen. Why not? Why is the media complaining about how coverage is being done when they're the ones doing the coverage? What's to stop them from sending out reporters to cover the last 20 years? Nothing that I can see, other than this frenetic digging in the dirt like pigs after truffles.

I don't see how coverage of Bush in the TANG is going to hurt him, especially now. I do see how coverage of Kerry 1968-1973 would hurt him badly, if it were done with the same ferocity and focus on the low end that's been characteristic of the Bush TANG coverage. I also think that Bush's record in office will stand the test of comparison to Kerry's during his public years. It certainly seems that the media are focusing on the things that they perceive will most hurt Bush - his TANG service and the "quagmire" in Iraq - and not seriously looking at Kerry's record vs Bush's. Or perhaps they are looking at it as seriously as they're going to - focusing on Kerry's higher and Bush's lower, as if neither has the opposite end.

Posted by susanna at 10:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

Promising signs

Howard Kurtz of WaPo, who has been on the forefront of the mainstream media reportage of Rathergate, talked about it today on his CNN show, Reliable Sources, with journalism professors Geneva Overholser and Frank Sesno, both retired from positions in the mainstream media, and TNR editor and blogger Andrew Sullivan. The whole discussion is very encouraging, showing that all of them believe that CBS and Rather are in serious trouble and are responsible for their irresponsibility in using forged documents. The best part is that they "get it" about blogs, and are enthusiastic about the role blogs can play in the swirl of media:

SESNO: We've democratized the world -- the news business, and let every news organization beware, because anybody who has access to any information can be their own investigative reporter, and they're going to hold you the news organization to account in at least the same sort of way, with the same pressure as the news organization is trying to hold others to account.

KURTZ: But are they always going to do it in a fair way?

SESNO: They're not always going to do it in a fair way, they're not always going to be right, it's not always going to be orderly, but the pressure is always going to be there.

OVERHOLSER: And it will sort itself out. And it's great. The democratization is exactly what we needed.

KURTZ: This is a healthy development to you.

OVERHOLSER: It is. And a lot of it is messy. I don't mean we should always say, oh, the blog, I mean, with all due respect. Heaven knows, they're doing plenty of things.

SULLIVAN: The point is not an individual blog, because an individual blog can get stuff wrong. The point is the system, which is self-correcting. The collective mind is a corrective one. And this is another example of CBS' arrogance. Jonathan Klein, the former producer of "60 Minutes," says bloggers don't have any checks and balances, they're just a bunch of guys in pajamas. Well, it doesn't matter what you're wearing if you get it right.

SESNO: News organizations aren't used to having the whole wide world peering over their shoulders. They're not used to having their methods and their sources questioned, challenged and pushed. And they're going to have to get used to that. They're going to be -- going to have to be much more transparency and accountability to the public.

There's lots more, in the full transcript posted on CNN's site.

And for those looking for slogans more appealing than "Fake, but accurate!", the show participants came up with several (although not, you understand, presented as slogans):

"It's a real journalistic problem and not a partisan issue, and their failure to acknowledge it feeds this notion that it's a partisan issue." Overholser.

"Dan Rather is a hothead." Overholser.

"... if you mess up, fess up." Sesno.

"The golden rule is get it out there, be honest, confess, disclose, not stonewall." Sullivan.

"We've democratized the world...". Sesno.

" doesn't matter what you're wearing if you get it right." Sullivan.

"...the standards for the blogosphere are higher than CBS. You have to correct immediately, or you're toast." Sullivan.

This little exchange was interesting too:

SULLIVAN: But Dan Rather is a liberal Democrat, Frank. I mean, he's fund-raisers for liberal Democrats.

KURTZ: No, hold on, hold on.

SULLIVAN: He's on the record.

KURTZ: He showed up at one -- because I reported the story -- he showed up at one Texas Democratic fund-raiser. His daughter had been involved in it, and he later apologized for that.

SESNO: And I think he's caused plenty of headaches for plenty of liberals, too.

SULLIVAN: You think he's a Republican?

SESNO: That's not the issue. The issue is how he does his job.


OVERHOLSER: Sloppy journalism makes it looks like he is, yeah.

Hmmm... would they say "it doesn't matter" about a Republican journalist caught trying to bring down Kerry?

[Link via INDC Journal, with whom I agree on the role of blogs.]

Posted by susanna at 03:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 17, 2004

Ivan in Alabama: Day 3

It's over! The sun is shining, I've no rogue branches littering up my yard, and my electricity is going strong. Life is good. Not so good for my brother's family - their electricity is still out. But! Hopefully not for long.

I took a couple of photos during the storm and several this morning on my way home. Here's what Ivan looked like from my part of Central Alabama.

During the storm

alanstorm2 small.jpg

Rain streaks down while broken branches lay under the trees in the side yard

Branches down in Wilsonville
Wilsonvcem small.jpg

The entry to the Wilsonville cemetery is nearly blocked by large fallen branches

Street closed


Some streets, like this one, are closed because of fallen trees and debris

Old house, old tree - the end of the line


This lovely abandoned home was long shaded by this tree, blasted to its rotted core by Ivan.

Clearing the way


A man walks up a blocked driveway carrying chains to use on the tractor hauling the trees off the road

Pine split


The easiest way to go - clean split, falling on nothing important.

Columbiana linemen


The power company was out in force getting things fixed. They're working here in Columbiana, near where I live - since Columbiana is the county seat, it's probably high on their list to fix. Makes me very happy!

And that's the visual. I've got lots to do, so that's it for now. Thanks for the good wishes, and thanks to Cousin Dave for keeping the Ivanblogging going in my absence! I'll comment on other things later.

Unless you'd Rather I not.

Posted by susanna at 02:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 16, 2004

Ivan in Alabama: Day 2

4:26 p.m. CST: - I'm safe.

I was up until 3 a.m., then woke up again at 8 a.m., but lay in bed listening to the sounds of my house and the sounds of the wind outside my windows, wondering if my electricity was off. The light of my clock radio is bright, so I put something in front of it before I go to bed - I couldn't see it. Finally I turned on the light beside the bed. It came on.

So far, so good.

The phone rang; it was my mom. I had to run into the other room to get it, and I got online while talking to her. I was planning a nice breakfast while there was still electricity, looking around the blogosphere, watching the news and planning my morning post, and...


The electricity went off. Just after 9 a.m. Great.

The wind had started to bluster, the tops of the trees tossing and soughing. Rain came down steady and hard, although not torrentially. I felt edgy, more than I realized before. I called my mom to tell her I was okay - the cordless phone went out with the electricity, but I have a corded one as well - then called my sister in law. The weather was similar there, and I told her I might come over. She said come on. I called the police (non-emergency number!) and asked if it was safe to drive to Wilsonville. They didn't encourage or discourage, just said they'd not received any messages of problems.

I knelt down and prayed about it, and in the back of my mind I kept hearing go go go! I jumped up, raced around packing boxes with candles, a change of clothes, food, needlework, my computer. Within 20 minutes I was packing my car in the increasing rain, nearly drenched, then drove off into the storm after fumbling my keys like a B horror movie heroine trying to get the car going as the monster closes in.

The streets in downtown Columbiana were nearly deserted, the asphalt littered with little branches, the traffic lights out. Soon I was out of town and eating up the 10 miles between our towns at 60 mph. Rain gusted across the road, and my car skittered once, but others were out and no major debris or wind impeded me. Larger branches were down here and there, and on the radio the newsmen were saying, wind gusts are strong enough to blow your car off the road, stay home if you can! It never got worse than a bad thunderstorm, not as bad as some, on the whole drive over, but the knowledge of the possible kept my heart beating fast.

The wind whipped frantically and the rain was nearly horizontal when I got to my brother's house. The blasts of wind pushed me inside, with all my boxes. They still had electricity. The children were eating breakfast and Alan and Traci were finishing preparations. I called my mom to tell her I was okay, and the lights flickered. In less than 15 minutes, they went out for good. But the phone still works.

Since about 10:30, it's just been a waiting game, with scary but not terrifying winds bringing down limbs and rains creating ever deeper puddles in the field beside the house. Inside we've played games, read, crocheted, just hung out. And now, just short of 5 p.m., they're saying the worst of it is likely over, although it still looks very brisk outside to me. I can't see serious damage from here. I have taken a couple of photos, which I will post later - one of the things I forgot in my rush was the cord to download my camera files into my computer.

I'm safe. We're all safe. And Lord willing, we'll stay that way. Prayers go out to the people more seriously affected, most especially in the Mobile area. I don't know if I'll post again tonight, maybe. Not much to say - how interesting is "I'm crocheting again"? - and my computer only has a 3-hour battery. But thank you very much for your concern. I appreciate it. Stay safe yourselves, wherever you are.

1:59 a.m. CST: - It's late, and I'm finding it difficult to go to bed. Ivan hit Mobile at 1:19 a.m., and it's pounding the town. The morning crew just took over on NBC 13 news, which has been All Ivan, All the Time, since yesterday morning. That's been a good thing, mostly, I just hope they play the Law & Order season opener sometime when I actually have functioning cable - that's assuming the storm will take it out.

My car is behind my house. I have three gallons of purchased drinking water, two half-gallon pitchers filled, one one-gallon pitcher, a one-gallon cooler and my huge stew pot, all filled with water. I put three ziploc bags full of water into the freezer to use if the electricity goes off. You know that not everyone will lose their electricity. I'm hoping I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm planning not to be.

I've put the flashlight beside my bed, and broke out the red IKEA candles, a 20-pack. Should last a while, and then I'll start on the 150 tealights. Some of them smell very nice; I'll space those out. Two candles with matches will be beside my bed tonight, with the flashlight. The 9-volt battery is in my clock radio.

I'm feeling apprehensive, not terrified or scared, not "I can't sleep" edgy. But it does seem odd that I'm worried about serious harm in my house when this area is where thousands from Mobile and other points south have come for safety. It also seems odd that I'm being told to stay close to my "place of safety" because of the "tornadic activity" expected tomorrow, yet the Wal-Marts in the area are planning to remain open 24/7.

Tonight at church one of the ladies told me that a friend of hers is a police chief in one of the towns along the Gulf Shore. She told this about the town: They tried to evacuate the whole town because they thought the town had an Ivan bull's eye on it. Several families, fewer than a dozen, decided to wait it out. The police went to each family and collected the names of everyone in each, along with their social security numbers, next of kin and telephone numbers for the kin. The message was clear. You won't leave, so we're preparing in case you die.

The meteorologist just showed the map where the eye of Ivan is passing right now. Prominent in the middle of it was the name of this town.

I wonder if the police there will need any of the next of kin phone numbers.

I'm sticking too, but not in such dangerous circumstances. And I'm ready. I have 6 AA batteries for my cassette player so I can listen to audio books if the cable goes. I have 8 D batteries for my flashlight if the electricity goes out. I have 4 C batteries for my little boom box, in case I feel an overwhelming need to hear Celine Dion shout down the wind. I have an image in my mind of a wild wind outside, a dark warmth inside, soft candle glow, a plate of homemade bread spread with homemade pear butter, a glass of water, straining my eyes over some needlework project. Or taking notes about a policing survey. Or maybe talking to my family on the cell phone.

Or maybe curled up on pillows in the bathtub, trying to nap so the time will go faster as a tornado siren sounds shrilly from the firehouse down the street.

It's a new day. I hope I'm still writing to you this time in the next day.

Good night.

Posted by susanna at 02:18 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

September 15, 2004

Ivan in Alabama: Mini-blog on the hurricane

This thread is continued on the next post up.

10 p.m. CT: Back from church. We had a brief period of prayer and singing directed toward asking for God's mercy in the storm and affirming our reliance on Him. It made me feel better, more peaceful; although I am increasingly edgy about the storm as it gets closer, I'm not panicking.

I heard that there are fewer than 500 Alabama Power linemen, and that in a storm of the magnitude of an Ivan they need about 5,000 to take care of the problems. Florida still has about 40,000 people without power after their one-two punch, so they've taken up the available help from other parts of the country (the same situation as the generators mentioned earlier). They're saying that if your electricity goes out, expect at least three days and up to three weeks before you get it back.

No one at church, many of whom grew up here, remember a storm like this coming through. They're apprehensive too, but no one seems panicked and no one is leaving their home. And the only place I saw with plywood over it was someone's fancy glass front door. They didn't even have their other windows covered, just that front door panel. Of course, I wasn't downtown after about 1 p.m. today, so I don't know if more has gone up.

The wind has picked up, tossing leaves lightly across the road but no branches. On the drive home from church, I turned off the radio and listened to the sounds around me. The crickets were chirping busily, and the leaves rustling, but there was no wind whistle or that puff it makes as it tries to push around a car. We're still far from the real storm, no rain yet. I saw very few cars, less than half of what I usually see, and the streets in Columbiana are very quiet. On my street I passed only one car, and it was a police patrol car.

My house faces east, slightly southeast, and since we're east of the center winds will be coming at my house heading northwest - blowing into the face. I parked my car behind the house, tucked lengthwise under the eaves. A shed that bumps out from the back wall of the duplex forms an L there, which I hope will break up any major gusts and will also deflect any big branches careening about.

Thirty-six hours. We're going to be dealing with significant winds for 36 hours, and probably at least 6 to 8 hours of sustained winds at 70 mph.

What does 70 mph look like from the front window of a house?

I guess I'll find out.

6 p.m. CT: Instapundit links to several bloggers who are Ivanblogging.

5:54 p.m. CT: I just put my outside garbage can and outside chair into my shed. I'm going to park my car up against the back of the house when I get home from church tonight. Parallel parked, passenger side against the house. I'll enjoy that. Here's hoping I don't make a new back door to the house.

5:15 p.m. CT: Wow! NBC 13 just showed video taken within the past hour of a tornado on the ground in West Panama City, FL. Very clearly a funnel cloud, initially some distance away and you could see what they first identified as transformers blowing and then as probably lightning. Suddenly the picture changed and it was a narrow view of a tornado passing directly by their station.

Is there still time to drive to Kentucky?

UPDATE: 5:57 p.m. - Robin at beyond salvage reports that two people died in a tornado in Panama City. Could it have been the one we saw in the video? [Link via Instapundit]

5 p.m. CT: Gov. Riley is holding a press conference now, and just said, "This is the strongest hurricane we've ever seen hit the panhandle."

The director of FEMA Michael Brown is speaking now. He's reiterating that everyone needs to collect what they'll need for "3-5 days" without electricity.

"It's going to be rough. I'm telling you I know from experience, it's going to be rough," he said.

He's saying Riley and his team prepared "just right", and that they'll "be in Alabama a while".

Laura Howe, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, says there are already 11,000 people in shelter now. She's encouraging people in mobile homes to get to shelters.

Riley again. "Looking at landfall between 1 and 3 o'clock [a.m., Thursday]." The damage will begin to occur in the dark, he said.

They're taking questions now. There's a "critical shortage of generators". Brown is talking about urban search and rescue teams - bringing in two of 80 people each, so sounds like they're expecting substantial damage.

4 p.m. CT: Latest report from NBC 13 - the storm may be strengthening. In this area, we'll be hit in the wee hours of tomorrow and then last throughout the day.

There's a list of Alabama weblogs on, if you'd like to see what anyone else is saying. I'll run through some and report back if anyone else is Ivanblogging.

UPDATE: Found some blogs who talked about Ivan. Doesn't look like all (or most) of them will be posting continuously about it, though.

Our most favorite Alabama blogger - except, of course, for my brother , who is not Ivanblogging- is nattering on about Ivan, just as you'd expect. Not the kind of vacation you'd choose, is it, Terry??

Southern Blog has links to a bunch of storm-focused webcams.

Looks like Beth and family are staying in Mobile.

I think the Bull is connected to Beth. He's worried a bit about staying, and says the electricity is already flickering in Mobile.

Here's some blogging from a local talk radio personality in Mobile. I know nothing about them, but he's Ivanblogging so that's good enough for me.

A newlywed couple flee Ivan and land in Anniston.

Jennifer says "bring it on, Ivan!" but hasn't posted since yesterday. Ominous? You decide.

Cyberxero is putting all his computer goodies away because, well, "Mobile Alabama is gonna get hit hard". But he left some good posts, and promises pictures and audioblogs after.

Kelli reports from Mobile; they're battening down the hatches too. Lots of people are staying, apparently, despite the Governor's encouragement to leave.

Danielle worries about looters (and Republicans, but apparently they're not as imminently problematic).

Dixie is woofing about Ivan from somewhere in Alabama.

Okay, that's all I can do right now. I'm baking bread. I'll post more later.

1 p.m. CT: Jerry Tracey, the head meteorologist at NBC 13 news in B'ham, is predicting potentially "historic" flooding in the southeastern TN - north Georgia - northeastern Alabama area if Ivan stalls for 48 hours over Chattanooga, which is what the models are forecasting right now.

He also says where I am, Shelby County, will have sustained winds over 70 mph for a time tomorrow.

NBC 13 has a lot more here. A reporter just talked to an official in Baldwin County, which is adjacent to Mobile and also has a Gulf shoreline. The official said there are no shelters set up in the county, because they are sending everyone north. They're not even considering sheltering people in Baldwin County.

Important information from the state government will be posted on their Emergency Management Agency site.

12:25 p.m. CT: I went back to Winn Dixie for that shot I told you about, which involved an empty drinking water shelf. But a stockboy was reloading them with six packs and cases of pint bottles, and one 6' section had three shelves filled with gallon jugs. He said a truck had arrived about an hour before (after my last trip), and they didn't even get into the store with the water before people began taking it. What I saw - not enough to fill all the empty shelves in the water section - was the remainder of that big shipment he said. Less than an hour.

And just in case their customers didn't know:

Drinking water with map.jpg

That's a map of the hurricane printed off the NOAA site (an earlier version), showing central Alabama directly in the path of Ivan.

Now that's marketing.

11:43 a.m. CT: I-65 is closed to southbound traffic south of Montgomery. All lanes between Mobile and Montgomery are northbound lanes.

11:30 a.m. CT: Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is holding a press conference right now, and said that President Bush called him today to assure him the US govt will do all they can to help with whatever happens.

Riley says we'll have "a rough couple of days". He's going to submit a request for designation of a "major disaster area" from the feds today.

Bruce Baughman, the director of the EMA, says there'll be major structure damage. The system is set up to respond as soon as the storm is passed. He said the generators had been used up in Florida so they're "scouring the country" to get whatever they can find. They have three federal disaster medical teams ready. They've got 80 shelters open and will open up to 90 shelters if necessary. Hotels and motels are full all the way to Nashville. The most serious concern is for the people on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. For people looking to find a hotel room inland, call 1-800-Alabama, for the Dept. of Tourism, which is trying to keep track of what's available.

By the way, the Mayor of B'ham said that city offices will be closed as of the end of business day today, and not open again until Monday except for essential services. My school - Central Alabama Community College - closed today as of noon.

Riley said to the people on the Gulf Coast, "Get out today. Just go, and drive to Montgomery or B'ham, we'll find a place to make you comfortable for a couple of days." The hurricane warning goes up almost to Bibb County, and tropical storm warning into Birmingham. There will be major outages all over the state, he said, and the hardest hit areas will be in the most populated areas, which are to the east of the path of the eye.

11 a.m. CT: I'm sitting right in the middle of Alabama, where Hurricane Ivan is forecast to pass through from mid-morning tomorrow through Friday evening. I'm going to blog about what's going on here, in a reverse blog format, in this post and I will keep moving it to the top. As I add new things, the older things will go into the "more" section.

I started getting ready yesterday, getting a few groceries like vacuum-packed tunafish and crackers. By 8 p.m. yesterday, the grocery in Childersburg was out of all gallon jugs of water, and had not much individually bottled. Milk was nearly gone, as was bread.

This morning I went out to get a 9-volt battery for my clock radio, in case electricity goes out, and also to get a tarp and duct tape in case my huge front window breaks. I'm not so concerned about the others. I asked the man at the hardware store if they'd been swamped. He said yes, people had nearly cleaned them out of batteries and generators, and a lot of plywood went out the door too. It was quiet when I was there, but he said it had been horrible this morning.

I drove across the street to the Winn Dixie to get some ice, a cooler and few other things. I didn't go through the whole store, so I didn't see if they were out of bread and other staples. But they were completely out of water. A great photo op there, which I'm going to go back to get in a while. I should have taken my camera.

I asked the checker if they had been overwhelmed. She said it had been hectic. They'd gotten a shipment of batteries in last night at 7 p.m., and by 8:30 all the D batteries were gone - 240 packages of them. The checker said she was the one who brought in the batteries on a flat, and she was afraid she'd get hurt as people crowded to grab the batteries as soon as she opened the boxes. They had about 20 packages of C batteries left as of this morning. People were going out with full carts as the store employees hauled in all the display items from outside - coolers, patio furniture, grills. As I headed to my car, a woman in an SUV leaned out her window to ask me if they were out of milk. I didn't know - I bought mine last night in Childersburg.

Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, just held a press conference saying that the forecast says this area will be very hard hit. They estimate sustained winds of up to 50 miles an hour, gusts up to 70 miles an hour, and gusts topping 90 miles an hour at the treetops - important because that can break of branches to go blowing around. They are urging everyone in mobile homes or flood plains to get out today, and everyone to make preparations today - tomorrow will be too late. One major concern is that the hurricane, which should be a tropical storm by the time it gets to Central Alabama, will spawn sudden tornados that will flash down and then back into the storm, "a lot of time without warning", the NBC 13 meteorologist just said. They're expecting 6-12 inches of rain, with potential for flash flooding.

They even have a shelter set up for pets of people who can't take them along on evacuation. I thought that was excellent planning, because some people will risk their lives rather than abandon their pets to the elements or leave them behind alone for days.

The EMA executive (I came in late so I didn't get her name) said not to buy meat unless you could grill it, and that inside - you wouldn't be able to grill outside in the rain, she said. [I would recommend the vacuum-packed foil packets of tuna.]

Rain is sprinkling here, and it's quite cloudy. No wind.

More when I have more to report.

Posted by susanna at 11:19 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Strong words: Rather must be fired now

Beldar has impressed me as a crusty (his word) but careful and highly intelligent man. Not surprising, given his excellent career as an attorney - which also would make him quite measured in what he says on his blog. That makes this post calling for Rather's immediate firing - not resignation, firing - all the more powerful:

Dan Rather was complicit in defrauding the American public in an attempt to defeat a sitting President. Rather must be fired now. Congress should subpoena CBS News' lawyers and all documentation of their advice...

Dan Rather and everyone else at CBS News who had direct managerial authority over, and supervisory involvement in, the production of last Wednesday night's "60 Minutes II" broadcast about the Killian memos must be fired. Not retired. Not pensioned off. Not allowed to resign. Not given 30 days' or even three days' notice.

They must be fired — instantly, effective immediately, "for cause" and "with prejudice," forfeiting all unvested future benefits from their employment. They should be escorted by security personnel from the building, with their belongings sent to them in due course after they've been screened for relevant evidence. All of their computers, files, and other items of potential evidentiary value must be segregated immediately and secured under lock and key with a tight and explicit chain of custody. There must be no spoliation of evidence permitted.

This must be done publicly — before the close of business on Wednesday, September 15, 2004, and preferably before noon...

If Dan Rather is still an employee of CBS News by next Monday, then the appropriate committees of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate should convene public joint investigative hearings immediately, with Dan Rather as their second subpoenaed witness.

As they say, read the whole thing. Really. There's no snark, it's serious.

In other news, CBS News has apparently announced that they will be making some comment on Rathergate at noon today, one assumes Eastern time. That conjunction is just a bit harrowing...

UPDATE: And looks like it's even worse than we thought - CBS is embroiled in another at very least vast overstatement that could have had an negative impact on the war in Iraq.

Posted by susanna at 09:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gotta hate it...

...when your yacht crushes your luxury car.

I'm not being flippant about the destruction on the Caymans - it's terrible. But that particular imagery just caught me as funny.

Maybe it's gallows humor as I feel Ivan bearing down on me.

Posted by susanna at 09:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's my mom!

My parents are both very interested in current events, and my mom gets especially riled. She loves to watch Bill O'Riley, and the Capital Gang, and others - she won't take calls sometimes while watching them. They're loving Rathergate, although they don't get online much so what they know is from television or from me and my siblings. I was updating them both this morning, and the conversation turned to who could have done the forgeries. My mom said:

I hope they track it back to Terry McAuliffe and kick his butt all the way to France!

I love my mom.

Posted by susanna at 09:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Be careful what you lift

Apparently an eBayer lifted the graphic from another site to use on his own eBay auction, actually linking to the server of the site he was pirating. The misused site is Carlo Franco, which I have linked at right. The eBayer, who has no connection to Carlo Franco, merely lifted the code and put it in his auction. That means he doesn't control the graphic. So the owner of Carlo Franco changed the original graphic to include a message to the eBayer who lifted the graphic.

Carlo Franco's eBay name is Sartorial Solutions; the additions to the graphic are in blue - the comment about a "thief" and the copyright information on the jacket graphic.

Go, Carlo Franco, go!

UPDATE: Thanks, Ellen! I hadn't checked it lately. Apparently Carlo Franco straightened out the guy. Notice that there is a copyright notation on the graphic about the inside construction of the jacket, and the comment in red below saying it's a "little graphic" he found on the web. It's a response to the earlier thing I linked.

I really need to learn how to do screen shots.

Posted by susanna at 09:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"'s possible, in the sense of 'does not violate laws of physics' "

Who knew a liberal could write a laugh-out-loud and still technically devastating discussion of Rathergate? But Evan Kirchhoff does in this exasperated and very funny piece, with a little more to say here.

For a discussion of identifying fakes from an art historian's perspective, check out this post by David at Cronaca. One of several key points (actually in this case made by a commenter and pulled into the main post by David):

...[W]hile one must examine an item in person before declaring it genuine, the same standard does not apply when recognizing a fake. When something is there that doesn't belong, it is as apparent in a photo as in one's hands.

Now, excuse me while I go deal with the violent nausea from just having turned on the Today show to see Kitty Kelly consoling Matt Lauer about having been accused of conservative bias by emailers, and assuring him that he's not biased. Kind of like an Elvis impersonator assuring Paris Hilton that she's classy.

[Link via Chris Lawrence at Signifying Nothing, who got it from Colby Cosh, where I found the link to David. And it's not even 8 a.m. yet. ]

Posted by susanna at 07:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2004

"Deeply personal"

The Prowler says Dan Rather and associates now think the whole forged documents thing was "engineered" by the Bushies, and they're out for blood:

It is now open warfare within the halls of CBS News in New York, as the network's uberanchor, Dan Rather, attempts to salvage some modicum of respect in the wake of a growing forged documents scandal.

According to a CBS News producer operating out of the network's 57th Street facilities, Rather and his supporters now believe the controversy surrounding the four discredited Texas National Guard memos has been engineered by the Bush campaign.

"All you have to see to understand this is the report that John Roberts did on Bush's appearance at the National Guard convention Tuesday," says a CBS News producer. "Rather's guys are now going after the president of the United States in a way probably no news organization has ever done before. This is now deeply personal to them."

You like to see confirmation of the objectivity, journalistic integrity and tough-but-fair approach for which CBS is widely known.

I'm wondering where the "now" came from. This is something new? Apparently so - at least, new in the sense that it's so bad even other liberal journalists can see it.

As for the Republicans engineering it... please! Doesn't CBS realize how thoroughly pathetic and childish that makes them sound? First, it's very clear that the documents wouldn't pass serious scrutiny at any time, so even if the Republicans did engineer it, I don't think even they would have assumed CBS would actually take them seriously! They would have credited CBS with more intelligence, which would have obviously been a flagrant error. Second, if the Republicans were to have engineered this, they would have done a much better job of it. Finally, and actually most importantly, despite the efforts of the MSM to convey the opposite impression, I don't think the Republicans play that dirty (at least in that arena).

Given all the kinds of mistakes in the documents, I like this Galley Slave commenter's suggestion for who actually produced the documents:

rant wraith said... I vote for number 2 - the Stupid Criminal Theory. Look for a low level Dem hack in his 20s. Someone passionately anti-Bush (that narrows it down). Someone familiar with the details of the NG scandal and frustrated by the lack of evidence documenting what he already "knows" to be true. Someone without any experience with typewriters or the military. He reads anti-Bush websites to get his info (hense the use of the wrong acronyms).

He's experienced or connected enough to get the forgeries to the MSM but not enough to really be involved in the campaign or the party (or at best on the margins). He feels excluded and powerless, overlooked and unappreciated, as if the Kerry campaign would be winning if only they listened to him. I bet he mentioned this idea to other, perhaps more responsible, individuals who dismissed it. Some Dem right now has a strong suspicion who the forger is. Once the weakest link snaps, people will be tripping over themselves to tell the story.

That sounds right to me on several levels, for just the reasons he said. I think the documents were done by one person, because multiple people involved would likely have meant fewer errors. I think it is, as the commenter just above that said, "somebody young enough to never have used a typewriter." Someone who had used one for any appreciable time would think to look at the differences in the typeface. I think someone older and/or more sophisticated would have just gone out and gotten a typewriter from that era to use - here's one online from the early 1970s, on sale reconditioned for $325. How hard would it have been to research what was available in an office then, and go out and get one? I'm sure there are still hundreds or even thousands still out there, if I was able to find one online in less than a minute of searching. (The other option here, of course, is that whoever did the forgery is so out of touch that (s)he never actually typed anything but had someone do it - someone like, say, a Dan Rather who's always been top dog.)

So I'm coming down on the side of rabid-leftist geeky on-the-fringe-of-the-important-people guy (I think it was a guy, yes) in his late 20s, who maybe has a dad or an uncle or someone who was in the military, possibly in Texas, who wanted to see Bush go down. He handed it off to someone who wanted to believe, who then handed it off to Rather who wanted to believe. Without the ones so desperately wanting to believe, this would not have gotten legs. And if it hadn't gotten legs, no one would have been able to cut them off at the knees.

I will of course issue an abject recantation if the person who did the forgery turns out to be a highly-functioning female Dem in her 50s who's in the inner circle. (And no, I'm not saying it was Hillary! Although now that I mention it...)

Posted by susanna at 11:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

An excellent aggregation of electoral college polls

Ed Fitzgerald at Unfutz is continuing his aggregation of online polls showing predictions about how many electoral college votes Bush and Kerry would get if the election were held now. It's very interesting, and more encouraging for the Republicans than Democrats right now. If you're a numbers geek, check it out. It even has charts!

Kudos to Ed for doing this; it has to be a lot of work. And while his link list indicates a leftward leaning (I confess I've not dug very deeply in his blog to assess by other means), his aggregation draws from a broad spectrum of sources and seems quite fairly done to me. I'll keep linking each week as long as he keeps updating!

Posted by susanna at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


James Pinkerton at Newsday gets it right:

if the bloggers have power, it's because they form a robust intellectual marketplace, in which assertions must prove themselves before a jury of cyber-peers. In the words of James T. Smith, of, "The blogosphere is the people." To be sure, the marketplace can make mistakes, but on the whole, like democracy itself, the more folks participating, the better the functioning.

But this democratization of the media is bad news - for those who liked it the old way, the top-down way.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

[Yes, I ripped off Instapundit for the last lines there.]

Posted by susanna at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The latest on Rathergate

Instapundit has a roundup of links, including a devastating piece from the Washington Post that lays out the case for forgery.

Meanwhile, the New York Times continues to carry water for the CBS bench:

While Mr. Rather's initial "60 Minutes" report was considered a journalistic coup, coming in the peak of an election year and in the twilight of Mr. Rather's career, the network has found itself under unrelenting pressure from within and without to prove that the documents were genuine amid charges that they could only have been produced by modern-day word processors.

The controversy over the documents has been propelled by a volatile mix of fierce election-year rancor, daily disclosures pointing to potential weaknesses in CBS's report and the network's steadfast refusal to explain how it got the documents...

Andrew Heyward, the CBS News president, said in an interview on Sunday that he was not concerned about the validity of the documents or the report CBS News presented. "I'm firmly convinced that the memos are authentic and the stories are accurate," he said.

While the NY Times piece does discuss the tension at CBS over the memos, even the doubts swirling around, it never quotes any of the highly credible experts who state the memos are forgeries, they never go into the details of why the experts think that, and they never discuss other suspicious aspects of the memos, such as improperly used military notations. Instead, they give CBS's experts a space to make their case again, even allowing one to hint darkly that he thinks the ones against CBS are dangerous:

Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and I.B.M. typewriter specialist...said he was initially leery of talking. "Because quite honestly there's some people out there, they're scary," he said. "You don't agree with them, you offer opinions that don't jibe with theirs and you get a target on your back."

"Initially" leery, yet he put himself out there by commenting on blogs? That's where CBS found him. That's shows real, abject fear. Pathetic.

It's actually an amazing article, and tells you as much about the NY Times - more - than it does about Rathergate (although I enjoyed the line about Rather being in the "twilight" of his career). It's obvious that the NY Times isn't very interested in investigating this on their own, unlike WaPo. I must say that I am increasingly impressed by Howard Kurtz at WaPo, even though I don't always agree with him. I think he's an internally honest man, and a real journalist.

Too bad I can't say either about Rather.

UPDATE II: In this excellent piece on "The End of Network News", James at Outside the Beltway speaks for most of us:

With the Internet providing more news content than I can possibly read, I lack the patience to have Tom Brokaw read me the parts he thinks worthwhile.

That's precisely how I feel. I rarely watch evening news programs (including Fox), except for the local broadcasts. I get more, and can triangulate my sources, more quickly over the Internet. In the 30 minutes the networks try to hold my attention, I can find about about four times as many stories as they mention, and without their peculiar little take on it.

And while I'm railing about the news, I want to skid slightly off topic for a moment. Yesterday I saw the bloodied body of a dead Iraqi baby on CBS News, shown during their coverage of a bombing by US military there. I also saw the death of a news reporter who died in one of the bombings. I was thoroughly appalled. I didn't want to see either, but I find no excuse for showing those kinds of things when the network news nearly universally refuses to show footage of what has happened to Americans there - or even still show footage of Americans falling those interminable seconds down the sides of the Twin Towers. It will "incite". What do they think the dead baby and the dying journalist do? Make me remember I wanted to make Hamburger Helper for dinner tonight? They're insane! But so wrapped up in their own brains that logic can't break through. And fairness isn't even on the menu.

Posted by susanna at 09:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's HEEEErrrreeeeee!!!

Finally, you too can own Scrappleface! (Or at least the product of his amazing brain.)


It's also available at Amazon, but I recommend you go the MacMenamin Press route, because that brings our beloved bloggish Ott more dough for the kiddies! Instructions on linking are here.

Think "Christmas gift" or "birthday gift". Think "something to ease a lib into seeing things my way". Think "a great way to remember an amazing two years". Or, think "hey! this would be great in the bathroom magazine rack..."

If this sounds like flagrant book-selling, um, that's exactly what it is. I know, I Ott to be funnier. But you knew you wouldn't get off Scott-free.

Posted by susanna at 07:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another kind of choice - and I'm all for it


More later.

UPDATE: It's later. Not enough later, but...

The problem this article highlights is the degrading of intent as a necessary part of deciding whether someone should be charged with a crime. It's such a good discussion of it that I've printed it out to distribute to my criminal justice students.

The foundation of our court system is intent - how much rational choice was involved in your decision to do something wrong? It sometimes feels abstract when you see the effects of what someone has done and realize that he won't suffer as much as you think he should because he didn't mean to cause that harm. And in some street-crime areas, we've taken some actions as intent even when the action never resulted in the potential harm: For example, we have laws that increase the sentence if you're found guilty of carrying a gun during a crime, even if you never used the gun or showed any intent of using it. The law is explicitly to discourage carrying guns during criminal activity because of the risk for escalation to deadly force. It doesn't matter why you had it. While I understand the reason for the law, it does bother me somewhat because of its erosion of intent. However, the argument can be (and is) made that by carrying the gun you were anticipating the need for escalation, so there is implicit intent.

To get a good idea of intent - this is the example I give in class - consider Larry Mahoney. An habitual drinker with several DUI convictions on his record, Mahoney was driving home at night with a blood alcohol more than three times over the legal limit when he took the ramp onto Interstate 71 between Cincinnati and Louisville. He was going the wrong way. Within a few minutes, he crashed headon into an old school bus bringing children from a Louisville-area church home from a day at Kings Island, an amusement park near Cincinnati. Because of the crash, the gas tank of the bus caught fire. The children inside had difficulty getting out, and 27 people died, 24 of them children.

Initially the local prosecutor wanted to charge Mahoney with capital murder - after all, he was directly responsible for the deaths of 27 people. However, the intent to kill so catastrophically wasn't there. The standard charge for a drunk driver who causes a fatality is manslaughter. And that's what Mahoney was charged with; he was convicted, given 16 years, and was released after 9 1/2 in 1999.

What the article linked at the top of this post is concerned about is that people who commit white collar crimes will be charged at a level way beyond what their intent should allow - essentially equivalent to charging Mahoney with capital murder and giving him life. The actual harm resulting from their behavior may feel like it warrants the heavy guns, but if our system is to remain coherent in any philosophical way, you can't do that. You have to judge based on what the person meant to do, not on what the result was.

And that's why, in this instance, I'm behind choice 100% - that is, that we let the degree to which the crime was a rational choice be the guide for the level of charge against the offender. Even when it just hurts to see that happen. I encourage each of you to think about this, and to make that point to people you talk to whenever the subject of crime comes up. In the final analysis, the people drive the laws, and if the average person doesn't understand intent as the cornerstone of our system, it's a very bad thing and will lead to very bad law or practice of law.

Posted by susanna at 12:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 13, 2004

Activists attack church-going granny

Theosebes has the scoop.

Posted by susanna at 12:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More bad timing...

...or is it heavenly juxtapositioning?

Today John Kerry is announcing what he's going to do for crime prevention. Here's the quote:

Unveiling the Kerry-Edwards crime prevention plan, Kerry pledged to move the country in a new direction and keep America’s families safe from crime, which has increased under Bush.

There's only one problem - crime is down overall:

The rate of property crime and violent crime other than homicides remained at a 30-year low in 2003, the Justice Department said Sunday.

Let's see that graphically:

Violent Crime Rates chart 1973-2003.jpg

Wait, there's more:

And the percentage of violent incidents involving a firearm also declined, to 7 percent last year from 11 percent in 1993.

A careful reading of the Kerry press release seems to indicate a realization that only some specific areas of crime are showing an increase - specifically homicide, which the Kerry press release says increased by 800. It's not included in this survey, but according to the NY Times citing the Justice Department:

Statistics on the homicide rate are gathered more slowly, but they appear to be following a similar trend. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 2002, there were 16,200 homicides, up 1 percent from 2001, the Justice Department said.

I'm not quite sure where the 800 homicide increase statistic is coming from, since this indicates a 1 percent - or 162 incidences - increase from 2001 to 2002. Perhaps from UCR? That does indicate an increase between 2002 and 2003 of +1.3, although it doesn't give numbers of incidents, so I can't figure out how many murders that actually reflects. So there is some truth to the Kerry information, although it's cleverly styled to create a worse impression than the statistics warrant. Engaging in "politics of fear" perhaps?

Actually, research on crime shows trending that I've seen associated with economics as well: sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down, and we don't quite know why. Some programs do help things go in the right direction, but we don't always know why that is either. We keep trying, but it's an inexact science. As a criminal justice type, I'm inclined to keep and increase federal funding for law enforcement, and as a limited government type I also think it's one of the more legitimate areas for federal involvement (although perhaps not to the degree the feds are in it now). But I think Bush is doing fine there.

It's obvious that Kerry is heavily supported by both police unions, who of course want more police officers, and by the COPS office, which would not be happy with being cut down or out. The issue isn't really that Bush is giving less money to law enforcement; what's happening is that funds that used to go into programs like COPS are now switching into a homeland security funding stream. COPS stands for Community Oriented Policing Services, and it's dedicated to pushing the concept of community policing in law enforcement throughout the nation. I wrote grant proposals to get money from COPS programs, and they all had to emphasize how the department requesting funds would advance community policing principles with the money. Such requirements are one of the ways the federal government micromanages local governments with taxpayer dollars. So the issue isn't less money for cops, but a different focus in how the money is allocated. And some people don't like it. Is the new way better? I can't say, I've not researched it. But I think if you included the Homeland Security budget pertaining to local agencies when you look at Bush administration funding of law enforcement, I think you'd find a comparable or increased level to previous years. I'll see if I can find the data on it.

As for the data quoted in the NY Times, it's from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is one of the two main sources for information on crime in the US. The other is the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, or UCR (mentioned above), which is a compilation of crime data collected from all police departments in the US. I just spent a whole class period discussing these data sets with my criminal justice students. Both databases are subject to some problems, but of the two the Nat'l Crime Victimization Survey is the one least subject to official tampering (not that the other one is highly subject to it, but it removes an argument the Kerry types could use). If you want to know about the methodology, read it here.

Of interest is the part on the redesign of the survey, which was used for the first time for stats published in 1993. Here's what the official website says about it:

Victims are now reporting more types of crime incidents to the survey's interviewers. Previously undetected victimizations are being captured. For example, the survey changes have substantially increased the number of rapes and aggravated and simple assaults reported to interviewers. For the first time, other victimizations, such as non-rape sexual assault and unwanted or coerced sexual contact that involves a threat or attempt to harm, are also being measured.

So even though more crimes are being reported in terms of types of crime, even though the survey instrument is more sensitive to traditionally under-reported crime and survey interviewers are trained to elicit more information from those interviewed, crime is still down, the lowest in 30 years.

Posted by susanna at 10:37 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

CBS Hoax Update: These guys are great

As many of you likely have, I've been closely following the disintegration of CBS's dcouments story over the weekend. Having no expertise in any of the areas, nor the early entry into the story that others have, I am merely a conduit of links to other locations. That has proven great fun in itself.

For the definitive discussion of why the fonts, spacing and pseudo-kerning prove the docs are false, you must read this by Dr. Joseph M. Newcomer, one of the early pioneers in computer font software. My favorite part:

The forgery is obvious to anyone who knows the history and technology of digital typesetting, not to mention to any intelligent 12-year-old who has access to Microsoft Word.

Hugh Hewitt has as well cornered an expert with lovely things to say - so don't miss this post either, by former Apple Computer software engineer Paul Snively, in Email 3 on that post.

And Beldar, bless him, has answered the question about "who are these pajama-clad blogger bloviators, anyway?" raised by the NY Times journalist who has far fewer credentials himself, most likely. A formidable lot we have in this blogosphere. I think I'll just sit here quietly and stick to my own expertise, such as it is.

It's a beautiful day to be a part of this great cloud of witnesses.

For links to all the articles in today's media, I direct you to Instapundit and Powerline blog, where I got most of these links.

UPDATE: I must admit that I am very much enjoying reading the detailed discussions of fonts and kerning and such minutiae. I suppose I am a geek after all.

Posted by susanna at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2004

Has CBS sold its credibility?

Hindrocket at Powerline Blog, one of the ones in the forefront of the Killian memos investigation, thinks even if CBS is able to weather the storm over the memos in the eyes of the general public, they will have lost their credibility in the eyes of their peers and news junkies:

I don't know how the forged document scandal will ultimately play out. I don't know whether CBS will be forced to acknowledge that the documents are fakes, or whether Dan Rather will resign in disgrace. But I do know this: everyone who cares already knows that the "Killian memos" are low-quality forgeries...

...[W]ithin the news business, and inside the relatively small slice of the American population where sophisticated consumers of the news dwell, everyone knows, already, that Dan Rather and CBS News tried to influence the November election by telling lies and publishing forged documents. CBS has been disgraced among its peers.

...We never thought that a vast, powerful broadcast network would destroy its own reputation for political gain. Now we know that it can happen.

I'm not sure I completely agree. While the flagrance of the support for the forgeries is startling, the idea that CBS and Rather specifically are highly partisan and inclined to actively help Kerry is not a new one. And I think that CBS and Rather did not really think they were forgeries before they went on the air with them - they were concerned they might be, but wanted so badly for them not to be that they didn't give them the scrutiny they would documents that alleged things they didn't want to believe. They did do a few checks, enough for pre-Internet days, and enough to piece together a defense as long as no one pokes at it very much. The question is, will online fact-checkers be able to sustain the noise long enough to keep the story alive in major media until CBS actually backs down?

The problem isn't so much that major media aren't covering it at all, because they are albeit at a low level. But there's some professional courtesy there, and more than a touch of "there but for the grace of God go I", that holds them back until the transgression is "definitive", using Rather's word. I've not seen aggressive reporting on this from the mainstream media, even Fox News. Part of the problem is precisely that the content of the memos is no longer the story, despite CBS's efforts to continue to insert them into the coverage stream. The story is now CBS itself, and its behavior. The mainstream media would rather it just go away. (And I personally think that's in part, as I said above, because most if not all of them have done a few dodgy things themselves over time.)

CBS hasn't lost much that it had, because among those in the know they weren't very highly respected anyway. And unless the MSM get on the story more heavily, it won't cycle down into the average citizen's consciousness. Glenn Reynolds thinks that's happening; I hope he's correct. Because the story as Hindrocket identifies it - that CBS sold its birthright of respect for the pottage of political influence in one election - is important, more important than what happened or didn't happen 30-35 years ago (and I'm including Kerry's actions then too*). I hope the blogosphere does what it's done so well in the last three years - discover and write about important issues until they reach Average Citizen. I suspect it's an uphill battle because the MSM doesn't want to savage its own.**

UPDATE: The LA Times has an article on the controversy today, which The Big Trunk deconstructs first, and then Hindrocket does as well. I may add some comments when I've had a chance to read it. Right now I need to get ready for church.

UPDATE: Here's someone who says, please, folks! There were proportional fonts and superscripts on typewriters in the early 1970s! So go see for yourself what he says.

[Link via Galley Slaves]

* I personally think Bush would win even more handily if we declared a moratorium on discussion of anything that happened before 1984; a 20-year time frame. Kerry is thoroughly unimpressive and rampantly liberal in his career in politics.

** NY Times notwithstanding. Notice that coverage of the Jayson Blair problem was not generally connected to a widespread problem with honesty and journalistic integrity at the NYT, but rather seen as a localized cancer that could and was excised, albeit with some healing time necessary for the larger organism. No sense that the mindset had metastisized throughout the organism, and that's because the mindset has already eaten up a lot of other media organizations too. The mindset being a generally liberal approach to news coverage that includes lifting up minorities despite obvious failures.

And I'd better leave that metaphor before it gets too messy.

Posted by susanna at 08:38 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 11, 2004

"...[I]t has been my greatest honour as a man to protect your freedoms"

Remember 9/11


But also remember that we have Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for democracy, fighting so we don't have another day like that one. I had my plans for today's post, but then received an email from a father whose son is in Iraq right now as an Army captain. He asked that I not use their names or identifying information, only because they're not seeking the attention for themselves. Here is the text of an email his son sent to family and friends today, 9/11/04:

It has been September 11th in Iraq for thirteen hours now and there are no memorials here. No remembrance scheduled. No moment of silence. Instead, patrols went out, operations were conducted and the Iraqi people took one more step towards freedom and democracy. In this land rife with terrorism, I did not think it the least bit odd that there was no remembrance on this day. The rebirth of these proud people as a nation is a soaring memorial to those who gave all on that day three years ago.

It has been my honour to serve in our military for a decade now. My service has been especially necessary in these years that our country has been at war. I mourn the birthdays, anniversaries and all the other special days that I have missed though I believe that my service ensures that my family can enjoy those future days in freedom’s light. Through your support and best wishes I have been able not only to do my duty but also to know that my family believes in what I do. For that, I am eternally grateful. And for each of you who have missed my voice on a birthday or my presence during the holidays, I say to you that you have sacrificed for your country as well and you stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters in arms and me.

On this day I ask that you each consider the ideals that will cause terrorism to crumble at the foundation; tolerance, understanding and love. Though sometimes freedom must initially be won by hard men with sharp violence, it is not the gun that will defeat terrorism. It is truly believing in religious freedom. It is tolerating those whose beliefs do not parallel your own. It is celebrating the differences in our cultures. I do not think teaching an Iraqi Private how to aim his rifle will make much difference in ten years. But I do think that him remembering that I was respectful of his beliefs and considerate of his customs will make a huge difference.

Further, it is important that we honour the memory of our fellow human beings that perished on this day three years ago. In a culture that seems to place so much significance on the fact that more than 1,000 service members have perished in fighting here in Iraq remember that 2,973 people were murdered that day. Not roughly 3,000 but 2,973.

Finally, I would like to tell you all that though there is nothing I want more than to be home with my wife and son, it has been my greatest honour as a man to protect your freedoms. I love you all and hope for you each to find some understanding on this day and to give yourself over to love. Hate caused this day and only love will make it the last day of its kind.

Never forget.


Please also take the time to go watch this. It took 5 minutes to upload on my Pentium 4 with DSL, so it will be a while. It will be the best memorial you see today. Bring tissues.

[Link via Glenn Reynolds]

UPDATE: Here is the original email from this soldier's father, along with photographs the soldier took and sent to his family. I'm interspersing the photos where they logically fit with the text.

I received the e-mail below from my son who's an Army captain on the ground in Iraq and thought of you. As someone who's old enough to remember Vietnam as dinner-table TV body counts, I'm pleased that there seems to be very little "baby killer" attitude directed towards our troops, even among those who disagree violently with why we're in Iraq in the first place. Even so, I was so proud of [my son's] message because I think he's captured why our being there is REALLY important: because 10 or 15 years from now a young Iraqi man or woman will remember an American soldier who was kind and respectful, they'll compare that with what the radicals tell them, and they'll see the disconnect. Hopefully they'll question why their experience is different from what they're being told to believe and that's the true beginning of a free society. We’re not going to win hearts and minds by op-ed pontificators, we’re going to win them one at a time, person to person.

Too few people get to hear directly from the people on the scene like [my son]. I am often frustrated by the MSM and their unending litany of mistakes committed and opportunities lost. They don't seem to understand that making mistakes means at least you're trying. That's something the French and the Germans can't say. Forming a committee to look into the problem rarely yields results and never quickly. I'm enclosing a few pictures [my son] took. You can't look at these and think they all hate us. The brother and sister are dressed up for a religious event and don’t look frightened to me.

Iraq1 resized.jpg

Of the picture in the middle, here's what [my son] had to say:

"Ali [in the yellow shirt] is twelve and he is a garbage man. I recognized him when we patrolled through his village. It is a little hard to handle. He should be playing and going to school but he spends all day on post working a garbage truck. But, he is happy and well fed. He speaks very good English because his father doesn't want him to be a garbage man forever. He doesn't know what he wants to do but he wants to make enough money to bring his whole family to Texas."

Iraq2 resized.jpg

Since he had to leave his wife and a 7 year old son behind when he left for Iraq, thoughts of Ali’s future have a special place in [my son's] heart. Finally, in the third, the father brought his son out and asked to have his picture made. In the email that accompanied these pictures [my son] said "As you can see, these people are happy. They aren't shooting at us or chanting anti-Bush slogans. They are sweet, affectionate people who just want a shot at a good life."

Iraq3 resized.bmp

I’ve taken up enough of your time. I just wanted you to know that many of your thoughts are borne out by people on the other side of the world who appreciate what we’re doing, or trying to do, in Iraq. I’m not looking for publicity, for me or for my son, so if you’d like to use any of this please redact anything identifying; the thoughts are what count.

God bless you for your voice of sanity and your thoughtful comments.

I think you can see where this soldier got his goodness. As for me, well, I'm just a writer in my pajamas. These people are the ones who do the heavy lifting.

Posted by susanna at 09:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 10, 2004

Rather unimpressive

David Skinner of Galley Slaves is thoroughly unimpressed with Dan Rather's defense of his Bush Nat'l Guard documents.

Wolf Blitzer of CNN notices a trend, and finds other major media are continuing to question CBS's documents.

MSNBC reports CBS is standing by their Dan, but also points out that document experts say the documents are forgeries.

Here's how they express Rather's argument about support for his docs:

"This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking," the network said in a statement reported on its Web site.

Isn't that the same kind of evidence the Swift Boat Veterans have, the kind of evidence the mainstream media has rejected as compelling?

Just a thought.

UPDATE: And more evidence that Danny Boy is carrying water for the Dems.

UPDATE II: And here's an article on CNET about bloggers driving the hoax investigation. It's the best summary discussion of blog involvement in journalism that I've seen.

[Several links above via Drudge]

Posted by susanna at 10:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gun maker and dealer pay DC sniper victims

This is a bad precedent (sorry, but you have to sign up to read it, the bums):

Victims of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings and their families have settled claims against the maker of the gun used in the spree and its dealer for $2.5 million, an agreement the plaintiffs' lawyer said would change practices in the firearms industry.

Bushmaster Firearms of Windham, Maine, agreed to pay $550,000 to eight plaintiffs. Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, the gun dealer where the snipers' Bushmaster rifle came from, agreed to pay $2 million.

And apparently it is a precedent:

The settlement with Bushmaster marks the first time a gun manufacturer has agreed to pay damages to settle claims of negligent distribution of weapons, said Jon Lowy, a lawyer with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The gun didn't do the crime. If they want to find the dealer guilty of negligence because he didn't know where his guns were, that's one thing. But to get money from the gun maker, just for making it? Absolutely assinine (splg intentional).

More from the NY Times coverage:

There have been other settlements of lawsuits against gun makers, but they were in cases where the gun was found to be defective, Mr. Henigan said, and not those in which the manufacturer failed to exercise care in making sure the dealer was not supplying the gun to criminals.

Kelly Corr, a lawyer for Bushmaster in Seattle, where the lawsuit was decided by mediation, emphasized that all the money owed by Bushmaster was being paid by its insurance company.

"The settlement also does not involve Bushmaster changing any of the ways it does business with its distributors and retailers," Mr. Corr said.

David Martin, a lawyer for Bull's Eye, said the settlement in no way constituted an admission of liability by the gun store.

"It was more of an economic decision," Mr. Martin said, given the number of plaintiffs and the seriousness of the injuries.

WaPo doesn't have it yet.

I realize that the families suffered horribly, and several warm and good and loving people died because two evil men used a gun for evil purposes. But it's not the fault of either the gun maker or the shop owner. This kind of thing shouldn't pass muster with Americans, but it does because we live in a "it's someone else's fault, somebody has to pay, and why not a business?" culture. And trial lawyers pushed the companies into a corner, they could only escape by paying out (without admitting guilt or changing their practices), and now the gun control advocates claim victory when all they've done is commit legal extortion. Pathetic.

UPDATE: FoxNews had it Wednesday.

Posted by susanna at 04:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Denial, post-mortem and porcine accusations

CBS News is standing by their Dan.

Meanwhile, The Weekly Standard has apparently declared the investigation phase over and has moved into post-mortem analysis.

And Jeff Jarvis is calling the blogosphere a bunch of "piggies". And not just once, but in some kind of schoolyard chant that must have been brought on by hours in NJ traffic:

They're the political piggies.

Yeah, that's it: Piggie, piggie, piggie. I'll speak their language. That's what I'll call them now, the mud wallowers, the mud slingers, the dirty ones. Oink away, piggies. I don't care...

...step back from the pigsty, piggies!


He doesn't say what specifically he is referring to as the mud they're slinging, and doesn't mention the CBS mess in particular, but what is the focus of the blogosphere right now, when he's making that accusation? The CBS mess. You'd think Journalist Jarvis would at least find it appropriate to investigate whether a major media outlet and their Big Star allowed their partisan leanings to cause them to present as verified news something that can be so readily impeached.

Perhaps he should begin taking a helicopter to work.

UPDATE: An earlier post on Jarvis's site mentions the general SwiftBoat/Nat'l Guard vs Vietnam medals/Cambodia issue as the muddy culprit. He says, why not talk about the issues instead? He later specifically says the CBS flap is part of it all. To me the CBS thing is not really about the candidates, but about the media. The presidential campaign is not the point of the CBS thing, it's the context. He apparently doesn't agree.

He wants to discuss the issues. But Kerry won't do that. He'll lose. Um, worse than he is already.

Posted by susanna at 02:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Na, na, na, na. Na na na na! Hey, hey, hey! Good bye...

When I described this whole CBS document thing to my Dad, he said, Rather will have to resign if it's true. He was not unhappy about that.

Powerlineblog says, "If the documents are ultimately accepted as forgeries, which seems inevitable to us, he can't survive."

I don't know, I have a sense that we'll be seeing a Zombie-Rather much longer than we saw Walter Cronkite, and longer than we've (unfortunately) been seeing Andy Rooney. He won't go quietly. But we can hope.

Posted by susanna at 12:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I love my Dad

I called my parents to gloat about the CBS implosion over the probably-forged Bush Nat'l Guard documents. Dad answered, and I immediately said, "Did you hear about the idiocy CBS is showing?"

And he said, "Do they have anything else to show?"

I love my Dad.

I told him all about it, and he was amused and unsurprised. He served in the Army Reserves for 17 years, including the time that Bush was serving in the National Guard, so his knowledge of that time is personal experience. He agreed with several of the things others have said about the military's documentation at the time, including that the military used a 8 x 10 1/2 sized paper, not 8 1/2 x 11 as the current docs are. He also was very concerned about their forging documents purporting to be government documents - not something I thought a lot about before, but that raises the question of whether whoever the forger is could face charges for falsifying federal documents. Hmmmm...

He brought up another issue he wanted me to post on, but I've not found the info online. I'll post on it when I do.

Posted by susanna at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roving idiocy

Most of you probably have been reading all about the likely forgeries so seriously presented by CBS News and Dan Rather in 60 Minutes this week. I confess that I've been grinning all morning, reading about it, because it's just so stupid and arrogant. It's the media hoist on its own petard. I am pleased that so much of the mainstream media are covering this, and so quickly - most especially the Chicago Sun-Times that credited Powerlineblog and others by name. That's precisely what they should be doing.

My favorite thing is the apparent effort to lay the blame on Karl Rove:

According to one ABC News employee, some reporters believe that the Kerry campaign as well as the DNC were parties in duping CBS, but a smaller segment believe that both the DNC and the Kerry campaign were duped by Karl Rove, who would have engineered the flap to embarrass the opposition.

Of course they think that. And that tells you more about their partisanship than any poll. The thing is, and it's apparent to any sane human, that even if Karl Rove planted the materials, they were so quickly debunked by the blogosphere that there is no logical reason that CBS would have them for six weeks and not figure out they were forgeries. If they didn't, then it's on them even if Karl Rove planted them. If they're forgeries, it doesn't matter where they came from. CBS is still on the hook for not figuring it out. And you have to assume the desire for them to be true overrode their reason, if indeed (again) they are forgeries, especially in light of The Prowler's story that there were concerns on all levels that they weren't what they purported to be.

There's so many links to hit that I'm not going to link each individual one. What I will do is send you to the aggregators and principals, who will send you all over to other places. You really need to read them all.

Powerlineblog - just start down near the bottom and read up in successive posts. Those guys rock, and rock hard.

Instapundit - Glenn, as always, does a yeoman's job on getting the info together. Start here and here, then go to the main page for updates.

RatherBiased - you have to know these guys are loving this.

Drudge - always has more stuff.

Feel free to add more links in the comments if you come across articles in the mainstream media about this, or more blogosphere research.

UPDATE: Jed Babbin has talked to a man who served with Bush, and has more reasons why they're not authentic.

UPDATE: Don't miss Podhoretz in the NY Post on the blogosphere vs CBS News.

UPDATE: REDEFINING "JOURNALISM" - Ryan at Dead Parrot Society, a real life journalist who is one of the good guys, has an excellent post on the CBS possibly-forged documents story. I think it's important in part because of what he says here:

At the end of the day, though, I'll have a hard time saying that this is one of those times the blogosphere triumphed over journalism. That's because what Powerline and INDC Journal did today was unmistakably, unarguably journalism itself. I don't see any point in drawing a distinction because it was done on blogs.

What we witnessed was journalists -- or maybe more accurately, distributed journalism -- making sure that the public got good information, the complete picture.

That's exactly right. Someone (I can't find it right now) referred to "citizen journalists", and that's right too. Blogs are increasingly proving they're a legitimate source of journalism, both original reporting and investigative reporting, beyond the original point of commentary. The mainstream media would do well to see blogs as a source, not accepting what they say as gospel just on the blogs' sayso but with the same skepticism and eventual trust that they do other sources. Perhaps it will help them prevent CBS fiascos.

UPDATE: It was Jay Currie at Tech Central Station who used the term "citizen journalist".

Posted by susanna at 09:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 09, 2004

Calling Ed Wasserman!

Powerline, Little Green Footballs, The Weekly Standard and others have thoroughly deconstructed the documents that CBS claimed on 60 Minutes proved that President Bush did not meet his National Guard obligations. It seems fairly certain now that they are forgeries, although CBS is standing firm for now. (Lots more on Instapundit.)

And, in a remarkable turnaround for mainstream media, the Washington Post has a story on it on A1 for tomorrow's edition, essentially concluding the same thing using their own experts. I wonder what part Howard Kurtz, WaPo's media guy, played in getting it front and center? He's credited as contributing to the article, at the end of it. I just wish that WaPo credited the ones who broke this story - the blogs listed above - with more than this:

After doubts about the documents began circulating on the Internet yesterday morning, The Post contacted several independent experts who said they appeared to have been generated by a word processor.

And that's way down in the article. If a professional media outlet had broken the story, they would have gotten credit by name. Disrespectful, but what are you going to do? At least the story is getting into the news stream very quickly. Which makes me very happy.

One wonders how it makes Ed Wasserman feel.

UPDATE: Just wanted to quote what the Powerline guys say about their coverage of the 60 Minutes probable-forgeries:

As Stephen Hayes reported earlier today, Power Line "led the charge" against the 60 Minutes hoax today. But the credit really goes to the incredible power of the internet. We knew nothing; all of our information came from our readers. Many thousands of smart, well-informed people who only a few years ago would have had no recourse but perhaps to write a letter to their local newspaper, now can communicate and share their expertise in real time, through sites like this one. The power of the medium is incredible, as we've seen over the last fourteen hours.

Absolutely and amen.

Ed.... EDDDDD!!!

Posted by susanna at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A letter to Ed Wasserman

After reading this column linked by Instapundit, I wrote the following email to the columnist, Ed Wasserman:

Dear Mr. Wasserman -

I just read your column, printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, about pressure on the mainstream media to cover the news in a certain way. As a former journalist with a degree in journalism, I have some sympathy for your position. Certainly news media have a responsibility to report the news honestly and fairly without bowing to outside pressures to skew it.

But what happens when the news media get it wrong? What redress does the average citizen have when it happens repeatedly, and there's no genuine effort on the part of the mainstream media to correct either their approach or their obvious mistakes?

For example, a lot of news media reported that the audience at a Bush rally booed when the President mentioned that Clinton was to have heart surgery. In fact, the writer added an egregious "Bush did nothing to stop it" comment, clearly editorializing. That went over the AP wire, and was picked up widely before a corrected version went out. Other journalists there did not hear the booing; there are several places to hear the actual speech online, and you can judge for yourself. If there were boos, they were few, brief and drowned out by sympathy. How to account for that mistake? And how to correct it unless the reporter is called to account for what was an egregious error (one hesitates to call it deliberately skewed)? Here is a link to an account of the situation: . How would *you* address such a problem?

And then there is the difference in coverage on the SwiftBoat veterans vs Kerry's claims of support and his activities in Vietnam. Aggressive efforts have been made to discredit the SwiftBoat veterans by the media; any efforts to discredit the supporters of Kerry have been done by the alternative media or Bush's campaign, because it's apparently not something the media want to sully their hands with. How to explain that other than part of a wish to help Kerry? And journalists repeatedly are sloppy and write material that is *easily* illuminated by the simple expedient of Googling the people it covers. It even sucks in a columnist in our "great paper of record", the NYT, as is very apparent in this report by an "alternative" media source: .

You speak with what sounds like a sneer of positive stories coming out of Iraq. Isn't the good information "news"? How do you determine the balance of "good" to "bad"? Is that an objective, quantifiable, "check it by statistics and the scientific method" evaluation? Or is it a subjective, "I do what my news nose tells me" evaluation? What if your news nose isn't pointed straight down the center of neutrality? What if most of the people you spend time with have a certain view on things, would that affect your sense of what is "neutral" and what is "skewed"?

There's a lot of research, done by academics published in peer reviewed journals, which address the issues of media framing and media priming. It's clear, especially in my field of criminal justice, that media picks and chooses for drama, not for a balanced picture of crime in the US. For reference, you may want to read "Crime Waves as Ideology", published in a peer reviewed journal by Mark Fishman in the late 1970s. So to say that the media is inherently objective, and having their work factchecked by outsiders is simple intimidation with no honest intent, is to deliberately ignore a lot of both anecdotal evidence in the alternative media (both conservative and liberal) and the research evidence presented in accepted academic venues.

I appreciate that journalism in an era of the Internet is more difficult precisely because journalists have a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks tracking their work. But that shouldn't result in defensive lashing out, but a call to journalists to work harder to do it right, and be prepared to defend their decisions without attacking their critics. The reason the criticism is hurting media is because so much of it is very apparently correct, and the media is resisting accepting the same accountability that they demand of all other public institutions. The way to get the credibility back is to do journalism better.

Susanna Cornett

I'll let you know if he responds, but I won't post his response unless he gives me permission to.

Posted by susanna at 09:25 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Thinking of the war dead

The NYT has photos and brief information about the majority of the US military personnel who have died in the Iraq war. While it's apparent that the point of the exercise for them is to highlight that we've topped 1000 dead, I think we should use it for a chance to honor and appreciate these men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the US. When you can, take the time to look at as many photos as you can, read about each one, send prayers for their families, and thanks to their memories. I think what they were doing was a necessary and important task. I wish it could have been done without death. I'm grateful they were willing to do the hard work that wicked and inhumane people made necessary.

Posted by susanna at 06:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2004

And I care... why?

Here's a new poll you'll love, that will soon be sliced and diced all over the blogosphere:

A majority of people in 30 of 35 countries want Democratic party flagbearer John Kerry (news - web sites) in the White House, according to a survey released showing US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) rebuffed by all of America's traditional allies.

The article is clearly wanting this to shake up Americans and make them realize that Bush. Is. Bad. For. Us. Evidence:

"Perhaps most sobering for Americans is the strength of the view that US foreign policy is on the wrong track, even in countries contributing troops in Iraq," said GlobeScan President Doug Miller.

I say again: And I care... why?

This will be touted all over the media as reason for the average citizen to Be Concerned. I'll tell you what the average citizen will think about it:

"And I care... why?"

It's another version of the United Nations thing. What the media elites and Dem elites don't get is this: Average Americans really don't give a Brie or a bratwurst what the world thinks about our policies. What Americans care about is what makes America safe, and if the rest of the world isn't good with that, well, then how about we withdraw our troops and let you all kill each other in your own way?

I see this as less about America and more about the jealousy of the rest of the world. I need to find this again, I should have bookmarked it, but I read a great comparison (on a blog, I think) of the US to the Yankees, who everyone also loves to hate - because they're always great, at least a contender. (Not that I'm prejudiced, but I also see it in how people hate UK basketball, a perennial basketball power.)

I don't think that all Americans are superior to all other people in the world. In fact, I'm very happy for people to come to the United States from other parts of the world (legally) if they're willing to work and make their way in this country. In fact, the US is the "rest of the world", in a sense. So any accusations of attitudes of ethnic or racial superiority is bogus. What America does have is a strong work ethic and a will to protect itself. That's made us who we are as a country. And that's nothing the other countries couldn't do as well. They just don't choose to. And they hate us for choosing to.

So, I say, hey! Everyone else will hate us more if we vote for Bush? Cool, where's that Republican lever?


A third poll of 798 Americans also released on Wednesday showed that 74 per cent of US voters would be unaffected by global attitudes about the presidential race.

I have my hand on the pulse of this country. Heh.

Posted by susanna at 05:19 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Hey, I'm in the big lights!

Well, maybe not, but it's cool nonetheless! Following back a link from my referrer logs, I came upon this discussion of framing theory put together for a Management 360 class at Cal State Northridge. It's quite excellent, and if the concept interests you I recommend reading it all. It goes beyond media framing, showing its applicability in several other contexts. This I thought was good:

The media power is not so much about telling people what to think (framing), but rather to tell people what to think about (priming) (McCombs and Shaw 1972).

I don't agree with that totally, but substantially. For proof, think about the SwiftBoat Veterans issue. The big annoyance in the blogosphere was that the mainstream media wouldn't cover it. All manner of alternative media, including the blogosphere, were, but the bigtime media weren't. Then they did, and it's been repeatedly cited as an issue that's seriously hurt Kerry. The media covered it in a way that generally favored Kerry, but the citizenry didn't hear it the way the media told it. I think media framing (the "what to think" aspect) is more apparent and successful when it's something the average citizen has less accessibility to, less capability to find competing information.

I was amused that this is in an article to define framing:

George Lakoff, a professor at UCBerkeley makes the following points about frames and framing:

“Communication itself comes with a frame. The elements of the Communication Frame include: A message, an audience, a messenger, a medium, images, a context, and especially, higher-level moral and conceptual frames. The choice of language is, of course, vital, but it is vital because language evokes frames — moral and conceptual frames.

Frames form a system. The system has to be built up over time. It takes a long-range effort. Conservative think tanks have been at it for 40 years. Most of this system development involves moral and conceptual frames, not just communicative frames. Communicative framing involves only the lowest level of framing.

Framing is an art, though cognitive linguistics can help a lot. It needs to be done systematically.

Negative campaigns should be done in the context of positive campaigns. To avoid negating the opposition's frame and thus activating it, do the following: Start with your ideal case of the issue given. Pick frames in which your ideal case is positively valued. The contrast will attribute the negatively valued opposite quality to the opposition as a nightmare case.”

And there you've got your framing smack in the middle of the discussion. That's not priming - the topic is framing, not conservative think tanks. It's framing, because what he's attempting to do (whether consciously or unconsciously I can't say) is give the impression that conservative think tanks engage in framing (aka spin) while by their absence from the list indicating that other think tanks (like, say, oh, liberal ones) don't.

And then, of course they quote Yours Truly (bowing) but only after saying this little caveat:

One example of media framing bias from the web is as follows (note that the definition of framing bias is not strictly accurate):

Hey! (frown) Watch it there! In my defense, I was not trying to give an academic definition of framing, but rather give an accessible popularized definition that fit the context of a blog.



But the summary is a good discussion nonetheless. Check it out.

Posted by susanna at 04:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The storm of war

While looking at the newest tracks for Hurricane Ivan - headed straight for the Florida panhandle and Alabama sometime early next week - I came across a page that talked about historical cyclones in the Atlantic. When I think about how various agencies and approaches to problems in the US came into being, I generally think of them as progressing from in a bureaucratic evolution. But the reality of it is (and I need to remember this), much of what we have resulted from someone somewhere deciding some version of it was needed, and getting it done. Then bureaucratic evolution took over. Chant with me: Innovation is not a product of bureaucracy. Innovation is not a product of bureaucracy. Innovation is not a prod... Oh, sorry, I was telling you about something, wasn't I?

Here it is:

In several incidents, tropical cyclones destroyed otherwise invincible colonial armadas (Millas 1968; Hughes 1987). The French lost their bid to control the Atlantic coast of North America when a 1565 hurricane dispersed their fleet, allowing the Spanish to capture France's Fort Caroline near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. In 1640, a hurricane partially destroyed a large Dutch fleet apparently poised to attack Havana. Another naval disaster occurred in 1666 to Lord Willoughby (the British Governor of Barbados) and his fleet of seventeen ships and nearly 2,000 troops. The fleet was caught in a hurricane near the Lesser Antilles. Only a few vessels were ever heard from again and the French captured some of the survivors. According to Sugg (1968), the 1640 and 1666 events secured, more or less, control of Cuba by the Spaniards and Guadeloupe by the French. More than two centuries later, commenting on the Spanish-American War, President McKinley declared that he feared a hurricane more than the Spanish Navy (Dunn 1971). McKinley's concern translated to a revamped United States hurricane warning service, forerunner of today's National Hurricane Center (NHC).

So, if not for hurricanes, we'd probably have Quebecs to the south as well as the north - or perhaps Louisiana cajuns would Rule. The. New. World! I have nothing against Louisiana cajuns - I suspect they're more American than French, unlike Quebecers who are more French than Canadian. But it's fascinating to realize the impact weather has had on history, and what a blessing that we had a president who knew his history!

Although to read this chart, you could come to the conclusion that the Spaniards won by sheer force of will and determination, given how many ships they lost over the centuries. Maybe they were just willing to risk. Now that's sounding familiar... French unwilling to risk... hmm...

This list has the real killer storms - one in 1780 killed over 20,000. I also found out why the last one was named "Charley" instead of "Charlie" - there was already a "Charlie" in 1959, that killed 259 in Jamaica and Mexico.

Posted by susanna at 01:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 06, 2004

The way to see destruction

Mark Steyn has an excellent article on the response we should have to the massacre in Beslan (another group to add to your prayers).

It's amazing to me that intelligent, one assumes internally honest (that is, their own opinions are credible to them, no cognitive dissonance) people can exhibit the kind of idiocy, wilful ignorance of danger and motivation of killers, that these people exhibit. But then I saw it, in action, on television just the other night. It was a show on A&E about 9/11, specifically about the WTC and the impact its destruction had on a select group of New Yorkers. I didn't watch it all, in part because each time I clicked over and watched for a while, I started crying. That day still has a lot of power in my mind and heart, so I'm sure the same is true and then some for people who didn't just see it, but were actually in the building or on the streets around it.

One of the members of the group was a guy about my age, with a shaved head, heavy rimmed glasses, a little thatch of grass hair on his chain, and a little hoop earring in one ear. He said he was a film producer. On 9/11, he came to a place where people were mourning the fall of the building, and he said he thought this (paraphrased, but accurate in tone and idea): This will make politics turn more conservative in this country. I hated that. And you see it happening in the last two years.

I was appalled that on 9/11, as a part of the city lay in ruins and thousands of his fellow New Yorkers lay dead, some literally dissolved by heat or pulverized by falling concrete and steel, he had the thought that he wished the terrorists hadn't done it because it gave an opening to more conservative political elements in the country. I could see that on 9/12, or 9/20, or 10/1. But on the day? The anger was about the political fallout, not the evil of the terrorists.

He may have redeemed himself in other parts of the show, but I couldn't watch it.

I don't know if this is the same program - it says it was filmed on 9/11 and the days after, but the one I saw showed things fixed, and the WTC site was clearly excavated and back in use. Maybe they do a framing thing where they talk to some of the same people now. Anyway, the linked show, scheduled for Saturday, looks like a good one if you want to commemorate it in some way.

Posted by susanna at 09:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polling the polls

Most of you know that both Time and Newsweek are showing leads of 11% for President Bush over Dem Kerry. I went digging around for more poll information this morning, and came across unfutz, a blog by Ed Fitzgerald. He does a great compilation of electoral college predictions by a whole slew of sites, blogs and others. What I found most striking was that even though Kerry was ahead on a lot of the sites, he shows a substantial drop over the course of unfutz's tracking. Something worth following.

Unfutz also links to a variety of explanations about why the Time and Newsweek polls are not all that. Here's one (title: Could Everyone Please Just Calm Down Out There? Pretty funny), another (Is Bush Really Ahead?) and another (Newsweek Poll Horribly Weighted) . Die-hard political junkies would likely enjoy them. I haven't read them closely, and won't attempt to debunk the debunkings. A task for each of you! Let me know if you do, I'll link it.

UPDATE: Here's an analysis from William Safire, which my much more politically savvy brother declares a "good analysis".

Posted by susanna at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Prayers for Clinton

They've not done Clinton's bypass surgery yet, and at least in part because of the holiday are postponing it for another day or two. Here is more information about it, and here is the place on the Clinton Presidential Center website where you can leave good wishes for the family. I encourage you to do so. Besides the power of prayer in itself, I think people leaving good wishes there will genuinely make a difference to him, knowing that so many people are concerned for his good health.

So take a moment and do it.

UPDATE: Do it now! Fox is reporting that Clinton is in surgery right now, which is 8:50 a.m. Central time.

Posted by susanna at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 05, 2004

Maybe there's a good reason

I try to remember periodically to repeat that many journalists are actually reasoned, conscious of the potential for bias, and inclined to do their job honestly and accurately. They don't always get it right, but a lot of times they do, and really, overall we have an amazing media when you consider what is the standard in other countries, or has been the standard in earlier generations. The reason we get so angry at apparent media bias is because we have higher expectations than that, and not only think it possible to be accurate and fair, but know that it's done many times.

I'm reminded to say this by this post at The Dead Parrot Society, by one of those honest, hard-working and fair journalists, Ryan. He laments obvious bias when it rears its head like it did with the whole AP "boo" debacle, because it actively harms his ability to make the case that many journalists really aren't lying in wait to Kill George (metaphorically or otherwise).

So keep that in mind. I know you do already.

One interesting point that Ryan links is the report of how the AP was called out for their total screwup, as reported by a journalist at the scene and posted by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo (who also has another post reporting from the scene the specifics of the non-booing):

Karen Hughes went totally apesh-t at the AP when that dispatch hit the wire. She stormed up the bleachers and starting screaming at the AP writer (who took it in stride). "They didn't boo! Were you and I in the same rally! What is this crap?" or something along those lines (it was loud in there). The AP writer then canvassed his colleagues, who all said they hadn't heard any boos.

Say what you want about McClellan ("dreadful briefer," "talking points only"), I don't think he's ever screamed at a reporter.

One assumes here he's talking about White House press spokesman Scott McClellan. It was the above quoted post that led to my title for this post. If Karen Hughes screamed - and I wouldn't be surprised if they got at least that right - it would be because it was a) a flagrant lie that b) had just happened that c) could have a definite negative affect on voters and d) needed to be changed immediately to control the damage. Hughes deals and has dealt with lefty media for many years. I'm sure her patience is not high in that realm. And the lie was so flagrant, I was about to scream at the AP reporter, and I'm not a part of Bush's re-election campaign nor a personal friend of his.

What also impressed me, though, is that they have someone apparently continuously monitoring media coverage of Bush's campaign. The context of the post indicates that she went after the journalist while Bush was still talking, or at least before the journalists started leaving. That's turnaround!

UPDATE - OOPS!! I try, I really do, to give journalists who deserve it credit for their work. Poor Ryan. This post hadn't even finished saving when I clicked over to Instapundit on another window and found this. Should we make Snopes an open window on the screen of every journalist in the country?

Posted by susanna at 09:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Deep, yet somehow... shallow

The NYT Magazine today has an article about colleges where the focus is on Christianity, on teaching it to the students and teaching the students to teach it to the world. The writer - Samantha Shapiro - gives an interesting, well-written look at Biola University, and identifies all manner of usual types in that kind of college environment. But while she explores the "Christian college" scene with a deft eye, it is one not only uneducated about what it's seeing, but one that doesn't want to learn anything about it that would alter the idea she went in with.

She paints a picture of the evangelicals there as separate from the real world, unsophisticated, frightened by the realities that apparently most young people their age have at least begun to grapple with. While she finds the "usual" cliques - " 'Star Wars'' dorks, student-government types, surfers" - she also finds new ones, "born agains" and "home-schooled" and one assumes others in between. She says by her explanations that this is a place where the students are supposed to have found the answer, yet evidently have not:

The emotion that is most strongly manifested on campus is longing. The worship music at the Thursday night coffeehouse and at chapel often sounds like an angsty Top 40 guitar ballad. Students sing along to lyrics like ''Lover, love me'' with eyes closed, arms raised, shoes off.

There's no acknowledgement here that teenagers growing into adults are always going through some type of longing, seeking to find their way in a new and sometimes frightening world - frightening no less because you have God on your side. That just means that when you fall, you always have a loving hand to help you back up. It doesn't mean you don't fall, or lose your way, or long without knowing exactly for what.

While it seems to be an even-handed piece - she never breaks into any kind of tirade or openly derisive allusions - the fact that she also never actually gets into the minds of any of the students regarding their faith is telling. She specifically mentions the "ease of social interaction and a kind of restless energy" that characterizes a young man who was a neo-Nazi before being "saved", but implies that is from his brush with worldliness before choosing to be a Christian, not from any sense of peace within himself from having found his place with God. She highlights the gays on campus, including one who sought her out in a hidden, dark place so he could whisper that he was there, he was deep in the closet but there. And then she ends with this:

On some level, they seemed already to know what Craig Detweiler is trying to teach, and what is evident in the often open-ended, messy tales of the Bible: that the most compelling stories unfold when you don't start out with the answer.

There you go. The conclusion is that seeing the Bible as the answer is just wrong, and something that they will come to understand if they open their mind to some undefined truth, a truth Shapiro indicates is actually in the very Bible they teach from! .

It is a well-meaning writer going to see the Christian zoo, and describing the natives through her own worldview - never questioning whether her world view is as skewed as she perceives theirs to be.

I went to a Bible college my first two years of undergrad, and it would have made her hair curl - the first year, the girls couldn't wear jeans at all to class, not until after 4 p.m., and no one could go on a single date (one boy-one girl) without special written permission from the Dean of Students. I survived, even thrived, although I do think people shouldn't go for their entire four years at such a school. I wish Shapiro had spent a little time talking to her worldly example, Joshua, about his faith, how he came from neo-Nazism to Christianity, instead of focusing on two little rabbit girls who find evangelism some kind of Fear Factor test. The lowest common denominator of faith is what she projected, and one wonders if it was deliberate or just a product of her own preconceptions.

At any rate, an interesting read and not openly ugly, amazing itself in this time of the hate-conservative-Christians meme in many liberal circles.

UPDATE: Edited for accuracy.

Posted by susanna at 05:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Just call it the "It's all about me" killings

Two men at a tailgating party in North Carolina were killed after they stopped an idiot from endangering lives:

A witness, Brian Smith, 31, said the victims had been tossing a football when a car drove recklessly in a parking lot packed with football fans. He said the men pulled the blond-haired driver from his car and beat him, pushing his head into the dirt.

The blond man left in his car, shouting curses and threatening revenge, Smith said. He returned later and asked Smith where to find the men who had beaten him, saying he had "a .38 Smith & Wesson for them."

Smith, who said the man appeared intoxicated, pointed in the direction of the victims and heard gunshots a short time later.

The two victims shouldn't have beaten up the idiot driver. But this is a clear case of some hotshot guy wanting to show himself by hotrodding around a crowded parking lot. He was humiliated by two guys who (rightly) stopped him (even if their method wasn't the best), so he had to avenge what he thought of as his damaged honor. So he killed them. And now he will spend the rest of his life in prison, possibly even get the death penalty.

Brilliant protection of your "honor", dude.

The thing that's just sickening is how often this kind of thing happens. While any murder is inexcusable, taking someone's life because you think your "honor" has been harmed in some way is vacuous and deeply selfish - especially when the "honor" harming incident happened as a result of your selfish endangering of others to begin with. This kind of thing is not new; two or three hundred years ago, the men would have met in a duel. It was just as stupid then as it is now. You'd think we'd learn something over time. And in our society, where the party line is that we must all tread gently so as not to bruise someone's delicate self-esteem, this cult of self is more pernicious than ever.

I hope the shooter never sees light of day again. Yes, he was likely drunk. Yes, the two victims shouldn't have beaten him up. Yes, he was caught up in the passion of the moment. But he chose to drink, he chose to endanger others, he chose to allow his embarrassment to burst into a murderous fury. His choice. His life. And maybe his death.

Seems like he's right where he chose to be.

And watch to see if this doesn't show up somewhere in someone's effort to strengthen gun control. I'm going to have to set up a "strengthen alcohol control" effort to show them their hypocrisy. More people die annually from abuse of alcohol than from guns alone - deaths among both people who abuse it and people who use it and kill others. More children suffer damage from drinking at home than from guns. More families are destroyed. More crime results. More serious crimes result. And what value does alcohol have absent its pleasure-giving qualities like any other food? None. Nada. You can't protect yourself by keeping alcohol around your home, unless you intend to break the bottle and get into close hand-to-hand combat. Or throw it. You can't stop the advance of tyranny by making sure that most if not all homes have a bottle of alcohol. You can't stop terrorists from attacking schools by giving teachers bottles of alcohol for their desks. You can't stop terrorists from taking over planes by giving the pilots a bottle of whiskey or wine or wine coolers, even, to keep in the cockpit. Not many sports associated with the skillful use of alcohol. There's no alcohol drinking contest in the Olympics. You can't prevent crime by the threat to use alcohol.

I think you get the point. Maybe I should hand out a pamphlet to that affect at a gun-control fundraiser where they serve alcohol.

And yes, I would be perfectly happy with a complete prohibition against alcohol, because I don't drink it and I wouldn't miss it. It would make absolutely no difference in my life other than that noone I know would be hurt by using it or by someone else using it. And it causes almost incalculable harm in this country. However, I wouldn't start a prohibition campaign for its own sake (mainly because it wouldn't work, and would probably be counterproductive, as it was the last time). Just to show the hypocrisy. And maybe to encourage greater responsibility with both alcohol AND guns. But there will always be idiots in both realms, with too much crossing over into idiocy with both simultaneously. Which brings us back to NC idiot, who if justice is done will have, oh, 60 years to regret the day he got drunk, hotrodded in a crowded parking lot and then decided to defend his "honor" when he was stopped from hurting others with his car.

Posted by susanna at 12:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 04, 2004

Fun, fun, fun!

Last Saturday I got some fabrics on sale that I plan to use decorating in my duplex. Since I'm really enjoying just looking at them, and planning what to do with them, and generally happy happy to have them, I thought I would share.

Here is what I purchased to use in my bathroom, over the bathtub - essentially as a valance:

Festoon blind fabric 9-04.jpg

Mmmm... The color is a little richer than it shows here. For reference, here is the tapestry that's serving as the inspiration for the decorating in the bathroom:

Bathroom tapestry.jpg

As you may (or may not) be able to tell, the fabric is an almost perfect match to the color of one of the women's tops, which appears in various other places in the tapestry. I'm planning to make a festoon blind that will remain permanently raised, keeping all the lush gathering; the beaded trim will of course be hanging from the bottom edge. Here is a photo of a festoon blind:

festoon blind www-curtains-co-nz products-html bigger.jpg

Mine will be wider, about twice this wide, but I will only have four gathering strips, one on each end and the other two evenly spaced in the middle so there's a big middle swag. And it will only be about two feet long, so the fabric will be intensely gathered. As you can tell, the fabric is somewhat reflective, so the lower light in the room will be reflected and it won't feel darker than it does now. The final touch will be sheers on either side made of something like this. It may be a while before I have that done, though.

The other fabrics were for a duvet for my bedroom, where I have the new sleigh bed that I talked about before. I've been digging around for a pattern the way I want to do it, but briefly, I'm going to do a patchwork top using rich brocades, jacquards and other such fabrics. My idea is a little like this, but I won't use a light yellow trim (what were they thinking?!), and likely will use a variety of patch (although generally square/rectangle ones about that size). Here's another comforter of similar style, one more, yet another and another (using much smaller pieces than I would).

Here are the three fabrics I got the other day:

Duvet fabrics 2 9-04.jpg

I don't know if you can tell well, but the two tone-on-tone solids are a medium-tone sage color. The synthetic brocade (it has a satin-y hand to it) doesn't have gold, it has a sage almost the same color as the solids, only it's highly reflective, almost metallic. What's fascinating is that the back of it is almost as lovely as the front; you can see both in this photo:

Duvet fabrics 1 9-04.jpg

I will likely get 2-3 more fabrics to use, possibly pulling in some pieces I have already, including some velvets for different texture. I'm not feeling rushed about it, just so I get it done sometime this fall. I'm considering using some type of cording to trim out the sides of the duvet, but I'm not sure - it won't be seen on any side, since it will be tucked into the sleighbed.

And I'm seriously drooling over this fabric and this fabric. I'm taking deep breaths to keep myself away from the sites. I may at some point succumb and get a yard to make pillows with.

Posted by susanna at 06:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

AP cleaning things up

Jonathan Last tracks the AP's actions as it cleans up its egregious anti-Bush false reporting from Lexis-Nexis.

I will be very curious to see what Romenesko and Howard Kurtz do with this on Tuesday.

Posted by susanna at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Terror strikes Russia - again

The killing done by terrorists in Russia over the last few days is just horrific. More than 150 children were killed, and hundreds injured or traumatized. Hundreds more parents and others were also killed or hurt, the latest numbers putting the dead at over 300 and injuries over 500. I do think Russia is more prone to such violence and more vulnerable to it, as it still consists of republics with distinct ethnic groups in a way the US does not and never has. However, it's inescapable that the terrorism there and elsewhere in the world is primarily being done by Muslims who care absolutely nothing about Christians, Muslims who disagree with them, or anyone of any other persuasion but their own. And it's important to identify them as Muslim because their actions are explicitly associated with their identification with the more militant versions of their religion. We can't respond to them as if they are secular militants or insurgents associated with a specific country. They are terrorists specifically engaging in terror for the purpose of advancing an agenda formed as a part of their Muslim ideology.

I was talking to someone the other day about a mutual acquaintance who has gone to various countries as a Christian evangelist. She said this man predicted more than a decade ago that Islam would be the next big threat to both Christianity and the world as a whole. His prediction has come true, and if he could see it, the evidence had to be quite apparent to world observers unhindered by political correctness or a general tendency toward dismissal of religion as an impetus to terrorism. So where was the response before it reached 9/11?

Powerline blog asks where the rage is from the Muslim community in response to the massacre in Russia perpetrated by Islamic terrorists. It's an important question, and I think the pressure in the US needs to build toward that end. We are capable of distinguishing between peaceful and violent Muslims, if they give us the means to do so. For the most part, you don't see the difference. However, Powerline isn't completely right in saying that the website for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) doesn't denounce terrorism by Islamists - they have a petition linked on their front page - called "Not in the Name of Islam" - that does precisely that:

"We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

It goes on to quote a passage from the Quran. The statement is precisely the kind of thing the Muslim community needs to do on a large scale basis, but isn't. And we can't even tell how much support it has on this site - no where is there a click through to the petition with its signatures, nor could I find even a tally for how many people signed it. I even signed it myself to see if you found out more that way. Nada. We'll see if I start getting emails from CAIR now, though, because likely they use it as a source for their email list.

After 9/11, while I was working in Jersey City, I went to a screening of a documentary on the Muslim community in Jersey City, made by a local filmmaker about the reaction to 9/11 by the Muslims there, and the reaction to them by other citizens in the area. I wrote about it at the time (I'll add the link when I find it). What I remember most is that the Muslims who attended it seemed like average hard-working citizens who were pretty upset at their religion and lifestyles being an object of anger and derision by people not making a distinction between terrorists and the average Muslim. The most vocal, incidentally, was a white, red-haired American woman in full robes married to a man who appeared to be Middle Eastern. I sympathized with them, and never felt uncomfortable walking past the mosque in town or patronizing the stores nearby that were run by Muslims. However, I was also very conscious that the mosque attended by the WTC bombers from 1993 was just a few blocks from my route home each day, and it is still in operation. It was a focus of investigation after the 9/11 attacks. I was conscious of the fact that some substantial number of Muslims in the northern New Jersey corridor were at least in sympathy with the 9/11 terrorists, if not actively supportive of their actions. Is it fair that good, hardworking, honest and kind people who are Muslims are treated with suspicion and even anger as a result of things their co-religionists did without their support or approval? No, it's not fair, really. However, the shame and suspicion has come on them as a result of their co-religionists, not from someone or some group just taking it into their heads to dislike Muslims.

So while Powerline blog was somewhat incorrect in their assessment of CAIR, their general point is well-taken and correct. It is clear from what has happened since 9/11 that the US is infiltrated by people who want to hurt US citizens, using methods that have proven successful in causing havoc in Israel, in Russia, in Malaysia, in so many parts of the world. Those people are motivated by their Muslim beliefs. They have other, subsidiary issues, but the prime motivation is what they see as impediments to or attacks on their Islamic religion. And the only way to make strong distinctions between who are supports and who are not is for those who are not to actively work to stop those who are.

I don't quite understand the problem here. As a Christian, I would be more than willing to help police track down and stop anyone hurting people in the name of Christianity. God doesn't condone that kind of behavior, and if I do, then I'm in opposition to God. That's not a place I want to be. The fact that the people would claim to be Christians, would be doing what they thought was right in spreading Christianity or stopping attacks on it, would not matter to me. I would not consider them family who deserved my protection. My devotion and dedication is to God first, not to people who claim to be my spiritual family here on earth. Why is it different for the Muslims?

It's very possible that many Muslims are helping law enforcement and anti-terrorism intelligence agencies, but the information isn't getting out because they want to protect the Muslims assisting them from harm from marauding Muslims. But that doesn't mean the Muslim community as a whole couldn't harshly, continuely and vocally denounce the murder done by their co-religionists. I surely wish they would.

Posted by susanna at 12:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Open bias: Committing lies against Bush

Surely you know about this already, but just in case, I'm putting it out there too. You must go read and listen.

Yesterday I saw a clip of President Bush wishing President Clinton well during his surgery; Bush asked the people where he was speaking to include Clinton in their prayers. And everyone cheered, obviously, to my ears, endorsing what Bush said and sending good wishes.

Later I saw a post at Instapundit saying that the AP article on the Bush speech said there was booing from the audience when Bush asked for their prayers, followed by another post that sent me to Powerline blog, which has much more, including an audio clip of the speech. I suggest you go read all of it, including this post from Galley Slaves, written by Jonathan Last.

Here is the graph about the alleged booing:

WEST ALLIS, Wis. - President Bush (news - web sites) on Friday wished Bill Clinton (news - web sites) "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery." "He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally. Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them. Bush offered his wishes while campaigning one day after accepting the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in New York.

Emphasis mine, excerpt from Powerline blog since the original is gone. And that is the point - shortly after that went out on the AP wire, bylined Tom Hays and giving a list of other reporters who "contributed" to the piece, a revised version went out stripped of a byline or any mention of specific reporters and with this instead of the original words highlighted above:

The new version moved on the wire Friday described the same incident this way, after relating Bush's remarks: "The crowd reacted with applause and with some 'ooohs,' apparently surprised by the news that Clinton was ill."

That's from the Editor and Publisher piece on what AP did, incidentally, since apparently even that revised version has disappeared in favor of this version.

Drudge had an interesting tidbit, apparently from one of his journalist sources, that shows the editing comments on the top of the first revised version:

[BC-Bush-Clinton, 1st Ld-Writethru,150 Bush offers best wishes for Clinton's recovery Eds: SUBS lead to include reference to surgery. DELETES 3rd graf previous, Bush's audience, because of uncertainty about crowd reaction.]...

So it went from an article saying not only that "thousands...booed" but that "Bush did nothing" - clearly trying to create a damning view of both Bush and his audience - to "uncertainty about crowd reaction" making it "oohs" in the audience, and finally no reference at all to audience reaction.

I've said over and over that the words reporters use to describe something make a huge difference, as does their frame or slant. This takes it one step further, because it is obviously a case of fabrication - although it's possible that one or more in the crowd booed, it's clear from the audio that not only was it not the preponderant response, but the opposite is true. And the "Bush did nothing" is a gratuitous smear on top of that, because if there were boos they were drowned out by the cheers, and what could he have done about the booing in that situation? The only way that such a construction could be put on what happened is if the reporter was actively and maliciously anti-Bush. The booing thing could be an exaggeration of a partial truth - the E&P reports that other news organizations report some booing. But the "Bush did nothing" is editorializing of the most flagrant and unprofessional kind.

I don't know what role the blogosphere played in forcing the AP to change the story - Instapundit's readers report that a lot of angry people who were in the crowd contacted AP about the flagrant lies. However, I'd say the blogosphere will play a significant role in getting the word out about the AP's heavy-handed, vicious bias. I promise you that the person who reported that event did not decide to make a sudden shift from his usual mode of fairness in deciding to trash Bush. He's done similar things before, in wording or framing, it's just this time it was reporting on a pinpoint event that could be easily countered by others there.

What I want to see is the AP management addressing this egregious slur, and telling us that not only have they disciplined the reporter, but they've instituted some kind of system to monitor themselves for bias.

I'll hold my breath for that.

I'm very glad that this is out there, because it will call the average reader's attention to media bias during this most tense and important political seasons. And I will note, in case anyone doubts it, that any efforts on the part of any supposedly neutral media to do a similar thing to John Kerry is just as horrible. While I do think the media trends heavily to Kerry, not all of them do, and he deserves fair coverage from everyone.

UPDATE: Captain's Quarters has a list of management at AP with contact telephone numbers and email addresses. May I suggest you let them know your thoughts on this situation?

UPDATE II: You can still get to the original article on the Boston Globe site, but I couldn't find it by searching from the front page on politics using either "booed" or "Bush". However, I did find this article from about Clinton's surgery, which has this passage at the very end:

Reaction to the president's hospitalization arrived swiftly yesterday, with President Bush telling a campaign rally in West Allis, Wis., that Clinton "is in our thoughts and prayers. We send him our best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

An aide to Kerry slipped him a note about Clinton's heart problems during a neighborhood visit in Newark, Ohio, yesterday, and Kerry later offered his best wishes for the president.

"Every single one of us wants to extend to him our best wishes, our prayers, and our thoughts," Kerry told a crowd of about 5,000 supporters at a rally in Newark's Courthouse Square.

"I want you all to let out a cheer and a clap that he can hear all the way to New York," all the way to New York," he added, drawing loud cheers -- and at least two boos from across the street, where several dozen Bush partisans gathered.

Just had to add that little bit about the "boos from across the street", didn't they? This, of course, from a media that reported with amusement and even support about a NYC theater production about death for Bush.

Posted by susanna at 10:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 03, 2004

Bill Clinton to have bypass surgery

Bill Clinton is scheduled to have quadruple bypass surgery tomorrow in New York:

The severity of his coronary problem was discovered after an angiogram this morning at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., a source said. His coronary results were not favorable and he was found to have multiple lesions, the source added.

In a statement from Clinton's office, spokeswoman Tammy Sun said Clinton is being admitted today to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for bypass surgery.

"The former president went to Northern Westchester Hospital [Thursday] afternoon after experiencing mild chest pain and shortness of breath," the statement said. "Initial testing was normal and he spent the night at home in nearby Chappaqua, N.Y. After undergoing additional testing this morning at Westchester Medical Center, doctors advised he should undergo bypass surgery."

While this type of surgery is fairly routine these days, it's still dangerous. Include him in your prayers, that the operation is successful and he recovers fully.

Yes, I know, but he's not evil incarnate and as much trouble as he's been I'd still prefer he die a natural death in old age. I'd prefer everyone die that way, except for the few who've given up their right to that through true evil - the Ted Bundys and Saddam Husseins of this world. Ponder this for a while, then do the right thing.

Posted by susanna at 01:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Listen to yourself, lady!

Here's a woman who threw an anti-Bush party in Jersey City last night to join Al Franken in his Great American Shout Out:

"It's a fun, peaceful way to express what we're feeling," said Tosatto, 41. "That's just the perfect thing to say. It's like, get out of here."

It's like, so substantive! Here's her problem with Bush:

Tosatto's main gripe against the president: "In my opinion, he lied to us about why they sent the troops to Iraq." Tosatto is director of accounting and human resources for a trucking company.

Hmm. I think Neal Boortz mentioned that on his site today:

And what of this nonsense that we were "misled" on Iraq? Didn't we just learn that two government reports have now exonerated President Bush on intelligence used as the basis to invade Iraq. There was no misleading. You can only mislead someone if you know to be untrue what you are telling them.

Perhaps Tosatto should take her own advice:

"Some people don't look at the big picture," Tosatto said. "They believe the sound bites without really looking into it. I wish people would think for themselves on this."

Yes, I wish she would. Unfortunately, it appears that too many people put approximately as much thought into their anti-Bush beliefs as this guest at Tosatto's:

"If we have four more years of this, it's just going to be awful," said one guest, Erin Houlihan, 23, a graphic designer who lives in Downtown Jersey City.

And there you have it. It would be "just...awful" for Bush to win another four years.

I realize that these people were at the mercy of a journalist who may not have presented them in the rhetorical brilliance they normally exhibit. And it's mean to pick on people who can't defend themselves. But it just sounds like so much I've heard from the left, all sound bites, no thought, yet a self-perception of deep consideration. It gets old, after a while.

Posted by susanna at 08:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 02, 2004

This is how bad it is in my house

Today I took a kitchen-sized (13-gal) garbage bag full of crochet/knitting yarn to the local library, where the ladies make little booties and caps and afghans for babies at the local hospitals. Tonight I sacked up another bag the same size of still more yarn. And I am keeping enough to fill up a third bag and then some, because I'll probably cycle through crocheting again this winter and make a few sets myself.

Did I mention the 18 drawers of fabric and sewing notions that I have, and that's not everything?

We won't even discuss the absolutely stunning raw-silk-like goldy-orange fabric I bought last weekend to make a balloon valance as part of my shower/tub ensemble. Or the satiny and jacquard fabrics for the duvet in my bedroom...

No. No, we'll not discuss that right now. Move along. Nothing to see here.

I will note, however, that it's taken me 10 years to build up that amount of yarn and fabric and notions. In fact, I recognized some of the yarn I'm giving away as having been purchased from an Ames store in New Jersey when I lived there in the early 1990s. And I will also point out that much of what I have was purchased on sale, including the decorator fabrics for the bathroom and duvet, and nearly the whole bag of yarn that went to the library this morning was purchased at ten cents a skein. In New Jersey. So I moved it all down here. Just to donate it to the local library.

Wait a minute, I forgot the cross stitch books and threads and half done projects and even-weave fabric...

I think I'll close the comments on this post.

Posted by susanna at 11:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I spoke with a young woman today who is intelligent and curious but not very interested in politics. She said she's never voted, and probably won't this year. She said she didn't have a preference of candidate, but wondered if GW had taken us into Iraq because Saddam tried to have his father killed. I said, there's no way that GW sent thousands of young men and women into battle, knowing hundreds would die, just for that kind of revenge. We discussed how the media spin things, and then I asked what she'd heard about oil and Iraq. The usual, it turned out. I asked if she'd ever heard of the UN Oil for Food program. She hadn't, certainly not in the context of a scandal. And she watches the news a lot with her political junkie husband, so it's not that she's oblivious to news.

Now isn't that interesting.

I spoke with another young woman today who was telling me about a younger relative who recently had a child with her boyfriend. I asked if they were going to get married. She said, no, because he doesn't make enough to support both a wife and baby yet, and if they marry the new mother won't get the federal assistance she's getting now.

Not, you understand, that the welfare system engages in social engineering, or undermines morality and the family.

Just tidbits from conversations, and insight into how the things we talk about on the blogosphere play out on the ground.

Posted by susanna at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dowdy Dipchick

I've not been able to read Maureen Dowd's columns for a while now, because they just seem like a snarky little columnist gloating in college alternative weekly. No substance, but the fluff is acidic. It eats the flesh off the bones of reason.

But now I think I will be able to cheerfully read her, because I have a frame that puts her where she belongs. Thank you, Catherine Seipp, for making even this acid drip bearable, even (perish the thought) amusing. Thank you for cluing me in that Dowd should be read as parody, not with any hope for substance.

Go read Seipp. Then go read Dowd today. See what I mean?

Posted by susanna at 08:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 01, 2004

Deliberate? Not?

I watched the beginning of Cheney's speech at the Republican Convention on Fox News. I noticed that there were quite a few face shots of blacks in the audience, enough that I began to wonder if it was deliberate. So I switched over and watched the last 10 minutes or so of the speech on NBC News. Not a single crowd shot showed a closeup of a minority, and in only two did I see a non-white person detectable in the background.

So... was Fox overemphasizing the minority participation in the convention? Or was NBC underemphasizing it? I'll have to watch half and half tomorrow night too to see if the trend continues. There's reason for conservatives to emphasize it - they want to lure more minorities out of their traditional Democrat berth into what they say is a better ideological fit. And for many minorities, I'd say that's true. The liberals, on the other hand, have good cause to keep the face of the Republican party completely white, to encourage minorities to think they'd be alone, isolated, essentially unwelcome.

Because I'm not there, I can't say which station - Fox or NBC - was more accurate in their depiction. NBC would be accurate if there are so few minorities that the law of averages would dictate only rare sightings of minorities if crowd shots are essentially random. Fox would be accurate if the percentage of minorities was higher. I know there was only one minority delegate from Alabama, and he was a last minute addition to up the minority quotient (according to the local news). However, I read there were close to two dozen black delegates from Texas. Wooing the minorities is a big Republican drive right now. As minorities, especially blacks, increasingly go mainstream in every area of life, traditional solidarity is showing cracks. It would be interesting to see if the networks are consciously aiding or impeding that effort.

Posted by susanna at 10:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack