Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bush Campaign Crosses a Red Line

ABC News reports:

WASHINGTON Sept. 22, 2004 — John Kerry windsurfs left and right in a new television ad from President Bush's campaign that says the Democrat's positions on Iraq, education and health care shift "whichever way the wind blows."

"In which direction would John Kerry lead?" asks the ad, which is set to Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz."

This is unacceptable. The "Blue Danube Waltz" is one of my favorite pieces of music. If the Bushies make me think of Kerry each time I hear it, I will never forgive them.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Oh, give me a break:

A cardinal rule of investigative reporting is to never trust a photocopy of a document you're using as a basis for a story. It could be fake.

Yet photocopies, examined by experts consulted by CBS News, are exactly what Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes used to illustrate their 60 Minutes story questioning President Bush's military service. Now it turns out that executives at 60, long considered the gold standard of investigative reporting, may have been duped into believing bogus memos.

How could that happen? Simple, producer Josh Howard explains. On the morning of the Sept. 8 broadcast — as 60 Minutes producers and lawyers discussed the memos' authenticity in New York — CBS correspondent John Roberts interviewed White House spokesman Dan Bartlett in Washington. CBS had given Bartlett the memos.

Bartlett didn't question their authenticity but in about six instances used information in them to bolster his argument that Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard. Roberts called Howard after his interview and, Howard says, reported that "Bartlett had no quarrel with the authenticity of the documents; in fact, he read into them stuff that supported the White House position. We took that to mean, 'Well, guess there's no issue here.' "

(USA TODAY obtained copies of the memos shortly after the 60 Minutes broadcast and reported that the next day. The newspaper's editors, like those at other media, relied in part on the fact that the White House did not challenge the memos' authenticity and released copies after the broadcast.)

This argument is so breathtakingly stupid, it's hard to believe that USA Today had the gall to put it before the public. It is not the job of the White House to fact-check documents for the news media. The White House spokesman is not equipped to do this, nor would he have the time in the few minutes that he'd have to examine the memos. This is why CBS News and USA Today are supposed to have editors and fact-checkers and all the time in the world to consult with document experts. To even suggest that you were justified in using obvious fakes because the White House spokesman didn't point this out to you, is buck-passing at its most sickening.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Some thoughts on the Union thug vs. 3-year-old story, and it's alleged rebuttal:

The claim is that the guy tearing up the sign is actually Parlock's son, with the only evidence being a family photo. It's certainly a possibility, but hardly conclusive -- white men with prominent chins are not uncommon. Still, if it turns out the whole thing was staged by Parlock, then obviously this would be a pretty disgusting manipulative stunt.

What I don't get is the sarcasm coming from Attaturk in this paragraph:

Serial Republican Victim complains for the THIRD straight presidential election of being assaulted and has his family assist.

Seems like Attaturk is making Parlock's point for him -- it's not hard to get Democrats to act like brownshirts (flesh-and-blood brownshirts, not Gore's "digital" kind). Assuming that all three incidents were genuine, highlighting the fact that someone has successfully got the opposing side to physically attack him multiple times is not exactly helpful to the opposing side. And as I said before, the fact that the guy attacking Parlock sort of looks like his son in a low-res photo is miles away from conclusive.

Having said that:

I agree with KipEsquire. A three-year-old girl has no business at a political rally, much less holding a sign. It's a cheap political trick, and I despise those who engage in such tactics. It's one thing to just bring your kids along to your candidate's rally -- if nothing else, it shows that "good, family people" support the candidate. (And even then the child has no business holding a sign or displaying propaganda.) There is absolutely no excuse for bringing your child to an opposing rally, much less have her hold a sign. She is three years old, for crying out loud. Let her be a kid.

Mr. Parlock had better account for the whereabouts of his two sons at the time, or at least provide good photos that establish the attacker wasn't one of them.

The union has apologized for the behavior of the attacker. This is a credit to them, but not an admission of guilt. If they do confirm that it was one of their members, they have an obligation to state so publically. (They don't have to give his particulars. A simple "We have confirmed that the man in the photograph is an IBPAT member and is not related to the Parlock family" is quite enough.) If it turns out that the attack was entirely staged, Parlock will owe the union and a lot of people a huge apology, after which he can expect a fully justified defamation suit.

Both the IBPAT and Parlock can resolve this question very easily if they choose.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

CBS Memos - the Source Is Obvious

There has been much speculation on the source of the forged memos that were passed to CBS. Some have accused the Kerry Campaign. Some said it might be the MoveOn PAC. Some are whispering that it's the Bush Campaign, as done by the minions of that scary, scary genius, Karl Rove.

To all these speculators I say, Fools! Morons! Oh imbeciles, can you not see what is before your very eyes?

The culprit is so much more obvious. He has been hiding in plain sight, and laughing mirthlessly at your blindness. He is, of course, none other than Charles Johnson!

For those of you demanding proof (and you, too, Dan Rather), let us all ask the imporant question: who benefits?

It certainly isn't the Kerry campaign, which has been effectively muzzled by this debacle.

It's not really the Bush campaign, since few people gave a rip about his National Guard service.

It surely isn't CBS or Dan Rather.

Now consider:

  • The day after the CBS story ran, Charles was ready with a virtually identical copy of the memos. Sure, he claims that he typed them after the fact in Microsoft Word. But what are the odds that he would conveniently have a copy of Microsoft Word that worked exactly the same way as the Microsoft Word that was used to write the memos? And had the same "default" settings? Who does Charles take us for?!

  • Charles admits that he is an expert on fonts and printing. Who better to fool a prestigious organization like CBS News? Are we seriously to believe that Dan Rather's staff could be tricked by anyone other than an expert?

  • This scandal has generated a lot of exposure for Charles. Not only has he been mentioned on innumerable web logs, but he has had multiple radio interviews, the name of his weblog was given prominence on The O'Reilly Factor -- and I don't even know where else. Most weblogs receiving so much as a Fark or Slashdot link are brought down by the traffic. Yet not only was LGF able to withstand the barrage of new hits (at one point hitting 115 hits PER SECOND!), but it turns out JOHNSON KNEW!! that the traffic would spike as the story kept going! Either Charles is amazingly clairvoyant, or he planned it all along.

There you have it, folks. It's clear that Johnson was the original writer of the memos, as evidenced by his having the same tools as the memo writer, his remarkable ability to reproduce the memos letter-for-letter, his admitted font expertise (required to bamboozle CBS News), and his advanced knowledge of the ensuing media storm.

And if that's not enough to convince you, consider this: many of the LGF commenters are Jews.

For the benefit of the clueless and uninitiated: yes, the preceding was a joke.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hugh Hewitt says there should be a Congressional hearing into Rathergate:

But it isn't about Rather's or CBS's or all of old media's reputation. Someone tried to manipulate a presidential election! If that isn't a matter of Congressional oversight, nothing is, and even if the GOP blows it --and Chris Cox is not the sort of congressman to participate in botched inquiries-- that fear does not release Congress from its duty.

Congress might not chose to do its duty, leaving it open to the charge that it just doesn't care much about electoral honesty. Wait and see.

The emphasis is Hugh's. And while I understand his point, I must disagree. Rathergate is a media story, where someone lied to CBS, and CBS broadcast the lie. This is disturbing, and CBS's credibility has been torn to shreds, but it's a long way from manipulating the election. Neither CBS nor anyone else has been accused of forging ballots or buying votes. People are still able to make up their minds, CBS lies notwithstanding.

Deliberately or not, there is no question that CBS lied to its audience. However, while CBS News may have an ethical obligation (and long-term business interest) to be truthful with its viewers, it has no legal obligation to be truthful. The absolute worst accusation that can be thrown against CBS News at this point is that they violated election laws by becoming a de facto propaganda machine for Kerry. And this is unlikely to stick, if for no other reason that they were not actually helping Kerry, but rather hurting Bush. It's the same distinction that applies to the 527 groups.

But that's not even the bigger issue. Quite frankly, I don't ever want any branch of the U.S. government investigating the content of news stories. Once we start down this road, where do we stop? If we can drag CBS News executives in front of a congressional committee for trying to influence the election, what keeps us from dragging the Swift Boat Vets into the same chamber, for the same reason? (After all, they were far more effective!) Or the MoveOn PAC? Or, for that matter, me or Hugh? Surely if the content of a CBS story could influence the election, so could Hugh's radio show, or, for that matter, my little blog? (OK, maybe not my blog...)

I personally prefer that Congress and the FEC stay out of this. Plenty of damage to CBS News and Dan Rather has been done by the public humiliation they have endured so far. (It's never good when your credibility as a journalist is a Jay Leno punchline.) Plenty more will be done in the future, and I salute Powerline, INDC, Allah, Instapundit, and Hugh for keeping this story alive and burning CBS's buttocks. But what we don't need here is government intervention. That will only damage our democracy, not to mention turn those responsible for this outrage into martyrs.

The position I take here is classically libertarian. The market is clearly working. Let it.

Update: Just noticed a paragraph in the same post, which I feel I must address:

If the forger rides off unmolested, with only CBS News' reputation left in ruins, the message is clear: Try again next time, only use better forgers. Whatever works is repeated. Whatever fails without penalty is improved and repeated. Whatever is punished --severely-- goes away.

This is quite true, but it still does not give license to Congress to interfere. Ultimately, whoever passed these documents to CBS, is merely guilty of lying to CBS. It is, quite simply, none of our business. If CBS ends up suffering for this, recourse is their concern -- they can sue, they can out him, they can use their considerable bully pulpit to blame the whole thing on him, discredit and vilify him, whatever. But other than that, there are no forms of punishment that Congress could mete out. Lying to reporters is not a crime. It is the reporter's job to check out the story, which CBS clearly failed to do in this case (probably with intent). It was CBS -- not their source -- who abused the public trust, and it is CBS that must suffer for it. And the rest of us just will have to be that much the wiser the next time documents mysteriously show up two months before an election. If anything, this episode will make it that much harder to use such a campaigning method in the future, even if the story is true and the documents authentic.

My Long-awaited Statement

I established to my satisfaction that Dan Rather is a legume or I would not say so in my blog.
Monday, September 13, 2004

More documents for CBS News

A Jonah Goldberg reader has an offer Dan Rather can't refuse. I still can't stop laughing at #4.

Update on September 15, 2004: Hey, I just noticed that Hugh Hewitt linked this post! A belated welcome to all the visitors from Hugh's site.

Oh, for crying out loud.

It seems that in response to the criticisms leveled by Charles Johnson, Joseph Newcomer, and many, many others, the lefties at Kos and the mainstream media have taken the divide-and-conquer approach: they break the whole fraud into individual objections, then "refute" by showing how, in some obscure way, it is technically possible to to account for each abnormality.

Fine, then. I claim that these documents were written in 1986. By Deng Xiaoping. On the moon.


Greetings, fellow LGF readers! The Rather/media reaction post is immediately below this one. May I also recommend the Magen David Adom story and some thoughts on the Muslim reaction (or lack thereof) to the Beslan school massacre?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I have been following the Rathergate controversy with some interest. Lacking the expertise of Charles Johnson or the journalistic skills of Hugh Hewitt, I have refrained from commenting so far, as I felt that I had little to contribute.

Reading over some of the reporting from mainstream media sources, though, I was simply floored. It's hard for me to determine whether it is sheer partisanship or simple laziness and incompetence, but a lot of mainstream sources have managed to come up short of even my very low expectations.

I'll give a few of the more egregious examples here. We'll start with this Salon hit piece from Friday, by one Eric Boehlert, who implies that the people behind the Swift Boat ads are the ones carrying out this attack.

But there is clear evidence confirming that the same conservative operatives who have been busily promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smears of Kerry are now engaged in pushing the story that CBS's "60 Minutes Weeknight Edition" aired forged documents in its Wednesday night report on Bush and the National Guard.

Boehlert veers off into a discussion of some outfit called Creative Response Concepts, which apparently did some work for the Bush campaign. Very interesting, but unless Mr. Boehlert can show some connection between CRC and Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, or INDC Journal, he's yapping up the wrong bush, as these are the people who've exposed CBS's fraud, and detailed the evidence. Note that the charge isn't even relevant -- what difference does it make who exposes CBS's fraudulent reporting?

Boehlert also indicates that, like some of his colleagues, he is confused by the concept of time zones, with this little gem:

Conservative operatives immediately alleged that Killian's memos were forged, posting their charges on the Internet while the CBS broadcast was still in progress.

The emphasis is mine. Boehlert was simply regurgitating an error made by NPR and Media Matters. In fact, the first post that started the controversy -- by a Free poster named "Buckhead" -- came two hours after the 60 Minutes piece ended -- more than enough time for him to check out the documents on CBS's web page, spot the decidedly un-typewriter-like appearance, and ask about it, setting off a storm.

Boehlert then demonstrates his own evidentiary standards, and those of Salon:

In April 1972, with 770 days left in his military commitment, and unwilling to have his physical, Bush was suspended from flying and walked away from his required duties. Though he says he subsequently served in the Guard in Alabama, Salon reported last week that according to an eyewitness, Linda Allison, a Bush family friend whose husband was in charge of overseeing Bush's activities in Alabama, Bush never gave any evidence of having done any Guard duty. This week, the Boston Globe reported that after leaving the Texas Air National Guard in 1973 to attend Harvard Business School, Bush again shirked his responsibility by failing to serve the remaining nine months of his commitment with a Massachusetts Guard unit. And to this day, not one member of Bush's Alabama unit has come forward with a credible recollection of having served with the future president.

That's some evidence, isn't it? -- the word of a single alleged eyewitness from 30 years ago, whose sole qualification is having been married to the guy "in charge of overseeing Bush's activities in Alabama." Well, that and the fact that they are unable to find anyone with "a credible recollection" -- again, whatever that means -- of having spent a weekend a month with a National Guard liutenant three decades back.

I am betting that any reporter would have a hard time finding people who went to first grade with me -- it was a long time ago, plus my family moved after I finished the third grade. With the evidentiary standards demonstrated by Salon, I guess one could claim that I never went to elementary school at all!

Another interesting perspective comes from the New Zealand Herald, which seems to have chugged a good deal of ultra-Lepht Kool-Aid:

But within 24 hours the documents were being challenged - raising suspicions that CBS had fallen victim to a hoax by Bush supporters to discredit critics of the President's military record.

Of course. It couldn't be that CBS's own stupid partisanship led them to being taken in by an inept forgery. No, it had to be the minions of Karl Rove!

We're also treated to this little gem of logic:

The Dallas Morning News muddied the waters further, claiming that another officer, said in an August 1973 memo to have asked for Bush's evaluation to be "sugarcoated", had in fact left the military in March 1972.

You got that? By showing that someone retired over a year before allegedly pressuring Killian to "sugargoat" Bush's eval, the DMN muddied the waters. Pointing out yet another inconcistency in this farcical fraud -- that just confused people! Everything was so clear, as long as we just took Rather's word for everything!

Then there is, which, in an article attempting to use the controversy only to make the point that computers make fraud easier, tries to give some background on the story. The background, however, is quite basic, and for a publication like to neglect giving credit to the bloggers that broke this story, is already unforgivable. But it gets worse: only quotes one blog for this entire story, and it is ...The Daily Kos! Kos's amateurish, incomplete, and generally inept attempt to refute Charles's point of dramatic similarities between a default MS-Word doc and a paper allegedly typed in a 1972 office is hardly the best blog-based source of information that could have offered its readers, when LGF, Powerline, and INDC, and Instapundit all had more background, more expertise, and far more (i.e., more than zero) graphic examples than Kos's pointless regurgitation of Fonts for Dummies. I don't know if the editor limited his linkage to Kos out of sheer ignorance or partisan considerations; neither conclusion is flattering to his competence or professionalism.

Finally, we come to this background piece by Josh Levin of Slate. The article is not altogether bad, giving credit to several of bloggers who really broke this story. He does give too much credit to Kos's ramblings, but given the sheer volume of links to various sources, this can be overlooked. A note of advice to Mr. Levin, however: you work for Microsoft, which has no shortage of font experts. Get a few of them into a room, show them the documents and your collection of links, and see what they think. It would make for one hell of an interesting article. Heck, maybe if you look hard enough, you'll find some software designers in Office that will say they based Word's behavior on a typewriter from the 1970s. And if not, at least you can show them Kos's "explanation" of how you get Word-like behavior out of a 30-year-old typewriter. I'm sure they could use a laugh.

(I recycled some of these examples from my comments on this LGF post.)
Thursday, September 09, 2004

According to the University of Maryland's Program for International Policy Attitudes, if they could vote, the majority of the world's people would elect John Kerry as U.S. President.

In equally relevant news, I would prefer that my next door neighbor had scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

"We Have No Choice"

Check out this amazing story by Jeff Foster and Mike Taigman of EMS Magazine, who rode around with Israeli Magen David Adom ambulance crews in the spring of 2002. There are many poignant parts, and some utterly revolting:

One week after the pistol-packing shopper saved dozens of lives by killing the would-be suicide bomber, the MDA dispatch center in Jerusalem receives a call from Fatah, one of Yasser Arafat's terrorist organizations. The caller says there will be an attack in three minutes. He won't say where. Moments later, paramedic Asef Perlman is smoking a cigarette outside the MDA station in Efrata when a 16-year-old Palestinian boy carrying a backpack walks up the hill past the station. Asef calls to him, "Hey, where ya going?" The boy replies, "I'm just gonna get some cigarettes." Asef tells him that since it's Passover, the store is closed. Hearing voices outside, the EMTs and volunteers in the station wander out to see what's going on. Looking down at his watch, Asef says to the boy, "Besides, it's past curfew; you're really not supposed to be here." The boy mumbles something about going on. As Asef grabs him, the boy explodes.

The brave heroic Palestinian resistance, using teenage boys as suicide bombers against ambulance crews. And these ambulance crews are something else, too:

If this situation happened in America -— a group of EMTs watching a young boy blow up in the arms of their partner -— you'd expect certain things to happen. The EMTs would be off work for a few months and undergo extensive counseling/CISD. There is a chance that some or all of them might never come back to work at all. This is one of those areas that separates this remarkable group of Israeli EMS professionals from any EMS folks we've ever worked with. We asked them, "How much time did you take off after this incident?" They gave us a funny look. . . As we finished interviewing these folks, Dr. Glick, an Orthodox Jew, received a page asking him to respond to a Palestinian clinic to help treat a febrile child suspected to have meningitis.
While you're at MDA, consider making a contribution.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
A few random thoughts on the Beslan school massacre:

So does anyone remember all the rioting and demonstrations in the Arab/Muslim world, in response to U.S. invasion (and liberation) of Afghanistan? To say nothing of the fits apoplexy in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Have we seen anything even remotely similar in response to this massacre? Consider: these were Muslims -- Chechen and Arab -- who stormed a school, shot children in the back, and forced a mother to choose which child to save. All in the name of Islam.

So where's the outrage? If someone pulled something like this in my name, I'd be baying for their blood, and falling all over myself to offer help to the victims. Yet here we have a group of child murderers, claiming to act in the name of Islam -- "defiling" Islam, if you believe the various apologists from CAIR and the AAC -- and what is the global Muslim reaction?

Absolute. Silence.

Not one demonstration, anywhere. Not one peace rally. Not one candlelight vigil, not one show of solidarity, not one loud, forceful, unvarnished, and un-nuanced rejection of this, done in the name of their peaceful, tolerant, enlightened, precious, precious Islam. Not in Pakistan. Not in Ramallah. Not in Cairo. Not in Paris. Not in New Jersey or Dearborn. Not anywhere.

Have a look at the CAIR web site. Take a look at their news releases and their action alerts. What upsets them? A radio talk show host calling Islam a murderous organization. Some guy in Arizona getting his car trashed. And, of course, Israeli "war crimes" and that fiend, General Boykin. Well, that's what concerns American Muslims today -- what Jackie Mason and General Boykin say about Islam. What the wanton murder of dozens of kids says about Islam? Not their problem. A generic, months-old online petition is apparently sufficient to cover terrorism. They've got more important issues now, like the crisis with Red Lobster.

Then again, perhaps we should be happy with silence. It's better than receiving lectures on the "cycle of violence" from the very people that fund the violence. It's obnoxious enough for Arab News to reprint this squirmy little Guardian appeasement piece, which lays the blame on the Beslan massacre on (who else?) Putin and the Russian Army -- but it's a whole new level of indecency for them to actually blame the bloodshed on Putin's alleged lack of belief in "compromise, negotiations, give and take." ("Give and take." With people who are willing to die just to kill a few kids and their mothers. I don't even want to know what "compromise" position Arab News had in mind.)

So there it is. American liberation of Afghanistan, after the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden -- an outrage, an offense against Islam, a new crusade, must be opposed. American liberation of Iraq, killing a secular Stalinist dictator -- umm, an outrage, an offense against Islam, violation of international law, mass demonstrations, etc. Muslim terrorists gunning down second-graders? Shrug. "Ask yourselves why they hate you."

Update: I should note that a few links for this article came by way of the Command Post and Allah. Also, LGF has some pertinent comments about alleged "Arab self-criticism."

Update on Sept. 7, 2004: Mark Steyn puts it as only he can:

The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.

But they didn't. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators' own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn't seem to be an issue here.

I can't put it any better.

Friday, September 03, 2004

AP does a search-and-replace

From this hair-raising story on the storming of the Russian school against Chechen terrorists, we find the following fascinating tidbit:

People ran through the streets, the wounded carried off on stretchers. An Associated Press reporter saw ambulances speeding by, the windows streaked with blood. Four armed men in civilian clothes ran by, shouting, "A militant ran this way."
"Militant." Sure.