Saturday, March 02, 2002

The Salt Lake Tribune -- Based on a True Story: The Made-for-TV Version of Military Reality Here are Cokie and Steve Roberts (note who gets top billing) with some more of the "you can't trust the Pentagon" line.

What the Pentagon wants the public to see of the war might be based on a true story, but it won't be the whole story, reported by independent journalists [i.e. those anointed by the broadcast networks, the NYTimes or the Washington Post] who don't have to clear their copy with the military brass. Bruckheimer is no Brokaw. He will produce a made-for-TV version of reality.

It's just entertainment, you might say. Everybody knows that, so calm down. If you want straight information, watch the news, not prime time.

What is the difference between having to clear one's copy with the Military Brass or the NYTimes editors or Dan Rather? You don't get the whole story either way. If you want the whole story watch the news, then watch the news on Fox News Channel, then watch the Pentagon briefings, then read Instapundit and the war bloggers linked there. Get all the information you can and make up your own mind about what you believe. Be aware that every source is biased, especially the ones who trumpet their independence and pout the most.

The truth is out there, but you have to dig for it, and over time, you develop a sense for how different sources lean, how they shape the news, and whom you trust and why. Never stop being skeptical and never, never entrust your responsibility as a citizen, that of making up your own mind, to anybody else.

Freedom From the Press This is Frank Rich's column in the NYTimes. He proves Bernard Goldberg's story by acting superior and dismissive just like all the other "journalists" of Goldberg's acquaintance. Goldberg, he implies, is a whiner who hasn't suffered anything, compare to Daniel Pearl.

Pearl's death has, says Rich, "conservative mediaphobes . . . reappraising their knee-jerk hostility to reporters after seeing the price one has paid in pursuit of a story in Pakistan." Of course, by "mediaphobes" he means people who object to the leftward slant in the news not people who hate all media, as one would expect. In his mind there is no other legitimate media so there is no difference.

Then he blasts George Bush for pretty much nothing more than reading Goldberg's book which, he seems to think, proves that Dubya is hostile to the media. For more proof he cites the case of some reporters in Afghanistan who were held at gunpoint by some U. S. soldiers and prevented from entering Zhawar. I'm sure the soldiers were acting on direct orders from the commander-in-chief.

Rich proceeds with a series of incidents including the non-story of the non-Office of Strategic Influence (Disinformation), which was never more than a gleam in someone's eye, but which rises to Orwellian proportions in the minds of the New York Times and the rest of the Easter Media Elite.

If you haven't noticed, it drives journalists, especially those who work for the NYTimes, WaPo and NPR , when the Pentagon doesn't invite them into its planning sessions, or tries to protect its operations and methods. Of course, when someone like Goldberg turns the tables and reports on them, they circle the wagons and don't even discuss his points. They just treat him as though he were the Grand Dragon of the KKK, with arrogant dismissal, anger, epithets, etc., but never really discussing the points he makes, which were already obvious to most of us.

It also bugs the heck out of them when the objects of their high dudgeon refuse to assist them in assembling evidence to convict themselves. Dick Cheney is the new Big Brother to them, and the new Richard Nixon, to boot, because he won't give them the names of his co-conspirators in developing the Administration's energy policy.

The only thing Rich leaves out is the Shadow Government which probably will be in his next column, along with his support for the new Democratic strategy of running against the war.

In the words of Bugs Bunny, created by the late lamented Chuck Jones, what a maroon!

Friday, March 01, 2002

Senate Closes in on Election Reform Bill (

This is an interesting little artifact in the history of political maneuvering. Does anyone really doubt that the refusal of the Dems to include the anti-fraud provisions, requiring a first time voter to produce some evidence of identity, was the opposite of a poison pill. You take out something that you know will stir up opposition to the main bill. Then you can campaign on the fact that they, not you, killed a popular bill. This story says they've backed off. Apparently their argument that including this provision would prevent ("disenfranchise") millions of legitimate voters from being able to do so. But not including it would leave the way wide open for more voter fraud, as many commentators have pointed out. Of course, the voters who were outraged in Florida weren't smart enough to see that.

We'll see.

A Leaky Ship Goes Under (

Actually the Office of Disinformation was a boat that was never built. It's a familiar trick for the media to pick up on an idea that was discussed, but never approved, and flog it as thought it was the Administration's next big initiative.
They build up a lot of froth and then declare victory as it melts away.

Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret (

Oooh! I bet you kids are reeeally scared!

You Gotta Have Faith
If I didn't know better, I'd think Mr. Brooks had studied at BYU. What he describes here is the influence of the spirit of God. Living by the spirit is the essence of faith and the key to get it right. It is a link to heaven that few in the modern world can imagine, let alone understand.

Daschle hits execution of war

The Democrat line is now, "If we haven't caught bin Laden or Mullah Omar, we've lost the war." Smart move. Turn to the 15% who thinks the war is a bad move and away from the 80% who think Bush is doing a good job.

I don't know what will happen, but if they think this is the way to win control of the House, the Democrats might just lose control of the Senate.

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Microsoft, DOJ alter settlement plan "Microsoft also argued that the trial judge�s role in approving the proposed settlement is 'almost ministerial,' and urged her to defer to the judgment of the Justice Department about whether the agreement 'is the most appropriate mechanism to resolve the competing interests at stake.'" They then go on to argue that ruling against them would risk constitutional questions of separation of powers. Ooh, constitutional questions! That should scare her off.

What is it with Microsoft's lawyers. Do they have tin ears or have they just dealt with Bill Gates so long that his arrogance has rubbed off? Hint: Tell a judge that her role is magisterial, that she is only there to rubber stamp the DOJ's determinations, is not the way to her heart or her head. This kind of nonsense is what lost them the case in the first place.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Anna Quindlen -- The Axis of Re-Election

This isn't anything new. It just typifies the reaction of the press and "intellectuals" around the world to the phrase "axis of evil" in President Bush's State of the Union speech. What is interesting is that so many people have gone weak-kneed over a few words, as though those three words were equivalent to launching a nuclear attack.

People who write and read for a living tend to think every word can be deconstructed to reveal some truth available to them only, and they often miss the plain facts by focusing on such details.

The Axis of Evil line was a shot across the bows of three countries who are lending support to terrorists by providing weapons and working to build bioweapons and nuclear weapons that could easily find their ways into the hands of groups like Al Qaeda. It was intended to let them know that we know what they're up to and that they're playing a dangerous game. That's all.

And it has accomplished that purpose. But to the subtlety squad, every word has cosmic implications, and that word "evil" is just so stark, so judgmental, so black & white and so, well, so plain that it is bad literature. It offends their aesthetic sensibilities, which, of course, are the basis of their politics and views on foreign policy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

The Salt Lake Tribune -- Utah's Statewide Newspaper "Our planet is at stake, and we hold the lifeline over a sizable chunk of it," writes collegiate ecofreak Jim Steitz. You'd think he'd be embarrassed to write such cliche-ridden hogwash.

The most severe danger to the redrock wilderness is that it is being so overpublicized by activists that it will be trampled by backpackers long before it would have been harmed by multiple use regulations. By trying to force it into federally designated wilderness, they are also pressing the rural counties where these lands are located to shift their economies from agriculture, mostly cattle, to tourism, which would create even more publicity and invitations for the world to come and overrun these lands.

www.AndrewSullivan's Blogger Manifesto

This is the future of journalism? Not quite, but it definitely is a new addition to the mix. Especially with so many informed, articulate people out there whose views are never represented in the press. That is hardly true of Andrew Sullivan or Glenn Reynolds or many other bloggers who regularly appear in print.

The ones who get recognized are either already pretty well known, or get mentioned in traditional media. Being edgy and good with sarcasm seems to help, as well. People don't particularly want a balanced, "on the other hand" kind of discussion of issues. They seem to like it better when bloggers go right for the groin.
This, I think, is because most of us have had the Liberal party line up to our rising gorge.

Speaking of Liberal bias, I watched Bernard Goldberg discussing his book Bias on CSpan2 on Sunday. He seemed to anxious to explain what he was NOT charging. He claimed that he was a liberal politically, but I wasn't sure he was right until someone in the audience wanted to ask him about the effects of Jewish ownership and concentration in the media and Goldberg basically shouted him down and refused to discuss it with him. Some things you just don't talk about.

As for the basic point of the book, that television broadcast networks have a liberal bias, well, how many of us need to be told that? I saw Goldberg confront Marvin Kalb on the Newshour a few weeks back, and Kalb lost all pretense of a reasoned, rational exchange. He treated Goldberg just like Goldberg treated the guy who asked about Jews in the media.
(No, I don't believe that the media is liberal because it is dominated by Jews. I think it has more to do with an Ivy League connection, and the assumption that what everybody from Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton seems to think must be true.) That exchange was enough to prove Goldberg's thesis if I needed any.

Goldberg is possibly more persuasive because he retains so many of the annoying qualities of his former buddies. He's arrogant, lecturing, defensive and tends to try to yammer others.

He did defend Fox News Channel as being less biassed that most politically correct think it is. He says this impression is due to the fact that hearing news people presenting both sides and giving them a chance to speak, is so unusual and different from all other television news that it feels unbalanced. I'm not so sure about this, because so many of Fox's people have real attitude toward the Liberal rightspeak, not that there's anything wrong with that.

My favorite thing on Fox is Britt Hume's program, on which he features Mara Liasson, Juan Williams, Mort Kondracke, Cece Connnelly and Jeff Birnbaum, who are hardly rightwingers. He doesn't come across as having an agenda, but just concerned that other points than the ones you get on the BC's and the BS networks, the NYTimes and the WaPo should be mentioned. He's very smart and is the real deal when it comes to fair and balanced (or as close as any human being can get).

Monday, February 25, 2002 Person of the Week: Sarah Hughes

Well, she did it. I completely concur with the Gold medal award to Sarah. But I wonder what I would think if I were her father. She's 16 years old and already the toast of a world-wide favorite sport.

What can you do next, when you've already achieved the highest there is? She can certainly make a good living as a professional skater, and through endorsements and advertising. If she continues to compete, does she risk being branded a has-been if she doesn't continue to perform at this level? What kind of an emotional and physical toll would it take on her if she tried?

I think I'd ask for a long talk with Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Best volunteer efforts are those performed from home

This is an important analysis. Charity should be one-to-one, not big business. There are good charitable organizations, where the money goes to really help those it was intended for. But she's right about most charities, who live high on the hog from money raised by volunteers and free ads. After a while the business becomes more important than the charity.

Remember when the March of Dimes was about polio? It was dramatically successful. But instead of declaring victory and disbanding, it searched around for another cause that wouldn't be so easy to achieve. Now it's about birth defects, which are caused by so many different things that they will probably always be with us, as will the March of Dimes.

You want to eliminate homelessness? Bring them home with you. Feed them and give them a bed. Help them find work and get back on their feet. Of course, nobody wants mentally ill people, or people who are dirty and stink of beer, wine, cigarettes, urine and feces in her nice clean home. And how many of the "homeless" are willing to accept such an offer when it comes with the requirement of cleaning up, giving up their alcohol and tobacco, when they can get by on handouts?

I often think about the parable of the good samaritan. The good man in the parable was from a people looked down upon by Jewish society. The priest and the Levite who passed by were the elites. They didn't want to dirty themselves helping a robbery victim. Doing so would require them to undergo a process of purification before they could officiate in the temple again.

I suppose that in a modern version, the priest could just pull out his cellphone and call the police or the local social services or the Red Cross. But the point would still be the same. Which of these three, the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan, would be that poor man's neighbor?

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Rich Lowry on Shays-Meehan and John McCain on National Review Online and
Jonah Goldberg's Goldberg File on National Review Online both deal with the effect that the Shays-Meahan bill wil have on politics in America. Goldberg's is less focussed, but he makes the point: "[The] question wasn't if politicians were going to be influenced, but who would be doing the influencing."

They both make the point that the reforms in the new law will weaken the role of political parties and strengthen that of special interest groups and activists like labor unions, the NRA and the Sierra Clubs.

They make clear and compelling arguments for why parties are better than special interest advocates.

It occurs to me that this is exactly what the Democrats should like. They no longer have to be accountable for selling 300% of the party to various constituencies of their "coalition." They deliver for Environmentalists, but they have promised to help Big Labor, and when the demands of the two conflict, what then? Under Shays-Meahan this doesn't matter, because each of them can spend all they money they want on media attacking the Republicans, and it won't, theoretically, blow back on the Democrats. Since no money has changed hands, these groups will have less power to demand their due from the politicians they help elect.

Stephen E. Ambrose on Nation Building on National Review Online

He's right, of course. The only way to deal with Saddam Hussein and others of his ilk is not only to topple their regimes, but to stick around and help put something proper in its place. This is why Germany and Japan were successes and Afghanistan became Terrroist Central.

The counter argument, that we should not allow ourselves to be the world's policeman, that we must not be sucked into anymore quagmires like VietNam, is also true. But the proper conclusion is not that we should retrench and avoid future involvement around the world.

There are a couple of standards we should apply:
1. Determine whether the evil confronting us is worth removing.

2. Properly assessing domestic support for the action. Are the people behind you?

3. Once you get going, accept nothing less than victory. You can't just lance the boil, you have to clean out the infection. No more "Police actions." No more DMZs or refuge for the enemy, such as we gave Saddam at the end of the Gulf War.

4. Don't trust any offers of peace that are not based on the thorough cleansing of the former regime. We should be there to see to it that the evil won't come back in another guise.

Byron York on Enron & Waxman on National Review Online

I watched Malcolm Gladwell today on C-SPAN 2, talking about his book The Tipping Point. He reminded me of two things: the spate of suicides in Europe after Goethe's novel Die Leiden Des Jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) in which the title character kills himself for love. The second thing his discussion reminded me of was the Enron scandal and how many things have been inferred from it that are just not supported.

He discussed another suicide epidemic in Micronesia which began when a rich son of a prominent family killed himself after becoming involved in a love triangle which became a scandal.
As it developed young people would kill themselves over the most trivial upsets.

He also applied this phenomenon to the avalanche of people in Europe began getting sick after drinking Coca Cola. Nothing was ever found in the drink itself, and, it turned out, many of those who claimed to have gotten sick had actually drunk Pepsi.

The Enron scandal has spread a shockwave throughout Washington, mostly because a lot of Democrats see it as proof that Enron gouged California in its time of electrical crisis, and Enron gave a lot of money to help George W. Bush in is presidential campaign. Even though there is no evidence that Enron's access or urging had changed the administration's policies on anything (Dick Cheney being very intelligent and experienced in his own right in the energy field), the media and the Democrats and even some Republicans, not to mention a lot of the population, see the scandal as proof that we need more campaign finance reform laws. The undue influence of the Enron company on government policies is now presumed before any discussion, so that whether it really had any is no longer even discussed. It has all the markings of one of these idea epidemics, like the Dot.Com bubble, and the view that Clinton's sexual promiscuity was his own private business and not a matter for public concern, even though it wasted vast amounts of his and our time, distracted all of Washington from the business of governing, and probably emboldened terrorists to ramp up attacks on us.

Another such bizarre argument was that the impeachment was unfair because it was not bipartisan, as though the refusal of the Democrats to cross party lines somehow made the whole thing illegitimate, when it was the integrity of some Republicans which caused them to support the impeachment of Richard Nixon and ended in his resignation. If they had just held the party line, the whole thing would have become an illegitimate inquiry and Nixon would have been exonerated?

These defenses put out by Clinton's political team were adopted uncritically by Democrats and spread in an epidemic manner.
The same thing happens, of course, among Republicans and conservatives, but not nearly so sweepingly. There are the extremists who think that the U.N. is running the U.S., etc. but they have not such influence on their end of the political spectrum as the lies of Bill and Hillary Clinton seem to have on theirs.

It would be interesting to apply Gladwell's analysis to the political issues of the past 20 years, and how arguments and suggestions spread epidemically through Washington and the media without criticism or careful thought.