Monday, February 28, 2005

The liberal Wall Street Journal

In a post two weeks ago, on the Wall Street Journal I wrote that, with the exception of the opinion page which has a completely separate staff, the paper was slanted to the left in its news coverage. I e-mailed Tom Veal, whose excellent Stromata blog had a series of fiskings of Al Hunt throughout 2002, for support. He replied:
Al Hunt recently left the Journal to work for Bloomberg, but the fact that he served for many years as Washington bureau chief is proof enough that the paper's editorial page doesn't control its news coverage. Another example of the news staff's ideological bent is Ellen Schultz's coverage of pension issues, which isn't just liberal but consistently loony left.

Or just look at today's paper. I found several examples of liberal slant within the first moments of scanning the paper. The front page story on Bush's Ownership Society by Jackie Calmes casts doubt on everything about Bush. In addition to the overall liberal take, she impugns every assertion that the White House offers with qualifiers and quote marks. She won't even grant that the president's policy proposal reflect his beliefs, only that his advisors say so.

Right below that article was the second of the two front page stories with domestic political implications. Michael Phillips has a story on the adminstration efforts to require groups which get AIDS grants to pledge opposition to prostitution. The entire thrust of the article is designed to show that this is not only a bad idea, but part and parcel of a number of harmful efforts by the religious right.

Next I turned to the front of the Money and Investing section of the paper. The Abreast of the Market column is entitled "Stocks May Dash Social Security Privatizers' Expectations." Obviously, it's not pro-Bush.

And finally, on the same page in the Ahead Of the Tape column, we find this standard liberal canard in a story on why consumer spending might slip in the future -- "the tax breaks that helped sustain spending have run their course." What bull! Every payday the tax cuts help sustain growth in the economy. Reagan's tax cuts are still helping today. And they will continue to help until taxes are raised. What's really irritating about this column is that the actual news he reports is good. You get the sense he wants it to be bad.

Just another typical news day at the WSJ.

Taranto needs to rethink the lessons of 2004

Last week in the paper edition of the WSJ, James Taranto (who does Best of the Web for the paper's Opinion Journal) had a piece on the danger to Republicans if they focus on Hillary and the Clinton scandals should she be the Democratic nominee in 2008. Taranto points out that the Democrats' hatred of Bush last year hurt their chances of winning and deduces that anger is to be avoided for electoral success.

I'd like to point out that the SwiftVets were motivated by anger last year, as well. Their anger was 30 years deep and really, really strong. And, oh by the way, they were extraordinarily effective.

What was the difference? The SwiftVets had truth on their side. The Democrats, with all their frothing about Hitler and Nazi stormtroopers, were clearly insane.

But didn't impeachment hurt the Republicans in 1998? No, what hurt the Republicans was the fact the Clinton and the MSM were able to spin all the corruption and criminality into nothing but a little lying about sex.

Next time around the MSM won't be able to stonewall everything but the sex.

More Krauthammer confirmation

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil.

Via Power Line, Howard Dean, new head of the DNC:

"This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

"I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

new e-mail address

I know that some readers who have wanted to respond to a post did not want to bother with the blogger hassle just to leave a comment. So I decided to add a new e-mail address in my profile. You can reach me at two minute offense at yahoo dot com.

Clueless on Economics

Jim Hoagland has a really foolish column in the Washington Post, "Ignoring the Invisible Hand." He warns that the world economic system is on the brink of doomsday.
Ideally, nations also create a greater good by anchoring policies in enlightened self-interest. That seemed to be taking place in the 1990s, for example. But the shocks the international system has received since Sept. 11, 2001, suggest that we have been knocked off Smith's rational trajectory at least temporarily. Many world leaders are stubbornly refusing to address mounting imbalances among resources, obligations and aspirations.

It is not just Smith's famous hand that is invisible these days. So are the solutions that policymakers need to devise and implement to deal with an era of national self-interest run amok. Things have come to this previously unimaginable question: Where are the economists when we need them?

Can economists do what nuclear scientists did during the Cold War with the magazine-cover clock ticking toward doomsday? Is it close enough to five minutes before financial midnight to justify that kind of dramatization for the public by the experts? Even if we are half an hour away, isn't that the time to look at a rickety global financial superstructure that is being shaken by a new energy crisis, dollar turmoil and out-of-control American public finances?

What a bunch of garbage. What "energy crisis"? The price of oil is up in dollar terms, but lower in Euros. There are no shortages. And "dollar turmoil"? What is he talking about? Finally, "out-of-control American public finances"?! The US public debt as a percentage of GDP is substantially lower than most other countries.

Then we get to some seriously ridiculous stupidity:

This is the new global balance of terror: China and Japan could bring the U.S. economy to its knees by massively selling off the dollar, but they would gravely harm themselves -- and by extension Europe's major trading nations -- in the process.

No kidding! They could also harm themselves and the rest of the world by starting a nuclear war. The US helped set off the world-wide Great Depression by enacting trade tariffs. It has ALWAYS been possible for someone to wreck a market if they act against their own best interests. Just ask anyone who has ever owned a hotel in an area that is seriously over-built.

Fortunately, Hoagland spares us from reading his ideas on how we can save ourselves from this imagined catastrophe. Although, if his "diagnosis" is representative of the quality of his thought, I'm not sure his solutions would qualify as "ideas".

Can you believe he got paid for that mess?!

More Journalism Follies

In the category of "Sports Topic -- most incredibly stupid commentary", the clear winner over the last few years has been college football's BCS bowl system. Unfortunately, steroids in baseball is quickly becoming a contender.

Any young athlete reading, watching and listening to our sad collection of sports journalists over the last year must think that steroids are magic juice. All they need to do is ingest some of this magic juice and they will turn into a sporting Superman! What's worse -- they could easily conclude that the only way an athlete can get bigger and stronger is to use this steroid magic juice! I've never used any kind of performance enhancing agent (other than skim milk and gatorade), but I know athletes who have. The media coverage we have been getting lately seems perversely designed to convince kids that they should use this stuff.

Reality -- steroids only help an athlete by shortening the body's recovery time from the tearing down which occurs in extremely hard training workouts. This allows the athlete to increase the frequency of his high intensity workouts. So they won't do anything to help an athlete unless that athlete is training at an intensity level that most baseball players are simply unwilling to work.

Second, the result of the increased frequency of intense workouts is stronger and larger muscles. This can help an athlete get faster or jump higher (since these are partly a function of muscle strength), but most of the skills involved in playing baseball (or any other sport) are unaffected.

Third, there are all kinds of performance-enhancing agents. The list used by Olympic sports goes on forever and includes even cold remedies. Very few of these are illegal. Each sport has to work out the rules as to what is permissible.

Fourth, steroids have been used by far more players for far longer in football and basketball. Why is there such a big stink now about baseball and baseball records when other sports have been affected to a far greater extent?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bill Moyers is a kook

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Bill Moyer's mind has turned to waste. Or perhaps I should say refuse. Which is what happens to one who refuses to see reality.

Friday, February 25, 2005

ANN -- the Alternative News Network

Based on my discussion in the two previous posts below and Michael Barone's discussion of the power of personal networks, I propose the adoption of the following name to describe the informal information network which is composed of blogs (and other web sites), 527s, talk radio and personal e-mails:

ANN -- the Alternative News Network.

Because this network is really far more extensive than the blogosphere.

New Political Paradigm

After posting on Barone in my last post to support my point about Hillary and Bill, I realized that Barone's article requires a separate post. Barone shows that he gets it in this column on the tremendous change that Rove and Mehlman brought to the way campaigns will be fought in the future. Or at least that he gets some of it.

The fundamental lesson of the 2004 election is the way that the MSM was rendered impotent (or at least not omnipotent) in determining what information the voters would have in making their choices. In 1994, the House Republicans honored Rush Limbaugh for the role he played in helping them win a majority. In 2004, blogs, e-mail and 527s joined talk radio to form an alternative network for information. This alternative network was a critical contributor to Bush's win.

Some may object by pointing out that Democrats raised and spent more money on 527s, have a huge presence in the blogosphere, and used e-mail and the internet every bit as much as Republicans. Yes, they did. And they were all used to disseminate pretty much the same information that voters were already getting from the MSM and Democratic campaign ads. Or fantastic tales of jack-booted storm troopers and black helicopters that were unlikely to influence anyone not already living in the fevered swamps. In sum, they didn't add value to the debate.

Conservative 527s, talk radio, blogs and informal personal e-mail networks, however, brought quite a bit of new information to the debate. GOP candidates have always been reluctant to go negative in their ads or take on the MSM to defend their records for fear the MSM will hammer them. Look at the MSM uproar over Willie Horton or the objections earlier this year when the GOP simply highlighted Senator Reid's record and was accused of "kneecapping" him. President Bush knew he couldn't defend his economic record against the baseless of claims of jobless recovery because the MSM would pound him mercilessly for failing to care for those without jobs. His father had suffered that fate in 1992 when he had tried to tell the truth about the economy. In short, fear of the MSM has often left GOP candidates defenseless.

As any casual observer of politics over the last couple decades knows, Democrats haven't suffered the same reluctance. Hence the relentless assault on Republicans as the "KKK in pinstriped suits", "facist stormtroopers", and the like. This past election, we saw the Democrats push organized fear campaigns alleging a new draft and a plan to cut social security benefits. Through it all the MSM has never voiced objection, no matter how vicious Democrats get.

Enter the alternative news network. Bloggers and 527s joined talk radio in bringing the conservative message to the voters. And they, unlike the Bush campaign, were not reluctant to highlight Kerry's lies, betryals, and the emptiness of his record. They were free to offer the truth to dispute the standard MSM spin on Iraq and the economy. Every new opinion column, 527 ad or blog post which did an effective job refuting the liberal MSM spin was quickly distributed throughout the country by e-mail, blog links and talk radio hosts.

In short, this alternative information source completely by-passed the MSM. The monopoly is over. Personal networks and the alternative news media have fundamentally changed the flow of information. And presidential campaigns will never be dependent on MSM coverage and campaign ads again.

More on Bill's nightmare

Thank you to Betsy Newmark for linking to my post yesterday on Hillary. I think she is correct that the MSM will ignore any effort to bring up all the Clinton scandals. The point I was trying to make was that a stonewall by the MSM will simply not matter.

Blogs, 527s and talk radio are not helpful to Republicans because they sometimes prod the MSM to cover an issue. They are helpful to the GOP because they constitute a completely different network for information. Via Real Clear Politics this morning, we have the latest column by Michael Barone who shows, once again, that he understands the American political landscape better than anyone. Barone's piece analyzes how Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman relied on personal networks to build an incredible volunteer organization. In doing so, they completely by-passed the old command and control structure used by the Democrats.

Barone describes how campaigns in the past focused on the media to attract votes. Campaign ads and campaign coverage by the news media were critical. The Bush team used personal relationships to build networks and the internet to communicate within those networks. In doing so, they operated off the radar screen of the media.

These types of de-centralized personal networks don't rely on the MSM, with it's monolithic liberal voice, for information. Although, Barone's piece doesn't discuss this, the role of the SwiftVets and their 527 campaign and the role of bloggers generally (not just in Rathergate) made these personal networks far more effective. They provided valuable facts and views to counter the spin coming from the MSM. Note also, that informal networks unrelated to the Bush campaign organization were also extremely significant in getting information out to potential GOP voters. Every day, friends and relatives were e-mailing stories, blogposts, cartoons and internet videos to each other.

How does all this relate to Hillary's campaign and Bill's legacy? Imagine creative types producing their own campaign ads. We saw a few this election. We will see a lot more next time. All the scandals in the Clinton closet will make fertile soil indeed for these videos. Regardless of whether the MSM ever produces a single story, a huge majority of the potential GOP voters will have been exposed to them. The vast web of personal networks and blogs and talk radio listeners, combined with 527 ads over the airwaves, will guarantee that.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hillary in 2008 -- Bill's Worst Nightmare

One aspect of Hillary's run for president that I haven't seen raised elsewhere is the terrible impact such a run will have on Bill's legacy. Anyone paying attention to liberals over the last couple of years should have noticed that Monica Lewinsky is the best thing that ever happened to Bill. As far as the left is concerned, Bill's only scandal was lying about sex. Remember, White House lawyers once needed several pages of their legal pads simply to list, single spaced, all of the Clinton scandals involving crime, corruption and dishonesty which kept them busy. With the help of his compliant cheerleaders in the MSM, all of that has been reduced to nothing more than he lied about sex. And, of course, to liberals the real scandal was that the GOP overreacted with impeachment (because of their hangups about sex).

As 2004 showed us, however, bloggers and 527s have joined talk radio as alternative sources of information. Does anyone doubt that some 527s will run hard hitting ads over the air and on websites which will educate a lot of voters to scandals the MSM never got around to mentioning? Or that bloggers will explore all the lies and coverups?

What percentage of the voting public knows who Jaunita Broderick is? Webb Hubbell? John Huang? Riady? Kathleen Willey? The pardoned Marc Rich and his financial ties to terrorists? Some might be inclined to write them all off as old stories. Yet, I'd be willing to bet that fewer than half the voters can tell you anything about any of them.

And what about all the scandals that the MSM stonewalled? The INS putting 100,000 felons on our streets to continue their crime spree rather than deporting them as required by law? How about the revelations by Colonel Buzz Patterson, keeper of Clinton's nuclear football, that our military had an operation ready to take out Bin Laden, only to have Clinton dither away the chance because he couldn't make a decision? Or the air strike against Saddam that had to be scrubbed because Bill was too busy partying at a golf tournament to get on the phone to give presidential approval?

Can anyone doubt that rehashing the old scandals and pushing new revelations around the MSM's crumbling Maginot Line will bring Bill's approval ratings down to their lowest level ever?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Prager on Values vs. Feelings

Dennis Prager has a good column on how feelings serve as the foundation for so many liberal positions. Via Real Clear Politics.

I might add that the law of unintended consequences is most likely confirmed when actions stem from feelings rather than values.

George Washington, FDR and Reagan

A happy 273rd George Washington birthday to everytone. I'm always amazed that lists of our greatest presidents don't place him first. On my list, 2nd place is vacant to show how far everyone else trails him.

Other than Washington, the most underrated president is Ronald Reagan. The most overrated is FDR. FDR enjoyed huge majorities in Congress, but he used them to enact massive changes which, for the most part, made the depression much deeper and longer than it should have been. Economically he gets an F. As for his leadership in WWII, the nation was totally united behind the war effort and it is hard to imagine how the outcome would have been much different regardless of who was president.

Reagan, however, gets an A for unleashing the greatest economic boom in American history and accomplishing it despite significant opposition from Democratic majorities in both houses and strident opposition from the mainstream media and cultural and academic elites. Further, he won the Cold War despite the opposition of these groups. It is hard to imagine any other potential leader of his era even making the effort, much less commanding us to victory. Reagan took on the entrenched conventional wisdom of his day on both economics and foreign policy and used his incredible talent to steer the nation in completely new directions -- with spectacular success. In the process, he created a new majority party.

More Crichton Wisdom

In 1993, Michael Crichton gave a speech to the National Press Club in which he predicted that technology would end the media monopoly on information. In his speech, Crichton is remarkably prescient. His prediction that the extinction of media as we know it would occur within 10 years is clearly wrong, but I think that he is right that it is inevitable.

"Wet Streets Cause Rain" -- the lack of MSM credibility

Power Line has a good post on Bill Keller of the NY Times and his failure to understand why the MSM has lost credibility. This reminded me of a truly great speech by Michael Crichton on how the media engages in so much foolish speculation. Crichton has a section in the speech where he discusses how we give the media far more credit than it deserves.

"Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I'd point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn't. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia."

Crichton has nailed it. Now, blogs and talk radio are pulling back the wizard's curtain. Bill Keller's lost in Oz and can't find his way back to Kansas. And the audience is catching on.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Media Partisanship -- the Importance of Carter's October Surprise

I am really surprised that the Power Line guys haven't made a direct comparison of Jimmy Carter's treasonous offer to the Soviets to try to win the 1980 election with the false charges of October Surprise against George Bush and Ronald Reagan for that same election. Years later, the MSM went crazy over the charges against Bush. So far, the MSM has ignored the Carter revelations which have the added strength which comes from being documented in Soviet records. I am also shocked that the rest of the big bloggers have ignored the story. In my view, this ought to be one of the most important stories of the year.

The active, purposeful liberal partisanship of many organizations in the MSM does tremendous damage. People who are commited to fostering honest journalism need to join the fight when an opportunity like this presents itself. Rathergate was unusual, not because it was a hit directed at the GOP, but because the journalists involved were extraordinarily clumsy and stupid. Ordinarily, proving conclusively that coverage has been partisan is difficult, because history rarely provides us with parallel stories to compare.

The SwiftVets and the Bush National Guard (non-story) provided an outstanding comparison for demonstrating the blatant partisanship of the MSM. Evan Thomas had predicted that they would try hard to elect Kerry and the different coverage of these two stories confirmed that. Because the stories so closely parallel each other, they are ideal for comparison. It is impossible for anyone to review the solid evidence supporting some of the SwiftVet claims about Kerry, the complete lack of evidence supporting the allegations against Bush, and the stark difference in coverage by the MSM, without concluding that the MSM was actively partisan in its coverage. I don't mean biased. I mean actively, knowingly, partisan. Because there is no honest way the MSM can try to distinguish why the false story was so newsworthy and the true story was not. They wanted Kerry to win. They wanted Bush to lose. So they purposefully presented their "news" coverage accordingly. No one can maintain credibility and argue otherwise.

Which brings us to Carter and his efforts to conspire with the Soviets to sell out American interests in return for an electoral victory. This is EXACTLY the kind of October surprise that the MSM screamed was so outrageous when they went after Bush. Once again, the claims against Bush (then it was his father) were false. And to make the comparison even more perfect, both stories concern the 1980 election and both stories broke years and years after the fact.

We've already seen how the MSM covered the false allegations of October Surprise against George H. W. Bush. Any bloggers or honest MSM journalists interested in reforming the blatantly partisan slant of the press should be all over the coverage (or lack thereof) of Jimmy Carter's perfidy.

Where are the voices of those who say they want better journalism?

The myth of Social Security transition costs

Edward Prescott, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2004, says that the Democrats' claim that Bush's plans will result in trillion dollar transition costs is wrong. At the Cato Institute on Feb. 9, Prescott said, "there are no transition costs. Re-labeling debt is not a cost."

Cocaine to register voters -- Update

Today we got another hint on which party was intended to benefit from the crack cocaine for voter registration drive. In turns out that the woman supplying the cocaine was working as a volunteer for the NAACP National Voter Fund. The Toledo Blade has the story.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Democrats' Tin Ear on Values and the South

Betsy Newmark has pointed out that the Democrats don't seem to understand that voters notice when they talk publicly about how they need to mold their words in an effort to appeal to them. She has written in the past that voters aren't likely to be fooled in any event.

Democrats are completely out of touch with the South and the "values" issue. I was talking with a friend, Big D, about this. After we kicked around the fact that most Democratic politicians have never worked in the real world, he made an interesting observation about how even business people in the North fail to understand the importance of values and integrity when doing business in the South.

Big D is an independent manufacturers rep whose customers are all in the South. Just about all the manufacturers he represents are located up North and the vast majority of their customers are as well. He says he has to constantly remind them that Southern customers are much more concerned with loyalty, integrity and long term relationships. Apparently, these manufacturers are used to customers who will say anything to get the best price, special service, or unusual customization. Next time around, these customers will go elsewhere for a better deal.

Big D says he has to remind his manufacturers that his Southern customers can be depended upon to do what they say. For them, honesty, integrity and loyalty aren't just words uttered on Sunday, but serious values to live by. When they promise to continue to do business with a company that agrees to meet some special need, you can count on it. These customers are looking for reps and suppliers who want to develop a long term relationship based on trust and cooperation. They would rather pay a little higher price, if necessary, in order to continue working with people they know they can count on in a crisis.

Apparently, Big D's manufacturers aren't familiar with doing business on that kind of basis. Note -- I'm not impugning everyone in the North, just passing on Big D's observations. But I do think that a lot of the Democrats (usually from somewhere other than the South) who are suggesting that they can be competitive in the South, if they simply change the words they use, fail to understand the depth of their problem or the appeal of someone like President Bush.

As Larry Kudlow writes:

One of the defining characteristics of the presidency of George W. Bush has been that he says what he means, and means what he says. Our CEO-like MBA president has always communicated his vision in clear and simple terms. Once he establishes a policy, he moves rapidly to implement it with all the political force he can muster. You could even argue that Bush has been the clearest and most reliable presidential-policy maker since Ronald Reagan — one would have to go back many more decades to find another chief executive like him.

I should point out that inside the beltway types thought Newt Gingrich was crazy to set out specific promises in his Contract with America or to promise prompt action on every one of them. They were even more shocked when he kept his word. That type of integrity is part of the "values" that Southern voters embrace.

Becoming more artful in the use of language isn't likely to pay many dividends for Democrats with these voters.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Environmental self-parody

Again via, we have a story from a paper in Salem, Oregon entitled "Religious leaders criticize Bush on environment." One quote tells you all you need to know:

"The Clear Skies (initiative) is a lie because the administration's proposals for air pollution allow coal-burning facilities to keep polluting the atmosphere," said retired Rev. Paul LaRue, who is a member of the Jason Lee United Methodist Church in Salem. "The same could be said for water pollution. The administration favors industry, it favors corporations, and it favors rich people who continue to exploit the earth at the expense of all the rest of us."

I don't mean to make fun of a retired senior minister. I'm just amazed that a reporter, an editor and a publisher each think this is worthy of quotation. Why not just call Bush an evil, mean-spirited, hate-filled, racist, sexist, homophobe who wants to starve kids and kill old people and cover ALL the bases?

Cocaine to register voters -- but which party did they support?

In Defiance, Ohio, a man has been arrested and charged with filling out over 100 fraudulent voter registration cards. This AP story says that he was paid with cocaine for his efforts by a woman from Toledo.

Perhaps his use of names like Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy gave him away. I guess when you hire someone to register voters and pay him with cocaine, you shouldn't be surprised when the quality of work you get might be a little short of what you had hoped for.

The story doesn't mention which party or political organization was behind the cocaine for voter registration drive. Anyone want to speculate?

Democrats and Bush-loathing

Via I read a well-done column by John Reiniers of Hernando Today.

I agree with him that Bush-loathing is essentially the same as the emotion directed at Gingrich and for the same reasons (he says it is all about the loss of power and has a nice quote from Edmund Burke). I disagree that it started with Gingrich. Democrats have hated effective Republicans ever since the counter-culture boomers seized control of their party. They hated Nixon. They hated Reagan. They hate Gingrich. They hate W.

I would also add that it goes beyond simply the loss of power. The loss of power exacerbates a loathing that starts with what I call Krauthammer's axiom -- Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil. The ugly, extremely offensive remarks which have become routine from Democrats start with their conviction that the GOP is evil. The frustration of being out of power and consistently losing elections magnifies their feelings into the vitriol they spew now.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Carter's October Surprise

Remember when the MSM went absolutely crazy whipping up outrage against George Bush (the father) for supposedly arranging a secret deal with Iran in October 1980 to hold on to the American hostages until after the November election? There has never been any evidence to support the allegation, but that didn't keep the press from running with the story during one of Bush's own presidential campaigns an effort to cause Bush's defeat.

From the guys at Power Line comes a post, "Jimmy Carter Revisited" (last post of Feb.16) where we learn that there really was an effort to manipulate the 1980 election with an "October Surprise." But the effort came from the Democrats. Soviet archives show that Carter made a treasonous offer to give the USSR concessions, if they would help him defeat Reagan.

(Sorry -- tried to link, but this computer in the library won't let me do it the way I have before.)

Go read the whole thing.

Anyone expect the MSM to carry the story?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Internet Down -- Again!

My cable internet service is down, again. They say they can't get someone out until Friday afternoon. Blogging this from the library. Posting will be sporadic at best.

Monday, February 14, 2005

MSM -- dialogue or destroy?

Jay Rosen asks this question of Will Collier at Vodkapundit.

Here's my two cents which I sent to both of them by e-mail:

Re: MSM – dialogue or destroy?

Yes, yes, yes.

The MSM is not a single entity. Neither is the blogosphere. Speaking only for myself, which is all I can do, I am a new blogger (Two Minute Offense) who would love to influence the coverage of establishment news organizations with my input. And I intend to comment positively on reporting which is worthwhile.

However, news organizations which plant bombs in trucks and blame the resulting explosions on the manufacturer need to be destroyed. So do those which work as partisans to influence elections and government policy while lying to the public that they are fair and balanced. Unfortunately, we have a lot of evidence which shows that much of the MSM has been partisan for a long time. The revelations last summer about the Argus-Leader in South Dakota are instructive. See also my post on the partisan media in which I discuss the admission by the Washington Post ombudsman on a CNN panel in 1993 that the press was partisan and had been partisan his whole career. His first assignment as a reporter (at the Nashville Tennessean) was to write a speech for a politician favored by the paper and then to cover the speech. No one should be shocked that the story was quite favorable.

So YES, use all the benefits that bright, informed bloggers, expert in so many diverse fields, bring to the information highway to inform and improve the quality of news. And in the process, YES, let’s utterly destroy the liars, frauds and cheats.

And perhaps we can start by compiling a catalog of all the outrageous examples of media partisans playing fast and loose with the truth to tilt the playing field. Perhaps then, the media apologists will finally acknowledge the rot and we can all start working together on improving the news product. As long as they remain in denial, however, there will be far more destruction than dialogue.

The truth WILL set us free.

Wall Street Journal

I really like the work that Stephen Green does over at Vodkapundit. However, in a post yesterday (2/13) entitled Burying the Lede (, he makes a comment that needs to be addressed. He agrees with the editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal that Eason Jordan's comments were simply not that big a deal. Neither they, nor Stephen, address the long history of Jordan making similar incendiary slanders, so I think they are wrong on this. But what I want to address is Green's point:

"So I find myself agreeing with the editors who wrote the piece I quoted above. Editors, I might add, who work for that left-wing rag, The Wall Street Journal."

The Wall Street Journal IS a left-wing rag. Except for the opinion pages which have a completely separate staff of writers and editors. Now the piece in question to which Green refers is one from the opinion section (the conservative voice in the paper). And I am sure that Green is aware of the different staffs on the paper.

What amazes me is how many other people out there assume that the Wall Street Journal must be a conservative paper because it writes about business. I've had liberal attorneys make this assumption in argumentative e-mails. As if business people are automatically all conservative (they aren't), so journalists covering business must also be. Of course, many of these folks are the same ones who claim that corporations are incapable of supporting liberal ideology. As if the act of filing papers of incorporation in the state capital renders the mind incapable of liberal thoughts.

Anyone who has read the paper consistently knows that the news pages are every bit as liberal as any other news outlet in the country.

Clueless in New York

You just have to read the New Yorker piece by Nicholas Lemann to see how utterly clueless the MSM is on the issue of bias and partisanship.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Wrong Lessons from Easongate?

I think a whole lot of people are taking the wrong lessons from the Eason Jordan resignation. It appears that far too many bloggers still fail to understand the roles that the blogosphere and the MSM play in our information system. This can be seen by the way some people were so relentless in their insistence that the MSM had to be pressured to cover this story. It was as if they felt the scandal would not be taken sufficiently seriously unless the MSM covered it.

Other bloggers seemed to imply that we learned this fall that blogs have the power to force the MSM to cover meritorious stories. Both are wrong.

First, as I wrote previously, the MSM is perfectly capable of stonewalling stories regardless of how many millions of people know about it. They have done it for years and I fully expect that they will continue to do so. Even if some papers and some networks should become more conservative in their approach to the news, this will continue. I don't think the NY Times, for example, will ever cover stories that they don't like, even if every other news outlet in the country does. No amount of pressure from blogs is going to change that.

Second, and far more important, the MSM simply does not have the power to keep a story quiet. Blogs aren't important because they force the MSM to cover a story (they can't). Blogs are important because, in conjunction with talk radio and some cable shows, they reach a large enough audience of voters and influential opinion makers to serve as an alternative source of news. Sure, some journalists in the MSM are influenced by blogs. But, even if they choose not to cover a story, it will get out to an audience of sufficiently critical mass (if it has real significance). And the rise of 527s means that political stories will be even more likely to get out to the public.

The internet and talk radio simply reach too many people today. The MSM no longer serves as the sole gatekeeper for news. They can't be forced to cover a story, but they can't keep one buttoned up either.

Eason Jordan story doesn't add up

What we know of this story to date does not easily fit into the package we presently have. I have to think that there is more that we do not know. Too many bloggers are a little too excited about the current plotline -- Jordan makes scandalous accusations in Davos; coverup attempted; bloggers overcome MSM stonewall; CNN forced to demand he resign; bloggers win.

I'm sorry. That just doesn't add up. All of this (of what we know) isn't sufficient to force CNN to remove him. The MSM would have continued to ignore the story. CNN would not have suffered any embarassment in the eyes of its fellow journalists in the MSM. CNN's audience would not have diminished one bit. Of course, a whole lot of people who don't like to watch CNN would have had one more reason to conclude that CNN was a dishonest news broker. But they already do! If CNN wanted to keep Jordan, they could have simply hung tough, ignored the blogs and waited for the storm to wear itself out. There was no business requirement to cut him loose over this.

Something is missing. Perhaps, Jordan was already in hot water with his bosses. I suspect that Davos was the final straw. Perhaps CNN had determined that its shrinking audience was due to its overwhelming liberal bias. Davos, in conjunction with the other similar accusations Jordan has made, simply gave them the excuse they were looking for to start making changes.

Maybe CNN saw a chance to get rid of him and gain sympathy by allowing him to be a martyr in the eyes of other journalists in the MSM.

Another possibility may have been fear that this would give the administration an excuse for freezing CNN out of the loop. I don't think this is likely, but I can imagine a scenario where the relationship between CNN and the Pentagon, White House and GOP leadership in Congress is already strained. I don't think Bush would publicly pick a fight with a news organization, but if he wanted to, CNN would be one of the logical choices.

It may be that some in the GOP in Congress were making noises about pursuing an investigation into Jordan's comments. And there may be a lot of stuff in the closet that CNN really, really doesn't want to be made public.

Whatever it is, I don't think we know the whole story.

A curious sense of balance

Democrats in Washington are outraged that Republicans have put out a compilation of Senator Reid's comments and policy positions. Apparently, quoting a Democrat is as immoral and unethical as politics gets.

On the other hand, saying that the president is a fascist, a Nazi, worse than Hitler, or that he is using storm troopers to turn America into a gulag is perfectly reasonable political rhetoric. It is also just fine to say that the president's motivation for sending American troops to Iraq to die was to help his friends make money.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

MSM -- isn't "mainstream" sarcasm?

Some of you leaving comments have suggested that we use a term other than mainstream to describe the establishment news media. I have no problem using "establishment" instead of mainstream, but I have to say that I have always considered MSM or mainstream media to be somewhat sarcastic.

Only people as clueless as Dan Rather could describe the NY Times as middle of the road (as related by Bernard Goldberg in his book, Bias). All the rest of us know better. Using MSM to describe them is just another way to laugh at their cluelessness.

A Very Risky Scheme

Which of these alternatives seems riskier to you?

A) You pay money into an account which has your name on it. You choose how to invest your money. At retirement, you get to keep the money and whatever additional returns it has earned. If you die, your family gets the money.

B) You pay money to the government. You have no right to the money. The government spends it on pork, but promises some day to tax you again (or your children) to get the money to replace what they spent. Some day, the government says, they will send you a check each month. But the government makes no guarantees. It can reduce or even eliminate the amount you get. You have no ownership rights. You family can't inherit anything. Any amount you do get will be entirely dependent on whatever the government decides is politically expedient at the time.

One of these options seems extremely risky to me. And it's not the one where the money belongs to me (and my family) and I get to decide how to invest it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bloggers (alternative news media) vs. MSM

We will all be better off in the long run, if the MSM stonewalls the story of Eason Jordan's slanderous remarks.

Earlier this week, I wrote that the MSM isn't likely to run stories on Eason Jordan no matter what the blogosphere does. A lot of prominent bloggers keep predicting that the dam is about to break because a few cable shows have discussed Jordan's comments. I guess I just don't understand how the mechanism works that is supposed to pressure the MSM to cover this story.

Is it shame and embarassment? Bloggers eventually get enough Americans to pay attention that the MSM feels embarassed that they don't cover it? Sorry, that didn't work in the '90s even when tens of millions were aware of extremely important stories (far more important than this one).

Competitive pressure? Don't make me laugh.

Actually, there is a more important issue which is raised by the hue and cry from blogs for the MSM to cover the story. Why do we care whether they provide coverage? Sure, we would all like to see a fair, honest, balanced news media. But we don't have one, not even close. And we aren't likely to get one until the technological revolution is much farther along.

Let's face it. Rathergate, in the end, was a major positive step in furthering the evolution of the news media. The old dinosaur media is not going to change willingly. They are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming. Some will end up in the trash heap. The smarter and more nimble ones will change before they are destroyed.

At this stage of the revolution, the only way to have progress is to assist in the destruction of those news media brands which are most egregious in their partisan slanting and misreporting of the news. News consumers will only get better, more truthful reporting when the worst of the liars and frauds have been destroyed. Not just exposed, but financially ruined (or at least severely hurt).

If the MSM fully covered Eason's fables, it would certainly hurt CNN. Perhaps they would even replace him. But it wouldn't change their slanted coverage. By not covering this important news, however, every single brand of the MSM is implicated. The day of reckoning will come sooner, if they stonewall.

A stonewall only strengthens the blogosphere and alternative sources of news. It clearly weakens the MSM. If this stonewall motivates internet news entreprenuers to work harder to construct the news organizations of the future, we will all benefit.

Our focus should be as much on getting the story out and reaching the audience as it is on pressuring the MSM to do a better job. The way to get the MSM to pay attention is to beat them at their own game. Encouraging readers on the net to e-mail the story to their friends will pay bigger dividends in the end than encouraging them to write CNN.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Why do we need to see the tape?

Several prominent bloggers have written that they want to reserve judgment on Eason Jordan's Davos comments until they see the tape. Although it now appears that the tape will never be made available, I don't understand why we need it. Eason is obviously guilty be his own actions (or rather lack thereof).

The various witness reports are all consistent on what happened with the exception of Jordan himself (whose story keeps changing) and one of his allies who was apparently actively supporting him during the conference when the comments were made. But we really don't need to worry that much about the exact words Jordan used. We only need to look at what David Gergen did and what Barney Frank asked for.

Everyone agrees that David Gergen shut down the discussion because the US military was not there to defend itself. What more does anyone need? Whatever rowback Jordan alleges he made after his initial inflammatory charges, it obviously wasn't enough to clear the air. After a lot of discussion, it was still Gergen's impression that Jordan was making such serious charges that the military should be afforded a chance to defend itself. And of course, no one has denied that Jordan was treated as a hero by the anti-American contingent after Gergen shut down the panel.

Second, after Jordan had finished his remarks (including his alleged rowback) Barney Frank expected him to provide evidence to substantiate the charges. Obviously, Eason's rowback hadn't taken very much back.

Our justice system asks jurors to determine the facts every day in cases which have no tape to go back and inspect. Just like a jury, we have a sizeable group of witnesses (many of whom are liberal and Jordan friends) who agree on the pertinent details. More importantly, we have the uncontroverted fact that the panel was shut down because the military wasn't there to respond.

What more do you need to know? Eason Jordan cannot hide behind an explanation that he was misunderstood. Because the fact of the "misunderstanding" was obvious to him the moment that his friend David Gergen shut down the panel. The anti-American crowd was telling him he's a hero. Gergen had made it clear that he had put allegations out on the table that demanded a response from the military. And Barney Frank was demanding that he provide the evidence.

If Jordan had truly been misunderstood, he had to be aware of it right then. It was clear to everyone, including him, that he had been understood to have accused the military of targeting journalists. If this really was a misunderstanding, and he did not want the crowd at Davos to believe that he was making that accusation, he would have immediately put out a statement correcting the misunderstanding. He would have contacted Gergen and Frank to set them straight. But he didn't.

And the fact that he didn't correct the alleged "misunderstanding" is every bit as damning as the original accusation. Regardless of whatever words were actually used during the panel discussion by Eason Jordan, there is no question that he left Davos knowing that listeners from around the world understood that he had accused the US military of atrocities. And he didn't bother to try to correct that understanding.

Even if we were to believe everything Eason Jordan has said about being misunderstood (which I don't), he stands convicted by his own inaction.

Can the MSM stonewall on Eason Jordan's vicious slander?

Of course! I'd say the odds are more likely than not that the MSM will simply refuse to address this story no matter what the blogosphere does.

Think about the lessons the MSM learned from Rathergate and the SwiftVets affair. They learned never to let the camel in the tent from the beginning.

And it is not like they haven't gotten away with stonewalls many times before. Bloggers cannot force the MSM to address an issue any more than talk radio could a decade ago. Talk radio reached tens of millions of Americans during the Clinton administration, but that didn't stop the MSM from stonewalling critical stories.

* Washington insiders said that evidence of Clinton's rape of Jaunita Brodderick was the last straw in convincing hesitant members of Congress to vote for impeachment. NBC and the Wall Street Journal actually covered the story. Tens of millions heard of it. Yet, the MSM closed ranks and stonewalled it. The LA Times even censored mention of Clinton as a rapist from one of George Will's columns.

* In December 1998 (at the height of impeachment), a federal district judge published an opinion outlining a massive effort to obstruct justice in the Commerce Department with evidence that it was directed from the inner circle of the White House. Readers of certain web sites and listeners of some talk radio hosts heard all about it, but the MSM completely stonewalled.

* Talk radio listeners and readers of certain web sites knew that James Carville had admitted that Hillary Clinton had fabricated lies on four different occasions in an effort to try to explain her corrupt cattle futures payoffs. MSM pitched a complete shutout of the admission.

* David Schippers, a Democrat, wrote a book about his investigation for Janet Reno into the INS scandal of 1996. Justice Department investigators determined that over 100,000 serious criminals were turned loose on the streets of the US rather than be deported as required by law because Al Gore wanted an extra million votes. MSM pitched another shutout.

From Year of the Rat to Hillary's admissions of mindnumbing incompetence in the health care task force litigation, the number of other stories successfully stonewalled is huge.

Here's the bottom line -- the MSM has already pulled off a variety of stonewalls of stories even when tens of millions of Americans knew the facts. Given that Fox News may not wish to be perceived as attacking rival CNN, I don't see any reason why they can't do it again for Eason Jordan. Should they be embarrassed? Of course, but when has that ever mattered before?


Thanks to Deacon at Power Line for the link. I really hope that Deacon is right in his belief (he acknowledges that it may be more of a hope) that the blogosphere can force the hand of the MSM on stories. Commentators today have said that the dam seems to be breaking on this story because Kurtz wrote on it in the WaPo and the NY Sun has a story (also a couple of mentions on cable shows). I don't know that this presages a flood in the MSM. Kurtz has written a puff piece defending Jordan and ignoring the contradictions. I'm not sure how this pressures anyone else in the MSM to address the story. The cable comments and the NY Sun don't qualify and hardly create any pressure.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Social Security

I'm not an economist, but I did major in Economics in college (and received unsolicited offers of acceptance to a couple of quality grad schools, i.e. "We saw your test scores. Please apply, you've already been accepted"). I think I have the ability to follow a rational argument.

What I find so baffling about the current campaign to defeat social security reform is the relentless lack of logic. As a lawyer, I've watched or read arguments presented in thousands of cases. Usually, both sides manage to make some kind of argument that offers a rational reason to agree with them. The better course is usually clear, but there is something worthwhile to consider from the losing side. In this debate about social security, however, the liberals haven't managed to come up with an argument that even makes any sense.

I would refer two articles today for your review. Kevin Hassett has a piece in the dead tree version of the Wall Street Journal on the opinion page which makes the case that we should reform social security because the current system is so bad (regardless of whether it is in crisis). And David Hogberg addresses the varied foolishness that liberal opponents have been throwing against the wall in hopes of finding something that will stick.


Mr. Bush -- Please Divide Us

Liberal commentators love to blame President Bush for "dividing" the nation. But Bush wasn't the one who has spent the last two years engaged in the most vile defamation. It takes two to meet halfway, and the Democrats have made it perfectly clear that they intend to continue their vicious assaults on Bush. Happily, most Americans don't believe the crazy charges of Hitler-like Gestapo storm troopers turning the nation into a police state or Bush sending soldiers to die so his friends could make money.

I believe that the president needs to make a point of not rewarding those who have engaged in such vile behavior. For the sake of our future, he needs to insure that future politicians see that a price is paid by those who lie and slander so outrageously.

Mr. Bush should draw a clear, distinct bright line between himself and the Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party. And force those Democrats in red states to publicly declare to their constituents whose side of the line they occupy. He is already traveling to these states to make his case for social security reform. Now is the time for his conservative friends to use 527s to tell the voters in these states just what Michael Moore thinks of them. They need to hear just how stupid Moore thinks they are and how often Moore has told the world how much he hates them. And then they need to see how the Democrats embraced Moore and treated him as a hero for saying such things.

We need to have the differences made clear and distinct. Our nation is at a critical point.

The conservative 527s need to throw down the guantlet to the red state Democrats. Tell your voters where you stand -- with Michael Moore or George Bush? And make sure the voters are paying attention.

Forced to choose between Moore and Bush, I don't have any doubts that Bush can achieve 60% support.

Super Bowl

As I expected, the Patriots won the game because they were the better team in the trenches. Their offensive line was much better providing pass protection for Brady and running room for Dillon and Faulk than the Eagles'. Brady was barely adequate as a QB and McNabb's play was downright ugly at times.

By far, the ugliest part of the game was McNabb's shocking ineptitude at playing Two Minute Offense. Down by two scores, the Eagles needed to be in hurry up mode once the game had fewer than 10 minutes left. Had McNabb been even remotely adequate at running his offense, the Eagles could have kicked deep after their last score and still had more than three minutes available for their last drive.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Horowitz and Voegeli on the Liberal mind

The guys at Powerline pointed out an article by William Voegeli, a Claremont Institute research fellow, entitled "The Endless Party." It appeared yesterday (Feb. 3) at He has a number of disturbing quotes from liberals throughout this century on their goals and aspirations (essentially unlimited government to help us achieve a more perfect state of humanity).

I was struck by the way this article reinforces the argument that David Horowitz has been making for years. Horowitz (the man behind was a red diaper baby and was at the forefront of many left-wing causes in Berkely in the 60s. He argues in much of his writing that there is almost no essential difference between communists and liberals. Once society starts down the "liberal" agenda of a welfare state, the end ultimately is the same.

I am curious what Horowitz would say about the Voegeli piece.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Eason Jordan -- beyond partisan bias

By now everyone has read of the vicious slander of the American military by CNN News chief, Eason Jordan. His lie -- that our military has murdered at least 12 journalists -- tells us a great deal about him and the mainstream news media.

Of course it reveals his bias, but we already knew about that. It also shows how partisan he can be in his efforts to undermine the United States in general and President Bush in particular.

But the most important thing to remember about this incident is this:

Eason Jordan is brain-dead stupid.

He's not just a biased journalist engaged in partisan efforts to hurt his country and his president. He's an idiot. He is a woefully incompetent journalist.

What's with Kurtz?

Howard Kurtz makes an ass of himself by trying to say that conservatives have no legitimate right to get angry when liberal Democrats betray America or slander Republicans. Apparently, Kurtz feels that winning an election means that Republicans can't get angry anymore.

Kurtz' column in the WashPost is entitled "Still Angry After All These Years."

Given the nasty hatred that Democrats have been spewing for the last five years, Kurtz might be better served looking at his friends for good examples of people who are still angry after all these years.

I wonder if Kurtz thinks anyone has the right to be angry with CNN's Eason Jordan for his vicious slander of the American military?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Democrats in search of Oz

On their journey to Oz, the tin man, the scarecrow and the lion may have lacked a heart, a brain and courage, but they were in much better shape than the current DC crop of Democratic politicians. First, they each recognized they had a problem that needed fixing. Second, each was missing only one of those important qualities.

Anyone observing Democrats today can see that they lack both courage and a brain. And while they loudly profess to having a heart and even wear theirs on their sleeves, their lack of guts and brains means they never end up actually helping anyone. Whether it's welfare mothers, kids trapped in inner-city schools, Afghan women brutalized by the Taliban or Iraqi children confined in hellish prisons, the Democrats just don't have the stuff it takes to make a positive difference.

Other than backbiting, second-guessing, whining and complaining, what do Democrats do? Besides vote fraud and slandering Republicans?

What do they stand for? On the major issues of the day, they are incoherent. Their foreign policy stance appears to be nothing more than wishing they were French and disagreeing with everything the Bush does (even if they once suggested doing it). As Glenn Reynolds notes, they talked about the necessity of regime change in Iraq during the last years of the Clinton administration. Apparently it was all talk. They couldn't imagine anyone actually, you know, doing something about it.

Same thing for social security reform. When Clinton was president, they told us that a crisis loomed and reform was necessary. Now that Bush actually proposes doing something about it, they can't even agree there is a problem.

Their incoherence on the economy is especially striking. They criticized Bush for not doing enough to stimulate, but complained about deficits and proposed putting limits on free trade and increasing taxes. Utter nonsense.

If they really want to win an election in the future, they might start by finding some sense and the courage to stand up for America and its values. Political leadership means more than calling George Bush names.

Party needs adult supervision

Is there an adult left in the Democratic Party? There are a lot of different adjectives which aptly describe it, but I suppose immature is as good as any. Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, Pelosi, Gore, Dean et al appear bent on embarassing themselves with a never ending temper tantrum.

Isn't there anyone in their entire party with the capability and willingness to stand up and demand that they all grow up? They have been acting so irresponsibly lately that it's almost an insult to my kids to describe their behavior as "childish."