2007/06/30

Should we ignore Ann Coulter?

Should we ignore Ann Coulter in the hope that she'll then go away? Media Matters argues no. First, she has a perch atop the media food chain anyway. "News" shows feature her in any event. Even worse, major media commentators repeat her charges. People you'd think wouldn't give her any credibility go around repeating what she says. With Coulter, you're simply getting the original, most hateful and venomous version. What you're not getting later from the major media is a version that's been watered down by facts or context, it's simply been softened to a more palatable form.

Also, keep in mind what Brent Bozell proclaimed:

“But Ann Coulter is owed an apology from those outlets, including NBC’s Nightly News, The Washington Post and CNN’s American Morning, which have mis-reported her comments. And conservatives, take note: Today it’s Coulter, tomorrow it may be you. The left has demonstrated that it will stop at nothing, including flat-out dishonesty, to undermine our leaders.”

Remember conservatives, insult der obergruppenfuhrer (Michelle Malkin, the number two hatemonger in the Republican Party, is just a gruppenfuhrer.) and you insult the Republican Party, why you insult Dick Cheney himself!

Oh, and Chris Matthews, as one of Coulter's prime apologists/enablers, really, really needs to go away.

2007/06/23

Good grief!

What do the dates April 2004, July 2005, June 2006 and June 2007 all have in common?

They've all seen US Government predictions that forces in Iraq could be reduced within a year.

Yeah, that'll happen, yup, this time for sure!

Electoral troubles of John Edwards

The Politico, which purports to cover "the politics of Capitol Hill and of the presidential campaign ... with enterprise, style, and impact," declared that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has what "opponents call 'the three h's' -- the haircut that cost $400, his huge house and his lucrative involvement with a hedge fund." Funny, but all three "scandals" were manufactured by news outlets including and just like The Politico.

As Media Matters demonstrates, there simply is no contradiction between being wealthy and between wanting others to live comfortably as well.

Apparently, seeing that the "three h's" weren't having any impact, the NY Times decided to up the ante by suggesting that Edwards' 2004 initiative, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, was just a cheap front for funding his own presidential campaign. (TalkLeft points out that, were the accusation to be made explicit and of course, were the accusation true, then Edwards would be guilty of the crime of tax fraud.) The accusations are not made explicitly, but the report uses "lines... highly charged with innuendo in a way that's beneath the Paper of Record."

"John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff.
"Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and — unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students — the main beneficiary of the center’s fund-raising was Mr. Edwards himself, tax filings show."

Problem: there's simply no proof that any of these charges rest on factual evidence. The main, primary charge, of course, is that Edward's was the program's primary beneficiary. The apparent assertion that Edwards was motivated by anything other than a desire to help people is simply the reporters' unsubstantiated opinion, unsupported by any facts.

In fact, as The Daily Howler discovers, to its astonishment and amazement [/snark], "Edwards didn’t do anything wrong! But we get this statement in the next-to-last paragraph, after 1700 words of insinuation."

The really amazing kicker is that:

"...no mention of how the programs actually impacted people appears until the story's 18th paragraph -- and at that point it comes from the mouth of an Edwards spokesman. There's no indication that the reporter made any genuine independent effort at all to discover whether the programs helped anyone."


Of course, the National Review manages to work the "three 'h's' " into its quickie overview and also suggests that the NY Times piece rests on factual evidence.

A diary on DailyKos examines the deeper meaning of the story: "It suggests that the rich cannot care about poverty, that throwing money at a problem is the only solution and that candidates cannot care about issues." The whole point of mentioning that Edwards has "assets of nearly $30 million" seems to be only that "rich people can’t be concerned with the poor" and hey, look! Edwards is rich!

This kind of corrosive cynicism is like suggesting that "Vice President Gore doesn’t care about global warming and is only raising the issue to keep his viability as a candidate alive." A view which probably contains a few grains of truth, but the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" makes it clear that Gore was concerned about Global Warming many, many years before it became a real issue.

Yes, the question of "qui bono?" i.e. "to whose benefit?" is an important one and it certainly should be asked, but it's often portrayed as a massive, looming, overarching premise. It's often portrayed as the only really important question in a story. One of my college professors pointed out the problem with this kind of thinking. We had been discussing the subject of the post-World War II Marshall Plan in Western Europe and one of the students asked "Wasn't the whole purpose of that plan just to fight communism? Wasn't the recovery aspect irrelevant?" Our professor replied "The people of the US back then didn't see any contradiction between the two. They didn't believe that they had to choose, so they believed in both. The Marshall Plan was BOTH a way to help the people of Western Europe recover from World War II AND a way to build a strong Western Europe that could resist communism."

There's simply no reason that Al Gore cannot believe in both ideas at once, that Global Warming is a threat to all of mankind AND that the issue might improve his presidential prospects. There's no reason why John Edwards can't BOTH be fighting to improve the lives of those people who don't make anywhere near as much money as he does AND to be worth a great deal of money. There's simply no contradiction.

2007/06/18

Allegations on China & Iran

*Sigh!* Well, it seems our old pal Jeff Gerth has been a busy boy. Now, he's claiming that China is supplying arms to Iraqi insurgents via Iran

Yee-hah! It's a two-fer! Now our media is blaming not just one, but two evil empires!

Frankly, I thought the following:

"...Beijing, which insisted it knew nothing about the shipments and asked for additional intelligence on the transfers..."


and

"Apologists for China within the government said the intelligence reports were not concrete proof of Chinese and Iranian government complicity."


First off, China's request that the US supply proof that they're sending covert arms shipments to Iraqi insurgents is an entirely reasonable one, one that would be honored immediately by an honorable administration. It's of course quite possible that there could be a rogue element in China's government that they would be more than happy to stop if only they were apprised of details concerning how the transfers are being made. If the US had 10 discrete
pieces of evidence, they could reveal perhaps three and see if action is taken that affects the other seven.

Second, the observation that the word of intelligence agencies do not constitute "concrete proof" is again an entirely reasonable one. Intelligence agencies "hoover up" all the information they can get ahold of because one is better safe than sorry. If one is making a diplomatic protest, it's not unreasonable to get other agencies to certify that the information they're working off of is solid. It was shown after the Vietnam War that military services did a very good job of critiquing the plans of other military services. The Navy critiqued the plans of the Air Force and pointed out quite a few things that later became common wisdom.

It's hardly called for to refer to those skeptical of the reports on China "Apologists for China."

2007/06/11

Looks like anti-al Qaeda alliance fraying, misc

In Iraq, it was hoped that Iraqis were making alliances with Americans, but TPMMuckraker makes it clear that any alliance was an "enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend" type of get-together. In other words, the alliance began when al Qaeda became a threatening third force and is doomed to end when al Qaeda is defeated. That also means that if the Americans leave Iraq, al Qaeda will then take the brunt of Iraqis seeking to reestablish control over their country.

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Democrats put out a fact sheet on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and why he needed to be chastised with a "no-confidence" vote. In order to proceed with the vote, Democrats needed 60 "ayes". They only got 53.

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Yippee!!! Habeas corpus upheld!!! Delightful phrase: "The Court thus rejected the Administration’s claim that the President has the inherent, unchecked Constitutional power to do whatever he wants in designating US residents as 'enemy combatants.' ”

Aah! Music to my ears!!! A heavenly chorus opens up to sing!!

2007/06/04

More fun with the media

"In an advance copy of the new book Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co.) obtained by Media Matters for America, co-authors Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr." make a charge against the Clinton's right in the beginning of their book and repeat that charge using the words " 'plan,' 'pact,' or 'project' more than 20 times in Her Way."

"In the prologue of Her Way, Gerth and Van Natta write:
"More than three decades ago, in the earliest days of their romance, Bill and Hillary struck a plan, one that would become both the foundation and the engine of their relationship. They agreed to work together to revolutionize the Democratic Party and ultimately make the White House their home.14 Once their "twenty-year project" was realized, with Bill's victory in 1992, their plan became even more ambitious: eight years as president for him, then eight years for her.15 Their audacious pact has remained a secret until now."

Problem: The books authors provide no evidence that such a " 'plan,' 'pact,' or 'project' " ever existed. As a matter of fact, one of their sources, the historian Taylor Branch, calls the allegations of a secret 20-year plan "preposterous." At no time do they show that any of their sources refer to any such plan. The closest they come is to quote a source who neither confirmed nor denied that the quote used was accurate. The Media Matters piece is lengthy, 28 kilobytes, most of which consists of quotes from the book concerning this "plan." After trying to track down exactly where the authors got the main theme of their book, Media Matters concludes that the authors were using, as the British might say, "dodgy and iffy" sources, or more to the point, Media Matters concludes the authors pretty much just made it up.

Amusing endnote:

"Additionally, according to a May 30 weblog post by Smith on Politico.com, Van Natta wrote to Smith: "[T]he Clinton people should wait until the book comes out before they nitpick everything from our alleged 'main premise' to footnotes."

Well, of course they should wait! That way, their [entirely justified] complaints get lost in the media chatter about the book and get shunted aside as booksellers seek to make money off of selling lots and lots of copies of the book.

Eric Boehlert does some further digging into the journalistic career of one of the authors, Jeff Gerth, and recounts quite a few interesting facts about Gerth's career. Seems that Gerth was a major writer on the Whitewater case, a case that thoroughly disproved the old saw about "Where there's smoke, there's fire." In Whitewater, the allegations of wrongdoing by the Clintons proved to be entirely smoke with no actual wrongdoing, or "fire" ever having been discovered. Gerth further disgraced himself and the New York Times by making utterly baseless accusations against Dr Wen Ho Lee, who spent 278 days in jail while Gerth won himself a Pulitzer for the same reporting. Dr Lee was then released for lack of evidence and again, the American public saw a lot of smoke, but no fire.

America's major media outlets are in very sad shape today because of the kind of abysmally poor "reporting" done by Gerth. Let's hope he doesn't get away with it this time and that fellow major media outlets report, truthfully this time, that there was no secret Clinton plan.