Fat Steve's Blatherings

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

That's It, I'm Done With Them

      The Rathergate mess was bad enough, but as far as I'm concerned last night CBS crossed the line.

      The story about how the draft might be re-instated does not even have arguable legitimacy.  It is nothing but a deliberate attempt to scare women and young people into voting for Kerry.

      I just sent the following letter to my local CBS affiliate:

    I previously wrote you concerning the "memogate" scandal.

    I'd hoped that, with CBS News finally admitting that they couldn't verify the memos, we could put all this behind us.

    I was wrong.  Last night, CBS News attempted to throw the election to Kerry by running a phony story about how the evil Republicans are planning to revive the draft.  This story is a pile of reeking horse manure, only being publicized because the desperate Kerry campaign has fastened on it in an attempt to stave off electoral disaster.

    I realize that you had nothing to do with this producing this Goebbles-like exercise in dishonesty; I respect the [suppressed] News team's local coverage; but your station is carrying CBS News. In good conscience, I can not help them spread their lies. Therefore, effective immediately, I will no longer watch any program of any kind on your station or any station that airs a program featuring or otherwise employing Dan Rather, Richard Schlesinger, Linda Karas, Tom McEneny or Andrew Heyward.  I am sorry it has come to this, but "here I stand, I can do no other," and pretentious as that sounds, it is a measure of how seriously I take this issue.

      I also wrote Amazon, which had just mailed me a letter suggesting I buy DVDs of "CSI," and told them that I they must stop soliciting me for any program that ever ran on CBS, or I'd stop doing business with them.

      I am utterly serious about this.  I won't have anything to do with CBS any more, directly or indirectly, until they clean up their act.  Until they fire their propagandists, BOYCOTT CBS!

      Update: People blogging this story include Ratherbiased.com, Allah, Captain Ed, Drudge, The Blogfather, JustOneMinute, Polipundit, Powerline, Fedora Roger, Tim-Down-Under, and of course Quarterback Charles.  Special kudos to Swimmer bkm, for finding the only draft plan actually proposed this year: Kerry's.

      We should all take action on this, people.  CBS's action is just beyond the pale.


Dept. of Stupid Questions

      I normally have great respect for Patterico, but today he says's something incredibly stupid (sorry to be so blunt, but facts are facts).

      Writing about a piece in the Los Angeles Dog Trainer, Patterico asks
Can't they find anybody who understands the law, is willing to do a little research, and can write a fair article?

      Duh!  Of course they can, P.  But if they assigned their story to someone who'd write a fair, accurate, well-researched article, it would undercut their goal of deceiving the public.  The Times has given itself the difficult assignment of getting as criminals out of jail and back on the street.  How would giving people the facts help with that?

      "I'm surprised I have to explain these things to you."


Nope, Nothing to See Here

      Kerry Haters has a nice piece of info from Gen. Tommy Franks's American Soldier:
"[The 1 MEF] had also encountered several hundred foreign fighters from Egypt, the Sudan, Syria, and Libya who were being trained by the regime in a camp south of Baghdad. Those foreign volunteers fought with suicidal ferocity, but they did not fight well. The Marines killed them all."

      Of course, it isn't possible that any of those people were Islamofascists, or aiming to attack the United States at any point.  No, no, they were all good, clean secular killers, who only intended to attack non-USAmericans.  They probably mistook the Marines for the Israeli Army or some such.  We know for certain, because Sen. Kerry says so, that there was no connection between the jihadists and Iraq.

      "And I am Marie of Romania."


Smear Job

      Apparently, some mean people have been making fun of Sen. Kerry's new appearance.  It's even been called "a right wing smear job."

      Yes, definitely a smear job.  But somehow, I don't think it was a right winger who put that gunk on the candidate's face.  Only a fellow Democrat could be so stupid. ;-)

      "Vote Kerry!  He's tall, and he has a phony tan!"

      I wish I could make stuff like this up.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

THAT Explains It!

      Over at protein wisdom Jeff has an article from the Weekly Standard, written by Daniel Twining.  The thrust is that data from the "Transatlantic Trends 2004" poll shows that Democrats have the attitudes of Europeans, but more so.

      It's not a completely new insight.  Filmmaker John Milius once opined that gun control was a European idea, and suggest that people who want to live in a firearm-free society should move there.  But this is the first time I've seen polling data to support the notion.

      So, the natural solution to the current political division is to send Democrats to Europe.  Of course, many will ask, "Does any continent, even Europe, deserve to have Democrats dumped on them?"  Yes.  Forty million Donks would be a harsh but just punishment for France, Germany, and their co-conspirators.

      Alas, the natural Democratic desire to annoy their betters will probably make them reluctant to emigrate.  But a Republican's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for?

      Commit to the cause today!  Join the Committee For A Democrat-Free America: "We want to end the Democratic Party in your lifetime."


Monday, September 27, 2004

Didn't You Ever Take a Composition Course, You Moron?

      Captain Ed directs us to an ABC News piece on political blogging.

      In an ABC news story on blogs, we find this gem:
Markos Moulistsas runs one of the most popular liberal blogs, called the Daily Kos.

"I was driving my family and friends and co-workers crazy ranting about the injustices that I saw everyday," the former Army veteran explains.  [My emphasis]

      So, Moulistsas used to be a veteran, but now he's a non-veteran?

      And contemplate this sentence:
"What blogs have really done for politics is they've allowed for a two-way communication between candidates and campaigns to really [SIC!] supporters and voters.

      By the way, who was it that supplied this controversial bit of secret wisdom?  We'll never know: it's an anonymous source.

      But the crowning fatuity is the statement:
Someone calling himself "Hindrocket" posted

      So, the author of this piece, Ms. Kate Snow, doesn't know how to find out who the people posting at Powerline are (it involves esotoric point & click skills), and doesn't know that Hindrocket was one of the people who took down Rather and CBS.  Or maybe Ms. Snow just didn't want you to know that.  Did I mention that there are no links in this story?

      And these are the people who are so superior to us, because they have editors, journalism school degrees?  SHEESH!


At Last!

      I've long believed that the single most important thing needed to make space routinely accessible is to absolutely reject any idea whatsoever of involvement by NASA.  The people running the "space agency" do NOT want us to have cheap access to space.

      And today, someone else sees it
Sir Richard Branson today announced that he had signed a licensing deal to create a fleet of spacecraft offering commercial flights to space by 2007-8.

Speaking at the launch of Virgin Galactic Airways, Sir Richard said he planned to invest £60m in space tourism, making it accessible to the general public.
      And where will Sir Richard get his spacecraft?  From "Mojave Aerospace Ventures," the Paul Allen/Bert Rutan company that has been creating SpaceShipOne, expected to win the Ansari X-Prize over the next few days.

      This is the most important story of the decade.  We are on our way.


Latest Rathergate updates

      There have been two fine stories about the phony memos that I think illuminate how the fraud may have been pulled, and when, and by whom.

      At American Thinker, Clarice Feldman notes that Sydney Blumenthal had an article in the British Guardian for Sept. 9th.  Blumenthal mentions both The Boston Globe story on Bush's alleged failure to do his duty in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG), as well as CBS's 60 Minutes Wednesday story.  Blumenthal specifically discussed the Ben Barnes interview and the phony memos.

      Now, the 60 Minutes Wednesday story ended at 9:00 EDT, which was 2:00 AM London time.  Yet they had a story on the subject the next day.  Very fast work, that.  And Salon, as I've noted before, also had a Bush Guard story on the 9th.  Blumenthal is the "Washington Bureau Chief" of Salon.

      Hmmm, ya think maybe Blumenthal knew about that CBS story ahead of time?  And considering that Blumenthal was in charge of smears for the Clinton White House, could he have been the guy arranging all this stuff to hit at the same time?  Blumenthal may be a key to this mystery.

      And last week, Baseball Crank had a great story/timeline concerning Josh Marshall, Ben Barnes, and the CBS interview.  I filled it out with a little Googling.

      A chronology seems like the best method of presenting this information (unattributed information from this Washington Post story):

February 12th, 2004: Bill Burkett appears on Hardball, accuses Guard officials in Texas of sanitizing Bush's record.

"March": Bill Burkett allegedly gets a call from Lucy Ramirez, woman of mystery, who says she has records that prove Bush didn't do his duty.  Using an anonymous male intermediary, she allegedly passes them to Burkett on March 3rd, at a Houston stock show.  Burkett reads and xeroxes six memos, then burns the originals so they can't be traced to their source.  Although he's been pursuing Bush on this story for years, he does nothing with the memos but hide them.  [Gee, Bill, I find that last bit just a mite hard to believe.]

June 8th: Barnes, at a campaign rally, says that he got Bush into the Guard, and that's he's not proud he used his influence that way.  (This is exactly what he will say on 60 Minutes Wednesday in Sept.)  The press doesn't seem to pick up on it.

Aug. 13th: Bill Burkett posts on Democrats.com, stating that Bush was AWOL, but that "I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed."  [Hmmm, that sure sounds like Burkett hadn't read the memos yet, doesn't it?]

"Mid-August": Burkett calls ex-Senator Cleland, wants to communicate information about Bush.  Cleland tells Burkett to call the Kerry campaign.  Burkett does so, but gets no satisfaction.

"Mid-August": Someone calls Mapes, tells her Burkett has the long-sought memos.  Mapes begins efforts to get copies of the documents.

Aug. 21st: Burkett complains on-line about calling the Kerry campaign as Cleland suggested, getting run-around from staffers.  Burkett has called Cleland because he says he has information to counter Swifties attack on Kerry. [Gosh, I wonder what that information would be.]

Aug. 22nd: Josh Marshall, reporter and blogger, working with CBS on the "phony Niger documents" story, uses his blog to call for Barnes to come forward and tell the story about how he allegedly helped Bush dodge the draft by getting into the TANG.  No reason is given by Marshall for why Barnes would do this.  The reason Marshall wants it to happen is because of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth.

Aug. 25th: Burkett writes about "your files that we have now reassembled," and how they prove Bush didn't do his duty.  The post reflects exactly the charges that will be in the CBS story: Bush didn't obey orders, his superiors recorded this fact.

Aug. 27th: Marshall blogs about the June 8th tape, which he hadn't previously known about.

Aug. 28th-Sept. 2nd: Barnes supposedly gets in touch with Rather, says he'll talk about his using influence to help Bush.

Sept. 1st: Marshall blogs that Barnes has already taped an interview with Rather.  Why?  Exactly the reason that Marshall suggested on the 22nd: the Swifties attacks on Kerry.  And what do you know?  Salon has the story too!

Sept. 3rd: Mapes gets the memos from Burkett.  In return, Mapes gives Burkett's number to Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign.

Sept. 4th?: Lockhart calls BurkettThey later disagree about what they said during the conversation.  [See below]

Sept. 7th: CBS honchos hear about the story from Mapes, while Rather is supposedly taping interview with Barnes.  Texans For Truth starts running an ad alleging Bush's lack of service.

Sept. 8th: The Boston Globe, and U.S.News and World Reports both have stories that day about Bush's Guard service.  60 Minutes Wednesday runs the story that evening.  An hour after the story runs, USA Today is given the documents by Burkett, by pre-arrangement.

Sept. 9th: Blumenthal has the above mentioned piece in The Guardian, Salon has its story, and Terry McAuliffe announces that the DNC will attack Bush on this issue.  Many other papers write about the Guard issue.

      Interesting, no?  If the interview took place before Sept. 1st, why was the story about it happening on the 7th?  And what was Rather doing that day, instead of conferring with the CBS brass about the story?

      If Barnes had in fact not done the interview till the 7th, why are Marshall and Salon both saying he had given the interview?  Marshall claimed to have three sources for his story, all saying that Barnes had already talked to Rather.

      And why does CBS think Barnes has never spoken out before, when in fact he's told the story at a Kerry rally?

      More than ever, I think someone in the Democratic Party is coordinating this behind the scenes.  And I think CBS got hustled into pushing the story on the air too quickly.  Was Mapes part of that?  Rather?  Blumenthal?  McAuliffe?  Someone needs to follow up on this.

      What the timeline strongly suggests is that someone in the Democratic Party got in touch with Burkett after Aug. 13th, and gave him the documents.  Burkett then began trying to flog them to the Kerry campaign.  While that was going on, someone also in on the forgery told Mapes that Burkett had the memos.  Burkett, acting under instruction, refuses to give the memos to Mapes till the print stories and Texans For Truth ads are almost ready to go, then passes them Sept. 3rd.  Mapes and Rather are informed of the Globe and U.S. News stories, and rush to get their segment on the air by Sept. 8th at the latest.  Unfortunately for the forger, he's young enough that he doesn't realize how easily the memos will be exposed.  Sydney, you're looking better and better for this!

      Kudos to the Baseball Crank and Clarice Feldman, who've put together two large pieces of this puzzle (though they still haven't realized the significance of the simultaneous print stories).

      Update: The Washington Post reports that Crazy Bill Burkett wants to sue CBS.  What's really interesting is a little snippet in paragraph three:
Burkett has had little luck finding a lawyer to represent him. His first attorney, David Van Os of San Antonio, bowed out because he was involved in the initial negotiations with CBS and feels a conflict of interest.

      Well well well well.  Van Os was involved in "negotiations," and "feels a conflict of interest."  Lawyers may correct me if I'm wrong, but if Crazy Bill hired Van Os to represent him in negotiating with CBS, and CBS did in fact betray Burkett, there isn't any conflict of interest.  It sounds like CBS hired Van Os, doesn't it?  OR MAYBE VAN OS WAS HIRED BY SOME OTHER PARTY INVOLVED IN THIS DEAL?

      Captain Ed wondered
So how does such a well-connected man within Democratic circles wind up as Burkett's mouthpiece? I can understand why Burkett would want Van Os as his attorney, but why would Van Os want a fringe fire-breather like Burkett as a client, especially this close to his own election? Having any connection to Burkett will likely be fatal to Van Os' hopes for November in Texas. [Van Os is running for the Texas Supreme Court.]

Could it be to give Burkett a connection to the Democrats that would be protected by attorney-client privilege? Is Van Os involved in Burkett's dirty-tricks campaign while running for the Texas Supreme Court? One thing is certain: his relationship with Burkett allows the long-time Bush hater easy access to the highest levels of the Democratic Party, and if Burkett followed Max Cleland's advice, Van Os' relationship would have made it quite easy for Burkett to be received at Kerry's campaign headquarters.

      Maybe there's some explanation for all this that doesn't involve Van Os working for the Democratic Party.  But I'm having a hard time thinking what it could be?

2nd Update: Turns out that Burkett was misquoted. (hat tip: Beldar)

3rd Update: Beldar speculates about a defamation suit against CBS by Burkett (he doesn't think Burkett has any great hope), but doesn't much discuss why there'd be a conflict of interest if Van Os represented Burkett in such a suit.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Remarkable Posts on Terror Cells

      Global Guerrillas, a site I just discovered, (hat tip: Belmont Club) has two remarkable posts on the terrorists cells.  I strongly recommend reading them both.

      Briefly, the author concludes that there are certain optimum sizes for terror cells; small groups should be five to nine members, medium sized groups should be 25-80 members; the 9/11 hijackers evolved such a structure; al-Qaeda has figured out ways to support such cells; they will be very hard to stop.

      Belmont Club adds the thought that state sponsorship is THE key to terrorists growing beyond that size.  Destroying known terrorist training camps and overthrowing govts. that support terrorism are the keys to limiting these groups.  Read that one too.


Jayson Blair Gets It

      You may remember Jayson Blair, the New York Times reporter who made stuff up, got caught at it, and lost his career.  Rathergate.com decided to ask him what he thought about the mess at CBS.

      He turns out to be quite sensible and articulate.  He sees that the story wasn't very important in the first place:
He [Bush] has three-and-one-half years and two wars as President and if can’t make a judgment on that, as opposed to his personal life three decades ago, then there might as well not be elections.
      He also notes that this whole mess happened in part because CBS has institutional flaws.  Sensibly, he calls on the network to find them and fix them.

      Unfortunately for CBS, they seem determined at the moment to not do this.  Too bad.


And Now, Let's Hit Haloscan With a BlackJack

      There are a lot of comments on the Haloscan site about how cool the commenting function is, and how easy and so forth.

      What appears to be missing is any instructions on how to use it to leave a comment.

      Guys, if you want us to use your comment function, put a BIG, PROMINENT LINK to the instructions.


Haloscan: Recommended, With One Minor Criticism

      When I wanted to install Trackback on this site, I found out that blogger didn't support it.  But, they recommended I use Haloscan's service. 

      To make a short story a bit longer, I went over to Haloscan, created an account, logged in, and followed instructions.  Everything was clear except one thing: when they said
"Step One

"Copy and paste the following code anywhere between your <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags in your page."
      They should have said:
'Go to the blogger dashboard, (http://www.blogger.com/home), click change settings, and click the "Template" tab.Copy and paste the following code anywhere between your <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags in your TEMPLATE page."
  Fortunately, I guessed what they meant and found it myself.

      Once the instructions were followed, I clicked on the link to send a link, clicked on the "How to send a ping" link, followed instructions, and LO!  It worked.

      Bravo, Haloscan!  Nice to have people do things pretty much right.  Make the instructions a little more idiot proof, and you will have achieved Nerdvana.


Mary Mapes: Designated Victim

      If you go over to John Ellis's blog and read the posts, you'll see he expects the CBS suits to make Mary Mapes the primary victim of Rathergate.  Nor is he the only one.  Mickey Kaus and Beldar agree that she's been passed the black spot.

      Their arguments are very good, but there's another piece of evidence worth noting.

      If you go to, for example, this story you will see a very unflattering picture of Ms. Mapes.  Google some other stories, and you'll come across that picture a lot.  In fact, it's the only one I've seen to date.  You really think CBS doesn't have a better picture somewhere?  One that doesn't make her look like a prisoner doing hardtime in a maximum security prison?  For that matter, you think the press couldn't dig one up if they wanted to?

      Update, April 02, 2005: I now know how to post photos.  Here's the one I was referring to:

      Nope, Mapes is history, and everyone in the news racket is in on it.  By by, Ms. Mapes.  That pain you're feeling in your back is where your former friends stuck the daggers in.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Meaning of Rathergate, Part Three: Egregious and Total DishonestY

      The single most important fact about the Rathergate mess is that the moment the memos were challenged Rather, 60 Minutes Wednesday, and the CBS network commenced lying to their colleagues, their fellow newmen, and the public.

      That's lied as in spoke untruths, conned, dissembled, dissimulated, distorted, faked, falsified, fibbed, fudged, invented, made believe, misinformed, misled, misrepresented, perjured, perverted the facts, phonied, prevaricated, put on, snowed, strung along the people they talked to.  In addition they falsely and dishonestly bad-mouthed, blackened the reputations of, cast aspersions on, calumniated, caricatured, defamed, denigrated, derogated, knocked, maligned, reviled, slurred, smeared, tore down, traduced and vilified those who were trying to get at the truth.

      And the only reason they've pulled back is because they can't get away with it very well any more.  Note well that, to the extent they can pull it off, they continue their deception.

      In the twelve days it took CBS to decide that it had goofed big time with the 'Killian Memos' story, there was a lot of talk by the network explaining why we should all trust their reporting.  So, let's reprise the news about the news.

      In the original broadcast, we heard:
But 60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file. Among them, a never-before-seen memorandum from May 1972, where Killian writes that Lt. Bush called him to talk about "how he can get out of coming to drill from now through November."

Lt. Bush tells his commander "he is working on a campaign in Alabama…. and may not have time to take his physical." Killian adds that he thinks Lt. Bush has gone over his head, and is "talking to someone upstairs."

Col. Killian died in 1984. 60 Minutes consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic.

Robert Strong was a friend and colleague of Col. Killian who ran the Texas Air National Guard administrative office in the Vietnam era. Strong, now a college professor, believes these documents are genuine.

      That was Wednesday, Sept. 8th.  On the 9th, questions about the authenticity of the documents spread.  Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly posted:

For what it's worth, I spoke to someone a few minutes ago who's familiar with how the documents were vetted, and the bottom line is that CBS is very, very confident that the memos are genuine. They believe that (a) their sources are rock solid, (b) the provenance of the documents is well established, and (c) the appearance of the documents matches the appearance of other documents created at the same place and time. In addition, people who knew Killian well have confirmed that the memos are genuine.

      The next day, Friday the 10th, their were new assurances from CBS reported in The Washington Post:
CBS News released a statement yesterday standing by its reporting, saying that each of the documents "was thoroughly vetted by independent experts and we are convinced of their authenticity." The statement added that CBS reporters had verified the documents by talking to unidentified people who saw them "at the time they were written." . . .

A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network's sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone and Hodges replied that "these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time."

"These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people," the CBS News official said. "Journalistically, we've gone several extra miles." . . .

CBS officials insisted that the network had done due diligence in checking out the authenticity of the documents with independent experts over six weeks. The senior CBS official said the network had talked to four typewriting and handwriting experts "who put our concerns to rest" and confirmed the authenticity of Killian's signature.

      On Saturday the 11th, the Post had more from CBS:
Dan Rather vigorously defended his "60 Minutes" story on President Bush's National Guard service yesterday, saying the 30-year-old memos he disclosed on the show this week "were and remain authentic," despite questions raised by some handwriting and document experts. . . .

Rather said that CBS's lead expert was Marcel Matley of San Francisco, a member of the National Association of Document Examiners who has taught, lectured and written about his field, testified in numerous trials, and consulted for government agencies. . . .

CBS News President Andrew Heyward staunchly defended the piece. "I have full confidence in our reporting on this story and in every reporter on both sides of the camera," he said last night. "This is going to hold up. This was thoroughly vetted." . . .

In an interview, Rather stressed that CBS had talked to two people who worked with Killian in the Texas Guard -- his superior, retired Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges, and his administrative assistant, Robert Strong -- and both described the memos as consistent with what they knew of Killian. Hodges, who told CBS he was "familiar" with the documents, is an avid Bush supporter, and "it took a lot for him to speak the truth," Rather said.

Before airing Wednesday's segment, he said, CBS "vetted" the confidential source who provided the memos and concluded that "he did have the ability to get access to these documents and he was being truthful." Beyond that, Rather said, CBS consulted with military experts about Killian's language and the documents' format and compared them to other Bush service records previously released by the White House. "We decided there was a preponderance of evidence that they are what they purport to be," he said. . . .

On last night's "CBS Evening News," Rather defended the piece against what he called the "counterattack." He interviewed Matley, who said he concluded after comparing Killian's signature on the memos to other undisputed documents that "yes, it's the same person."

Rather noted the critics' claim that typewriters in the Vietnam War era could not produce a raised superscript, such as the letters "th," but he maintained: "Some models did." As for contentions that the memos were written in a more modern font called Times New Roman, Rather said: "The company that distributes this typeface says it has been available since 1931."

      As the week ended, CBS was saying less and less:
. . . A CBS spokeswoman said the network stands by its report. . . .

CBS officials have declined to say who provided "60 Minutes" with the documents, other than that it was an "unimpeachable source" -- or exactly where they came from, other than the "personal file" of Killian, who died in 1984. . . .

. . .Hodges said that he may have told CBS that he had conversations with Killian about Bush, but he denied confirming the authenticity of the documents in any way.

"Now that I have had a chance to see them, I think they are fake," Hodges said.

A CBS spokeswoman, Sandy Genelius, said the network "believed General Hodges the first time we talked to him." She said CBS continued to "stand by its story" and a statement it issued on Thursday saying that "60 Minutes" reporters had talked to "individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written." She declined to name the "individuals," describing them as sources.

      On the 14th, The New York Observer published its interview/article with Rather:
CBS News, he [Rather] said, "believed" the memos were real based on a new set of document experts who said "the documents could have been created in the 70’s.

. . . "Let me emphasize once again, these are not exact sciences. Not like DNA or fingerprints."

That was why, he said, half of the experts agreed and the other half didn’t.

"In terms of the experts, you’re going to find an equal number of experts on the authenticity arguments," he said. . . .

And what if it was discovered that the documents were indeed forged?

"If," said Mr. Rather, reiterating "if," "if at any time we’re able to come up with information that demonstrates that we’re wrong, we’ll report it. We won’t wait. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. The story is true." . . .

"We eventually came in contact with somebody who said he knew about the documents, and it took a while to get in contact with the man who was supposed to have had the documents," he said. "It took a long time for us to create a reportorial relationship with him in which he trusted us, and at the same time we were checking him out to see if he was a trustworthy person."

While Mr. Rather and Ms. Mapes were able to glean the contents of the memos before they actually acquired them, and while they worked to convince the source to hand over the memos, he said they tried to verify the facts in them so they could be sure they were on the right trail.

"Within the last few months," he said, "we got a look at the documents, and we said we’d like to have a copy of the documents. . . .

Finally, after showing the reporting to CBS News president Andrew Hayward, senior vice president Betsy West and 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard, Mr. Rather said he went to officials at the White House.

"Look, we have accumulated a body of information based on some long reporting that lays out a different picture of then-Lieutenant Bush’s service," he said, "and we now have documents which to our own satisfaction we believe to be authentic, we believe to be true …. These are unpleasant truths. But they are truths. There was and is no joy in reporting them. But part of what reporters are supposed to do is ask questions, dig for facts and, when truths are found, share them with the public and, when called upon to do so, speak truth to power. This we did."

      More assurances were given:
When the CBS News anchor Dan Rather defended himself on camera and in interviews last Friday against questions being raised about documents he had used to bolster a report on President Bush's National Guard service, he and network executives considered the case closed.

Mr. Rather himself said emphatically: "CBS News stands by, and I stand by, the thoroughness and accuracy of this report, period. Our story is true." . . .

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

Addressing staff concerns, Mr. Heyward said, "The story was thoroughly vetted as all pieces of '60 Minutes' are, and the more they know about the process, the more reassured they will be that we used every appropriate journalistic standard and safeguard in reporting the story." A spokeswoman said yesterday he had not changed his position.

. . .Sandy Genelius, a network spokeswoman, said, "We are confident about the chain of custody; we're confident in how we secured the documents." She would not elaborate.

      It was also reported:
"But CBS used several techniques to make sure these papers should be taken seriously, talking to handwriting and document analysts and other experts who strongly insist the documents could have been created in the '70s," Rather told viewers as video of an unidentified man examining enlarged versions of the documents was aired.

      On the 15th, Fox reported:
CBS said its story about Bush's Guard service relied on much more than the documents. . . .

CBS contacted five document experts before the report aired and two since, and continues to report the story, the network said.

      Dealing with two dissenting documents examiners, CBS claimed:
CBS News Senior Vice President Betsy West said last night: "As far as I know, Linda James raised no objections. She said she'd have to see more documents to render a judgment."

As for Will's account, West said: "I'm not aware of any substantive objection she raised. Emily Will did not urge us to hold the story. She was not adamant in any way. At one point she raised a concern about a superscript 'th,' which we then discussed with the other experts we hired to examine all four of the documents we aired. We were assured the 'th' was consistent with technology at the time, an assessment that has since been backed up by other experts."

CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius added that both women "played a peripheral role and deferred to another expert," Matley. But James said she did not defer to Matley and merely recommended him to CBS. The network says it relied on two additional document experts, whose names have not been made public. . . .

Asked about Will's written concerns, CBS's West said: "The only e-mail we received raised some preliminary points about the handwriting, which [CBS's] other experts addressed and ruled out."

CBS began to doubt Will because she started expanding her role and doing Google searches about Bush's whereabouts at the time, said an executive who insisted on anonymity because the network did not want to go beyond the official statements.

      Finally, on Thursday the 16th, CBS began to crack:
CBS News said for the first time last night that there were legitimate questions about the authenticity of documents it presented in a "60 Minutes" report last week that raised new issues about President Bush's service in the National Guard - and said it would aggressively investigate them.

The news division continued to insist that the general thrust of the documents was accurate: that a commander felt Mr. Bush had been shirking his duties and receiving preferential treatment because of his connections. But Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News, said the network would "redouble its efforts" to determine whether the documents were authentic.

"Because there continue to be questions swirling around the documents, it's important to keep looking into those as best we can," Mr. Heyward said in an interview last night. "I'm very confident in the report, but I want to get to the bottom of these continuing questions."

      Still, they kept insisting:
"We've got to find some way to show our viewers why we believe so strongly in this story, and that's very difficult without breaching the confidentiality of the source," said Bob Schieffer, the moderator of "Face the Nation" on CBS. He added, "I have confidence in Dan."

One thing bolstering Mr. Rather's colleagues, they said, was the confidence of him and his producer, Josh Howard that the documents are authentic.

As of late yesterday morning, at least, Mr. Howard said he still had the utmost confidence in the initial report. "Everything I've seen makes me completely confident in the documents, in the reporting, in the story, in what we've done," he said.

      We now know that everything CBS said was a lie, "including the 'and' and the 'the.'"  I repeat, EVERYTHING.

      CBS did NOT consult "a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic," neither were the memos "thoroughly vetted.”  CBS consulted four document and handwriting experts.  Two doubted the documents were authentic.  The other two said the signatures looked all right, but they couldn't verify the documents.  Only one had a final conclusion, and only on the signature: "probably valid".

      Further, that lone expert, Matley, had written that a signature on a photocopy can't really be verified: modern copying technology can transfer a signature to a forged document too easily.  None of the experts submitted a written report.  Nor was there an even split among "experts.”  Almost all experts were dubious, and many flatly denounced the memos as frauds.

      As for the "new set" of "documents experts" CBS produced later, one was Glennon, a "technology consultant" (i. e., a former typewriter repairman), who CBS didn't even allow a look at the documents, and whose statements were a mixture of error and irrelevancy.  The other “new expert” was Katz, a "computer software expert" who ignored the effects of repeated xeroxing on line thickness and darkness.

      The appearance of the documents was wildly at variance with that of other documents of the time.  Bloggers tested the claims that IBM machines of 1972 could produce such memos, and easily showed them false.  There were no typewriters capable of making a superscript like that in the memos, or doing "pseudo-kerning," and Times New Roman was NOT available as a TYPEWRITER FONT .

      The source was not "unimpeachable," and CBS didn't spend "a long time" checking out their source to see if he was "trustworthy.”  The source was the easily impeached Bill Burkett, a man with a history of depression and nervous breakdowns, a political partisan previously caught lying about Bush.  Burkett gave them the documents.  Another source, still anonymous, directed them to Burkett.  (And who was that? Inquiring bloggers want to know! But I'll bet blind that it was a Democratic activist, or member of the DNC.)

      The provenance of the documents wasn't “well established;” they only had Burkett's word for it.  The chain of custody was never verified.  The man Burkett claimed to have received the memos from denied everything as soon as he was asked.

      Robert Strong believed the documents COULD be real, but didn't attempt to authenticate them.  Hodges did not verify the documents.  He was not "familiar with them," and in fact had never seen them or heard of them before. He thought CBS was reading him handwritten Killian memos.  CBS did NOT talk to anyone who saw the documents at the time they were written.  Aside from the information in the public record, which anyone could copy, they didn't "verify the facts."

      CBS didn't get a look at the documents "within the last few months," nor were they were verified over the course of six weeks.  The network saw them at most two or three weeks before the broadcast, and CBS only received them five or six days prior to airtime.

      CBS was so nervous concerning the documents that they tried to get the White House to verify them for the network.

      Rather and Mapes didn't show the report to the CBS brass and then go to the White House.  Rather and Mapes were still working on the report when the White House, hearing rumors of it, came to CBS.

      And they most certainly didn't dig for facts, share them with public, or "speak truth to power.”  They lied, repeatedly, from day one.  And when they finally gave up, they didn’t admit the documents were frauds, as Rather had said they would.  They only said that they couldn’t ‘authenticate’ them, falsely implying that they might be genuine.

      What actually happened, as these stories show, is that someone told Mapes that Burkett had copies of the long sought memos; she and Rather persuaded Burkett to give them copies.

      Only when Mapes had memo copies in hand did she look for people who could verify the documents, something she should have done previously.  Important potential witnesses were ignored or misled.  When the documents experts gave opinions Mapes and Rather didn't like, said experts were ignored.  Mapes and Rather lied to their own colleagues about the story they were pushing, claiming much better evidence than they had.  The fact that the White House didn't cry "Fraud!" when it saw the documents made CBS think it could get away with the attack.  AND WHEN THEY WERE CHALLENGED BY THE BLOGOSPHERE, THEY JUST MADE STUFF UP TILL THE STORY COLLAPSED.

      I've long distrusted the Main Stream Media, but this leaves me shocked.  I never at my most cynical expected any network to invent things this way.  It changes my whole perspective on the news business.  At the least, it raises the question of whether such episodes as TAILWIND were errors, or conscious deceptions.

      Let this episode be "seared, SEARED" into your memory: at least some members of the MSM are willing to lie to us without hesitation -- and they're "unusually good at it."  That skill was probably acquired through practice.


The Meaning of Rathergate, Part Two: What Was the Hurry?

      The week of Sept. 6th, started very badly for President George W. Bush.  On Tuesday the 7th, the Pentagon released new documents concerning Bush's Texas Air National Guard (TANG) service (supposedly, all records had been released in February).  That same day, it was announced that a group called Texans For Truth would release a TV ad that day, saying that then 1st Lt. Bush hadn't shown up for duty in Alabama, as required.  On Wednesday the 8th and Thurday the 9th, there were four independent stories hit the press, all saying that Bush had not fulfilled his duty when he served in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968-1973.  The print stories in The Boston Globe and U.S.News and World Report respectively, concentrated on military records the President had released in February, as did the web story the next day in Salon

    But the big scoop was a fourth story, on 60 Minutes Wednesday, which told us:
Mr. Bush had signed a six-year commitment to fly for the Air Guard, and early on, the young pilot got glowing evaluations from his squadron commander, Col. Jerry Killian.

Killian called Lt. Bush "an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot" who "performed in an outstanding manner." That is part of the public record.

But 60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file. Among them, a never-before-seen memorandum from May 1972, where Killian writes that Lt. Bush called him to talk about "how he can get out of coming to drill from now through November."

Lt. Bush tells his commander "he is working on a campaign in Alabama…. and may not have time to take his physical." Killian adds that he thinks Lt. Bush has gone over his head, and is "talking to someone upstairs."

Col. Killian died in 1984. 60 Minutes consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic.

Robert Strong was a friend and colleague of Col. Killian who ran the Texas Air National Guard administrative office in the Vietnam era. Strong, now a college professor, believes these documents are genuine.

      And on the 9th, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced that the Democratic party would keep attention focused on this issue.  In fact, they had ads ready to go against Bush the next week.

      Now we see why CBS rushed so.  It's obvious that this was a co-ordinated offensive against Bush, and 60 Minutes Wednesday didn't want to be an also ran.

      Now, combine this with the fact that CBS's source, Bill Burkett, had been in touch with the Kerry campaign through Max Cleland, and that CBS only obtained the memos at the last minute, and something awfully suspicious begins to show up: a conspiracy to have lots of embarrassing stuff hit Bush from all directions at the same time.  A conspiracy co-ordinated by the DNC.

      And CBS also begins to look like a half conspirator, half patsy.  Have the documents show up at the last minute, documents CBS had been hearing about for years, and they had to go with them without adequate time to authenticate them properly, or miss out on the big scoop.  In other words, the Dems hustled CBS.

      Too paranoid?  Or not Paranoid enough? 

Update, 10:22 CDT:
      There's a lot of talk around the web this morning, noticing the Burkett contacts with Cleland and Lockhart (see e.g. Instapundit, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, and The Kerry Spot).  They're all speculating on collusion between the Kerry campaign and Burkett.  Folks, I think you're wrong.  I think that Terry McAuliffe and the DNC were the ones colluding with Burkett.  The contacts with Cleland and Lockhart were just red herrings.

      After all, it would be incredibly stupid for the Kerry campaign to make too much of George Bush's service in the TANG.  It just invites questions about Kerry's Viet Nam experience.  Why do that?  And note how the use of the DNC on this issue protects Kerry: the party operatives can reply to any questions with boilerplate ('It's all slander by Republicans; Sen. Kerry was a hero; All questions have been answered'), and there's nothing that the press can do, even assuming it wants to.  Kerry's the only one who can give original answers to questions about his days in the Navy.

      No, the place to look for signs of collusion is the timing of the stories.  Over the course of three days, one commercial, two print stories, a web story, and a television show all did supposedly independent pieces on the same subject.  I find that very hard to believe.  The DNC was ready to go with "Operation Fortunate Son" a week later, on Tuesday the 14th.  We need to investigate that timing.  I think we'll find DNC fingerprints there.  And maybe even the mysterious Lucy Ramirez and her anonymous messenger.


Monday, September 20, 2004

The Meaning of Rathergate, Part One: Appallingly Low Reportorial and Intellectual Standards

      By now, the CBS story on Bush and the Guard has fallen apart.  In fact, the New York Times is saying CBS will repudiate the story soon, perhaps sometime today (hat tip, Allah).  [Update: And they did repudiate on Sept. 20th].  What remains is to sum up the meaning of it all.  Why did they fall for what should have been an obvious fraud?  It would appear the answer is a great eagerness to 'get' Bush, an inability to reason, and lousy standards of evidence.

      Contemplate Rather's view of himself and CBS in this interview/story in The New York Observer [all quotes from this interview unless otherwise noted]:

"I certainly care about it [the memo scandal and his reputation]," he said. "To me, even people who aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like me know I’m a lifetime reporter trying to be independent and to report without fear or favor, to be an honest broker of information. On the times when I’ve failed, either because I didn’t ask enough of the right questions, or didn’t ask the right questions, I, and almost every other journalist, have taken a fair enough criticism for, in many people’s judgments, not asking the right questions, or not asking the right questions strong enough, long enough in the time preceding the war. And I think some of that criticism is justified. I do not except myself in that criticism."

Mr. Rather said that he was sure that the credibility of CBS News would hold up after the memo scandal had passed.

"I think over the long haul, this will be consistent with our history and our traditions and reputation," he said. "We took heat during the McCarthy time, during Vietnam, during civil rights, during Watergate. We haven’t always been right, but our record is damn good."

      Well, I hope that this isn't consistent with the history, tradition, and reputation of CBS, but I fear mightily that it is.  The first lesson to be learned here is that CBS had such ridiculous standards of evidence that they could be taken in by what should have been an obvious fraud.

      Why are they now going to fold (assuming they do)?  Apparently, it's because Lt. Col. Killian's former secretary (or maybe favorite pool typist?), Marion Carr Knox, has said that she didn't type those memos, and that they aren't genuine (not typed on the equipment they had then, don't use Air National Guard terms, etc.).  This was, of course, pointed out very early on, by bloggers.  Yet Rather didn't take it seriously.  Apparently, Knox is convincing to Rather because she's a Democrat who hates Bush and doesn't feel he's fit for office.

      Here's how Rather reacted to the same points when criticism first arose:

On Friday, Sept. 10, Mr. Rather said on the CBS Evening News that he believed that some of the criticism came from people who were "partisan political operatives," implying that right-wing elements have managed to turn the story into a referendum on the story itself—and thus on Mr. Rather, a longtime target of conservative critics.

Mr. Rather said that the focus on questions over the veracity of the memos was a smoke screen perpetrated by right-wing allies of the Bush administration.

"I think the public, even decent people who may be well-disposed toward President Bush, understand that powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they can’t deny the fundamental truth of the story," he said. "If you can’t deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it’s change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents.

"This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth," he said.

      So, when the criticism came from Bush partisans, it was automatically dismissed.  Only Democrats can be trusted!  If you don't agree with someone's politics, you can ignore them!  In the logic trade, this is known ad hominem and argument from authority.

      Rather also displays appalling ignorance.  The crack about "partisans" and "well-financed" forces refers to bloggers!  At least Jonathan Klein was roughly accurate when he referred to us as guys in our living rooms, wearing pajamas.

      It's also worth noting that the sources for this story appear to have been Ben Barnes and Bill Burkett.  The two are openly partisan Democrats.  To rely on them is special pleading: Democratic partisans should be trusted, in contrast to Republican partisans who aren't honest.

      Other critics were apparently given slightly more credence, but not a lot more.  Contemplate the way Rather reacts to a specific question:

What about the Washington Post story of Sept. 14? The story pointed to discrepancies in military language, between the way Killian usually signed his letters and his signature on the memos CBS put on the air. And what about Mr. Bush’s address on one memo, "5000 Longmont #8, Houston," where he apparently no longer lived in 1972?

"Both of the allegations are wrong," he said. "I feel confident in saying that."

But when asked to offer a specific rebuttal to the observation about the address, Mr. Rather didn’t have one, saying only: "It’s our position, and I believe we demonstrated it …. The address doesn’t match the Bush service time frame—that’s their basic allegation? We think that’s wrong. We took a look at this, and we just think they’re wrong about it."

      No evidence is presented; no reason is given for believing Rather except "trust me."  Of course, if we automatically trusted Rather, we wouldn't have raised these questions in the first place.  And arguing that he should be trusted because he's trustworthy is circular logic.

      What reason was there to ever think the memos were genuine?  There doesn't seem to ever have been much:

Mr. Rather said that he and his longtime CBS producer, Mary Mapes, had investigated the story for nearly five years, finally convincing a source to give them the National Guard documents. He did not reveal the name of the source, but Mr. Rather said he was a man who had been reluctant to come forth with them because he’d been harassed by political operatives. "Whether one believes it or not, this person believed that he and his family had been harassed and even threatened," he said. "We were not able to confirm that, but his fear was that what had already been threats, intimidation, if he gave up the documents, could get worse—maybe a lot worse." . . .

Mr. Rather said that he and Ms. Mapes had heard about the National Guard memos as long ago as 1999.

"We eventually came in contact with somebody who said he knew about the documents, and it took a while to get in contact with the man who was supposed to have had the documents," he said. "It took a long time for us to create a reportorial relationship with him in which he trusted us, and at the same time we were checking him out to see if he was a trustworthy person."

While Mr. Rather and Ms. Mapes were able to glean the contents of the memos before they actually acquired them, and while they worked to convince the source to hand over the memos, he said they tried to verify the facts in them so they could be sure they were on the right trail.

"Within the last few months," he said, "we got a look at the documents, and we said we’d like to have a copy of the documents."

He said they met the source in a "remote location." "[The source] said they were copies of the documents, and he told us some of the history of where they came from and how they came to him," Mr. Rather said.

      Uh, Dan, if the source said that he was harassed, and he wasn't, then he would appear to be either crazy or a liar.  Either possibility tends to undercut the veracity of the documents, and the reliability of the source.  Why didn't this occur to you?

      Another appalling lapse comes here:

Mr. Rather asserted that the lack of denial was itself evidence of the essential truth of his findings. The questions raised by his reporting, he said, have remained unanswered by the Bush administration: Did Mr. Bush get preferential treatment for the Texas Air National Guard? Was then-Lieutenant Bush suspended for failing to perform up to Texas and Air Guard standards? Did then-Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order from his military superior to take a required examination?

      In fact, back in 1999 Bush denied any attempt to get preferential treatment, and any knowledge of preferential treatment being given him.  He's said that he transferred to Alabama to work on a political campaign, and because he'd be doing non-flying duty, he skipped his physical.  And The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post both say that Bush (through a spokesman) denied disobeying an order to get a physical when CBS interviewed the White House for this story.

      We now know that there were still doubts about the documents as late as the day the story ran.  What put confidence in them over the top?  The White House failed to call them frauds.  CBS sent them to the White House, and a few hours later interviewed White House communications director Dan Bartlett about them.  As Bartlett asked, (Post story) "How am I supposed to verify something that came from a dead man in three hours?"  Especially, how was he supposed to do this when the memos purported to be from the private files of Lt. Col. Killian, which Bush would never have seen?

      Ten seconds thought would have left them with a "Wait a minute!" reaction.  If the documents were genuine, Bush had received a direct order from Killian to get a physical.  If Bush denied that, then by implication he called the document a fraud, or at least implied that Killian was lying when he wrote the memo-that-was-supposed-to-be-an-order.  I can only conclude they didn't think.

      By the way, the only reasons for believing that Bush disobeyed an order for to get a physical, or that he was grounded for failing to meet standards, is precisely the memos.  Without them, there was only Barnes's old story about getting Bush into the guard through influence, a story that changed over time and was contradicted by Col. Staudt.

      There's no real point in further excavation in this swamp of illogic.  CBS wanted to get Bush.  That led them to believe the story was true without bothering to get evidence that would prove it.  They judged, correctly, that they didn't have a story without the memos, but didn't bother to do proper checks of the authenticity of the memos.  The only phrase that describes this is 'reckless disregard for the truth.'

      But what's even worse is the possibility that CBS is right when they claim their standards are as high as anyone's.  The Observer article is interesting in this regard, precisely for what is not in it.

      By the time the Observer interviewed Rather, the Washington Post had run a story noting many of the deficiencies in the documents.  Specifically, Marcel Matley is quoted in the article as saying that he did not authenticate the documents.  He only said the signature appeared genuine.  The Observer didn't ask Rather about that.  USA Today had revealed

it had independently obtained copies of the documents "from a person with knowledge of Texas Air National Guard operations" who declined to be named "for fear of retaliation."

It was unclear whether the same person supplied the documents to both media outlets. USA Today said it had obtained its copies of the CBS documents Wednesday night "soon after" the "60 Minutes" broadcast, as well as another two purported Killian memos that had not been made public.
[source is the Post story]

      The Observer didn't ask if CBS had the other two memos or not (they did), and if so why they hadn't used them.  The Observer didn't press Rather on the stylistic differences between the known genuine Guard documents and the memos.  That's especially bad because Rather told the Observer:

Mr. Rather said that it would require an exceptional amount of knowledge to craft a forgery—and not just the typographical kind. "You’d have to have an in-depth knowledge of Air Force manuals from 1971," he said. "You’d have to have Bush’s service record, you’d have to have the Air Force regulations from 1971, you’d have to know nearly all of the people involved directly at that time, including the squadron commander, who was Bush’s immediate superior, and his attitude at the time—you’d have to know all those things and weave all those things in."

      If the Observer reporter had been thinking, he'd have said 'But that's just the point!  The Post says that these memos don't show that kind of in-depth knowledge.  What they mostly show is the kind of thing you could find out by looking at the records Bush himself released.  And they appear to be full of errors.  In short, they look like inept forgeries.'

      Above all, the Observer reporter didn't bother to spend a few hours on the Web, reading what the internet critics had said.  If he had, he'd have known that there weren't equal numbers of experts on each side, as Rather claimed; that evidence contradicting or negating the testimony of CBS's experts had been posted; that CBS's 'verifications' of the documents with people like Hodges were apparently so vague as to be valueless; that Killian's widow and son denied Killian had kept any private files, or that he typed.  Instead, the interviewer doesn't even know what the brand name of IBM typewriters was: he calls the 'Selectric' the 'Selectra.'

      The only good thing I see in all this are that we now have striking evidence of just how badly the main stream media do their job.  That may lead people to stop trusting them.  And once they're brought to realize their weaknesses, the media may improve their performance.  But I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

      Meanwhile, we can sum this up with one word: 'Pathetic.'


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Distributed Encyclopedic Synthesis Trumps CBS

    In his early novel Beyond This Horizon, in some ways his best and truest, Robert A. Heinlein created the profession of 'encyclopedic synthesist.'

    An encyclopedic synthesist was supposed to be a modern day Aristotle.  The requirement was a genius with a near perfect memory.  He would acquire a good knowledge of a great many fields -- not enough to compete with a specialist, but enough to understand the specialists' concerns and ideas.  Then the synthesist would pull together the ideas from these varying places and put them together, showing the specialist in, e. g., undersea construction how the expertise of the surgically implanted prosthesis designer was relevant to his concerns (because they both have to design fail-safe structures in a wet, corrosive environment).

    In his 1950 essay "Where To?", reprinted in The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein and Expanded Universe, he wrote more about this.  We need, he said, a breakthrough in library science.  Knowledge is being generated at an exponentially increasing rate.  The answers we need are probably, so to speak, written on 3 by 5 cards.  But instead of being neatly filed and cross-indexed, they're dumped in heaps on the floor, with almost no indexing.  We need a new specialty that can find and connect these fragments of knowledge.

    The CBS story on the Bush memos is an illustration of real-world encyclopedic synthesis, and without needing geniuses.  "TankerKC", watched the "60 Minutes II" story and expressed doubts about the memos, in this post from Free Republic:

To: Howlin
They are not in the style that we used when I came in to the USAF. They looked like the style and format we started using about 12 years ago (1992). Our signature blocks were left justified, now they are right of center...like the ones they just showed.

Can we get a copy of those memos?

107 posted on 09/08/2004 5:19:00 PM PDT by TankerKC (R.I.P. Spc Trevor A. Win'E American Hero)

    Note, that was just 19 minutes after the broadcast ended posted just a few minutes after the segment had finished, while 60 Minutes Wednesday was still on (and a thanks to TankerKC for the error correction in the comments to my next post; I had the time zone of Free Republic wrong — St.O).

    Three hours, forty minutes later, this post went up:

To: Howlin
Howlin, every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman.

In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts.

The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used monospaced fonts.

I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old.

This should be pursued aggressively.

47 posted on 09/08/2004 8:59:43 PM PDT by Buckhead

    Next morning, at 7:51 AM (CDT?), attorney Scott W. Johnson finished reading his e-mail and made a post on his Powerline blog:

The sixty-first minute

Today's big Boston Globe story on President Bush's Air National Guard service is based on memos to file from the personal records of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian: "Bid cited to boost Bush in Guard."

The Globe story is itself based on last night's 60 Minutes report: "New questions on Bush Guard duty." The online version of the 60 Minutes story has links to the memos. Killian died in 1984; CBS states that it "consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic." Readers Tom Mortensen and Liz MacDougald direct us to the FreeRepublic post and thread (see post no. 47) to this effect:

Every single one of the memos to file regarding Bush's failure to attend a physical and meet other requirements is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatine or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing (especially in the military), and typewriters used mono-spaced fonts.

The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction high-end word processing systems from Xerox and Wang, and later of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's.

Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang and other systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used mono-spaced fonts. I doubt the TANG had typesetting or high-end 1st generation word processing systems.

I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old. This should be pursued aggressively.

    Critical mass achieved, nuclear detonation followed; Mongol horde encounters enemy, horse archers let loose from all directions; killer bee hive aroused, intruder stung to death; torturers get ahold of victim, strap on wire jacket and begin death of a thousand cuts.  Whatever metaphor you choose, CBS was hit by multiple criticisms that it couldn't answer effectively (because they turned out to be true), and couldn't ignore the way they once would have (see my post Editing As Lying).  Over the course of the next twelve hours, Powerline added thirteen updates that made most of the points seen since, and persuasively argued that the documents were almost certainly frauds. 

    Today, Tony Blankley at The Washington Times sums is all up:

I like a good fish dinner, but I've never cared much for fishing, as I hate to see a noble creature in its death agony. Yet that is what we are observing. This week it is Dan Rather and CBS News, through their failed effort to prove the legitimacy of their forged Bush National Guard documents, who are being revealed as hapless, helpless victims of an anarchic, swarming, overwhelming Internet blog technology. Soon, other great news institutions inevitably will be revealed for their inadequate capacity to fully report the news.

(hat tip: Vodka Pundit).

    Blankley titled his article "A Revolution in News."  But it's really a revolution in encyclopedic synthesis.  We don't need geniuses to know a little about everything as coordinators of our efforts.  Moderately intelligent people, in touch with experts via the web, can do the synthesist job.

    Prediction: someone is going to create an organization that can do this regularly for purposes of innovation.  They are going to get stinking rich.  No one will be able to compete with them until they copy that organizational form.  Others will form organizations that do free lance problem solving, using the same framework.  They too will make money hand over fist.

    We are at the begining of the synthesist revolution, and it will affect all of our society.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Missing the Point, Perhaps Deliberately

    Are the defenders of the CBS memos really stupid, or do just think everyone else is?

    The big question about the memos has been whether they could have been produced on by any machine available in '72.  The IBM "Selectric" Composer has been cited as being able to do the job.

    OK, someone roll out a "Selectric" Composer and produce copies of the memos.

    OOPS!  There's been only one known attempt so far.  The result was a failure.  The spacing is close, but not nearly close enough.

    So instead, we get arguments about other things.  USA Today has an article saying the Composer could produce "elements" found in the memos, and the Boston Globe uses the same "elements" wording.  (Gee, you think these people copy each other's ideas?)  PC Magazine has images produced with a Composer and with Microsoft Word.  It shows that with Word, you can produce something that is sorta close to the Composer document.  With more care, you might be able to absolutely duplicate the Composer document.

    So what?  You can fly at maybe 470 mph in a P51D Mustang, according to some references.  You can fly at that speed in a Me 262 Swallow jet.  Does that mean the Mustang was as fast as the Swallow?  No.  The Mustang and the Swallow both had "elements" in common, such as copper wiring and rubber tires.  Does this mean they performed identically?  No.

    So c'mon, MSM reporters pretending to be objective while pushing for Kerry, show us the real goods.  Get a vintage '72 machine and and use it to produce memos that duplicate the ones CBS has.


    One of the really transparent signs of bias is the way the MSM keeps lamenting the fact that the discussion of whether the memos are forged is keeping people from discussing their "content." (See this Boston Globe story, or the USA Today story mentioned above.)

    Suppose someone gave the MSM a document purportedly created written by Saddam Hussein, ordering his intelligence services to aid the attack on the Towers. Do you think they'd immediately push it into circulation the way they did the alleged Killian memos?  If they did, and someone raised strong doubts it was genuine, do you think they'd lament the concentration on genuineness instead of content?

    Again I ask: are they really this stupid, or do they just think we are?  YOU MAKE THE CALL!



      The ability of the Kerry campaign to deposit bullets in its leg continues to astonish me.

      After ducking the press for almost six weeks, the Sen. sits down with a magazine reporter, and gives his lower extremity his best shots:

Speaking of clarity, a number of your allies have said that you haven't drawn a clear contrast between yourself and President Bush on Iraq.

The contrast could not be clearer.  They spent a lot of money trying to confuse people, but I have been consistent.  I would not have taken the country into war the way he did.  I would not have put young Americans in harm's way without a plan to win the peace.  I would not have interrupted as abruptly the effort to build alliances with other countries.  I would not have turned my back on the international community.  And Americans are paying a $200 billion cost today because this President rushed to war.

Is the President being as aggressive as he should be in dealing with insurgent strongholds in Iraq?

At this moment in time, I'm not sitting with the generals in front of me for the full briefing.  I'm not going to comment on that right now.  That is up to the President.  It's his decision to make.  But I will tell you this, that we've gone backward in Iraq, and we've gone backward on the war on terror.  I'm not President until Jan. 20, if America elects me.  I don't know what I'll find in Iraq.

But I'll tell you this: I will pursue a far more aggressive, proactive statesmanship role to bring countries to our side in an effort in which they have an interest.
  Ninety percent of the casualties and costs are being borne by Americans.  That's inexcusable.

I believe very deeply that it takes a new President, a new credibility, a fresh start, to change the whole equation in Iraq.  I will get countries involved in ways that the President doesn't have them involved today, and I will get our troops home.

How?  Diplomats say that it is not in our allies' political interest—

George Bush has made it not in their interest today.  There are all sorts of options with respect to Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds in the region that this Administration is not exploring.  They have failed in their diplomacy utterly.  In fact, they have made it easy for countries to say no, because of their arrogance, because of the way the President chose to go to war.

As President, who would be the first person you would phone?

I'm not going to say one, two, three.  I will tell you that I have 20 years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  I have personal relationships with leaders around the world.  I will not cede our security to any other country.  I won't cede our security to any institution, but I know how to reach out to countries and leaders and build bipartisan-support structures necessary to strengthen the country.

You can't be more specific?

I know exactly what I'm going to do, but I'm not the President today.  I've already laid out the international conference, the shared responsibilities between European and Arab countries, the more rapid training of Iraqi police and military. ; I think it's almost pathetic the rate at which we have done that.  They [the Bush Administration]are hardly behaving like we're truly a country at war.  It's pathetic that they left ammunition dumps and nuclear facilities unprotected.

They disbanded the Iraqi military.  They didn't protect the borders.  It's one of the most catastrophic jobs of management that I've ever seen.

Will you be more specific about timetables for getting troops out?

I have said that I have a goal to be able to bring our troops out of there within my first term, and I hope to be able to bring out some troops within the first year.  But what's important here is that I can fight a more effective war on terror.  George Bush diverted the focus from Afghanistan.  The 9/11 commission makes it clear that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with al-Qaeda.  The war was against al-Qaeda and for getting justice for 9/11.  George Bush diverted attention from that.  And we're spending $200 billion over there [in Iraq] now that could have gone to schools in America, could have gone to after-school programs, could have gone to health care, could have gone to infrastructure.

      So, somehow he would have persuaded countries that were opposed to our intervention to do something or other different, and if that didn't result in something or another, he'd have taken an unspecified action that would have some way or another have brought about results that aren't described, but would have been better.  Now that that chance has been thrown away, he'll go to some other countries, and get them to put troops into Iraq, and get them to pay us large sums, unless they do something else.  Clear now?

      The only thing that's definite in that mess is that he'll withdraw troops ASAP, and that Saddam wasn't involved with al-Qaeda.  The first part is Viet Nam all over again.  The second part is factually untrue -- Saddam was aiding al-Qaeda, though it's not certain they helped or knew about 9/11 beforehand.

      But if the above wasn't vague enough for you, just wait!  Here's more:

How would you go about winning the war of ideas in the Middle East?

What I intend to do is to put in play the economic power, the values and principles, the public diplomacy, so we're isolating the radical Islamic extremists and not having the radical extremists isolate the United States.  It means bringing religious leaders together, including moderate mullahs, clerics, imams—pulling the world together in a dialogue about who these extremists really are and how they are hijacking the legitimacy of Islam itself.  That takes leadership, and that leadership has not been put on the table.

You have almost 60% of the populations of Egypt and Saudi Arabia under 30, and 50% under 18.  We have to engage in a way that offers them some alternative to the radical madrasahs that are educating them to hate and to go out and strap explosives around themselves.

They [the Bush Administration] haven't even engaged in a legitimate effort to try to really transform the ability of Israel to find a legitimate entity to negotiate with.  The only thing they do is rattle the saber.

      I think this means that in addition to the money we're somehow going to get to pay someone else to finance the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, we'll also somehow offset all the oil money that Iran and Saudi Arabia use to support Islamofacism around the world.  And we'll somehow find Israel a "legitimate entity" to negotiate with.  Does this mean we'll try to get rid of Arafat?  And is a "legitimate entity" going to do anything to stop Hamas and Hezbollah?  Beats the Hell out of me.  But Sen. Kerry, supernegotiater, will do what no one has been able to do in eighty years, i.e., make everybody in the Near East love each other.  Sure.

      But maybe the problem is just a total disconnect from reality:

Are you surprised at the bounce Bush got out of his convention?

I don't know what you're talking about in terms of the Bush bounce.  This is a very close race, and I'm not somebody that runs around worried about polls.

      Go read the whole thing for more jaw droppers.  Me, I feel like I need a stiff drink.

      Just to prove he's willing to be stupid with multiple news outlets, Kerry called The New York Times and gave them a 15 minute phone interview in which we find:

When Mr. Kerry was pressed about how he would handle the threat of a North Korean nuclear test if he was in the Oval Office, he declined to be prescriptive, other than to say that the issue would probably have to be taken to the United Nations Security Council.  "Hypothetical questions are not real," he said, arguing that North Korea was a case for preventive diplomacy, and that Mr. Bush's "ideologically driven" approach had kept him from truly engaging North Korea.  "The Chinese are frustrated, the South Koreans, the Japanese are frustrated," he said.

      So, Sen. Superdiplomat won't tell us what he'll do in this case either, but whatever it is, it would work.  Just trust him on that one, OK?


Saturday, September 11, 2004

In future, protect yourself

    Over at Powerline, there's an interesting observation.  Concerning the latest round of stories in the Boston Globe and other places, where people have angrily asserted they've been misquoted, reader Eric Baker says:
    It's almost as if interviewing these people was just a formality, allowing for the appearance of investigative journalism.  In the meantime, they write whatever they wish.  If the person quoted never speaks up, great.  If they do, then just claim what the person says now is not what they were saying before and it becomes a kind of draw, which is really a victory for them.

    I think in future, everyone should expect to be interviewed, (after all, we'll all be famous for fifteen minutes), and you should refuse to speak to someone until you've got a tape recorder handy.  Nothing like being able to play back the conversation to prove they misquoted you.

    Bottom line: assume the Main Stream Media is a pack of liars who always distort whatever they're told.


Rather defends his story by repudiating his story

    The thing that strikes me as the epitome of ridiculousness in this mess is that Rather is now defending the authenticity of the memos by, in effect, repudiating his own story.

    The reason for bringing up the memos was that they supposedly showed new evidence that then 1st Lt. Bush didn't fulfill his ANG duties.  You would think therefore that the memos revealed something new.  Well, National Review Online's Kerry Spot has a transcript of Rather's defense.  Rather starts out saying
    "These questions grew out of new witnesses and new evidence, including documents written by Lieutenant Bush's squadron commander."
    But then they question another 'authority,' "Mr. JIM MOORE (Author)", who says:
    So there's no doubt in my mind that these documents are stating accurately what we know took place from the records that are available.
    So, 'this is big news because it tells us something we already knew was true anyway.'

    As a touching last note, Rather outlines the epistemic standards at CBS:
    "The "60 Minutes" report was based not solely on the recovered documents, but on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by what we consider to be solid sources, and interviews with former officials of the Texas National Guard. If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it. So far there is none." (my emphasis)
    So there it is: if CBS wants to report something, "preponderance of evidence" is enough.  To dispute them, though, it isn't enough to show that the preponderance of evidence shows them to be wrong.  You must produce "definitive evidence to the contrary."

    Maybe Terry Pratchett could have made this stuff up, but I couldn't.