Fat Steve's Blatherings

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Dilpazier Aslam and The Guardian

      Does the fact that one of Britain's premier newspapers hired an Islamofascist Jew hating supporter of terrorism mean that Guardian employees in general are scum, or that they just don't have a clue what what really goes on in the world?

      You Make the Call!  There's evidence for both positions.  But either way, it's disgraceful.



      Lordy, but I is long-winded today.


More on Unions, or, A Reply to Ralph


      From the thirties through the fifties, unions corrected manifold abuses of managements, and improved the economy at the same time as they bettered the wages and working conditions of their members.  But since the fifties, they've lost their way.  Changed circumstance call for different approaches, and previously unknown abuses need new remedies.  The union movement could and should be in the forefront.  Alas, they're stuck in the past, and steadily deteriorating.

At Length:

      In my Monday post on unions, I said:
      About all that's left of the union movement today is public sector unions, some big old companies on the edge of bankruptcy, and work that employs mostly illegal aliens.  As it is, I think the union movement is going to just keep withering away.  And I don't like that.  Unions served a purpose, and someday we'll need them again.

     This brought a request from my good buddy Ralph, who commented:
      I would like to see you expand on the Unions could be useful again sometime theme.  Having killed all the for profit companies where they are entrenched, their only base is government - unfortunately the Japanese are not willing to compete in government services.  Even the airlines - many of which are employee-owned are dying because of labor costs.

      OK, Ralph, for a friend I'll do anything within reason, and quite a few things beyond reason.

      Imagine you're working on an assembly line, and you need to go to the toilet.  You tell the foreman, he says go, and then you march over to a toilet that's in the middle of the floor, with privacy barriers only a few feet high, and try to do your business while everyone watches you.  Outrageous, no?  Well, that was one of the stories I came across from a pre-union Detroit automaker.  Another example: you're working at a factory, and it isn't heated above fifty in winter.  This saves the owner money, and the cold will make the employees work harder to keep warm.  That was something I was told about by an "inside" ironworker in Seattle.

      Or consider Henry Ford.  He realized that if he increased wages at his factory, he'd decrease turnover.  This would save him training costs and improve productivity, so much so that he'd make a bigger profit than he was getting when he paid them low wages.  He did it, and it worked.  Then he proceeded to mistreat and annoy those workers so greatly that, thirty years after his death, I heard stories from Ford employees about what bastard he was, and how his goon squad had harassed and beaten them.

      And then there were the bad industries, like mining, whose managements preferred beatings, shootings, dynamitings, and arsons to namby-pamby humiliation.

      Until you read about the routine brutality, insult, and mistreatment of employees that used to take place in this country, you don't understand the union movement.

      Another angle: I once read a pair of articles about a furniture company.  The first had a title something like "I Swore We'd Never Have a Union," and was by the company president.  He vented his wrath, but said that when any of the anti-union employees complained, he'd tell them there was nothing he could do.  The second article was a commentary on the first article, written by a pair of professional union busters.  They sneered at the company president.  He doesn't want a union, and neither do some of his employees?  Well, remind them that they can circulate a decertification petition.  If a certain percentage of the employees sign it, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct an election, and if the majority don't want the union, out it goes.

      The union busters then made their key point: companies get unionized when the employees don't trust management to run things properly.  One example from the furniture company: there was a job that was paid at a piece rate, and the rate was grossly unfair because it was so high.  When other employees complained that the sanders got a huge paycheck for work that wasn't any more skilled or demanding than what they were doing for far less, the president tried to fix the problem — and failed.  This meant that what you earned at the factory depended on what department you were assigned to.  After the union came in, they got some real experts to retime the job, and adjust the rates down fairly.  No wonder the company ended up with a union, the busters said, the president didn't know what he was doing.

      Ralph, you said that the unions have killed or are killing “all the for profit companies where they are entrenched.”  Well, the unions are strong in the Detroit auto companies — and in the '70s and '80s, Detroit nearly went out of business.  The company managements claimed it was all due to the “unfair competition” of Japanese auto makers, but the truth was that the Big Three were making crappy, unreliable cars, and they used twice as much labor per auto as the Nips.  When W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran told post-WWII companies in the U.S. that they should practice better quality control, they were ignored.  When they said the same things to companies in Japan, they were listened to, and their ideas were implemented.  Quality guru Phil Crosby said that whenever he implemented a quality control program in a unionized factory, he started by meeting with the union and telling them that the key to quality control was doing things right the first time, which would cut waste and increase the companies profit.  The unions, he said, were always enthusiastic supporters of the effort.

      The U.S. car companies refused to make sub-compacts (the profit margin wasn't high enough), and they had crappy quality control.  That gave Toyota et al a protected niche market, from which they presently expanded to take over a huge share of all the auto markets.  That wasn't the unions' fault.

      But then there was a famous map of the U.S. on many an auto executive's office wall.  It labeled New England as the ‘land of effete snobs’, the South as the ‘land of gun racks in pickup trucks,’ the West Coast as the ‘land of fruits and nuts,’, and the Midwest as ‘the land of people like us.’  The auto executives despised maybe half the population of the U.S., didn't want to make cars that the despised liked, and still somehow thought they'd always have them for customers.  Wrong — and also, not something the unions caused.

      Right now, Detroit is crying over their high pension costs, and the high medical costs for employees and retirees.  The reason the costs are out of control is because the companies gave the unions “defined benefit” packages (where the company promises to deliver something, regardless of the cost), rather than “defined contribution” packages (where the company agrees to pay so much into a fund, and that's the limit of their liability).  How did they ever get into this fix?  Well, pick up Peter Drucker's book Adventures of a Bystander, and you find out that the idea was hatched by the management of General Motors.  They were certain that the stock market would always rise, the company's pension fund would consistently beat the market, the company would always have plenty of money, market share, and customers, and nothing could ever go wrong . . . go wrong . . . go wrong . . .

      Just about every company allegedly ‘wrecked by the greedy unions’ turns out, on closer inspection, to have been wrecked by incompetent management.  In an interview, Drucker once said that he considered only about 2% of U.S. companies well managed.  Some years later, someone quoted that to him, and Drucker said something like ‘Gee, I must have been feeling really optimistic that day.’The auto companies who were in the wrong markets with bad products, the steel companies that set their faces against new technology, the airlines whose business strategy was ‘the government will always guarantee us a profit’, the companies that lost money on three fourths of their products and didn't know it, who thought they could figure the cost of an item too a hundredth of a cent without really knowing the price to the nearest dollar — they were being run by incompetents and fools, when they weren't being robbed by crooks.  The only place the unions were to blame was in not kicking management in the butt and insisting they get their act together.

      But human nature hasn't change appreciably in historic times, at least as far as I can see.  Some people are sadists, some are so greedy they can't think well, some are entirely oriented on the short term, many measure their success by relative income rather than absolute income, and too damned many are fools.  Relax the pressure on them for very long, and the abuses, mistreatment, degradation, and stupidity will come back.  That's why the decline of unions worries me.

      As I tried to say in the original post, the problem with today's unions is their failure to adapt.  After the unions reached their high tide, some companies got smart.  They started treating their employees more-or-less fairly, and paying reasonable wages.  That led the employees to say ‘Why join a union, and pay dues, when I already have good wages and good benefits’?  In every industry supposedly ruined by unions, you can usually find a U.S. company that pays wages about as high as the unionized company, and runs at a profit to boot.  The unions defined themselves as being ‘against management’.  That worked when management was behaving in an obviously bad fashion, but failed when management changed tactics.  Drucker was pointing out that by the early seventies.

      The unions need to concern themselves that the company is being managed well.  An example: many managements take outrageous salary and bonuses.  To manage their companies for short term stock market gains, and to Hell with the long term.  The high executives have "golden parachutes" that ensure they'll walk away from the company as millionaires, even if they run the company into the ground.  The unions should be acting to limit the CEOs salaries, and make them take stock options instead.  Further, the unions should require that when the option is executed, a clock starts running where the first year, if the person who executed the option wants to sell it back, he has to offer 98% of it to the company at the price he paid for it.  The second year, he has to offer 94% at the original price, the third year 88%, the fourth 80&%, the fifth year 70%, the sixth year 58%, the seventh year 44%%, the eighth year 28%%, the ninth year 10%.  This would force managements to look at the long term environment for their companies.

      Another example would be for the unions to press Washington to make stock dividends tax free, up to at least twice the median per capita income.  Right now, a company totals up its revenue, deducts expenses, pays corporate income tax, and then has after tax profit.  If the money is paid out as a dividend, the taxman hits it again as ‘ordinary income’.  If the company reinvests, they may drive up the stock price, and then the increase is a ‘long term capital gain’, taxed at a much lower rate.  This tempts stupid managements to do stupid things, trying to get a higher stock price, and scares smarter managements into doing stupid things anyway, to prevent hostile takeovers.  If the stock dividends were tax free, the stock holders would press for dividends, the excess cash would drain out of the companies, and the takeover artists would be frustrated.

      Yet a third example would be for the unions to demand the phase out of defined benefit plans, replacing them with defined contribution plans.  When the economy is booming, and the stock market is rising, the managements put too little in the plans.  When recession hits, or the stock market tanks, companies get driven into bankruptcy by the fixed obligations.  If the unions were doing their job, they'd allow the companies to cut back on contributions during recession, but require them to make it up with interest when the economy turned up.  Or the union might demand that the defined contribution to the pension and medical funds would be a fixed multiple of the pay and benefits paid out to management.

      A lot of people would say that how the company runs isn't the unions' business.  I say business is to important to be left to the management.  Unions need to adopt a flexible strategy of opposing management when it's abusive, supporting it when it's doing the right things, running some activities themselves, and keeping an eye on the health of the business.  If they don't, they won't survive.

      But as my Marxist buddy Eric F. says, the people running today's unions are “absolutely wretched . . . people who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. They don't even try, really”.  And he should know: he used to be a union organizer.

      So, Ralph, that's why I wish the union movement wasn't in such a mess.  When it ran right, it did the economy a lot of good.  Today, it's falling apart, and a lot of abuses are happening.  Properly run unions could do many valuable services for their members, their companies, and their country, if they could get it through their heads that it isn't 1935 any more.

      By the way, please keep this under your hat.  Saying good things about unions might get me kicked out of the Known Fascists Society.


Saturday, July 30, 2005

"Confusion Worse Confounded," Part Three: Lack of Integrity


      Byron Calame has a misdiagnosis of a problem at The New York Times.
  • Calame caught The New York Times Magazine using staged photographs recently, without labeling them as staged.

  • His solution is to label them more clearly.

  • It won't happen, because a really clear label would have to state why the photos were staged or altered.

  • And that would require admitting that the Times is trying to manipulate its readers.

  • The Times lacks integrity.  By not saying that, Calame shows he lacks understanding and/or courage.

  • But while Calame is inadequate, he's much better than the typical Times reporter or editor.  Now that's frightening.
At Length:

      For the third in our series concerning the new “public editor” of The New York Times, we look at his column of July 3rd.

      In the first column, he set forth his view of the job.  In the second, he defended the paper's article revealing the details of a CIA undercover operation.

      The third column is — strange.  It concerns picture credits.

      The picture credit is not the caption (“Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today.”)  The picture credit tells who took the picture, and where it originated (“Ray Stubblebine/Reuters”).  Why did Calame think this was interesting?

      The answer Calame gives is that photography has changed.  The existence of digital editing tools, such as Photoshop™ makes it easy to alter pictures.  We used to believe a picture 'told the truth' about what was in front of the camera, if only because fakery was easy to spot.  Now, the fakery may be seamless.  So Calame thinks the credit lines need to explain whether the picture was altered.

      OK so far, but now it turns bizarre, as Calame gives examples of what concerns him:
      the New York Times Magazine, which regularly goes beyond using standard news pictures and portraits by using montages, digital manipulation and staged photographs to grab readers' attention or capture a mood that helps buttress an article.

      Now, a montage (“A single pictorial composition made by juxtaposing or superimposing many pictures or designs.”) is usually pretty obvious.  This one, for instance:

      It's obviously created by a photographer.  No sane person will mistake it for reality.

      Digital manipulation is harder to spot.  For instance, in this photo of the Golden Gate bridge, is anything manipulated?  If so, what?

      Answer: the lightning, which was added by the photographer, Dan Heller.  Photo source here.  Now as a source of artistic effect, this doesn't bother me, but why would an alleged non-fiction magazine publish a manipulated photo?  Calame says it's to “ grab readers' attention or capture a mood.”  That sounds a lot like a euphemism for 'manipulate the reader without his being aware of it.'

      The third kind of photo Calame is worried about is the “staged photograph.”  This is exactly what it sounds like.  The photograph is not something that happened in the course of the article under discussion, it's something the photographer invented.  “Staged” is an accurate term for this, but it doesn't go far enough.  “Lying with a camera” would be better.

      Calame's column was sparked by a June 12th story in The New York Times's Magazine, entitled “Interrogating Ourselves.”  It was supposed to be about the “ ‘lies, threats and highly coercive force’ being used to pry information out of detainees held in military custody”.

      First off, of course, the title shows bias and hostility to the military and the war effort.  Calame doesn't comment on that.  Frankly, I don't think he noticed.  But he is bothered by the pictures.  The cover photo “of a person with a sandbag hood,” a picture inside showing “a mid-torso view from the rear of a person with wrists handcuffed,” in which “below the . . . handcuffs, a red stain ran down from one wrist across the soiled palm onto the fingers,” and a full-page photograph of “water torture” accompanied the article.  All were staged.

      Why was the Times Magazine using staged photos?  Calame talked with Kathleen Ryan, the magazine's photo editor, who told him:
The initial idea was to photograph the implements of torture for the cover article.

      Stop right there.  The big controversy over the treatment of detainees has revolved around the charge that the military treats its prisoners in ways we wouldn't allow civilians under arrest.  Yet, every cop in the U.S. has a pair of handcuffs on his belt, and they're used on the most routine of arrests.  If handcuffing someone in custody is ‘torture,’ then torture is practiced regularly in the U.S.  Do you think Ms. Ryan would care to defend the position that no one should ever be handcuffed when arrested or imprisoned?  Do you think she'd like to explain an alternative way of controlling criminal suspects and convicted lawbreakers?  No, you probably think she's an idiot who uses the word “torture,” to demonstrate her political opposition to the war.  I agree.

      Getting back to the column:
      The initial idea was to photograph the implements of torture for the cover article, Ms. Ryan recalled.  But there was concern that readers wouldn't understand the “still life” photographs of handcuffs, for instance. “We decided the cuffs had to go on a hand,” she said.  It was decided that the hood needed to go on the head of a real person, she said, and a special effort was made to get the kind of sandbag actually used in interrogation.  The pose for the water torture picture was based on a Vietnam-era news photograph, according to Ms. Ryan.

      Here, we face a mystery.  Is Ms. Ryan really such a cretin that she thinks the readers wouldn't understand what a photograph of handcuffs and a sandbag are?  Or is she just lying to Calame?  Since Calame doesn't pursue this, I guess we'll never know.  Note that “water torture picture” is “based” on something that someone, we don't know who or why, did over thirty years ago, on another continent, in a different war — assuming, of course, that that picture wasn't a fake too.

      So we can translate Ms. Ryan's remarks into English as: ‘We wanted to horrify the reader, but we realized that we didn't have any photographs showing actual physical abuse of prisoners, with the controversial exception of people transported with hoods over the faces.  Worse, the hooded prisoner photos are old.  To counter this lack, we faked it.  We could have said “Staged photographs of a model wearing phony handcuffs and a sandbag on his head, to show that we want him free to kill more people”, but that would have undercut our purpose.’

      Now, the Times has a book of standards, grandly titled “Guidelines on Our Integrity,” (don't snicker; well, not too much), and Calame paraphrases them as stating that:
      any image that doesn't depict reality should be explained, “ if the slightest doubt is possible.“

      So, since a doubt was possible, everyone involved in creating these photos was immediately fired for damaging the Times's reputation for honesty, right?  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  They weren't fired.  The Times Magazine didn't apologize and promise not to do it again.  The people responsible were not disciplined for violating the Times's official standards.  That's because no one but Calame saw anything wrong with the photos.  Instead, the magazine editors dismissed the photos as “so over the top” that no one would think they were real.

      So, why not include a demon with fangs, horns, and hooves sticking a detainee with a pitchfork too?  Because the editors are lying.  If they included the obviously unreal, they'd have undercut the emotional impact they were going for.  The real idea, again, was to manipulate the readers.  Gerald Marzorati, editor of the Times Magazine, told Calame that “I didn't think someone would say this is a real photograph”.  The technical term for such statements is “horseshit”.

      It's to Calame's credit that he recognizes there's a problem, but his solution is to adopt a standard set of photo credits indicating that the picture has been staged or manipulated.  Does he really think the Times is going to label photographs like the ones he objects to ‘staged photograph conceived by John Doe, photographed by Mary Roe, model in photograph Joe Blow; modeled on photograph from thirty years ago that might or might not have been real; staged photograph used because we don't have any photographs of real prisoners really having this done to them’?  Calame has missed the real issue — the Times is no longer trying to report news, it's trying to be a political player while pretending to report news.  The standards manual may be titled “Guidelines on Our Integrity”, but real integrity is lacking.  And the fact that Calame doesn't say this plainly shows either lack of understanding, dishonesty, or cowardice on his part.

      In Up the Organization, Robert Townsend asked the reader to imagine what a CEO who really had the public interest at heart would do.  He then asked (quote approximate) ‘Does it scare you to realize that your industry doesn't have a singel CEO who has the public's interest at heart?  It scares me.’  In contemplating the pitiful performance of Calame in trying to hold the Times to account, persistently missing the most important issues, the really scary thing is that his insight and standards are much higher than the reporters and editors of the Times.  When someone can be described, simultaneously and honestly, as “vastly better than average” and “pitifully inadequate”, you know that typical reporters are utterly worthless.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Civilized People

      An Afghani blogger has been getting death threats — from the BBC.

      Hat tip: Instapundit.


"Confusion Worse Confounded," Part Two: The Arrogance of Ignorance

      So, here's the second installment of my look at Byron Calame, The New York Times's public editor.  (And my apologies for not making my self-imposed daily deadine).

        Calame's second "public editor" column concerned a story the Times did about
the Central Intelligence Agency's covert air operations for transporting suspected terrorists
which appeared on Page 1 on May 31st, 2005.  The column named the charter airline company the CIA uses when it transports prisoners, had pictures of planes with tale numbers visible and quite a lot of information that would make it easy to spot CIA operations.  There was a great deal of criticism:
      The generally strident e-mail messages demanded to know why The Times had decided to publish information that the readers believe will aid terrorists and make life in the United States less safe for everyone -- especially the people carrying out the operation. Most of them didn't seem to be aware that the once-secret air operations had been mentioned in earlier articles and broadcasts elsewhere.

      The root of the airline story appears to have been the Sept. 26th, 2002 detention of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian who was flying from Tunisia to Montreal, with a change of planes in New York.  Arar was alleged to be an al-Qaeda member, and was apparently being investigated by Canadian security, who tipped off U.S. officials that he was on the plane.  Arar was detained, but allowed to call his family.  He was then shipped to Syria around Oct. 7-10th, 2002.  In Syria, he was held for a year, then released him to Canada.  Arar claims the Syrians tortured him, and sued the U.S. government.

      The uproar over the Arar case seems to have been what brought the practice of rendition to light.  The first specific mention of the term "rendition" I've found is a Village Voice story from March, 2004, which reports on testimony then-CIA director George Tenet gave Congress.  The story claims the practice started in 1989, and the Beeb notes that Clinton authorized its use in terrorism cases in the '90s.  The focus on planes seems to have started with a 60 Minutes story in March of this year, which centered on a Swedish case.  The New York Times then got into the act.

      The Times story was bylined by Scott Shane, Stephen Grey, and Margot Williams.  Shane wrote an e-mail to one irate reader which was laterly used as a form letter for everyone who complained.  Calame reprinted the e-mail in his column:
      Your criticism of our article on C.I.A. air operations is a thoughtful one.

      In English: 'We got your letter, which we can't be bothered to respond to individually, but we'll fake it.'
      Writing about secret intelligence operations is always a balancing act, and reasonable people can draw the line in different places as to how much the citizens who pay for the intelligence agencies should be told about what those agencies are doing.

      Here we see the media's conceit that they are always reasonable.  Note that the vast majority of readers thought they were egregiously out of line.
      The C.I.A.'s practice of rendition has come to light almost exclusively through analysis of the agency's air operations, starting with plane-spotting hobbyists who routinely post airplane tail numbers and photos on the Web.  Media coverage of those rendition cases in many countries has started an important debate about the wisdom and competence of the agency in carrying them out.  But no such debate could take place if the press did not aggressively seek to find out what the agency is doing and inform the public about it.

      What pathetic lies.  As noted, the press first became aware of rendition in 2002, when the Arar case hit the headlines, but only focused on the mechanics of it recently.  As for the "important debate about the wisdom and competence" of renditions, how does telling me where a charter airline is located help me understand the "wisdom and competence" of the operation one of its planes carried out?
      Perhaps it's the result of my having worked as a correspondent in the Soviet Union for a few years, but I think there's a strong case that excessive government secrecy leads to waste and abuse, and that an aggressive press improves the effectiveness of intelligence agencies in the long run.

      'Yeah ma'am, just trying to help the government work better.'  Who does he think he's kidding?  This is, remember, the same paper that screamed for blood about the 'outing' of Valerie Plame as a CIA employee, predicting terrible consequences for saying that she was a CIA employee.  Now, it has outed an entire cover company, but that's because the government was using "excesive" secrecy.  FEH!

      Well, perhaps, in the long run, the CIA will hide stuff from the press with greater effectiveness.  I hope so, anyway.
      In this case, if reporters using public information can penetrate these air operations, I suspect foreign intelligence services, or Al Qaeda operatives, would have little difficulty doing so.

      Wait, a moment ago we were talking of excessive secrecy, now it's inadequate secrecy.  Make up your mind.
      Our story was based on information from public F.A.A. and corporate records and F.A.A.  flight plan data available to all from commercial vendors.  Before our story was published, the tail numbers, and photographs, of several of the rendition planes could be found easily via a Google search on the Web.

      Ah, the story is harmless, because it's all old news.  That's why they put it on page one.  In fact, the name and location of the air charter company was not known, as well as many other details.  The Times made it easier for terrorists to know what the CIA is up to.
      In addition, a summary of the planned story was provided to the C.I.A. several days prior to publication, and no request was made to withhold any of its contents.

      And Robert Novak called the CIA before he did the Plame story, and they didn't tell him not to say that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.  The CIA has a policy of not commenting about certain issues.  That doesn't mean they consider their publication OK.

      The rest of the column mostly revolves around two ideas.  The first is 'If the Times can find it out, anyone can.'  Not only is this false, it's irrelevant — why do some of the enemy's work for him?

      The second idea is 'We showed the story to the CIA, and they didn't object, so it must be fine.'  Remember, in our first installment, when Calame was talking about all his journalistic background.  He didn't use any of it to investigate why the CIA failed to object to the story..  He never seems to have pondered the questions, 'Why do the readers see this so differently than reporters do?  Could they be right, and we wrong?'  He just blindly accepted the assurances of the newsroom that their failure to object meant that everything was hunky-dory.

      Instead of a man representing the readers' concerns to the paper, in this column Calame was just a flack for the paper.

      Still, we have to give Calame some props for integrity.  The 'don't worry, be happy' article ran on July 19th.  Six days later, he posted a letter on his web page from Thomas A. Twetten, for Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA.  Twetten pointed out that it isn't the place of the Times to unilaterally decide how much secrecy is "excessive."  He notes that the aircraft may have been used for many types of secret missions, all of which the Times story "put at risk."  He noted that al-Qaeda was still trying to kill USAmericans, and that the CIA was the first line of defence against foreign terrorists.  Twetten stated that the CIA would probably need to devote time and money to changing methods, rather than hunting terrorists.  CIA operatives would be at greater risk, he thought.

      Finally, Twetten said:
      I am not reassured, as you are, by the lack of a C.I.A. response to your summary.  How much detail (not how often) has The Times deleted from your stories on sensitive intelligence matters at the request of the intelligence community since 9/11?  Is it 1 percent?  Could it be as high as 5 percent?  Has it occurred to The New York Times that you might no longer be considered a responsible interlocutor?  Commenting on a summary from your reporter carries a high risk of further erosion of C.I.A. sources and methods.  It is another one of those national security judgment calls.  It should give you pause, not reason for justification, that C.I.A. chose silence.

      In sum, Twetten has said that Calame didn't know enough about the subject to write intelligently on it.  I'll add that Calame's column showed an unthinking assumption that the point of view of reporters is always right.  That's the kind of "arrogance of ignorance" that is slowly destroying the nation's trust in the MSM.


The "Newspaper of Record" STILL Can't Keep Facts Straight


      The New York Times still can't write accurate reports when they report on Nadagate.

  • The Times says that "some" say Wilson "suggested" he was sent to Niger by the CIA by Dick Cheney.  A fair reading of his original op-ed shows he did definitely suggest that.

  • The Times also says that Wilson concluded that "the effort" by Iraq to buy uranium "had not occurred."  As the Senate Committee noted, this isn't true.

  • And finally, the Times Wilson "filed a report" on his trip.  In fact, he was verbally debriefed.

At Length:

      In one of The New York Times's recent stories on Nadagate, they say:
      . . . Mr. Libby made it clear that Vice President Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson to Africa, a notion some said Mr. Wilson had suggested in his [July 6th, 2003] article.

      "A notion some said" had been suggested.  Gee, what did Joe Wilson say in that Times's &article?  This:
      In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. . . . The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

      Wilson most definitely "suggested" Cheney was responsible for him going to Niger (which I'm sure this was an honest mistake on Wilson's part).

      And then there's this gem:
      In Mr. Wilson's article, he recounted a mission he undertook to Niger in 2002 seeking information about a purported effort by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to acquire uranium there, his conclusion that the effort had not occurred and the filing of his report.

      The effort did not occur?  Here, at last available in HTML format, (die, PDF, die) is the report of the Senate Committee that investigated Iraq intelligence.  In this section, it says that a foreign intelligence service reported to the U.S. that Iraq had been in negotiations with Niger to buy Uranium since at least 1999 (remember that date).  Reporting specifically on Wilson's odyssey, it says:
      The intelligence report based on the former ambassador's trip was disseminated on March 8, 2002. . . .

      The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki . . . [was asked to] meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq.  The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales.  The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

      When the former ambassador [Wilson] spoke to Committee staff, his description of his findings differed from the DO [Directorate of Operations] intelligence report . . . in some respects.  First, the former ambassador described his findings . . . as refuting both the possibility that Niger could have sold uranium to Iraq and that Iraq approached Niger to purchase uranium.  The intelligence report described how the structure of Niger's uranium mines would make it difficult, if not impossible, for Niger to sell uranium to rouge [sic] nations, and noted that Nigerien officials denied knowledge of any deals to sell uranium to any rogue states, but did not refute the possibility that Iraq had approached Niger to purchase uranium.

      [The CIA's reports officer] said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.

      Finally, the Times claimed that Wilson "filed a report."  Wilson himself noted that he did not file a written report, and the Senate Committee said the same thing.

      I've seen high-school newspapers do better than this.

      Do you think the Times will ever report accurately on this subject.  'Cause I don't.


Talk, or Act?


      Glenn Reynolds got a review copy of a book saying that Pope Pius XII saved the lives of many Jews.  Reynolds hadn't heard that before.  But if he'd paid better attention to exactly what the debate was about, he wouldn't be so surprised.

At Length:

      Glenn Reynolds received a copy of a new book, entitled The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis.  The Instapundit comments "it certainly goes against the grain of everything I've heard."

      The dispute about Pius XII illustrates one of the strange facets of today's world: the idea that Talking is morally superior to Acting.  I haven't followed this story in detail, but it seems from what I've read that everyone acknowledges that the Catholic Church did save the lives of thousands of Jews by hiding them from the Nazi death-camp collectors.  Everyone also acknowledges that while he was doing this, Pius XII was not particularly outspoken about the evils of the Nazis and Fascists.

      The pope's partisans point to the lives he saved.  The pope's detractors point to his silence, and say he should have condemned Hitler, publicly and loudly.  The pope's partisans rejoin that if Pius had done this, the Nazis would have cracked down hard on the Church, getting many people, Jews and Catholics alike, killed for nothing.  The pope's detractors sort of dance around on this, but seem to reply (remember, I haven't been following it very much), that Pius should have spoken regardless of the consequences.  Their position seems to be: 'better to speak out and make a record, than to keep quiet and save lives'.

      Me, I can't see the point of condemning Hitler if it would have cost thousands of Jews their lives.  Some people's mileage seems to differ.

      But to return to the original source: the reason Reynolds hasn't heard this before is because the people who have yelled loudest are those who wanted Pius XII to condemn Hitler, and didn't much care about consequences.

      Moral: read very CAREFULLY, and read both sides.



      Iraqi blogger Omar of Iraq the Model doesn't like the draft Constitution.

      Hat tip: Glenn.


Great War Reporting

      At Michael Yon's online magazine.

      Add it to your bookmarks.  I have.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Interesting Opinion

      You remember, I expect, Dilpazier Aslam, the "sassy" Guardian writer and apologist for terrorism, recently fired for belonging to an Islamist group?

Well, when he went, the Guardian published an anonymous article saying that Aslam had been attacked by "Rightwing bloggers from the US."

      So, the official position of the Guardian seems to be 'Only right-wingers are opposed to Jew hatred and Muslim terrorism.'

      I'm sure glad the media is objective and unbiased.  I shudder to think what a biased media would be like.


Old News You Already Know All About

      Evan Cohen, who helped found Air America, and was it's CEO, was also on the board of directors for the "Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club" (GW) in the Bronx.  GW received a $500,000.00 dollar grant, and Cohen persuaded them to "invest" $480,000.00 in Air America, to be paid back with interest.

      The money appears to not have been paid back, because GW nearly shut down recently.  The City of New York is investigating the situation.

      Of course, you knew all this, because it's been widely covered by the national news media.

      Good to see you're not biased, guys.  Frankly, we thought you'd ignore the story, so only people who read local NY papers or blogs would ever hear of it.  Glad we were wrong.

      Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.


What Do the Terrorists Want?

      You'd never guess.

      Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.


Suicide Bombing: It's Part of Islam

      Or so say the UN delegates from Musim countries.


Great News


      And no, I'm not joking about that at all.   I wish it had happened sooner, and hope it starts happening here.

      Hat tip: Pournelle.


Neat stuff

      Go to this site for some very interesting drawings, done on the sidewalks of New York (literally, on the sidewalks).

     Hat tip: John R. Strohm at Jerry Pournelle's sorta blog.


News You Haven't Heard, Probably

      On 9/11, there was a group of Islamofascist murderers in London, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.  They were supposed to hijack two planes and fly them into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge.  One was just convicted in India.

      The attack was also supposed to involve hitting Melbourne and the Indian Parliment.

      I'm sure, though, that it was all the fault of the U.S., somehow.  Everything is, after all.

Hat tip: Ed Morrissey.


Fog Machine

      Hillary gave a speech in Columbus (Hat tip: Kaus.), and the text is here.

      What's interesting is how vague everything is.  She does a science-fiction theme in which she looks back at 2005 from 2020, and all kinds of problems have been solved!  But she seldom even hints what the solutions are, or says explicitly what she would do differently.

      This might play well at party meetings, but it will never work on the campaign trail.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"Confusion Worse Confounded"


      A new feature at Fat Steve's Blatherings!  I'll be doing a series of four daily posts reviewing the performance of the new "Public Editor" of The New York Times.

  • So far, he doesn't seem to understand what his job should be.

  • He thinks the process of how a story was written is important, when what readers object to is the content.

  • He doesn't understand what the readers object to.

  • Despite what he says about being the "reader's representative," he functions as a public relations man, making excuses for the Times.

At Length:

      One of the things that gets me about the MSM is it's divorce from its readers.  It doesn't seem to occur to them that their point of view just might be wrong.  Frequently, it doesn't occur to them that they have a point of view.  They're reporting THE TRUTH, and we should shut up and learn.

      Consider Byron Calame, the "public editor" at The New York Times.  Calame took over the job on June 5th, and has published four and a half columns since starting.  I intend to do a series of four posts about those pieces.

      Calame started with a column explaining his view of the job.  Look at his goals:
      . . . I hope to raise the blinds at The Times in some new ways to allow readers to get a clearer view inside the newsroom process.  Greater transparency, I believe, can help you as readers better understand the news judgments that shape each day's paper -- and hold The Times's news staff more accountable.

      In the months ahead, there are three new approaches to transparency that I'm especially keen to try in this space: (1) publishing stimulating and thoughtful e-mail messages and letters from readers -- with responses from the editors and reporters involved; (2) presenting question-and-answer interviews with key editors and round-table discussions with editors and reporters; and (3) occasionally offering commentary on two or three different topics, rather than one.

      My first commentary, posted there two weeks ago, questioned the Washington bureau's slowness in pursuing the significance of the so-called Downing Street memo on planning for the Iraq war.  (My Web journal can be found at nytimes.com/byroncalame.)

      These new approaches all flow from what I see as my three essential obligations to you, the readers:

      Making sure the concerns of readers and the public about the paper are heard -- and heeded when they are valid.

      Monitoring The Times's journalistic integrity -- which, for me, means accuracy and fairness in both reality and perception.

      Publicly assessing the newsroom's performance in these areas to enhance readers' understanding of the journalistic process and to remind editors and reporters to do their best.

      Now me, I don't care very much how a bad judgement was made, I want them not to be made in the first place.  Does Calame intend to keep the Times from making mistakes, letting bias infect its reporting, or telling outright lies?  I haven't the foggiest.

      What does he mean, when he says we readers will "hold The Times's news staff more accountable"?  Not a clue.  All we can do is complain, and stop reading.  All he seems to be able to do is ask questions of the news staff, then publicize his evaluations.  To me, that seems to imply that he criticize the paper, sometimes harshly.  I'll look ahead a bit and say he isn't doing that.  Instead, Calame seems to be concerned with making sure the concerns, defenses, and excuses of the Times are heard by the readers.  He seems to be, perhaps unconsciously, looking at his job as being a buffer, something that absorbs blows harmlessly, something that those who wish to make an impact have to bypass.  Is that how he wishes to go down, when the history of the Times public editors is written?  'Byron Calame was just a glorified flack for the paper' is not a legacy I'd want.

      Calame outlines his qualifications as he sees them:
      Given these obligations, what do I bring to the job?  The basic newsgathering process is something I know from bottom to top.  By the time I retired from The Journal last December, I had held jobs ranging from the lowliest reporting assignment to deputy managing editor.  In my last 12 years at The Journal, I had been responsible for quality control and ethics issues as well as overseeing the handling of readers' complaints and concerns. Having made almost all of the mistakes a newspaper reporter and editor can make -- and helped colleagues sort out their missteps over the past decade or so -- I think my sense of the mushy spots in daily journalism is pretty well developed.

      Where am I coming from in terms of my attitudes and perspectives on life and journalism?  Simply put, I would say The Times has a public editor with an instinctive affinity for the underdog and an enduring faith in a free press.

      My early life left me sensitive to the problems of ordinary people and focused on journalism's role in looking out for the less powerful and those who have been wronged.  The son of a Methodist minister, I spent all but a few months of my youth in southwest Missouri towns with populations ranging from 93 to 839.  When a local weekly published a contribution of mine at 13, I decided that I wanted to become a journalist.  At the Missouri School of Journalism, I was captured by the idea that the craft is one of public service -- with a crucial watchdog role in our democracy.  Four years as a naval officer, including a 1962 patrol operation in South Vietnam, left me convinced that powerful institutions merit the news media's watchful eye.  (Links to my biography and information about my personal affairs can be found on the Public Editor's Web Journal.)

      A few readers have already questioned how open-minded I can be as public editor, given the well-known conservative views of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.  Two points: The Journal's newsroom and editorial page are separated by a thick wall, and all of my years at the paper were spent on the news side.

      *SIGH*  In the first place, a representative presents his client's views, even if they conflict with his own.  I see nothing there to indicate that he intends to do that.  His entire biography reeks of liberal condescension.  And he hastens to assure us, without actually saying it, that he's a good liberal, just like all the other reporters.  (Of course if asked, he'd almost certainly deny being a liberal.  As with almost the other liberals in the newsmedia, he'd say he's politically in the middle of the road.  Yeah, and at 6'2", I'm average height.  It's just that 99% of the population is below average stature.)  'Oh no, don't worry, I don't agree with those nasty conservative editors at the WSJ.'

      Calame might be much better qualified for his job if he'd never been in the news field and was a ravenous political partisan who disagreed with the Times's editorial page almost every day.  That would bring a fresh viewpoint to the job, something that newspapers badly need.  At the least, the Times ought to hire me, someone from Daily Kos, and a libertarian blogger as additional public editors.

      But since he does have all this journalistic experience, he could put it to work.  When there is criticism of a story, he might compile all the complaints he could find, then go investigating the story, its accuracy, how it was produced, why people are angry about it, and what people have said since.  This would be major meta-journalism.  Again, we'll see he doesn't do that either.

      I'll close today's post with one thought: the default assumption of a "Public Editor" ought to be that the paper done wrong, and needed to be publicly chastised.  Otherwise, the position of public editor wouldn't be needed in the first place.


Monday, July 25, 2005

The Guardian Runs for Cover

      Eleven days ago, I wrote about a loathsome article in The Guardian in which a Muslim apologized for terrorism while explaining that today's Muslims were "sassier" than their parents, and more willing to rock the boat to protest injustice — apparently, that's what the 7/7 bombings were, a protest against injustice to Muslims.

      Well guess what?  The author of the article, Dilpazier Aslam, turned out to be a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist hate party.  The Guardian was shocked, shocked! to discover this, even though Aslam had mentioned it freely at the office.  So they told him to quit the organization.  He wouldn't, so they fired him.

      Funny how, till people in the blogosphere pointed this out, no one at the Guardian knew that belonging to an organization of Jew hating Islamofascists was incompatible with working there, ain't it?


Union Trouble

      Via Drudge and Betsy's Page, these two stories of four of the biggest unions getting ready to walk out of the AFL-CIO.

      My daddy was a strong union man, and though I've never been a union member, I've come to appreciate the good they can do under some circumstances.

      The problem is, unions defined there mission as 1) Getting more; and 2) Opposing management.  Alas, there are limits on how much you can get, and sometimes management is in the right, and shouldn't be opposed.  Peter F. Drucker used to suggest that unions should acquire some positive functions: run the cafeteria, run the pension fund (although the teamsters argue against that), administer the health plan, whatever, but get themselves something to do that doesn't necessarily oppose management or cost more money.

      About all that's left of the union movement today is public sector unions, some big old companies on the edge of bankruptcy, and work that employs mostly illegal aliens. As it is, I think the union movement is going to just keep withering away.  And I don't like that.  Unions served a purpose, and someday we'll need them again.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Concentrating Their Minds

      The Telegraph of Britain begins to see the necessity of choosing effectiveness over PC if they really want to stop terrorist attacks.

      Hat tip: Betsy.


Were the 7/7 Attacks Suicide Bombings?

      Michael Ledeen doesn't think so.

      Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle.


Insidious Western Cultural Imperialism at Work

      Documented here, via Glenn.

      Illustrated with photos, which I reproduce:

Iraqi gun babe I
Photo I

Iraqi gun babe II
Photo II


A Myth, Busted

      You've probably heard those reports that blue states pay more in taxes than they receive in federal benefits.  Well, a reality check is administered here and here.


Knock Me Down With a Feather

      Egyptians and tourists demonstrated against the terrorism in Sharm-el-Sheik, and The MSM covered it!

      Of course, they still have trouble with the words 'terrorism' and 'terrorist,' so let's not celebrate yet.  But the protesters did use those words, as do many commenters at a BBC site.

      And from Boston, Karim Elsahy managed to organize a small protest in Cairo.  Well done, sir.

      Elsahy is also organizing a new group, Pray4Peace.  Keep up the good work, Karim!

      Hat tip: Glenn.



      Over at Protein Wisdom, Jeff Goldstein puts the boot in to the hysterics who are constantly in a lather about the latest U.S./British/Western ‘crime’ that they have imagined.  (Hat tip: Instapundit)

      Quoting from the London Times:
      While his family in Leeds had no idea about his suicide mission, Tanweer confessed to his cousin his ambition to become a “holy warrior.”  At his father’s home village 30 miles from Faisalabad, Mohammad Saleem described yesterday how Tanweer, 22, hero-worshipped Osama bin Laden.

      Mr Saleem supported his cousin’s bombing at Aldgate station which killed seven people, saying: ““Whatever he has done, if he has done it, then he has done right.”  He recalled how Tanweer argued with family and friends about the need for violent retaliation over US abuse of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

      Tanweer was no stranger to the village of Chak No 477, where his grandfather and several cousins live.  During his last trip, the college dropout was visited by another of the bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan.  They are said to have met a known al-Qaeda activist who has since been jailed for bombing a church.  “Whenever he would listen about sufferings of Muslims he would become very emotional and sentimental,” Mr Saleem said.  “He was a good Muslim . . . he also wished to take part in jihad and lay down his life.

      “He knew that excesses are being done to Muslims.  Incidents like desecration of the Koran have always been in his mind.”

      Goldstein comments:
      Perhaps now that their irresponsible rhetoric has resulted in actual loss of life, Teddy, Carl, Dick, Howard, et al—along with their mouthpieces in the mainstream press who, until recently, have been too busy questioning every Bush administration motive to investigate Gitmo on their own, relying instead on misleading press releases from Amnesty International—will tone down the rhetoric and try to substantiate their accusations before launching them so frequently, forcefully, and publicly—where, it turns out, Muslims, including westernized Muslims, are actually listening.  But I doubt it.

      The saddest part?  Nobody will hold these power-hungry hyperpartisans and their ulterior motives to account—because to do so would be to commit the cardinal sin of “questioning their patriotism.”

      Well, let me be the first to break that particular taboo: “THE LEFT LIED AND LONDONERS DIED!”

      Somebody should make a frickin’ t-shirt.

      Let me go further, and question their loyalty: ‘THE LEFT WANTS AL-QAEDA TO WIN!”

      Traitorous swine.


Another Steyn Goody

      Mark in The Australian:
      That's the great thing about multiculturalism: it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - like, say, the capital of Bhutan or the principal exports of Malaysia, the sort of stuff the old imperialist wallahs used to be well up on.  Instead, it just involves feeling warm and fluffy, making bliss out of ignorance.  And one notices a subtle evolution in multicultural pieties since the Islamists came along.  It was most explicitly addressed by the eminent British lawyer Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, who thought that it was too easy to disparage "Islamic fundamentalists".  "We as western liberals too often are fundamentalist ourselves. We don't look at our own fundamentalisms."

      And what exactly would those western liberal fundamentalisms be?  "One of the things that we are too ready to insist upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I'm not sure that's true."

      Hmm.  Kennedy appears to be arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people's intolerance, which is intolerable.  Thus the lop-sided valse macabre of our times: the more the Islamists step on our toes, the more we waltz them gaily round the room.  I would like to think that the newly fortified Age columnists are representative of the culture's mood, but, if I had to bet, I'd put my money on Kennedy: anyone can be tolerant of the tolerant, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti masochists.  Australia's old cultural cringe had a certain market rationality; the new multicultural cringe is pure nihilism.

      Go read and enjoy.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Another Excellent Question

      Closely related to my last post, TallDave wants to know why the press runs stories like the one below (since it's a Yahoo link, I'm running it in full; it will soon vanish), which glorify tremendously evil murderers, while simultaneously ignoring important stories about like the new Iraqi Constitution (a story which they cover only when they can report problems with drafting it)?  Could it be that they don't want freedom for anyone except themselves?

      Yes, TallDave, it could.  I'm surprised it took you so long to discover that.  But it's good to see the scales are dropping from your eyes.  The press collaborate with the terrorists.


In Saddam's birthplace, fond memories of Uday and Qusay

Awjah, Iraq (AFP) - Villagers of the town where former dictator Saddam Hussein was born said they retain fond memories of his slain sons Uday and Qusay, but had good reasons for not going to pay their respects on the second anniversary of their deaths.

"We could not go (to the cemetery), because we are afraid that the Americans have installed invisible cameras to pick us out and then arrest us," said Ahmed al-Khattab, a cousin of the Hussein family.

Hajj Saad Khraimus said he could not visit for health reasons.

"I am handicapped and ill. I can't go to their graves, but I ask God to take pity on them and shelter them in paradise."

The gray sand and dirt cemetery sits at the entrance of the village and is near a US military base some 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Baghdad.

The remains of Uday, Qusay and his son Mustafa who was 14 when he was killed, lay in a plot wedged between a palm tree and an electrical pylon.

"These young men are the most honorable in Iraq," said Saad al-Nassiri, outfitted in a traditional dishdasha robe and white head wrap, and who also claimed to be related to the deceased.

"The Americans used their most sophisticated weaponry to take them out."

Uday commanded the Fedayeen militia and Qusay headed his father's dreaded security and intelligence apparatus.

They died in a ferocious gunbattle in the northern city of Mosul after US troops were tipped off by the man who was hiding them in his house, recalled a neighbour, Shaher al-Khazradji.

"The fighting lasted four hours then US soldiers pulled out Uday's body (by the feet), while the other bodies were covered and removed," he said.

One of their bodyguards was also killed.

Hours later, the US military destroyed the two-storey building, and today nothing has been built in its place.

Uday, 39, and Qusay, 37, were the only two of 55 leaders of Saddam's regime to die in battle.

Al-Khazradji had bitter words for the man who gave away Uday and Qusay's whereabouts because he aided US troops.

"The prostitutes of Mosul have more honor than him," he said.

But 43-year-old Khaled al-Naimi said Iraq now has greater concerns.

"Uday and Qusay, that's the past. Today we don't have water, electricity or infrastructure in our third year of occupation. Their deaths don't mean anything. This country doesn't belong to them. It belongs to all Iraqis."

Excellent Post by Captain Ed

      He points out that al-Qaeda wants:
. . . to seize power by force, cast a Taliban-style tyranny over the entirety of Southwest Asia and North Africa (to start), and bring the infidel world to its knees through the control of petroleum.

      Which in turn leads to an excellent question:     
Why, four years after 9/11, does the media and the Left still fail to grasp this?  Could it be because acknowledging this fact requires a stark choice to either fight or surrender, and they would prefer to create a fantasy through sophistry to allow them to simply go AWOL instead?

      Yes, why indeed?


Sad, Disgusting News

      Mass murder by terrorists in Egypt.  Pray for the Egyptians people, please.


Encouraging Sign

      Glenn links to a story about USAmerican Muslims marching against terrorism.  Reynolds commented:
      You know, if these people had blown something up, they'd be getting more press. Which suggests that if the press wants to help eliminate terrorism, it should adjust its priorities
      Unfortunately, the key word in that sentence is "if."


Friday, July 22, 2005

Very Good Article

      Austin Bay has the cover story in this week's Weekly Standard, available online.  He deals with the need for patience, the necessity of fighting a multi-administration war, and the failure to get the public involved, and how we're doing in against al-Qaeda.  Go read it.

      Hat tip: Instapundit.


Anatomy Lesson Needed

From the BBC:   
The aim of opening fire is to stop an imminent threat to life.  The most effective means of incapacitating a suspect is to shoot at the central body mass which contains the central nervous system.

      At last report, the central nervous system consisted of the spinal column and brain.  I was not aware that the British kept their brain in their "central body mass."  But come to think of it, it would explain a lot about the BBC, whose policy on the word "terrorism" shows they have their heads up their arse.


Well Said

      Over at Captain's Quarters, Daffyd has post on ethical monotheism, titledDafydd: A Pro-Christian Jewish Agnostic Speaks Out:
      I absolutely believe that it is vital for a free and civilized society that the huge majority of people believe in what Dennis Prager calls "ethical monotheism."  Prager defines ethical monotheism (as I understand it) as the belief in one omniscient God who demands that human beings behave towards each other with both decency and justice.  Unless ethical monotheism is at the very core of a culture, that culture will retreat from justice and mock decency, and it will become a hellish place to live.

      So I hope you're forgive my bluntness, but Barry Lynn and his United Separators can just go to the Hell that I don't believe in!

      Read it all.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Links of Interest

  • Lessons for stopping terrorism derived from WWII from air defense.

  • Irshad Manji says his fellow Muslims have to stop hiding behind their religion.

  • Britain is sorta kinds considering the idea of expelling those who preach terrorism.

  • MacRanger at Macsmind says he had a "top secret" clearance, but never saw any memos with an "S," on them, meaning a paragraph contained Information classified as "secret."

  • Tom Maguire reminds us of Nadagate subpoenas issued in March, 2004, concerning White House contacts with 25 journalists, Air Force one phone logs, and wonders why the MSM isn't mentioning that information.

  • Walter Pincus, one of the reporters that Joe Wilson funneled information to in early 2003, reveals he heard about Plame arranging Wilson's trip on July 12th, the day after Novak filed his column (something he carefully refrains from mentioning in his article).

  • A reader e-mails Glenn that when John Howard was answering a question about the terrorist attacks in London, the moment Howard used the word "terrorism," the video feed was cut off.

  • Also via Glenn, Sky News reports that the bombs in London yesterday had the same design as the bombs on 7/7.


Good Insight on the London Attack Today

      From Athena, at Terrorism Unveiled:
      It would be more successful to rack up a large number of civilian casualties.  But the threat of attack and fear of future attacks is just as much terrorism as the actual attack itself.  So in that way, it's highly successful.  This attack would augment that fear of terrorism simply because London was proven to be penetrable even at the time of high security, high vigilance, and increased scrutiny on the Muslim community.   Because no matter if the bombs were duds or not, they could have been larger, could have been successful and they could have caused greater casualties.  The simple idea that the attackers were able to get into place to set off detonators is enough to terrorize.

      In return, we have to keep our nerve; take better defensive measures; and step up our offensive.


Sense vs. PC

      LaShawn writes about the latest London bombings:
      If only authorities would stop and search Middle Eastern-looking men with backpacks headed for public transit systems, they could prevent most of these suicide bombings.  But they’d rather feel me up in the airport than “offend” homicidal Muslim maniacs.

      And thank you, God, that the death toll was zero.


Another Point About the Roberts Nomination

      .The Washington Post says:
      "There'll be a battle because all Supreme Court nominations are battles, but this is not a holy war," said Kenneth M. Duberstein, a Reagan White House chief of staff who steered the previous two Republican nominations onto the court for Bush's father. "I don't think the passion from the far left will be felt by all these Democratic senators."
      Well, Supreme Court nominations didn't used to be automatic battles.  Ginsberg and Breyer sailed right through. 

      So it seems the Democrats have decided to automatically oppose Bushon almost everything.  Now, I'm not any sort of 'We should all get together' utopian.  The purpose of politics is to settle differences, not celebrate agreement.  But the voters don't like automatic obstructionism.  Moving to automatically oppose Roberts if at all possible will be bad for them, in the long run.


Democrats Seem Poised to Alienate Voters Over Roberts

The question is, which voters?

  • None of the issues they plan to use seem likely to help get them with the general public, though they should play well to the base.

  • The "be kind to terrorists" issue should hurt the party a lot with the general electorate.

  • Complaining that Roberts won't impose gay rights against the country's will is also a negative for Dems.

  • And complaining that Roberts should answer questions, but Ginsberg was "another time," will just look like whining, and unfairness by the Dems.

  • Most people won't care about the Arroyo Toad, and will wonder how that's 'Interstate Commerce' -- especially after Kelo.

  • The abortion issue is a small net positive for Republicans.

  • The 'french fry' case is the only one that has resonance, and Roberts's statement that he didn't like the police actions should protect him there.

      Overall, it looks like Democrats will insist on shooting themselves in the foot again.  Are they really this stupid, or are they so dependent on their base that they won't say 'No,' even when they need to?

      "Reply hazy, try again later."


Quoted Without Comment

      From a Wall Street Journal article by Laurence H. Silberman:
      Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington.  Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election.  Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity.  Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the [Official and Confidential] files.

      When the press reported this, I received a call in my office from Mr. Moyers.  Several of my assistants were with me.  He was outraged; he claimed that this was another example of the Bureau salting its files with phony CIA memos.  I was taken aback.  I offered to conduct an investigation, which if his contention was correct, would lead me to publicly exonerate him.  There was a pause on the line and then he said, "I was very young.  How will I explain this to my children?"  And then he rang off.  I thought to myself that a number of the Watergate figures, some of whom the department was prosecuting, were very young, too.

      Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle.


God has a Twisted Sense of Humor

      There's a Canadian professor who's worried that:
the separation between church and state is under threat.

      His solution?  Regulate the churches, and create Registered Religious Practitioners, who would be the only people allowed to be clergy.  Oh, by the way, none of these churches would be allowed to claim that there is one true religion.

      I'd almost like to see this happen, just to watch what Canadian Muslims do when told they can't preach that Islam is the only true faith.

      But I couldn't make up anything this zany to save my life.  "We had to abolish seperation of Church and State, in order to save it."  The Anchoress said the ideas was "mad," but otherwise was "struck speechless."  But then, this isn't the kind of thing that can be talked of intelligently.  You just laugh or scream.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

And Here's an Illustration of the Lesson

      Just after writing my last post, I happened on this item at Powerline, discussing an Associated Press article about Judge Roberts.

      At the end, Hindrocket notes:
UPDATE: I just noticed another error in the article.  It says: "Roberts is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which has influenced Bush's judicial picks."  This has been reported in dozens of mainstream outlets today, but it isn't true.  Roberts says that he has given a speech or two to Federalist meetings, but has never been a member of the organization.  But that's how the MSM operate: they read something and repeat it without doing any fact-checking

      Never trust a secondary source, get as close to the original source as possible.


A Valuable Lesson


      The MSM's charges that Bush has changed his mind about firing anyone who 'involved' in Nadagate are false, but they can still teach you something important: check the sources.

At Length:

      In multiple posts, Tom Maguire has shown that Bush said he'd fire any member of the White House staff who committed a crime in connection with Nadagate.  The MSM keeps trying to insist that he originally claimed that he'd fire anyone who was 'involved,' which is rather different.

      But if you follow the links that supposedly prove this, all you get are reporters asserting that Bush said what they want him to have said.  If you keep tracing back those links, eventually they either peter out into pure assertion, or they get to this press conference, where you find Bush said:
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.  Let me just say something about leaks in Washington.  There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington.  There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch.  There's just too many leaks.  And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.  And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.  [emphasis added]

      But last June, a reporter asked if Bush:
[stood] by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so [i.e., leaked Plame's name]?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

      Bush said "Yes," but the reporter had interrupted the President while he was speaking, so Bush was probably a little confused there as to what he was answering.  His original pledge was to fire anyone who committed a crime.

      Now, the MSM keeps trying to paint Bush as having promised to fire anyone involved, but that's not what he said he'd do.

      So, learn the lesson: On any important information, track down the original source, or at least get as close as you can.  Frequently, it won't say what the secondary source claims it does.


Gee, I Wonder Why This Wasn't In All the Papers? II


      A big story concerning Nadagate, one that makes the Administration look good is known to the MSM, but they haven't really reported it.  How could that have happened?

At Length:

      Question, what do the following have in common?

  • ABC

  • The American Society of Magazine Editors

  • The American Society of Newspaper Editors

  • The Associated Press

  • CBS Broadcasting

  • Copley Press

  • Harper's Magazine

  • Hearst Corporation

  • Knight Ridder Newspapers

  • McGraw-Hill Companies

  • NBC

  • Newspaper Guild

  • Reuters

  • Washington Post

  • White House Correspondents

      Answer: They are among "36 major news organizations and professional groups representing journalists" who filed an amicus curiae brief (warning, evil PDF format) with the appeals court, saying Cooper and Miller should not have to disclose their sources.

      They make several arguments, but let me point out just one.  On p8 of "Argument," which is p31 of the PDF, they say:
      An article in the Washington Times indicated that Plame's identity was compromised twice prior to Novak's publication.  If this information is accurate -- a fact a court should explore -- there is an absolute defense to prosecution.

      The Washington Times article is here.  It alleges that:
      Mrs. Plame's identity as an undercover CIA officer was first disclosed to Russia in the mid-1990s by a Moscow spy, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

      In a second compromise, officials said a more recent inadvertent disclosure resulted in references to Mrs. Plame in confidential documents sent by the CIA to the U.S. Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Havana.

      The documents were supposed to be sealed from the Cuban government, but intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them, the officials said.

      Well shucky darn, if Valerie was out for years, then Novak didn't do anything illegal or immoral in mentioning her.  And that means the whole prosecution should conceivably be dropped.

      Yet somehow, none of those big-name news organizations have ever said anything about this argument.  Why aren't they trumpeting this from the rooftops, defending the innocent Rove and Libby?

      Why, you might almost think the press didn't care about the truth.


Very Good Point

      From Betsy Newmark:
      I just love that the Bush White House was able to keep secret the biggest secret in Washington.  Perhaps that will put into perspective whenever you hear a story prefaced by "sources say."  With this White House, many of those sources don't know anything.

      There's more good stuff there, read it all.


True Liberalism

      Check these out, and realize what we lost when the traitors and nut cases took over the once proud Democratic party.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sometimes, I Think They'll Never Get It


      I refer to the MSM, and it's lack of basic integrity.

  • The New York Times makes stuff up and puts it into articles with other people's names on them.

  • They regard this as a service to the author.

  • They don't see any ethical problem in it.

  • They do worry a little about reader's perceptions.

At Length:

    Phillip Carter, blogger and writer, is also an Army Reservist.  He submitted an op-ed to The New York Times in "early June."  The subject was military recruiting.  Then, after deciding to publish it, but while the Times was still "editing" it, he mailed them that he'd been recalled to active duty.  The Times said it decided that the column should mention that.  So far, this all strikes me as reasonable, if abysmally slow (the op-ed wouldn't be published till July 5th, about a month after submission).

      So, when they decided to mention that Carter had been called-up, they immediately put that information on the bottom of the column, where it tells a little about the author, right?  No, they didn't.  They decided that the Times should have more than that bare announcement.

      So, they called Carter up, and said, 'Hey, we really want to add something to the column, telling our readers how you got called up.  What would you suggest?'  And Carter then told them that he'd asked to be called up, so the editor said 'OK, here in paragraph whatever, where it says blah-blah, why don't I add in parentheses 'I have recently been called up for active service myself, and will be going to Iraq.  This will occur because I requested duty in Iraq).'  That's what the Times did, right?

      No, what the editorial page editor did was rather different.  The editor made some stuff up, and added it to the article.  Making things up and ascribing them to someone else is apparently normal practice at the Times, where it is considered a service to the author.  If I hadn't read that in the Times itself, I wouldn't have believed it.

      The Times then sent the changes to Carter, and got told "no way."  But, do to a "production error," and a failure to send the final column text to Carter for approval, "as a strict adherence to the standards of the Op-Ed pages would seem to require," the version with the made-up quotes went up on the web site and into the paper.

      When Carter checked the website, he called the Times and demanded the article be pulled.  It was, although some papers had already been distributed with the incorrect version.

      So the Times ran a correction the next day that said:
      "The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment.  The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, 'Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday,' nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a 'surprise tour of Iraq.'  That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published.  Because of a production error, it was not.  The Times regrets the error."

      Surprise, surprise!  Readers thought that editors shouldn't be adding things to articles.  The "public editor" writes:
      The next morning, Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, and Mr. [David] Shipley[, the editor in charge of the Op-Ed pages], began work on the editors' note, the strongest of the corrective statements The Times publishes. Clearly, they didn't try to minimize the mistakes that had been made. But because they did not take a little more space to explain how the "surprise" phrases had surfaced as part of the give-and-take of the editing and updating process, readers were left to suspect the worst. And that fed perceptions of a serious ethical lapse at The Times.

      "It did not occur to me to get into a more detailed explanation of the editorial process," Mr. Shipley said. "In hindsight, maybe I should have added a line or two. It was already pretty long and complicated, though."

      Even with this sorting out of the mistakes actually made and the mistaken perceptions of some readers, the doubts about the paper's credibility stirred up by this incident won't be easily erased.

      Oh, those pesky perceptions.  Somehow the idiot readers got the idea that when someone's name appears on an article, they wrote it.  They don't realize that the Times accepts pieces from people who can't express themselves clearly, and alters them.  And when the dummy customers find out, they think altering an article that way, while leaving the original name on it, is unethical.

      How does anyone get such a strange idea?  Oh, yeah, now I remember: because it is dishonest to ascribe words to people they didn't speak.  Funny, ain't it, that the proles can figure that out, but The New York Times can't.

      In completely unrelated news, the Times, once considered the "world's premiere newspaper" by twenty-one percent of a "global poll of journalists, politicians, and business executives," making it the most trusted paper in the world, is now considered the "premier paper" by only eight percent, causing it to slip to sixth place.

      Gee, I wish I could make up stuff this bizarre.  Hat tips to Austin Bay and bizzyblog for the links.