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September 29, 2004

Canada in Decline?

An interesting piece in today's New York Times that will doubtlessly be much discussed in the Great White North identifies an unnamed school of Canadian thinkers and pundits disenchanted with the country's seeming listlessness and lack of purpose.

Lots to say on this subject, but I'm sick; in the meantime, I'm interested in your comments, so have at it.

Posted by David Mader at 05:42 PM | (9) | Back to Main

NoKo's Seek Asylum at Canadian Embassy Beijing

Forty-four people used ladders to scale a security fence at Canada's embassy in Beijing today. Among the group were many North Koreans seeking protection and asylum from their government and its Chinese Communist ally.

I'm glad to see our government helping North Korean asylum seekers - heck, I'd want to help Chinese asylum seekers - but the story itself is a little worrying. Forty-four unarmed people were able to storm our embassy? I suppose forty-four people will be hard to stop regardless, and I suppose Beijing doesn't pose standing security threats. But if I just happened to know the immediate past Director of Security Operations for Foreign Affairs Canada, I'd be interested in hearing his take on the situation.

I'm just saying.

By the way, apropos our earlier discussion of media bias, check this out: "The group, which reportedly included two former political prisoners, was an embarrassing reminder of the dismal conditions in North Korea, whose isolationist, Stalinist dictatorship is officially China's ally." Why, that's positively Fox-esque! Only it's from the AP.

Posted by David Mader at 05:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Fool Me Twice

CBS is at it again, this time relying on a hoax e-mail to spread a long-debunked rumour about the supposed reinstatement of the draft.

Posted by David Mader at 05:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Andrew Sullivan highlights, excerpts and comments on Tony Blair's address to the Labour Party earlier this week. Love him or hate him (or love him at times and hate him at others), Blair is quickly becoming a towering figure in the annals of British politics. Truly fascinating characters characters are relatively rare in the ranks of world leadership, I think, although we tend to focus on the big names - the FDRs and Churchills and Thatchers and Reagans. Despite the widespread opposition to his foreign policies at home, Blair may well join those ranks in time.

Posted by David Mader at 12:35 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Regarding my previous post, an anonymous reader from the west coast comments: "The cover story of this week's Maclean's mag refutes the hysterical point you're trying to make." Wait - Macleans did a story on FoxNews? I had no idea.

But prompted by my anonymous critic, I went through and read not only the Macleans cover piece but all the complimentary material. And far from refuting my 'hysterical' point, it reinforces it quite capably.

Take, first, the cover story. It is infused, throughout, with the very sanctimony I'm criticising. The author spent two days watching Fox News, and his every reaction is framed such that the reader is made to know just how little the author thinks of the channel:

My most enduring images of George W. Bush date back to the fall of 2000, when I spent a week covering his victorious campaign. He struck me at the time as a pretender, a bit-player cast as male lead, and nothing I've seen since has changed this perception. But on Fox, where he's treated with deference, Bush somehow comes across as earnest and poised -- nothing like the strutting charlatan I'd filed in my mind.
No recognition, notice, that the author's initial perception could have been wrong - and besides, whatever could have happened since the 2000 campaign to change the president's character? No, the author's perception is correct and eternal, and the representation of Bush on Fox is (therefore and necessarily) fraudlent.

My first clue comes from Carl Cameron, Fox's chief political correspondent, during a report from the campaign trail. Earlier in the day, Kerry had attacked what he saw as the president's stubborn attachment to a foundering war effort in Iraq, but Cameron has recast this as Kerry "trying to turn Bush's consistency into a weapon to use against him."
Now I'll agree from the outset that this is a particular interpretation or 'spin' on the news story. But what must upset or amaze the author is that it's a conservative spin. Or has he never read, oh, I don't know, Reuters? The AP? Macleans? Yes, yes, I agree that Fox's claim of 'Fair and Balanced' coverage is incomplete at best. But so is Reuters' claim to be an objective news agency. No news is objective. But through the spin, was Cameron reporting a news story? And more broadly, through their spin, does Fox cover more news more comprehensively than its competitors? It would be an interesting point of discussion. But it's not the discussion we have in this piece.

The accompanying pieces also reflect this attitude. Take the 'Pros and Cons of Fox News Coming to Canada' piece. It pulls from the hundreds of responses to the CRTC two in favor and two opposed to licensing Fox. Seems reasonable. But as the cover story itself reported, responses were 85% in favor. No indication of that overwhelming support in the piece, which succeeds in framing the discussion as an even divide. (Note that the second opposition comment is so outrageously over-the-top - "As a Canadian I feel it is not only my right, but also my duty to avoid the influence of insidious and potentially destructive viewpoints like those repeatedly expressed on Fox" - that it may well be a joke. All my Canadian instincts and experiences, however, tell me it's not.)

Nor can Macleans keep itself from tut-tutting the furor over Dan Rather's attempt to push phony documents. Blaming the brouhaha on some 'rookie mistakes,' the magazine concludes:

Seemingly lost in the furor are the longstanding and still unanswered questions about Bush's military service. In fact, the CBS debacle may end up inoculating the President against further charges that he shirked his duty.
Fake, but accurate!

I don't think that's a Fox News standard.

Posted by David Mader at 12:01 PM | (1) | Back to Main

September 28, 2004

Fox Triumphant

In the third quarter of 2004, Fox News Channel averaged more primetime viewers per day than all of its cable-news competitors combined. During the Republican National Convention, Fox even outpolled the networks among viewers. FNC, despite continuous dismissal and critique among the rest of the main-stream media, has become perhaps the single most important news outlet in the country - as recently evinced by Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Bush.

And yet this channel is illegal in Canada. Tell me again about how Canadians know so much about - and undestand - America. Go ahead. Tell me. And I'll tell you, as a Canadian living in Texas, that my compatriots don't know jack.

Posted by David Mader at 11:33 PM | (9) | Back to Main

Che and the Shameful Amnesia of the Left

This piece on the ongoing cult of Che, from Slate - hardly a conservative bastion - has been going around the blogosphere, but it deserves to be highlighted. I have never been comfortable with the celebration, whether 'ironic' or serious, of communist iconography. It's often said, but not taken nearly seriously enough, that the popular display of the hammer and sickle, or the red (or yellow) star, or the visage of Che, should be treated no differently than the public display of the swastika or the visage of Himmler. We are quite properly repulsed by such open displays of sympathy for the icons of Nazi fascism, even when they are made in jest.

One popular theory for the double standard is that whereas Nazi Germany was defeated directly and decisively, and whereas the Reich's terrible crimes against humanity were (more or less) immediately discovered and divulged, communism as a cogent threat to the west dwindled before ultimately collapsing, allowing its own outrages to fade.

But the truth is that there has always been more sympathy among the American and western left for communism - whether of the imperial variety, as in Soviet Russia, or the genocidal variety, as in Asia, or the failed versions of each, as in Latin America - than there ever was among the American and western right for fascism. I certainly don't mean to suggest that American and western leftists are anti-democrats and closet (or open) totalitarians, but I do think the historical record supports the suggestion that communism has been (and continues to be) a significant influence on the left.

It's quite possible that, to bring these two theories together, the sympathies of the left will never be reversed precisely because of the historical realities of the fall of communism. It may be that a direct confrontation and defeat of Soviet Russia and its allies and proxies would have undermined western leftists pro-communist sentiment much as Kruschev's speech started many down the path that would lead, ultimately, to neoconservatism.

The difficulty of the counterfactual, of course, is that a direct confrontation would have resulted in countless millions of deaths. But as time goes by, and as the cult of Che and other unforgivable but uncontested displays of communist sympathy continue, it will become increasingly tempting to ask: will the cost of direct confrontation come to be outweighed by the ongoing cost of sympathy and historical amnesia?

Posted by David Mader at 11:08 PM | (1) | Back to Main

FoxNews in Canada

When a liberal female blogger takes you to task for your attack on FoxNews, you know you're off the deep end.

Or, apparently, Canadian.

Posted by David Mader at 12:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Pressing News from Poland

Don't ever say they're not compassionate:

Poland's state railway PKP is claiming compensation from a man who caused delays to its services by being run over by a train -- but said it may forgive the debt after learning the man's house had burned down.

"We are acting in accordance with article 415 of the Civil Code, seeking damages from a person who caused delays in rail traffic," PKP spokesman Krzysztof Lancucki said on Monday.

He said 19-year-old Pawel Banaszek, who was paralyzed in the incident in August 2003, caused 2,058 zlotys ($580) worth of losses due to delays.

In all (ok, relative) seriousness, I wonder whether this is a function of the Civil rather than Common law, in that the courts (we may presume) are applying a strict interpretation of a 'code' or statute. Common law courts can also apply statute, but they tend, I believe, to have more leeway in interpreting - though I may well be mistaken, and Civil law courts, which deal exclusively with statutes, may well have developed a stronger tradition of statutory interpretation.

Posted by David Mader at 12:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Still Here

Long day, highlighted (highlit?) by a talk from Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, a very interesting and accomplished guy who I'd expect to see enter the political arena within the decade.

In related news, I think I've become an Officer of the Texas Law Republicans. And if that's the case, I'm pretty sure it makes me a partisan to a greater degree than I've been before. When I get it all sorted out, I'll make sure to clarify - in the interests of full disclosure.

Posted by David Mader at 01:50 AM | (1) | Back to Main

September 26, 2004

'A Simple Spelling Error'

This may be the stupidest thing I've read all month; heck, even all year. Imagine if a terrorist named Stephen O'Toole were allowed into the country, and imagine he engaged in terrorist activities while here. Now imagine the press discovered that the TSA had on its 'known terrorists' list the name Steven O'Toole. How forgiving would they be?

Ah, you say, but Islam - unlike, uh, Islam - is not a terrorist, so your example is flawed. My point, however, is that the consequences of taking a strict approach to minor variations in spelling would be unacceptable. If there's a Youssouf Islam on the terror watchlist, it's only sensible that the TSA takes a good long look at every Yousef, Yusaf, Yosef, Joseph and just plain Joe Islam. They'd be dropping the ball if they didn't.

Posted by David Mader at 09:42 PM | (2) | Back to Main

September 24, 2004

He's My Quarterback

In yesterday's Daily Texan there was a twenty page supplement from Sports Illustrated all about college sports. It contained a brief interview with USC quarterback Matt Leinart, an early rumoured contender for the Heisman. The last question asked Leinart for his impression of President Bush, and he had this to say: "I love Bush. He's my quarterback. I know I'll probably piss off a lot of people with that, but I just like his attitude and the way he handled things these last few years."

It seems Mr. Leinart isn't alone:

Ohio will be one of the key states in the election on November 2, and for Bush's 10th visit there in nine months his handlers had simply rolled out the most popular sports figure in the history of the place. "It doesn't get any better than being introduced by Jack Nicklaus in Columbus, Ohio," said Bush.

He was right. In a country where celebrity endorsement is a valuable political currency, the imprimatur of the Golden Bear could prove the difference between victory and defeat. It also offered further evidence that if Kerry is the preferred choice of Hollywood and the music business, the current resident of the White House appears to have a clear edge in professional sports.

Yea. And here's the thing: Hollywood and the music biz have long been liberal; if its celebrities voted otherwise, we'd all be shocked. But I think professional sports is significantly less partisan. A lot of these guys could vote either way, depending on the election and the issues. But this time around, they're lining up behind Bush. That's telling. And it's bad news for John Kerry.

[Thanks to Dan for the pointer.]

Posted by David Mader at 02:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Hint

Andrew Sullivan: "If [Bush] gets elected, can you imagine what Fox News and NRO are going to do to him the minute he brushes his teeth in January?"

CORRECTION (01:14 EDT): Apologies. I initially thought this passage referred to Bush - hense my parenthetical. It doesn't. For the sake of transparency, I'm going to leave it up. Thanks to Matt for the pointer.

Posted by David Mader at 12:47 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 23, 2004

Moving to Canada is 'Courageous'?

This makes my stomach turn:

NELSON, British Columbia -- There are plans for a bronze monument and a festival in Canada to honor U.S. draft dodgers -- and many Americans aren't glad to hear it.

The project is called "Our Way Home.''

Its director says it was done to honor what he calls "the courageous legacy of Vietnam War resisters.'' He says it also pays tribute to Canadians who helped those Americans resettle in Canada when they fled the draft.

Well, like, it's cold up there, eh?

Posted by David Mader at 01:09 PM | (7) | Back to Main

Texas Capitol Evacuated

A classmate who works 'on the hill' just got a call. I'll see what news there is; he speculated it might have to do with a recent rash of flammable packages sent to and received by governors around the country.

Posted by David Mader at 01:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

I'm Not Posting Till Coyne Does

Okay, just kidding. But I've been busy, and it's been quiet. More later.

Posted by David Mader at 11:17 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 21, 2004

American Election Resources

In response to a (very good) suggestion from Dan, I've added some American election resources to the blogroll in anticipation of November's poll. One thing to keep in mind when delving into those resources is that American elections are done by Americans, which is to say they're done by the same people who brought you baseball. In other words: lots of numbers. And just when you think you've figured out the effect of a third-party candidacy on a first-past-the-post Senate run, you turn the corner and find the Electoral College.

Yea, election stats are baseball stats for nerds (uh, I think baseball stats are baseball stats for nerds -- Ed.), and now we've got 'em. And in that spirit I bring you today's American election conundrum. From the Wall Street Journal (via Instapundit):

Polls show the president is tied or slightly behind in New Jersey and trailing Senator Kerry by only some six to eight percentage points In New York.
And from Rasmussen:

Today, based upon survey updates provided to Premium Members, we are shifting New Jersey from Toss-Up to Leans Kerry.
Who's right? Who knows! That's the fun of it.

Posted by David Mader at 04:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 20, 2004

Stepping Forward, Stepping Back

More qualified good news here:

The rash of kidnappings, beheadings and explosions in Iraq, the killing of innocent children in Russia, and car bombings in Turkey and Indonesia have sparked debate among Arab intellectuals on why the majority of terror acts have been committed by Muslims acting in the name of Islam...

[I]n the past few weeks, with the school siege in Russia that left more than 330 people dead and the resurgence of terror attacks in Iraq, where the victims of car bombs and beheadings are overwhelmingly Iraqis or Muslims, the debate has gained momentum. The effort is not an organized movement nor is it widespread, but it's a reflection of what's being discussed among some Arabs.

Good. I'm strongly with those who believe that victory over terror will ultimately require a certain sort of reformation within the Aram Muslim world. Secularism will not defeat radical Islamism, but a devout Islam that rejects the anti-democratic impulses of Islamism can. These first steps, these doubts and questions, are both necessary and fundamental. And they'd have been unimaginable three years ago.

But it isn't all progress:

However, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many religious scholars say suicide bombings carried out by the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad are acceptable.

"The Palestinian resistance against Zionist terrorism is one that we demand, bless and sanction," said Abdul-Aziz al-Khayat, a Jordanian scholar and former minister of religious affairs.

The scapegoating of Israel, even when shorn of its anti-Semitic aspects, provides an overwhelming outlet for redirecting reformist frustrations within the Arab Muslim world. As long as Israel is rejected, democracy will never take root. Perhaps, as the necessary questions begin to be asked, some will be brave enough to propose the necessary answers.

Posted by David Mader at 07:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Winning the War on Terror

Two must-reads today, although I admit I haven't read one of them. (But I must!)

First, this excellent column by Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren on Israel's successes - though qualified - in her war on Palestinian terrorism. Money 'graphs:

During those same six months, the Israeli army destroyed most of what remained of Hamas's organization in the West Bank and a substantial part of its infrastructure in Gaza. Just last week, Israeli gunships rocketed a Hamas training camp in Gaza, killing 15 operatives. Hamas leaders, who once routinely led rallies and gave interviews to the media, don't dare show their faces in public anymore. Even their names are kept secret. Hardly a night passes without the arrest of a wanted terrorist. Hamas's ranks have become so depleted that the organization is now recruiting teenagers: At the Gaza border, Israeli forces recently broke up a Hamas cell made up of 16-year-olds.

Meanwhile, life inside Israel has returned to near normalcy. The economy, which was shrinking in 2001, is now growing at around 4 percent per year. Even the tourists are back: Jerusalem's premier King David Hotel, which a few years ago was almost empty, recently reached full occupancy. All summer, Israel seemed to be celebrating itself, with music and film festivals and a nightly crafts fair in Jerusalem that brought crowds back to its once-deserted downtown. Everyone knows a terrorist attack can happen at any time. Still, Israeli society no longer lives in anticipation of an attack. The Beersheba bombing, which once would have seemed to Israelis part of an endless and unwinnable war, is now perceived as an aberration. Terror that no longer paralyzes is no longer terror.

It's not all good news, but it is all sobering - and it all offers lessons that we in America - and whatever is left of the freedom-loving west - must learn if we're to join Israel and defeat terror internationally.

The second must-read article speaks to that larger campaign. Norman Podhoretz, editor and founder of Commentary, headlines that magazine's September issue with an article entitled World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win. Podhoretz introduced his notion of World War IV more than two years ago in the pages of Commentary, and he frames this latest essay as a cumulative work intended to restore perspective in light of the troubles in Iraq. No, it's not a short piece, and in this age of blog-posts that makes it a double-challenge. But the keywords "Podhoretz," "Commentary" and "foreign policy," when associated, spell 'neoconservative' in its truest and most accurate form. As many have noted, the current ideological and intellectual struggle in the United States is not between left and right, but between the neoconservative and traditional-conservative camps within the American conservative movement. Podhoretz is a neocon prince, a battlefield general. When he talks, it's a good idea to listen.

Posted by David Mader at 07:37 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Not for Turning

Rathergate is the story of the day, but I want to say a quick word about the rumour that administration insiders are considering withdrawing from Iraq early into a second Bush term.

First, the caveat that Bob Novak, source of the rumour, is so wrapped up in inside-baseball that you can't really trust him enough to ask him the weather - which isn't to say that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

In any case, this would be a terrible mistake, and would destroy any admiration and support I have and have had for President Bush. It would be a betrayal of the most fundamental principles he has championed since his epoch-making speech to Congress on September 20, 2001. Then he said:

Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.
And before the National Endowment for Democracy he said:

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we're working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. As in the defense of Greece in 1947, and later in the Berlin Airlift, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. And we will meet this test.
We must meet this test. I, for one, believe that the President is holding back coalition military action until after November, when - if successful - he will give the go-ahead for major combat operations to bring insurgents to their knees and enforce security and stability in anticipation of January elections. I pray that I'm right. A withdrawal is a policy too wrong to bear.

Posted by David Mader at 02:09 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Fake, But Accurate

Unbelievable. It the same breath as they admit to airing fraudulent documents, CBS and Dan Rather stick by their story:

Rather said no one had disputed the story's premise: that the future president had pulled strings to get a relatively cushy National Guard assignment and failed to satisfy the requirements of his service.

Rather this weekend interviewed Bill Burkett, a retired Texas National Guard officials who has been mentioned as a possible source for the documents. His interview will be on "CBS Evening News" on Monday.

CBS said Burkett acknowledged he provided the documents and said he deliberately misled a CBS producer, giving her a false account of their origin to protect a promise of confidentiality to a source.

Wait. Wait. Lemme get this straight. Burkett has told CBS that he lied to them in order to get this story aired. And now CBS is going to broadcast an interview with Burkett in order to keep this story going.

What in God's good name is wrong with these people?

I've posted below three items: from Drudge, the statement issued by Dan Rather and an e-mail apparently sent internally at CBS News by CBS News President Andrew Heyward, and from CBS News the network's own public statement, which repeats much of the Heyward e-mail language (or vice versa). Note the conspicuous absence of the words 'false,' 'fake,' or 'fraudulent' in reference to the memos, which are only incapable of being 'proven authentic.'

(And by the way, as a final aside, what's going on inside Dan Rather's head? I mean, the guy's really lost it. Read that statement carefully. Notice how he a) never actually admits that the memos are fake, b) claims that the discovery of problems is a product of - and a testament to - CBS News' own masterful powers of reportage, and c) contends that any errors were errors made in good faith. Wh-wha? At least Heyward's e-mail and the network statement are somewhat forthright about the error. From day one, Dan Rather has been the biggest threat to the credibility of Dan Rather, and the old dog seems unwilling - or unable - to change his tricks now. How embarrassing.)

[Thanks to Dave K. for the pointer.]

Posted by David Mader at 01:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Internal E-Mail from CBS News President Andrew Heyward

"Dear CBS News Colleagues,

Many of you have expressed understandable concern about the disputed documents used in the 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Obviously, 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY had full confidence in the original report or it would not have aired. However, in the wake of serious and disturbing questions that came up after the broadcast, CBS News has done extensive additional reporting in an effort to confirm the documents' authenticity. That included interviews with Marian Carr Knox, secretary to the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the officer named as the author of the documents; an interview with Bill Burkett, the former Guard officer who provided the memos to 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY; and a further review of the forensic evidence on both sides of the debate.

Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret.

CBS News and CBS management are commissioning an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken. The names of the people conducting the review will be announced shortly, and their findings will be made public.

Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting. I know all of you work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust. I hope today's public statements about the documents are an important first step in restoring YOUR confidence in the standards and systems we have in place to ensure that we live up to our obligations to our viewers, listeners, and readers -- and to one another.

Andrew "

Posted by David Mader at 01:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Dan Rather's Statement

"Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question—and their source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully."

Posted by David Mader at 01:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Statement from CBS News

"Bill Burkett, in a weekend interview with CBS News Anchor and Correspondent Dan Rather, has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents used in the Sept. 8 "60 Minutes Wednesday" report on President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Burkett, a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel, also admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents’ origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source.

Burkett originally said he obtained the documents from another former Guardsman. Now he says he got them from a different source whose connection to the documents and identity CBS News has been unable to verify to this point. Burkett’s interview will be featured in a full report on tonight’s CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (6:30-7:00 p.m., ET/PT).

In light of this and other developments reported by CBS News and other news organizations, CBS News President Andrew Heyward issued the following statement:

“'60 Minutes Wednesday' had full confidence in the original report or it would not have aired. However, in the wake of serious and disturbing questions that came up after the broadcast, CBS News has done extensive additional reporting in an effort to confirm the documents’ authenticity.

That included an interview featured on last week’s edition of "60 Minutes Wednesday" with Marian Carr Knox, secretary to the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the officer named as the author of the documents; the interview with Bill Burkett to be seen tonight; and a further review of the forensic evidence on both sides of the debate.

Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret. Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting. We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust.”

CBS News and CBS management are commissioning an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken. The names of the people conducting the review will be announced shortly, and their findings will be made public."

[Original link.]

Posted by David Mader at 01:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 19, 2004

Judicial Verbal Extravagance of the Day

Eleemosynary: of, relating to, or supported by charity.

[See King v. Trustees of Boston University, 420 Mass. 52] [Yes, it's that King]

Posted by David Mader at 04:09 PM | (2) | Back to Main

September 15, 2004

Shana Tova

The new year begins at sundown, as we enter the 5,765th year since Adam left the Garden. A sweet, happy and healthy new year to all my readers. I'll be offline until Saturday night; see you then.

Posted by David Mader at 07:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Sqeeze Theory

The Daily Telegraph seems to take a position similar to the one I mentioned yesterday:

Since the interim government under Iyad Allawi took over on July 1, there have been two high points of tension. The first was between American Marines and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi militia in the holy city of Najaf, a confrontation ended last month through the tardy mediation of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, spiritual leader of the Shia.

The second is taking place now, as the Americans try to wrest control of the Sunni triangle towns of Fallujah and Ramadi from the rebels. They have also launched an offensive against Talafar, a Turkmen town near the Syrian border that is seen as the conduit for arms and fighters to the triangle, and are continuing operations in the Baghdad suburb where Sadr has his stronghold.

Their goal is to secure areas at present outside government control in time for elections scheduled for January. The campaign has led to a sharp increase in casualties.

It's something to keep in mind in the face of negative reports out of Iraq: the surge in violence, far from being a sign of the rise of resistence, may be a signal of its desperation in the face of coalition pressure.

Posted by David Mader at 07:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Memogate: My CBS Prediction

CBS is expected to make an announcement, originally scheduled for noon easter, at any time. I haven't seen it, and here's my prediciton:

CBS will restate their original story, will frame the whole story without the memos, and will therefore claim that the memos are immaterial. They will try to move the story back to the TANG and Bush, and try to claim that the memo issue is done. They will add nothing new, they will reveal no sources, and they will admit no error. They're stalling, hoping to wait out the storm.

I hope I'm wrong.

UPDATE (15:46 EDT): CBS has now pushed its 'announcement' back to 17:00 EDT.

UPDATE (18:55 EDT): Well, I was wrong. Drudge brings us the following statement:

We established to our satisfaction that the memos were accurate or we would not have put them on television. There was a great deal of coroborating [sic] evidence from people in a position to know. Having said that, given all the questions about them, we believe we should redouble our efforts to answer those questions, so that's what we are doing.

I'm not sure this is a final draft announcement, though it's all anybody has seen. If it is the much-delayed announcement, it's remarkable for a number of reasons. The most apparent - aside from the typo - is the word 'accurate' in the first line. Shouldn't that read 'authentic'? Or is CBS conceding that the memos were fake (as they obviously are)? Seems like my prediction wasn't that far off: The memos may have been fake but the story was right and we're sticking with it.

FINAL UPDATE (19:13 EDT): I claim vindication; Drudge reports that the following will appear or has appeared on the CBS evening news tonight: (Click below to read more)

RATHER INTRO: CBS News .. "60 Minutes" .. and this reporter .. drew new fire today .. over our reports that raised questions about President Bush's military service record .. including whether he fulfilled his obligations to the national guard.

CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports on the latest attack on the "60 Minutes" story .. and the CBS News response.

ANDREWS: Congressional republicans turned the high heat on CBS News, charging that last week's revelations about Lt George Bush, which aired on "60 Minutes" were based on fake documents and demanding that 60 Minutes and Dan Rather retract the story.

Sot Bennet: Its very clear the documents were forged. They were laid on him and this time he bit.

ANDREWS: 40 members of the House signed a letter accusing the network of deception--in a letter asking CBS if the documents are authentic, why wont the network say how it got them .

Roy Blunt (R-Missouri): I think at the very least CBS should characterize the source. I think it's amazing that they haven't already done that.

ANDREWS: The dispute surrounds memoranda 60 Minutes says came from the personal file of Lt. Bush's Air National Guard Commander, Lt Col Jerry Killian. .... Memos that accuse Mr Bush of disobeying an order and of using connections to have Killian "sugarcoat" Mr Bush's record. (out)

However some experts doubt the authenticity of the memos. Killian's secretary--in an interview for tonight's 60 Minutes tells Dan Rather she too believes the memos are fake --but-- accurately reflect KIllian's view of Lt. Bush.

Sot MARIAN KNOX: I know that I didn't type them however, the information in those is correct.

ANDREWS: Marian Knox says Col Killian liked Mr Bush but not his attitude.

Sot MARIAN KNOX: First of all Killian was very friendly with Bush they had fun together. And I think it upset him very much that he was being defied.

ANDREWS: CBS News officials say the memos came from a confidential source- and that they remain certain the content of the story is true.

ANDREW HEYWARD: We would not have put the report on the air if we did not believe in every aspect of it.

Narr: However, News President Andrew Heyward also says the network will try to resolve what he calls the unresolved issues.

Sot ANDREW HEYWARD: ...enough questions have been raised that we are going redouble our efforts to answer those questions.

ANDREWS: Some at this network believe the backlash against the 60 Minutes report is pure politcics. But that's the critics' point as well--that fake, or real, the fact that 60 Minutes got these documents during an election year was no accident. Wyatt Andrews CBS News Washington.

Posted by David Mader at 03:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Slow News Day?

Web Sites to Highlight French Role in U.S.

U.K. Group Complains of Higher iTunes Cost

Mexicans Sing National Anthem in Europe

You decide.

Posted by David Mader at 01:46 PM | (1) | Back to Main

September 14, 2004

Legal Quote of the Day

"Because the appellant's alleged injuries did not arise incident to his consumption of the bananas, we hold that the trial court was correct in concluding that the Act affords him no basis for recovery."

Potts v. Fidelity Fruit & Produce Co. (165 Ga.App. 546)

Posted by David Mader at 11:46 PM | (0) | Back to Main


A quick update; I have a feeling interest, such as it ever was, has waned. Personally, I'm just waiting for CBS to come clean - or rather for a whistleblower to take them down.

But there were two substantive developments today:

  • First, Jerry Killian's former secretary says that she didn't type the memos, although she says the content may be accurate.

  • Two document experts have come forward to say that they expressed doubts when CBS approached them last week - prior to the airing of the memo story. The objections and reservations of both appear to have been ignored, and certainly were not mentioned, in CBS' coverage of its own story.
The train just keeps on wreckin.

Posted by David Mader at 11:02 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Andrew Sullivan notes some bad news, and complains of a lack of coverage.

I've been meaning to set aside some time to take a close look at what's going on in Iraq; I'm not convinced that Sullivan isn't confusing symptoms with causes. That is to say, there's a fair argument to be made that the apparently-increasing violence is a consequence of coalition forces 'putting the squeeze on' the Zarqawi forces, as my father put it. You don't hear much about Sadr anymore, for instance, after the American decision to more or less put him to an end. Certainly Sullivan has highlighted some troubling past decisions - including the indecision over how to initially treat Fallujah - but he hasn't focused on the broader picture, nor on the possibility that violence is an act of desperation rather than resolve. But again, I just don't know.

But the truth is that Iraq is on the backburner this election. Yes, a competent opponent could hammer Bush on the war. The Democratic opponent this election is not, by this measure, competent. But more importantly, the Democratic Party as an institution and as a political movement does not support the very principle of an Iraqi war. Unless and until there is a serious opposition that is committed to fighting the war - which, as readers know, I hold to be part and parcel of the war on terror - President Bush will continue to be able to exercise broad discretion in its conduct, regardless of his mistakes.

Now, you can get frustrated and angry at the President for exercising this discretion notwithstanding his mistakes, and Sullivan has certainly been getting angry. But the real fault here is with the opposition party, which rejected its serious candidates (see Lieberman, Joseph) in favor of the 'electable' John Kerry. For Republican supporters to act as the principled opposition, as Sullivan seems to desire, would be ridiculous and counter-productive, resulting, as it would, in the victory of a man and a party unwilling to fight. That leaves us with Bush. If there's a better alternative - a third way - I have yet to hear it.

Posted by David Mader at 06:19 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Westminster's Fault

Mark Steyn sees it in the decision to ban the hunt:

For all the talk of vibrant "multi-culturalism", Blair's Britain is strikingly unicultural - diversity of race, gender and orientation, but a ruthless homogeneity of metropolitan modishness imposed by a highly centralised politico-media culture. America is a federal state and thus local majorities prevail: in New Hampshire, we like hunting; in the gay environs of Fire Island, the thrill of the chase lies elsewhere. Each, as I said, to his own.

In Britain, Soho's views on hunting should be no more relevant than Somerset's opinion of gay leather bars. But they are.

This is at once a round-about and pithy explanation of the fundamental fault of the Parliamentary system - it lacks checks and balances. For decades it has survived because of the power of tradition. Parliamentary government leaders were reluctant - or simply refused - to steamroll through preferred legislation because of the endless years of tradition and the sense of legislative propriety they had created.

But in the last few years, and especially, I'm afraid to say, with the ministry of Tony Blair, the traditionalism has waned. In its place we see a simple and crass majoritarianism which has coincided with the concentration of executive power in the Prime Minister's office. The result is manifest in the hunting ban, in the 'reformation' of the House of Lords, in the abolition of the Lord Chancellor, in the 'reformation' of the justice system.

And yet there has been no major structural change in Britain in the past ten years. There has simply been a man with the will to affect the changes and the simple majority necessary to affect his changes. Without serious checks and balances (and, admittedly, without an effective opposition), the majority party in a Westminster-style parliamentary system holds tremendous power.

That can't happen in a federal republic. But Alexander Hamilton could have told you that.

Posted by David Mader at 12:54 AM | (4) | Back to Main

September 13, 2004

Thinking Like a Law Student - Update

Last Sunday I noted a story out of Raleigh regarding the shooting deaths of two men, wondering whether there might be a cause of action against the individual who directed the shooter to the victims.

Today, our torts professor brought up this very story to make this very point. In fact, he suggested there was a prima facie case for a battery action, while I had assumed that the fatality would move the action from an intentional tort to a wrongful-death action. (It turns out wrongful death doesn't cover such cases). So, you know, I don't want to pat myself on the back too much, but that was neat.

Then our prof pulled out his guitar and sang to us about spring-guns. And that was priceless.

Posted by David Mader at 08:56 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Is the Columbia Broadcasting System getting ready to back off its memo story? you decide.

Posted by David Mader at 07:55 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Bush Memos!

The fun never stops. Now Drudge has posted a memo - which I've posted here in .pdf format - which purports to be a 'Statement of Understanding' by which Bush signed up for a 120-day 'tour' at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas. The memo speaks directly to the assertion by certain Democrats, as noted yesterday, that Bush never served in the Air Force proper.

Where is this memo from? Is it authentic? How come we've never seen it before? I dunno; I haven't done any homework on it. But hey: I'm equal opportunity. Have a look. It doesn't seem to me as though there are any immediate and glaring typographical issues, but I haven't read it closely. And maybe it's been available all along, and is only being given special attention by Drudge because of recent Democratic comments. Who knows. I report, you decide, as they say.

Posted by David Mader at 07:08 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Memos Came from Kerry?

That's the line pushed by the American Spectator, and they've got some of those darned anonymous sources to back it up:

Over the weekend, journalists from around the country were attempting to track down the original source of the documents. "We're having a hard time tracking how we got the documents," says the CBS News producer. "There are at least two people in this building who have insisted we got copies of these memos from the Kerry campaign by way of an additional source. We do not have the originals, and our sources have indicated to us that we will not be getting the originals. How that is possible I don't know."

Without names, I don't believe it. That's my new policy (subject to exceptions). But one can't help but wonder why CBS would be stonewalling so hard if the source were some third party. On the other hand, if the memos came from Kerry - or from some other ranking Democrat - the repercussions would be tremendous. We're talking significant swings in November, party- and nation-wide.

One way or another, CBS doesn't look like it's going to be coming clean anytime soon. It'll take a whistle-blower. Will one be forthcoming?

[Story via Instapundit]

Posted by David Mader at 01:12 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 12, 2004


You have to give it to John Kerry and his team: they're wonderfully determined to just keep on trucking:

Dems are set to take to the airwaves anew with questions about President Bush's National Guard duty, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Candidate Kerry apparently has rejected former President Clinton's advice not to get further locked in a 2004 Vietnam quagmire.

"George W. Bush's campaign literature claimed that he 'served in the U.S. Air Force.' The only problem? He didn't," slams a new DNC press release set for distribution...

The coordinated nationwide effort this week by the DNC has been code-named "Project Fortunate Son."

"George Bush has a clear pattern of lying about his military service," DNC Communications Director Jano Cabrera blasts in the new release. "From 1978 to the present day, George Bush has refused to tell voters the truth about his service. It's time for the President to come clean."

I'm almost speechless. So after a month and a half of being knee-capped by any and every reference to Vietnam, after the revelation of forgery in a National Guard-related story, and notwithstanding the simple fact that most people don't care about the President's Vietnam-era duty, John Kerry and his team decide that what their election bid really needs is another week of name-calling regarding Vietnam.

A barrel of monkeys could run a better campaign. But they wouldn't be nearly as entertaining.

Posted by David Mader at 07:32 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Memogate: Major Developments

Here's a brief summary of the developments in the memogate story since Friday:

  • Maj. Gen. Hodges, the man who CBS contacted to 'verify' the authenticity of the CBS memos, now says the network misled him by suggesting that the memos were handwritten when they spoke to him over the phone. Hodges never saw hard copies of the memos, and now believes them to be fake.

  • As had been noted by a number of bloggers, 'The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugar coat" President Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written, his own service record shows.'

  • CBS has, to date, named and presented only one 'expert' to support their position, and that expert turns out to be a handwriting - and not a typographical - expert. But another handwriting expert disagrees, stating that "It is my limited opinion that Killian did not sign those documents." As CBS' own expert once wrote: "From a copy, the document examiner cannot authenticate the unseen original but may well be able to determine that the unseen original is false."

  • A Boston Globe story citing forensic expert Philip Bouffard purports to support the authenticity of the documents, and has been picked up by CBS to bolster their position. But the InDC Journal blog has interviewed Bouffard, who says the Globe misrepresented his position.
The story keeps on rolling, and is starting to transform into an out-and-out struggle between CBS (and sympathetic outlets) and the blogosphere (and certain other outlets). Will the truth out? Time will tell.

Posted by David Mader at 12:39 PM | (1) | Back to Main

'We Have Entered A New Era'

PowerLine, which has led the way in exposing CBS' falsehoods, comments on the impact of the scandal. As they point out, most people will never know about Memogate and the role the internet and blogosphere had in uncovering the truth. But newsmakers will know. And the news business will never be quite the same.

Posted by David Mader at 02:34 AM | (1) | Back to Main

September 11, 2004


I rest on the Sabbath, but the news doesn't. I'll try to do a weekend round-up tomorrow, because believe it or not there have been quite a number of developments in the story. Unfortunately for CBS, they all tend towards the same conclusion.

In the meantime, Instapundit is the blogfather, so start here and scroll up. Make sure you don't miss this and this.

Posted by David Mader at 10:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

God Bless America

Posted by David Mader at 08:45 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 10, 2004

More on Matley

Here's a bio (from teh American Society of Professional Graphologists) of Marcel Matley, CBS' expert who 'authenticated' the memos:

Marcel Matley studied handwriting analysis with Rose Toomey and was certified by the Paul de Ste. Colombe Center. In 1985 he became a full time professional document examiner and has other interests in medical and psychological research, paleography, education, Western formal penmanship and Oriental calligraphy. He is the author of several published monographs and articles, taught private classes and seminars, and presented at conferences. The American Handwriting Analysts Foundation’s library, as well as a collection of more than 4,000 forensics and handwriting articles, is located in his home in San Francisco where it is available for reference by appointment.

In other words, he's a handwriting analyst. Not exactly the sort of person you'd approach to settle typographical questions.

Here's Matley's own page. Right now it lacks anything except contact info, and if you do decide to contact him - I don't see why you would - please remember to be polite.

Matley also seems to be something of a 'celebrity expert witness,' although that doesn't speak to his abilities. For reference, see this transcript to an 'unsolved mysteries' on Kurt Kobain. Matley is also listed in something called the Forensic Expert Witness Association.

Matley appears to be quite qualified to verify handwritten notes and signatures, and he may well be correct in saying that Killean's signature does indeed appear on the suspect memos. But he does not appear qualified to settle the many other typographical questions, and he has not addressed the possibility that the signature was transposed onto the memo rather than directly signed.

MORE (20:07 EDT): From RatherBiased:

Two years ago, Matley wrote about dealing with copied documents in the law. For the The American Law Institute in September 2002, he wrote an essay entitled "Using and Cross-Examing Handwriting Experts." In it he said:

"The Problem with Copies: Do not passively accept a copy as the sole basis of a case. Every copy, intentionally or unintentionally, is in some way false to the original. In fact, modern copiers and computer printers are so good that they permit easy fabrication of quality forgeries."


Posted by David Mader at 07:54 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Dan Rather has taken to the airwaves to defend the memos. Instapundit has a review:

The thing that struck me most was his voice -- as in the CNN interview linked below, he sounded as nervous and uncomfortable as any news anchor I've heard. Compared to the voluminous material about these documents on the Internet and in the Washington Post and on ABC, his story didn't offer much... Rather instead produced an author of anti-Bush books who said it was in character, but ignored the comments of people much closer to the facts.

I'll be honest: when I heard that CBS was standing by the documents, and that Rather would appear on an evening broadcast to defend them, I thought we'd get to the bottom of the issue. I thought the network had engaged in a nice bit of rope-a-dope, and would proceed to bring forward solid evidence of authenticity.

They did nothing of the sort, alas. I can't yet find a transcript of the Rather spot, but here's a CBS release on the matter. For the first time they name an expert:

Document and handwriting examiner Marcel Matley analyzed the documents for CBS News. He says he believes they are real. But he is concerned about exactly what is being examined by some of the people questioning the documents, because deterioration occurs each time a document is reproduced. And the documents being analyzed outside of CBS have been photocopied, faxed, scanned and downloaded, and are far removed from the documents CBS started with.

Matley did this interview with us prior to Wednesday's "60 Minutes" broadcast. He looked at the documents and the signatures of Col. Killian, comparing known documents with the colonel's signature on the newly discovered ones.

"We look basically at what's called significant or insignificant features to determine whether it's the same person or not," Matley said. "I have no problem identifying them. I would say based on our available handwriting evidence, yes, this is the same person."

Matley finds the signatures to be some of the most compelling evidence.

Reached Friday by satellite, Matley said, "Since it is represented that some of them are definitely his, then we can conclude they are his signatures." [Emphasis added.]

CBS calls Matley a 'document and handwriting examiner,' and yet Matley makes clear that he's based his analysis predominantly on the handwriting - being the signature. (Others aren't convinced - see update eight to this post.)

Here, in brief, is what Matley and CBS failed to address:

  • Anything regarding the typographical problems. See, by the way, this post which notes that the IBM Selectric typewriter, while it could create super- or sub-script, could not - contrary to suggestions - make super- or sub-script with characters of a smaller font.

  • Anything regarding the substantive errors.

  • Anything regarding the statements by the family of the purported author of the memos to the effect that the documents did not come from them, that the officer did not keep personal files of that sort, that he did not type, that the language in the memos is not characteristic of his language, and that he had never been known to think anything but well of (then) Lieutenant Bush.

Well, Mr. Rather? We're waiting.

Posted by David Mader at 07:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

CBS Denies, Denies, Denies

PowerLine reports the following statement from CBS:

This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking.

In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content. Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned.

Note that CBS will still not identify their sources or experts. They're CBSNews, dammit, and why won't all those stupid people just accept what they have to say, because don't they know, they're effin' C-B-S.

The arrogance and presumption is astounding.

Posted by David Mader at 04:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Memo Meme Marches (m)On

Sorry, I just like alliteration.

Oxblog notes some doubt about the alleged difficulty of producing proportional fonts and superscritps using the kind of typewriter that would be available to the National Guard in 1973.

Posted by David Mader at 02:47 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Tort Watch

Here? Impossible to tell; there's no 'fact pattern' as in my previous examples.

As an aside, please note that a) I'm not actually offering any real legal advice, and nothing I write should be relied upon in entering into legal action, and b) I treat, for the purposes of the blog (and for fun), news reports as 'testimony,' although facts would have to be submitted by both plaintiff and defendent and adjudicated by a jury (or a trial judge) before a solid set of facts could be legally analyzed and a finding of actionable tort made.

Posted by David Mader at 02:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Rather Denies, Denies, Denies

Drudge reports.

Look, these documents may be authentic. But in order to demonstrate their authenticity, CBS should release the source and the experts who verified. This whole 'unnamed source' and 'unnamed expert' business is a farce. Critics - who Rather dismissed in quite political terms - have brought a lot of concrete facts and strong arguments to the table. It's just inadequate¹ for CBS to ignore those arugments on the basis of an authority and source it refuses to reveal.

¹Corrected from 'adequate' t 14:09 EDT. Thank you, 8:30 AM class.

Posted by David Mader at 01:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

On the Other Hand

Daily Kos provides a defense of the memos.

You'd think, given the long lines of experts who've doubed the authenticity of the documents, that the Kos folks could do without the snark. But I guess not.

Posted by David Mader at 01:08 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Friday Morning Round-Up

This is Memo Madness; if the topic doesn't interest you, move on.

As Drudge reported, CBSNews had a meeting yesterday evening to discuss the forgery charges. You'd think that's something they'd have done, you know, before they broadcast the documents. In any case, expect some official statement from the network this morning.

The big potential story this morning is the suggestion [cached here] that the suspect documents in question came to CBS via the Kerry campaign. The article relies on an unnamed CBS insider who says that others within the network had serious issues with the documents, but that the 60 Minutes folks went ahead despite reservations. There's now a feeling within CBS, the suggestion goes, that the Kerry folks dumped the docs on CBS in order to get the network to do the verification legwork.

Too bad they didn't.

Can we all note just how ridiculous and useless unnamed sources are, though? As best anyone can tell, CBS' unnamed source got the docs from an unnamed retired military official. Here's a thought: If you don't have a name, I don't believe you.

As always, PowerLine is your first and last authority on the story.

UPDATE (9:34 EDT): Jay Currie has a TCS article on the subject, which also remarks on the speed with which bloggers debunked a big-media story.

Posted by David Mader at 09:32 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Morning for the New Media

The Memo contraversy is still playing out, but it looks to become a defining moment in the rise of the 'new media,' and specifically of the internet. As PowerLine's John Hinderaker writes:

As Stephen Hayes reported earlier today, Power Line "led the charge" against the 60 Minutes hoax today. But the credit really goes to the incredible power of the internet. We knew nothing; all of our information came from our readers. Many thousands of smart, well-informed people who only a few years ago would have had no recourse but perhaps to write a letter to their local newspaper, now can communicate and share their expertise in real time, through sites like this one. The power of the medium is incredible, as we've seen over the last fourteen hours.

Absolutely. As best I can tell, here's how the story progressed:

  • Commenters ('Freepers') at Free Republic, an open discussion forum ('bulletin board'), note certain questionable elements in the 'newly released' memoranda; more specifically, certain Americans with particular knowledge of typography notice inconsistencies and use the internet to share their concerns.

  • Bloggers at PowerLine write a post which highlights the Freep discussion. PowerBloggers would update the original post several times with additional comments and questions from readers.

  • Several small online news organizations, including Cybercast News Service and WorldNetDaily, write and post articles on the controversy, specifically noting and linking to both the original CBS story as well as the weblogs calling the story into question.

  • Matt Drudge posts a link to both the PowerLine post and the CNS story. This is the turning point, as Drudge is not only read by hundreds of thousands of people every day, but is closely watched by political campaigns and media organizations alike. ("The White House was busy checking the DRUDGE REPORT for details," Drudge once famously wrote).

  • ABCNews mentions the controversy, bringing the story into the mainstream.

  • The story appears on page A1 of the Washington Post.
That's impressive. But what's much more impressive is this: it all happened in a day. Only a few years ago, the CBS story would have run for days, and any questions wouldn't have made it beyond obscure internet bulletin boards. Today - I mean literally, today - the CBS story was fact-checked up-and-down by 'amateurs,' their findings shared, and the conclusions made known to newsrooms in a few hours.

'News cycle'? There's no cycle anymore; that's a thing for newspapers and tv shows. News happens all the time. And so does the internet.

Welcome to the new media.

(Related thoughts here.)

Posted by David Mader at 12:36 AM | (0) | Back to Main

More Memo Madness

ABCNews has a story on the controversy, a version of which apparently appeared on their 'Nightline' program tonight. No mention of the blogosphere - but is there any question the story wouldn't be getting attention if it weren't for the folks at PowerLine?

Instapundit notes that the story will play on page one of the Washington Post tomorrow. The article contains this hilarious and revealing comment from the folks at CBS:

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."

So CBS didn't actually authenticate the documents as much as it read them to some third party who averred that he believed they represented what the alleged author thought some thirty years ago. And this is known at CBS News as "going several extra miles."

Going several extra miles to where, precisely? 'Cause it sure ain't going towards journalistic credibility.

Posted by David Mader at 12:07 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 09, 2004

Check Back After the Election

Dan forwards me this, which is apparently one of the first Google hits for the search term "IBM Selectric." If the page doesn't work, the full text is provided 'after the jump' (as Wonkette would say).

Sorry, but due to excessive hits, this page is temporarily out of service.

Please check back after the election.

For those who want my opinion...the documents appear to be done in Word, and then copied repeatedly to make them "fuzzy". They use features that were not available on office typewriters the 1970s, specifically the combination of proportional spacing with superscript font. The IBM Executive has proportional spacing, but used fixed type bars. The Selectric has changeable type elements, but fixed spacing (some models could be selected at 10 or 12 pitch, but that's all). The Selectric Composer was not an office typewriter, but apparently did use proportional spacing. These were very expensive machines, used by printing offices, not administrative offices.

At least my low opinion of TV news remains intact.

Posted by David Mader at 09:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More on the Memos

The Weekly Standard appears to be the first mainstream/print outlet to have an article about the affair (at least by the Drudge standard). It contains the most plausible non-forgery explanation: the documents may be "later transcriptions of earlier documents (which may have been handwritten or typed on a typewriter)," in the words of an expert contacted by the magazine. The alternative, this expert says, is that "they are crude and amazingly foolish forgeries." One way or another, he says, they weren't produced in the 1970s. A number of other experts approached by the magazine agree.

Sounds like it's time for CBS to reveal their sources.

UPDATE (Immediately): My bad; the AP has a story which questions the authenicity of the main document from another angle.

UPDATE (20:08 EDT): More expert testimony here, adding another question to the list of questionable elements in the CBS documents.

Posted by David Mader at 07:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Congratulations to the PowerLine fellows, who just got the above-the-fold treatment from Drudge. It's nifty thinking that this weblog - admittedly written by some heavy hitters, but still relatively obscure in a grand context - will now be closely watched by both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. (Or it would be if Drudge hadn't gone and broken it. An Instalanche is one thing. Getting Drudged is something else altogether.)

As to the suggestion that these new documents were forged: I dunno. But I certainly disagree with Sullivan's comment that if legit, the documents will be "devastating for Bush." I tend to hold more like Taranto:

Today's Washington Post reports that "President Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical exami8og;hvfzsedddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

Oh sorry, we fell asleep on the keyboard.

That's not to say the subject matter isn't important in some sense (though we think that it does more to prove the president's long Guard service than his 'going AWOL'). It's only to say that politically, I don't see the issue damaging Bush, for the reason Taranto demonstrates, and which I wrote about yesterday.

I think the real question is this: if the documents do turn out to be forgeries, will that be devastating for CBS and the mainstream media?

UPDATE (19:38 EDT): I've had a chance to look at the PowerLine post, and boy is it persuasive. As is this little exercise by Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs. What's not persuasive is the AP's flip-flop defense of their story:

CBS is sticking to its story. It's not entirely clear which story, however. Initially, CBS spokeswoman Kelli Edwards said:

As is standard practice at CBS News, each of the documents broadcast on '60 Minutes' was thoroughly investigated by independent experts, and we are convinced of their authenticity.
Later, however, Ms. Edwards sent out an email that appeared to revise the nature of the "authentication" process:
CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written.
So what CBS is now saying is not that the documents are authentic, but that the opinions they express are authentic, based on the hearsay reports of anonymous persons alleged to be close associates of Col. Killian, who recall his views of thirty-two years ago.
The case is hardly closed, but PowerLine and its readers have just posted a very, very strong argument. If they do turn out to be right, and if the story manages to spread, it could very well be devastating indeed for CBS [corrected from "the AP" at 19:56 EDT].

Posted by David Mader at 04:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What Would We Do Without CD Howe?

From the C.D. Howe Institute: "Economically Surging China Presents Risks and Opportunities for Canada"

I kid. Actually, the Border Papers series, of which this new Commentary is a part, is an excellent treatment of Canadian trade issues. Moreover, the author of this report, Wendy Dobson, penned an important earlier Commentary which made the case for a 'Big Idea' approach to Canada/US trade negotiations in order to move towards a customs union or similar arrangement. She is, in other words, a thought-provoking author, and her approach to China is probably well worth a read.

Posted by David Mader at 03:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

'Sharia' Courts

As the Ontario government looks more closely into establishing faith-based domestic law tribunals, the story seems to be picking up steam.

CTV and the Globe and Mail both have general articles, each being unusually hostile to the notion of cultural identity. (I suppose that's what happens when pet interests come into conflict).

The Globe article contains at least one significant mistake, however, in stating that "at least two Muslim groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada and the Muslim Canadian Congress, oppose the idea of sharia-based courts." CAIR-Canada's submission is availabe here, and in fact endorses the idea with suggestions for amendment:

CAIR-CAN supports the principle behind the Institute’s proposal... While CAIR-CAN supports the right of the Muslim community to create its own institutions for civil dispute resolution, it recognizes the current limitations of the Arbitration Act and therefore has concerns regarding the implementation of a civil dispute resolution process. Accordingly, CAIR-CAN makes the following recommendations:
A) Term “shariah” not to be used;
B) Ensuring voluntary participation, independent legal advice and
C) Creating qualified and specialized arbitrators;
D) Registry of arbitral decisions.

These are all, I think, good ideas. I'm not so sure it should be up to the government, rather than the operators of the tribunals, to inform Canadians about the legal issues and rights involved, but I suppose it'll be an expenditure one way (in paying for an education campaign) or another (reviewing decisions to ensure justice). I also find suggestion D interesting, as it would create a basis for stare decisis - that is, binding jurisprudence - which I'm not sure is currently a facet of sharia law.

B'nai Brith Canada agrees. (Their brief is longer, and I must admit I haven't read it closely). Although this may at first seem counter-intuitive - how often do CAIR and B'nai Brith agree - there are hints in the CTV piece: "A feminist activist and legal scholar, Boyd has acknowledged that it would be next to impossible to ban Sharia from the arbitration process while allowing Jewish and Christian groups to benefit from it." In other words, as 'sharia' goes, so goes the Beit Din.

I think the CAIR brief brings the most reasonable and concrete proposals I've yet seen that address my initial concerns. And while those concerns dovetail with the objections raised by the groups opposed to the tribunals, I think they [the opponents] are actually arguing beyond the scope of the immediate discussion. This article from a Bangladeshi site offers a comprehensive treatment of the opposition argument, and reveals that the problems cited by opponents are not limited to the proposed 'sharia' tribunals:

The two women go a step ahead and call for a re-examination of the Arbitration Act to remove family matters from its ambit. They are engaged in an exercise to highlight the shortcomings of this Act, and argue that cases affecting women and children should be under family law and not the Arbitration Act. Women do have the option of appeal on a ruling of an arbitration Court. "But then," says Arjomand, "they have to do so within a short stipulated time. And most women, who are still in trauma, are neither physically, emotionally or financially in a position to appeal."

Now, there may or may not be good reasons for revising the existing statute law in order to better protect the rights of women. But the excerpt makes clear that the opposition is not that 'sharia' courts would be inconsistent with Canadian law, but rather than such tribunals could be consistent with Canadian law and still undermine the rights of women. That's an argument for revision, but not an argument against the tribunals per se.

(Note that the article also makes, I think, a false statement that seems to be fairly common: "Marriage, family and business disputes would be settled according to Sharia, a body of laws and rules "inspired" by the Quran and not by the laws of Canada." The grammar in this sentence leaves it open to consideration - either the author is saying that sharia is not "'inspired' by the laws of Canada," or he is saying that the disputes would be "settled according to Sharia... and not by the laws of Canada." The language suggests the former, but the context supports the latter - which is, of course, not true. As long as the 'sharia' judgment is consistent with the laws of Canada, it will, under the Arbtiration Act, have the power of the laws of Canada).

NPR has an interview with Slate's Dhalia Lithwick in audio format here, which I haven't been able to listen to yet but is probably worth a listen.

So while I'm still not convinced by the arguments of the opposition, and while I find CAIR's position both reasonable and persuasive, I'm glad to see real discussion and I hope it will continue. This is an important issue, and it's nice to see real debate in the movement towards a resolution.

Posted by David Mader at 02:06 PM | (2) | Back to Main

September 08, 2004

Back to Indochina

Democratic chairman Terry McAullife asks where President Bush was during the Vietnam war: "We know that John Kerry was in Vietnam. My question, Mr. President, is where were you, Sir?"

Inconveniently, Byron York has the answer. Short version: he spent an awful lot of it flying for the Texas Air National Guard.

This is a losing issue for the Democrats, and not simply because it keeps the campaign focused on Vietnam, about which nobody cares. It's also a losing issue because much of the electorate has heard it all before.

Oh, not the details, and the press is now flogging all sorts of 'new details' newly come to light. (Many of these details contradict, again inconveniently, the argument that there was no proof Bush ever actually served his Guard time - but no matter, there's always another spin). But the accusation that Bush was 'AWOL' came up in 2000, and most people don't have the time or interest to focus on details. So most voters, upon hearing the 'new' allegations that Bush sloughed off his Vietnam-era responsibilities, will have already made up their minds regarding this episode. Few minds, I suspect, will be changed by the 'newly discovered' details.

This contrasts, I think, with the SwifVet attack on John Kerry. Prior to the group's campaign, all that most Americans knew about Kerry's Vietnam service was what he said about it. Whether or not voters believe all the accusations, the raising of (legitimate) new questions regarding Kerry's service alters the public's perception of him. Kerry has never fought a national campaign before, and has never been subject to these kinds of attacks on a national stage.

So I suspect the Bush camp will be happy to keep talking about Vietnam, operating as they are from a position of both substantive and tactical strength.

Posted by David Mader at 10:16 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Thinking Like a Law Student

I certainly understand the frustration that leads people to treat hecklers and protesters like this, and let's be honest: if it happened every time, there would be a lot more leftists with sore necks than right-wingers. (As PJ O'Rourke once wrote, it's 'because we have jobs.')

But is the action tortious? That's what I want to know. And I think it's quite clearly a page-one battery. Defendant: 1) Caused 2) a Touch, which was 3) harmful or offensive and 4) Defendant had intent. (Intent is certainly satisfied on the most broad grounds, being that the defendant knew his conduct would produce a touch; in fact, I think the facts support the much more strict standard that the defendant knew his conduct would produce harm. Did the defendant intend to harm? Harder to prove. But for most courts, that level of proof isn't necessary.

Is there a defense? You can hardly call it self defense/defense of others. So I'm not sure what it would be. But on 'page one,' as my professor calls it - meaning the prima facie case for a tort, whether actionable or not - I think we have a battery.

Posted by David Mader at 06:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Yale Shmale

Us hicks started law school two weeks ago.

Posted by David Mader at 04:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Name One for the Gipper

Cracow honors Ronald Reagan.

Posted by David Mader at 03:12 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Sharia in Canada

Captain Ed weighs in.

I'm still not convinced. As long as Sharia is practiced voluntarily and in a manner consistent with Canadian law, and as long as Canadian courts have appellate power and judicial supremacy over Sharia rulings, I see no harm in allowing such a faith-based dispute resolution mechanism.

Of course the real disupute is over whether these tribunals will be truly 'voluntary' given communal pressure on some Muslims, and particularly Muslim women, to submit to their authority. Here's how I put it last November:

The degree to which Sharia arbitration is voluntary has much to do with community norms and moral suasion. A small businessman may feel pressured to submit his dispute with a larger competitor to a Sharia court lest he incur the hostility of community leaders and, through them, the community in general. One could presumably imagine similar circumstances where a Muslim woman who had a civil grievance against another (male) member of her community would feel overwhelming pressure to submit to the Sharia court rather than make a 'private' matter 'public' by insisting on crown arbitration.

See also here and here for my full treatment of the matter.

I still don't know that these concerns have been sufficiently addressed, and I applaud the Canadian Council of Muslim Women for challenging the plan and protecting the rights of Muslim women. In fact, regardless of the outcome, I wonder whether this question, and the surrounding experience, won't help to foster a more politically and socially active 'moderate' base within the Canadian Muslim community - a base which asserts its religous identity but which challanges certain restrictions of Islamic traditionalism, and which claims the protections of 'western' notions of individual liberty.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 AM | (1) | Back to Main

I Have a Question

Is Canada a state? A dominion? A union? A confederation? Not long ago, someone at the university, in reference to the federal government, spoke of the 'State of Canada.' I know it was once the Dominion of Canada, but the Liberal Party's decades-long assault on history and tradition has more than likely done away with that appellation. (Appalachian?) (Just kidding.)

So how does one refer to Canada in an official political sense?

Posted by David Mader at 11:32 AM | (11) | Back to Main

September 07, 2004

Attention Political Nerds

You're probably going to want this as much as I do.

Posted by David Mader at 11:43 PM | (2) | Back to Main

It's Like a Car Wreck

And Glenn Reynolds can't look away.

The Kerry camp obviously didn't get my memo about accentuating the positive.

Posted by David Mader at 10:27 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Woo Hoo! Social Security!

Got my SocSec card today! (A little unimpressed, to be honest - it's less a card than a piece of paper. Social Insurance spoiled me, I suppose).

I think I'm going to start speaking Spanish, just to spite Pat Buchanan.

(Or maybe I should get a green card first).

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I could just, you know, be Jewish, to spite Pat Buchanan.

Posted by David Mader at 10:24 PM | (4) | Back to Main

What Am I Missing?

It's so common it's almost cliche: An Israeli missile strike kills fourteen Palestinians. Palestinians denounce the attack as 'criminal' and vow vengeance.

But wait a minute. As Palestinian officials admit, all fourteen dead men were members of Hamas. So either they were, in Reuterville, 'militants,' or they were, in the real world, terrorists. Either way, they were fair game. The Israeli attack was many things ('splendid,' for instance), but it certainly wasn't 'criminal.' Why is there more outrage¹ at the deaths of fourteen terrorists - men who had pledged themselves to the violent destruction of Israel - than at the deaths of Palestinian women and children in previous Israeli attacks? Or, for that matter, at the deaths of Israeli women and children, none of whom were 'militants' of any sort, in the bus bombings last week?

¹I find 'more outrage' based on Queria's unprecedented approval of retaliation by Hamas.

Posted by David Mader at 07:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

You Know You're In the U.S...

When the professor assumes that the terms 'crowding the plate' and 'brush-back pitch' are universally understood.

Posted by David Mader at 03:53 PM | (5) | Back to Main


Can somebody tell Andrew Coyne that it's after Labour Day?

Posted by David Mader at 12:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Morning Must-Read

Hey, it's morning where I am. Read Hugh Hewitt this morning. Yea, he's a partisan. Keep that in mind. But it's a good antidote to what you'll be reading in the mainstream press, as he notes. Pay close attention to his section on the "Yugoslavia variant" and the memorandum of understanding signed over the long-weekend by Russia and Israel. Yes, you read that right - Russia and Israel have, in the wake of the Beslan massacre, come to an agreement on counter-terrorism. The world has changed, and Russia is set to become a full-fledged partner in the war on terror. That has tremendous geopolitical consequences. And it has political consequences too.

Speaking of which, once you've read Hewitt you should check this out. Brutal. And the Kerry camp complains when their man is accused of beign a shameless opportunist. So what if he mugs with a gun he voted to ban because the idea of guns is massively popular with the voters he needs to woo?

UPDATE (14:36 EDT): Instapundit discusses the Kerry gun issue: "It's more likely an indictment for inept legislative drafting than for hypocrisy," he says.

Posted by David Mader at 12:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Leadership, Stupid - II

Mark Steyn, unsurprisingly, says it better:

Bush's something is very simple: his view of the war on terror resonates with a majority of the American people; when he talks about 9/11 and the aftermath, they recognise themselves in his words; they trust his strategy on this issue. For an inarticulate man, he communicates a lot more effectively than Senator Nuancy Boy.

Wallace Shawn, by contrast, is a writer, a man who makes his living by words and yet devalues his own currency. Is the Bush-Cheney tyranny truly a "scary" time for him? Is he really "scared"? Of course not. He's having a convivial drink with a fawning Brit interviewer; what could be more agreeable?

"Scary" is - to pluck at random - being held hostage in a school gym and the kid next to you is parched and asks for water and the terrorist stabs him in the belly in front of your eyes. "Scary" cannot encompass both that situation and Wallace Shawn's vague distaste for Bush without losing all meaning.


Posted by David Mader at 12:39 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 06, 2004

It's the Leadership, Stupid

Gallup puts the president up by seven.

Lots of interesting numbers in there, and Democrats will find solace in the fact that among 'registered voters' it's a statistical tie at this point. So, you know, as long as those Americans who want to vote but who aren't registered can be prevented from doing so, it should be a squeaker.

More interesting to me is the fact that Kerry leads Bush by healthy margins on the anticipated handling of key domestic issues (health care, economy), and is seen as more likely to 'unite the country.' Those should be good numbers. But they're overshadowed by Bush's huge advantages in the handling of Iraq (54-41) and terrorism (61-34).

More importantly, they're overshadowed by the leadership issue. When asked to rank stance on issues and leadership & vision, respondents said leadership was more important (50%) than stance on issues (38%). When asked whether each candidate was a 'strong and decisive leader,' Bush outpolled Kerry 60-32.

In other words, while Kerry can hold his own on at least certain policy issues, Americans seem to want a leader rather than a policy wonk - and they overwhelmingly see a leader in George Bush.

Posted by David Mader at 06:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Bush on Israel

Not sure how I missed this signed editorial by George W. Bush in the Jewish Daily Forward. If you haven't seen it either, read it. If Israel and her security are at all important to you, read it. If you're an American for whom support for Israel is a wedge issue, read it. I don't think any president since 1948 has expressed such strong and unqualified support for the State of Israel - even while declaring support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. This is important stuff.

(As an aside, I vaguely remember seeing a signed piece by Bush in the Wall Street Journal around the time of the Iraqi war; still, I think this is one of a very few - fewer than five - signed articles the President has published during his tenure. That it appears in the Forward and that it directly addresses Israel and anti-Semitism is, I think, very important).

Posted by David Mader at 11:27 AM | (2) | Back to Main

September 05, 2004

Thinking Like a Law Student

Here's a tragic story out of Raleigh:

Two brothers were arrested in the shooting deaths of two young men at a tailgate party before a college football game, authorities said...

A witness, Brian Smith, 31, said the victims had been tossing a football when a car drove recklessly in a parking lot packed with football fans. He said the men pulled the blond-haired driver from his car and beat him, pushing his head into the dirt.

The blond man left in his car, shouting curses and threatening revenge, Smith said. He returned later and asked Smith where to find the men who had beaten him, saying he had "a .38 Smith & Wesson for them."

Smith, who said the man appeared intoxicated, pointed in the direction of the victims and heard gunshots a short time later...

"My reaction is that I got two guys killed," Smith said.

You can guess my reaction: Do the families of the deceased have grounds for an action against Smith for facilitating the killings? Based on the 'testimony' above, Smith a) knew that the blond man had a grievance against the decedents, b) believed the blond man was inebriated, and so prone to irrational conduct, c) knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the blond man was in possession of a firearm, d) had reasonable cause to suspect that the blond man intended to do harm to the decedents with the firearm and e) nonetheless directed the blond man to the decedents.

Unfortunately, we don't get to wrongful death for a few weeks. And I don't yet have the tools to tell you North Carolina law on the subject. But you can see how, after only two weeks, this law school business has begun to shape my mind.

Posted by David Mader at 02:55 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Growing Signs of Lawlessness

That's the news from Gaza.

Posted by David Mader at 11:35 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 03, 2004


Instapundit notes this column by Susan Estrich, who was once Michael Dukakis' campaign manager. It's a straightforward attempt to suggest outrageous 'hidden truths' about the President and Vice President.

After Vietnam, nothing is ancient history, and Cheney is still drinking. What their records suggest is not only a serious problem with alcoholism, which Bush but not Cheney has acknowledged, but also an even more serious problem of judgment... It has been said that in the worst of times, Kissinger gave orders to the military not to obey Nixon if he ordered a first strike. What if Bush were to fall off the wagon?[...]

A forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the president has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion.

I can't figure out if this would be pathetic, if it weren't so funny, or if it would be funny, if it weren't so pathetic. Democrats are angry, Estrich says. No kidding. Just imagine how mad they're going to be when their rage hands Bush another term.

Posted by David Mader at 07:59 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Giving Up the Game

Andrew Sullivan:

The unvarnished truth is that Miller was once a proud bigot toward blacks and, now that that is no longer acceptable, he is a proud bigot toward gays.

And that's pertinent because John Kerry stands unequivocally for gay rights.

Oh, wait, no, it's not pertinent. It's just Sullivan explaining precisely why he's lit into Miller with far more anger than Miller himself displayed on Wednesday.

And if you want to know why I'm so disappointed by Sullivan's turn to hyperbole and table-thumping, read this - the most thoughtful critique of the Bush presidency I've yet seen. Anyone who cannot vote for Bush for these stated reasons would have my full respect. These are very, very important issues, and if I did not feel so strongly about the importance of strong leadership in the war on terror - if I did not believe we stood at a world-historic moment with no margin for error - I would be persuaded.

Contrast the dispassionate reason of the latter to the barely-disguised hate - I don't like the word, but I invite alternatives - of the former.

Posted by David Mader at 06:08 PM | (2) | Back to Main


The Kerry folks better pray this is an outlier.

[Via Instapundit.]

Posted by David Mader at 04:42 PM | (1) | Back to Main

'The Republicans are Cooler'

Cats and dogs, living together:

Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Kudlow & Cramer": "I have two children, 10 and 13. They yawned through the Democratic Convention. Nobody there had star power. But they both watched the GOP stuff and wanted the autographs of McCain, Rudy and Arnold. Me, I'm a Democrat, but Bush throws a better party. To quote my kids: 'The Republicans are cooler.'"

Wow. I tell you what, the lassaiz-faire wing of the GOP is going to come into a lot of votes in the next decade - provided accounts with the religious/social-conservative wing can be settled. That's no easy feat, and if the Democrats were smart they'd drop the populist-socialist schtick and flank the Republicans on the issue of domestic liberty.

UPDATE (15:15 EDT): Rumours of a quote to a similar effect by Outkast's Andre 3000 here, but I can't raise the WaPo in my browser right now.

Posted by David Mader at 03:13 PM | (2) | Back to Main

September 02, 2004

Dead On

Dan points me to the transcript of last night's Harball with Chris Matthews, not because Zell Miller gave Matthews the what-for, but because there was a very interesting segment on independent or 'swing' voter response to the Miller and Cheney speeches. The transcript of the segment is reproduced in full below, but here are some excerpts. Frank Luntz is the pollster; the 'unidentified' persons are the polled:

LUNTZ: I want you to give me a word or phrase to describer Zell Miller‘s speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fantastic. Very upbeat.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Focused on the family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Powerful, but one-sided.




Note that the only 'negative' response is 'powerful but one-sided.'

LUNTZ: Spitballs, U.S. armed with spitballs. I listened. You laughed at that.


LUNTZ: Your reaction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I did laugh at it because from what he was describing, Kerry is not going to support the military, that if we were attacked, that‘s about all we would have left.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree. Spitballs. There‘s no support of the military. It‘s very expensive to purchase all of these items, and John Kerry voted against expanding our horizons in the military fields.

That's two female swing voters applauding criticism of John Kerry for being weak on military issues. Another female voter disagrees, but that's a remarkable showing among a usually-hostile subset of the electorate.

LUNTZ: Did Dick Cheney go too far?


LUNTZ: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because I, remember many years back, if someone had stood up to Hitler back in the ‘30s, 70 million people wouldn‘t have been killed in that Second World War.

LUNTZ: Daniel (ph), did Dick Cheney go too far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don‘t think so. I think that he took a good position on being strong and being decisive about it. And that‘s what I want to see. I don‘t want to see a bunch of wobbling.

'A bunch of wobbling.' When that's what they're calling the other candidate, you know you've given a good speech.

MATTHEWS: Excuse me.

We are joined right now by pollster Frank Luntz. He‘s in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a group of Ohio voters who watched tonight‘s speeches, both of them.

Frank, your ruling by your group?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Chris, it‘s been a very interesting reaction.

Even though the focus of tonight was supposed to be Dick Cheney, actually, it was Senator Miller who had an even more favorable reaction from them.

In fact, let‘s do a show of hands. How many of you thought that Zell Miller‘s speech was stronger than Dick Cheney‘s?

LUNTZ: I want you to give me a word or phrase to describer Zell Miller‘s speech.

Kim (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fantastic. Very upbeat.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Focused on the family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Powerful, but one-sided.




LUNTZ: Now, you all are swing voters. And you said to me to get in here that you‘ve not decided who you vote for.

Zell Miller‘s speech was very partisan and very strong. And yet most of you had a favorable reaction to it. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a Democrat.


LUNTZ: He‘s a Democrat. And what does that mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was sharing some of the impressions that the Republicans have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he seemed like the person next door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s how strongly he feels about these current issues.

LUNTZ: So the fact that he is a Democrat gives him more credibility?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a Marine, ex-Marine.


LUNTZ: And why does that matter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he‘s more in tune with what‘s going on in the issues and how all that is going on behind the scenes and where he is, being from the Democratic Party and being a military guy.

LUNTZ: You didn‘t feel that he was overboard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don‘t think he was. I think he was dead on, but it was so much more convincing coming from a Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he was totally overboard, because his whole focus was on terrorism and why we should all be afraid.

Now, we asked you to use these dials. Let me borrow one.

Chris, they used these dials to indicate whether or not they agreed with what they were hearing. Zell Miller focused a lot on what John Kerry had voted for and what he had voted against.

In the segment that you are about to see, the red lines represent Republicans. The green independents and Democrats. The higher that you see the lines climb over here, the better the response. Watch the reaction when Zell Miller talks about John Kerry‘s voting record on defense.


MILLER: I could go on and on and on. Against the Patriot missile that shot down Saddam Hussein‘s Scud missiles over Israel, against the Aegis air defense cruiser, against the Strategic Defense Initiative, against the Trident, missile, against, against, against.

AUDIENCE: Against, against, against!

MILLER: This is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces?


MILLER: U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?



LUNTZ: Spitballs, U.S. armed with spitballs. I listened. You laughed at that.


LUNTZ: Your reaction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I did laugh at it because from what he was describing, Kerry is not going to support the military, that if we were attacked, that‘s about all we would have left.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree. Spitballs. There‘s no support of the military. It‘s very expensive to purchase all of these items, and John Kerry voted against expanding our horizons in the military fields.

LUNTZ: But, Barbara (ph), you don‘t agree.


LUNTZ: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it‘s ludicrous to refer to something so significant as spitballs. I think that Kerry is somebody who actually was in an operation, who actually fought and who actually had experience in the military, and I have not been able to personally find anything where it is that he was against anything in terms of the U.S. military.

LUNTZ: Now, you also heard from Vice President Cheney. And he talked about John Kerry‘s record and where John Kerry stands on some of the issues. And, in particular, he focused on 9/11 and the reaction to terrorism. And, again, you had a very dramatic response to what the vice president had to say.

Let‘s take a look and then we will talk about it.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn‘t appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror.


CHENEY: As though al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side.



CHENEY: He declared at the Democratic Convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked.



LUNTZ: That‘s a remarkable response. That‘s a response from almost all of you.

I know that you weren‘t supportive of the speech, but I even think you agree with that statement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we were attacked, but I just don‘t necessarily agree with the people we went after following 9/11.

LUNTZ: Douglas (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was pretty poignant. I think we have to do something. It‘s a fight in our backyard or theirs.

LUNTZ: Now, explain to me, when he attacks Kerry using the phrase fighting a sensitive war on terror, how do you react to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think you could be sensitive with terrorists. You have got to be firm. You have got to show what you are going to do when something happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the whole term sensitivity was taken out of context. I don‘t think that that is what was intended in Kerry‘s speech about that.

LUNTZ: You are the youngest person in this room. This is your first time voting for president.


LUNTZ: When the vice president talks about Kerry talking about sensitive, your reaction to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Kerry has consistently proving with his voting for the military and voting not for certain weapons, I think he has been consistent about being sensitive to a war on terror. And, in this day and age, we have to be very powerful and we have to be very strong against terrorists.

LUNTZ: For you, sensitive is a negative term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sensitive—I think the way he used it, the way Dick Cheney used it, the vice president, was very, very much necessary.

LUNTZ: Patricia, agree or disagree?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree. I think it was very poignantly put.

LUNTZ: There‘s one other segment that I want to show you all. And it also relates to the principle of prevention. And, again, you had a very sharp reaction. Let‘s take a look and you will explain why.


CHENEY: We are faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us, and we cannot wait until the next attack.


CHENEY: We must do everything we can to prevent it, and that includes the use of military force.



LUNTZ: Again, you had a very sharp reaction, even up to the point of military force. But then some of the Democrats and independents started to react a little bit more negatively to it.

John (ph), your reaction to that clip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree that you have to have a military force of some sort, but I think the question is, how are you going to use it? That really wasn‘t addressed here.

LUNTZ: Did Dick Cheney go too far?


LUNTZ: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because I, remember many years back, if someone had stood up to Hitler back in the ‘30s, 70 million people wouldn‘t have been killed in that Second World War.

LUNTZ: Daniel (ph), did Dick Cheney go too far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don‘t think so. I think that he took a good position on being strong and being decisive about it. And that‘s what I want to see. I don‘t want to see a bunch of wobbling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very focused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t think he went too far. He was defending their position. How could he—he had to say that or he would have been waffling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but he is not trying to appease everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t think he‘s trying to appease anybody.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is trying to defend preemptive strike.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think that we set a very, very dangerous precedent doing that.


LUNTZ: Reactions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Cheney went too far, though, in saying what he said, because he just painted the one picture of fear. He tried to instill fear in the American public and to make Kerry seem too sensitive.

LUNTZ: Last question. Show of hands very quickly. How many of you are now more likely than when you walked in here to vote for Bush-Cheney because of what you saw tonight? Raise your hands. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 out of 17.

Chris, it‘s a pretty good showing. We are over here.


LUNTZ: Chris, it‘s a pretty good showing for Dick Cheney tonight.

Posted by David Mader at 06:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Get In My Belly!

I've looked at this three different times today, and have laughed almost uncontrollably each time. Luckily, only one of those times came during my contracts class.

Posted by David Mader at 04:48 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Accentuating the Positive

I had a whole long post about those who liked Miller's speech and those who really really didn't. But it gost lost in the ether. Bottom line: this is a major point of division, and will make a lot of people (like Sullivan) realize that they cannot and will not support the GOP's presidential candidate. But I have a sneaking feeling it will sway a larger number of people the other way.

But this post is motivated by this:

maybe it's the New Yawker in me, but the ministerial cadences of Southern pols, white and black, Republican and Democrat, leave me cold

I wonder if he feels that way about this. But it's not the first such comment I've heard; in fact I think Sullivan's comments have a lot of this.

So this may come as a surprise to many: there are precisely two regions in the contiguous United States where people don't speak with an 'accent.' Those regions are (Southern) California and the north-east.

Everywhere else - in every other state, and especially outside of urban centers, Americans speak with some sort of drawl that a foreigner - or, I think, a New Yorker - would identify as 'Southern.'

Even within the South, there are variations: a Georgian speaks differently than a Carolinian. But Texans speak with a unique drawl, and they sure ain't southern. And mid-westerners have a twang, and Coloradans have a twang, and Montanans have a twang.

Saying that the speech-patterns of a 'southern politician' makes one uncomfortable immediately marks one, I think, as deeply removed from the life of a large part - perhaps a majority - of the population and electorate.

Posted by David Mader at 01:33 PM | (6) | Back to Main


Here's the prepared text of his speech tonight. It's one that will - I think - go down in the history books: it was beautifully written in a classical rhetorical style; it was beautifully delivered in the great American tradition of preacher-oratory; and it beautifully captured the central issue of this campaign and election.

Posted by David Mader at 12:15 AM | (1) | Back to Main

September 01, 2004

Not the Kind of Headline You Want to See

Fox Urges Mexico to Stick With Democracy

One should hope so.

Posted by David Mader at 11:14 PM | (1) | Back to Main

This Is a Family Blog

So I won't make any cracks about Bus No. 12.

Posted by David Mader at 11:11 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Four More Years

Can we all agree to ban that stupid cheer? It's not the message you want to send, it's not the message you really mean, it's got no cadence, it closes rather than opens (with its hard last syallble) - and it's dull and repetitive. How about just, you know, cheering?

Posted by David Mader at 10:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Zell Miller

Holy cow, are you watching this?

Posted by David Mader at 10:17 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Welcome to the Block

Add this one to your reading list: National Citizens' Coalition Vice President Gerry Nicholls has started a blog.

I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Nicholls earlier this year. He's a leader of the Canadian laissez-faire movement, a very smart man and a very nice guy. That makes his new blog an important and welcome addition to the Canadian blogosphere. (Listen to me, talking as if I have some sort of Canadian blogosphere authority).

In any case, a hearty welcome to Mr. Nicholls and the NCC as he and they yet again take the Canadian political debate in exciting new directions.

Posted by David Mader at 07:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Considering Democracy

Canada's C.D. Howe Institute announces the publication of a new volume on democracy in its various forms:

A main theme of the book is that democratic institutions differ profoundly in their voting systems, legislative structures, types of party organization, roles for different levels of governments, relations among legislatures, executives, and judiciaries, as well as in the degree of popular participation in the political process.

Out of this mass of differences, there are common threads that, when exposed, provide an understanding of how decisions are made and by whom. At the same time, changes are afoot that will affect these patterns in ways that touch all citizens of democracies, the authors say.

The Institute has made the introductory essay available here, and it may be of interest to the political theorists in the audience. While the book is obviously topical given the debate in Canada over democratic reform, the deeper message - that divergent democratic forms share fundamental concepts - is important in the current struggle between free governments and those who would see their demise.

Posted by David Mader at 01:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Good Morning Baghdad

Via Neale News, a wonderful story about a fledgling Baghdad talk-radio station. The whole article is very, very interesting, and should be required reading to all those people who can't understand the popularity of talk-radio here in the US. The context may be different, but people and passions are everywhere the same.

But two particular passages jumped out at me. "'Before there was fear,' [talk-show host [Majid] Salim explained. 'Now [the callers] only fear God.'" In other words, talk-radio is a consequence of freedom, even as it encourages freedom by providing an outlet for frustrations and consolidating popular complaints and desires.

But the above statement, while hopeful, turns out not to be entirely true. "'We can talk about the government from morning until night,' news director Seif Khayat said. 'Try to say something about [radical Shiite cleric] Moqtada al-Sadr or the kidnappings or even the old Baathists, and see what happens.'" In other words, fear is not gone. Iraqis no longer fear the governmental authority - that's a huge step. But they continue to fear, either explicitly or implicitly, the partisans of various factions who have not yet decided - or consented - to submit their private causes to popular dialogue and arbitration through the democratic process.

Iraq isn't there yet. But who can read this story and find anything but tremendous progress and hope?

Or woudl you like to tell me again about how Arabs are culturally averse to freedom and democracy?

Posted by David Mader at 01:11 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Let's Do the Time Warp

Tomorrow's reaction to tonight's Dick Cheney speech: read it today.

The truth is that politicians encourage this sort of lazy journalism by releasing the text of speeches in advance. Presumably they hope to control the media cycle. But maybe somebody will rediscover the power of presenting an unknown speech and receiving a genuine reaction.

Posted by David Mader at 12:54 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Wither Sullivan?

The following phrases appear in Andrew Sullivan's reaction to the second night of the Republican National Convention:

...you begin to realize why a cross-dressing ex-mayor, a dissident Californian and an unelected ex-librarian are among its major spokespeople...

Compared to the earnest, mature, almost somber Kerry daughters, these two were upper-class brats...

So we have an Austrian-American bodybuilder with a history of orgies and a couple of spoiled, hard-drinking party girls fronting for a party whose platform is inspired in large part by Biblical fundamentalism.

Sullivan has good reasons to oppose the Republican platform, and even to oppose the reelection of the President. But these aren't them. These are the lame ad-hominems of a man apparently desperate to justify his decision to support the other candidate. I don't usually go after a blogger or writer in this manner, but Sullivan is otherwise so very good, so very influential and so very intelligent that this sort of crap dissappoints me to no end.

This is below you, Mr. Sullivan. I don't want to get to the point that I don't care what you have to say.

Posted by David Mader at 11:12 AM | (5) | Back to Main

Russia in the Cross-Hairs

It's half a world away, but our Russian friends are facing a terrorist campaign that tonight claimed the lives of at least ten more people.

UPDATE (11:03 EDT): And now this:

More than a dozen militants wearing suicide-bomb belts seized a southern Russian school in a region bordering Chechnya on Wednesday, taking hostage about 400 people half of them children and threatening to blow up the building if police storm it. At least eight people have been killed, one of them a school parent.

They take children hostage to further their cause. How heroic. How noble.

Posted by David Mader at 01:43 AM | (0) | Back to Main


That, ultimately, was the message of the later evening - family and its importance to the president and the nation. Laura's recognition of the former President Bush and Mrs. Bush was nice, but more moving was her mention of her own mother. Her story was, by design, full of personal anecdotes about their family. And it was no mistake that all the members of their immediate family appeared.

It's a powerful message that Kerry, with his children and step-children and relatively new wife, necessarily has difficulty projecting. (His lack of personal warmth presents another barrier). And the First Lady did quite a good job of tying the notion of family together with the notion of security in a manner that many parents could, I think, instinctually understand.

Posted by David Mader at 12:01 AM | (0) | Back to Main