Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Spice

Well, now that you mention it ... the oil might have something to do with it all...

The Spice....the Spice....

Like Sheep

A rock poet said, "Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts."

With the sheepherder movie getting so many Oscar nods this morning, I guess the poet might add that every generation also needs to have its own gay cowboy movie.

Some aren't so sure about the need for all these wayward Marlboro men.

Nor any cowboy pudding, for that matter.

When We Weren't Colored

....Bummer the Moron was just schooled in the fine art of posting pictures on his blog.

Watch out, B23.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Come Cloture

Alito's cloture vote was 72 to 25. All as Bummer has said.

Note, Roberts' cloture vote was 81-18. His confirmation vote was 78-22.

Update: Alito is confirmed, 58-42.

Watch all the fireworks from the MSM and the Left, to wit: "Only 58 senators were in favor! The Republicans didn't have 60 votes! Someone sold us out!"

Enron Baller

It was contrarian and ballsy for Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, with counsel Bruce Hiler sitting next to him, to testify before Congress and say, in effect, "Enron was a great company, and still is, and would be, if the banks hadn't cut our credit lines."

I'm not saying he's gonna walk, that's too contrarian....but if anyone walks away from Enron, it'll be this baller Skilling.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Has Drudge No Payola Shame?

Drudge continues his relentless Oscar Campaign on behalf of Stephen Spielberg.

January 29th Link:

Spielberg: 'Filmmakers are much more proactive since second Bush administration'...

January 28th Link:

SPIELBERG: 'I Would Die For Israel'...

There are 3 Oscar voting blocks*: Liberals, Jews and gays. Brokeback Mountain has the gay vote locked up. Spielberg's only chance with his film Munich is to appeal strongly to the Academy voters whose identity with the Liberal and/orJewish blocs, is stronger than the pro-gay rights bloc.

Read the two Drudge headlines again, above. Get it? Spielberg's appeal to the Liberal bloc and then another appeal to the Jewish bloc.

That's the Oscar campaign being waged, on the DrudgeReport.

Backstory here and here and here.

* - Single issue subcategories under Liberal, such as anti-racist, also exist as blocs, but they are immaterial compared to the 3 listed "blocs."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Film Notes

Bummer was in Park City at what used to be called Sundance. All kinds of epithets are now used to describe it -- Gay Incest Camping Movie Fest is a Bummer favorite.

Puccini for Beginners, by the way, is one of the best festival films in half a dozen years.

Otherwise, lots of dark movies about how depressed one can be when you're poor, ethnic and/or gay.


Leftist moonbat fare at this year's Gay Incest Campfest included the ridiculous Viva Zapatero!. It is the leftist Italian version of a Michael Moore propaganda piece.

In short, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns and controls the MSM in Italy. The leftist government approved of it all, back in the mid-1990's. Then Berlusconi won. Granted, there is a legitimate gripe that Italian news journalists are pussies, and US-style "news" has been replaced on Italian TV by what Leftists believe is just happytalk. Legitimate issue: Who "owns" the primetime airwaves? A comic who dislikes Berlusconi and runs an hourlong political commercial accusing him of curruption (Fahrenheit 911 was funny, by comparison, albeit she is hot...). Or, the network? What if the network is owned by the prime minister?

This film - labelled a documentary, but it's polemic - is about a hot comedienne chick - Sabina Guzzanti (did I mention she was hot with nice ta-ta's, which she doesn't hide...) - who got an Italian TV comedy show. She makes the mistake of turning the comedy show into an anti-Berlusconi tirade.

Guzzanti's show gets cancelled, after one airing. Berlusconi interests had threatened the network with slander lawsuits. The network removed the show. Close connections between the network board, and Belusconi, are blamed by Guzzanti as being part of a neo-fascist conspiracy.

It is this critical factual characterization - that the show was pure anti-Berlusconi political content, rather than "funny" or "satire" - that is the injustice that this film seeks to expose. (From this seat, it was pure polemic).

The film is laughable but unfunny - but did I mention that Guzzanti is hot? The Italian Left -- moonbat style - keeps repeating that the show was hilarious satire, and this "documentary" goes to great lengths to protest the 'unconstitutional' removal of the show.

Like the supremely unfunny Al Franken -- a former comic who is now a politician -- Guzzanti and the Left believe that a virulent, Leftist (and maybe Italian communist party, I'm not sure) rant against Berlusconi is somehow transformed into something else -- Satire !! -- because Guzzanti puts on a wig when she does it.

The film juxtaposes her failed show with other brilliant -- and FUNNY -- political satire shows from across Europe. It is the comparisons to other shows - ahh, those nasty British poli-puppets -- that reveal her show to be so ... unfunny. Alas, though, Guzzanti simply assumes that her show is funny, and therefore its cancellation is part of the rise of fascism in Italy. A few communisto professors and activists mimic these revelations throughout the film.

Imagine Al Franken, insisting that his Air America show is "funny." For 90 minutes....

Kudos to Guzzanti, though: She left in a few seconds of on-the-street ambush Q&A with network directors. (In those on-the-street snippets, we learn that Guzzanti's father is an Italian senator. ) A network official correctly notes to Guzzzanti that she is a politician, not a comic: "If you'd like to run for office, you should. You'd be good."

The telling moment of the film is during one such ambush Q&A with a network official. He turns to Guzzanti and says, in effect, "If I put your show back on the air, will you let me come on your show and say anything I want?" She quickly replies, "Only if it's relevant." The minister smiles at her, in that the irony-free moment is completely lost on her.

You see...Berlusconi, who owns the network, objects to airing an hour long political commercial wherein Leftists accuse him, Michael Moore style, of all kinds of felonious, nefarious, fascist behavior. Unfunny; just polemic. So Berlusconi says, "I own the network; you don't; you cannot run political attack ads on my own property, unless I approve of it."

The Leftist Guzzanti (did I mention...), who believes she "owns her show," in effect says the same thing to the network minister: "I own the show; you cannot talk on my show, unless I approve of it."

Reasonable people can differ as to the effect of the close ties between the Italian media and the Prime Minister, and the lack of any integrity among Italian news journalists.

But the Left, as exhibited in this polemic, simply will not acknowledge private property...unless, of course, it is "their" property, in which case their position is, "Keep off."

Farm-league Leftist/EuroSocialist/EuroCommunist polemic.

But ... Guzzanti is one hot little piece of upper-class socialist brat pizza.


I think I have to throw down for Batman Begins as the best flick of 2005.

I know, it's not obscure. But it is a great flick. Why fight it?


Anyway ... George Clooney (star of 1997's Batman & Robin) is at a Vegas strip club getting a lap dance from some rocket scientist. She asks, "Hey, weren't you in Ocean's Eleven?"

"Yep," he replies.

"What else have you done?"

"I killed Batman."

War Clouds, the Wolfowitz Plan and Palestine

Palestine seems to be cascading into civil war. The corrupt Fatah party, just tossed out of power via a facially democratic process, has factions fighting with the terrorist Hamas group, just given power. Fatah has been a cancerous lesion, unable to govern, and propped up for decades by huge subsidies from Western countries ... well, for reasons that are "nuanced."

Palestine is bankrupt. In effect, Hamas was just thrown the mayor's badge, the keys to 300 New Orleans buses with no gasoline, and Katrina comes ashore in 4 hours.

It is not only unwise for the US and EU countries to give money to support Hamas; it is also illegal. And neither Bush nor Congress, in an election year, is going to change that policy. Islamofascist rioting in France and Europe this fall, along with Islamofascist terror bombings in Europe and kidnappings of Europeans in the Middle East, may well dampen any political drive within Europe to change the financing policies towards he terror organization Hamas. The recent European Eureka over the nuclear intentions of radical Iran, certainly doesn't help.

Somehow, Bummer is living on a Supertramp album cover -- Crisis? What Crisis? None of this really upsets Bummer. Why?

First, Bummer truth has to admit that maybe, just maybe, Bummer is a vindictive little sh*t, and the idea of a little - or a lot - of misery befalling a bunch of bad, broken and rogue states, is OK.

But that isn't really it. (Leftist readers, get ready to hit the ceiling....)

There are 4 intellectual reasons, I think. Although I need to think a lot more about this.

1. The Marxist dialectic. Thesis. Antithesis. Synthesis. Yep. Hegel and Marx understood that broad movements and counter-movements were likely. But they got their math wrong. Put simply:

Thesis: The development of oil-revenue rich dictatorships over closed societies in the middle east.

Antithesis: Revolution - not reform, but revolution - against the Thesis.

Synthesis: The resulting non-dictatorship, open societies in the middle east.

2. Israel was Correct to Disengage. Palestine civil war is coming. Israel had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by insisting on being the X factor in the civil war. Israel can re-engage once the war is over. With no sugar daddy left to prop up their failed quasi-state, let the Palestinians kill each other for a while, rather than Israelis, in search of whatever answers have evaded them for centuries.

3. Tri-angulation. Ever play the game of Risk? You are always - and I mean ALWAYS - better off when two enemies stop attacking you, and attack each other.

Palestinian Hamas fighting Palestinian Fatah? Sunnis and Shi'a fighting? 10 other terror groups (or political parties, whatever you want to call them) ready to join the fray?

So comes the intermission in the War on Terror. Let the Islamofascists fight each other for a decade, while the US steps back and prepares for the second half of the game.

During that 10-year intermission, let the Wolfowitz Plan work its magic. Amid the Antithesis that is the civil war(s) in the Middle East, the Synthesis will NOT be order imposed by despots or the West. It will be the shining example of an Arab, Islamic, prosperous democracy. Like, say ... Iraq. Or Turkey.

That's the only Synthesis that has ever worked. It's hard. And it takes time.

4. Nukes. If it comes down to a zero-sum choice between the death of lots of Americans, vs. the death of lots of Palestinians or other Middle Eastern, Bummer gets very, very happy that the US has an awesome array of nukes that would settle that little zero-sum choice in a satisfactory manner.

We were raised, and taught, during the Cold War that nukes were really just for deterrence -- props in a game of chicken. In the post Cold War world, Bummer has to remind himself that nukes are also really, really effective when faced with a zero-sum quandary.

So maybe Bummer is deluded. But other than the obvious adversities of war casualties and adverse effect on world energy, Bummer isn't that worried.


So as not to sound cold or stupid or fascist, the war casualties problem is not one to be avoided. My main beef with lefties is their belief that they can get warlike tribal societies to act like civilized Westerners, without having to go through generations of painful transformation. Supremely ego-centric thinking.

Similarly, there has always been an energy crisis - the crisis of micro-economic decisions vs. macro-economic realities. The US has simply buried the crisis by hiding the externalities. That is, the 'real cost' of a price of Middle East oil -- mostly, the military cost -- is not reflected at the pump. Only price shock, or the like, will resolve the crisis by revealing the true cost. Unmask the externalities costs. So whether a $5 per gallon gas tax is imposed, or a politically-induced energy crisis comes upon us, price shock seems to be the only way to get Americans out of gas-guzzling SUVs and into a realistic energy consumption mode. It's the subsidized externalities, stupid.

Friday, January 27, 2006

MSM Tosses Dart for Riot Headlines

Same riot, different MSM headlines:

Hamas, Fatah battle over election results


Fatah Activists Protest Party Corruption.

Just don't say, civil war.

Fake Filibuster and the Cloture Vote

Another fake filibuster. Yawn.

Remember Jimmy Stewart on the Senate floor in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Contrast with the modern, fake filibuster:

"Former presidential candidate Kerry announced from Switzerland that he wanted to block President George W. Bush's conservative nominee with the stalling tactic to prevent "an ideological coup" on the high court."

Wanted it so badly that he took a break from his Swiss ski vacation to issue a press release?

And the MSM plays along and pretends that it's a "filibuster?"


Remember, the cloture vote comes first, and the abolition of the filibuster via Senate rule change would come second. The MSM has tried to focus on Step 2 - what the Dems call the "nuke option" - out of ignorance, bias, and to obscure the likelihood that the Dems simply don't have 40 votes to block a debate cut-off / cloture vote.

Archive here here and here.

Update: Reid admits the Dems don't have the requisite 40 votes.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Out for the week.

Check back next weekend.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Joe Bob Says ... Check It Out

I used to laugh and cry my ass off writing Rathergate sh*t that was very in-the-moment. I got hooked on lgf, indcjournal and allahpundit (and later powerline) during that time. Cross posted some stuff; they helped me out. I gave them some good legal info. One of them even showed me how to start this blog.

Alas, Allahpundit went away.

Alas, Allahpundit is back.

So check it out. It didn't suck, back in 4th Q '04.

Drudge and the Anti-Payola Statutes

Longtime S&C readers know that Bummer pointed out the felony anti-payola problems facing some CBS producers on the RatherGate scandal.

Longtime 23'ers also know that Bummer has made a little hobby out of pointing out how deeply involved Matt Drudge has become in Oscar marketing campaigns. Millions of dollars are spent on those campaigns.

Just last month, Bummer busted Drudge three times for his vintage Oscar smear & shill attempts. Variety picked up Bummer's lead a few days later (gosh, you think Bummer might have tipped one of his buddies there....?)

He did another smear job on an Oscar frontrunner, today -- trying to throw mud at Golden Globe winnner Walk the Line (a terrific film, btw). By smearing this biopic as somehow not being copasetic - a la the recent Million Little Pieces affair in the book world - Drudge knows full well that such mud tossing will have the effect of lessening the Oscar chances of Walk the Line.

Is Drudge doing this for money? In radio and TV, that practice is called payola, and it's a felony.

Is Drudge doing this for some other goodie? Does he get nice gift bags? Massage certificates from marketing executives?

Do studio execs call him up and fawn all over him? Is that the payoff here?

Or, just coincidence?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Museum-Quality Barking Moonbat Collection

Depends Adult Diaper spokemodel Harry Belafonte spouted off again today - this time, reminding us that the Gesptapo is now a US government agency.

Harry divulged his important finding at the Arts Presenters Members Conference.

You gotta, just gotta, check out the East Wing for this exhibit - it is extraordinary.

Mulling Wolfowitz - II

Victor Davis Hanson has further thoughts on the Wolfowitz Plan and the efficacy of the US War effort. He offers the four talking points that lurk under the rhetoric from the Left.

"After September 11, many of our experts assured us that it was “not a question of if, but when” we were to be hit again — with the qualifier that the next strike would be far worse, entailing a dirty bomb, or biological or chemical agents. Yet when we are still free from an assault 52 months later, censors assure that our safety has nothing to do with the Patriot Act ... wiretaps ... killing thousands of terrorists abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq ... and creating democratic Afghan and Iraqi security forces."

Mulling Wolfowitz I

Victor Davis Hanson chimes in on the Wolfowitz Plan, its efficacy to date, and the political opposition thereto, in "Making Sense of Nonsense."

"[T]he democratic splash in the Iraqi pond is slowly rippling out, as voting proceeds in Egypt and the Gulf, Syria leaves Lebanon, and Moammar Gadhafi and Pakistan’s Dr. Khan cease their nuclear machinations. Hundreds of thousands of protesters hit the streets in Lebanon and Jordan — not to slur the United States, as predicted, for removing Saddam Hussein, but to damn Bashar Assad and al-Zarqawi as terrorist killers. Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader, now calls for Western pressure to root out the Syrian Baathists.

"You’d never know all this from the global media or state-run news services in Europe and the Middle East.

"Americans tried to remain idealistic on the principle that Iraqis, if freed and helped, could craft a workable democracy, and that such consensual governments would make the volatile Middle East safer, since elected and legitimate governments rarely attack their own kind."

Friday, January 20, 2006

"You're a good egg, Noonan."

[See update]
Peggy Noonan writes some good stuff. I almost passed over her column, "Thoughts on the decline of the liberal media monopoly, " as being sooooooo yesterday's piece. Was I ever wrong. Vintage Noonan:

"And the end of the [liberal media] monopoly of course isn't only in the news, it's in all media. The other night George Clooney, that beautiful airhead, made a Golden Globe speech ... "You don't like it, change the channel," network executives used to say. But that, as they knew, meant nothing: There were only three channels. Now there are 500. And more coming.

"Could Democratic senators today torture Clarence Thomas with tales of Coke cans and porn films? Not likely.

"We are in a time when the very diminution of the importance of network news leaves some old news hands to drop their guard and announce what they are: liberal Democrats. Nothing wrong with that, but they might have told us when they were in power... The existence [non-liberal media] ... is freeing news outlets .. to be more and more what they are. Is this good? Well, it's clearer."


Hugh Hewitt joins the mulling fray, with his Ancien Regime stylings from the Weekly Standard:

"[Quoting Joseph Pulitzer:] 'Our republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve the public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. . . .'

"The story of what is going on at [Columbia School of Journalism] cannot be separated from the collapse of credibility of the mainstream media... [whose] fortunes...are visibly in decline.... The very best investigative reporting is being done not by big names at the big papers, but by [online jounralists and bloggers].

"I went to Columbia to [examine the MSM rule.] What's the rule? That the elite media are hopelessly biased to the left and so blind to their own deficiencies, or so in denial, that they cannot save themselves from irrelevance. They're like the cheater in the clubhouse, whose every mention of a great round of golf is met with rolling eyes and knowing nods.

"...Every conversation with one of the old guard [e.g., CSJ professors et al] ... citing comes down to this point: There is too much expertise, all of it almost instantly available now, for the traditional idea of journalism to last much longer. In the past, almost every bit of information was difficult and expensive to acquire and was therefore mediated by journalists whom readers and viewers were usually in no position to second-guess. Authority has drained from journalism for a reason. Too many of its practitioners have been easily exposed as poseurs."

Stated another way: Journalists used to have sole access to facts. Readers had no such access, and were in no position to dispute journalists. Hence, journalists became high priests. Journalists no longer have sole access, and any journalism theory based upon the assumption of having sole access is flawed.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

bin laden is dead

Today's al jazeera propaganda spot wherein bin laden purportedly warns of an impending, long-planned attack, but offers a truce, is a sham. It will be exposed as such in the coming days.

bin laden died in late '05. There is no bin laden anymore. Dead in a cold cave. Bummer suspects that news of his death, and of recent kills against other al qaeda leaders, are spreading among the jihadists. The original al qaeda leadership ranks dwindle by the month.

This attempted propaganda, perhaps effective on one superficial level, will give military planners a lot to consider.

Watch for even stronger U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan over the coming 45 days to eradicate al qaeda ... watch for the coupe de grace.

Saints, Sinners and Thugs

The MSM's darlings are described as "progressives," but those of the conservatives are labelled as "right wingers."

Sometimes, John Hinderaker at Powerline is so spot-on, Bummer gets green with envy. Today is one such instance:

"[Independent counsel] David Barrett's investigation into alleged misdeeds by Clinton cabinet officer Henry Cisneros ... will be made public tomorrow, but in the meantime someone leaked it to the Times. [H]ow [the Times] characterized the person who leaked Barrett's report to them:

'A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times from someone sympathetic to the Barrett investigation who wanted his criticism of the Clinton administration to be known."

"[W]e're still waiting for the paper to write: 'A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times from someone sympathetic to the Democrats' position who wanted his criticism of the Bush administration to be known.' "

Res ipsa loquitur.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

MSM Slant-A-Thon VII

Judge Alito's nomination to the S.Ct. is headed towards a floor vote in the Senate. The current vote looks to be about 56-44 in favor.

Hard core liberals still want to protray Alito as a hard core right wing nut who will screw-up the Court. But the public wasn't really buying into that characterization at the Senate hearings, despite the best efforts of left wing corpolitical mouthpiece Teddy Kennedy.

The New York Times won't give up. Today it runs a front page, lead article stating:

"Justices Reject U.S. Bid to Block Assisted Suicide."

The decision was 6-3. Below that headline are pictures (yes, color pictures !) of all of the Justices, in 2 groups. One row of pictures is the 6 majority justices, and below that are the 3 minority judges.

I have never, ever witnessed a newspaper run pictures of the justices, above the fold, on the first page.* Why would they do that?

Because retiring Justice O'Connor (whom Alito is nominated to replace) was in the majority, and recently confirmed Chief Justice Roberts was in the minority. The NY Times wants to highlight that there will be a one-vote shift on the Court, if Alito is confirmed. The NYTimes' front page, color pictures are intended as the support for the advocates' commercials, which will begin tomorrow.

And in case you might have missed the connection, the NYTimes spells it out in a subtitle: "Court, 6-3, Says Attorney General Was Wrong in Oregon Case."

Read: The evil, overbearing, imperial Presidency of Bush can only be stopped by the Court.
* - If any blogger wants to post a picture of the front page to show this, let me know in the comments, I'll email it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

MSM: Why Not Run This Bodycount?

The anti-war MSM (here, e.g., CNN) runs US body counts, under the theory that Americans will grow tired of the carnage of war.

2000+ US solidiers have died so far.

Question: Why won't the MSM report relevant numbers, for example that that islamofascists in Iraq have kidnapped more than 240 foreigners and killed at least 39 of them?

Might it be that the MSM knows that, if it were to report such numbers, Americans might get a better idea of the fanatical threat we face? And that a more pro-war attitude may follow?

Of course. So the MSM won't report it. Same reason the MSM won't show islamofascists sawing off the heads of Westerners. Same reason the MSM wouldn't show pictures of scores of dead children with bullet holes in their backs, courtesy of the Beslan islamofascists in Russia.

The Wolfowitz Plan and the Iranian Free Zone

We all are now witnessing the truth about the failures of the UN and the US in Iran, even though those truths are embarrassing to many governments and senior officials. In fact, it is hard to know what U.S. policy is toward Iran because it is such a muddle of confusion and pretense. U.S. hair-splitting only further convinces both our friends and adversaries in the Middle East that we are not serious and that our policy is collapsing. It is only reinforced when they see us going through semantic contortions to distinguish Iraq, Iran, North Korea and others.

The problem with U.S. policy toward Iran is that 9/11 forced us to pretend that everything was fine in Iran. We now know that such was just a pretense, while we attended to hotter spots around the globe. Some insist that, with Iran and its nuclear program, the only alternative to maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council is to send U.S. forces to take out the nuke facilities, at great cost and unsure efficacy. There is a third way, which lies not in marching U.S. soldiers into Tehran, but in fostering the Iranian people to overthrow their radical mullahs.

The mullah’s main strength – their autocratic control of the state and their ability to control the people though terror -- is also the regime’s greatest vulnerability. We must be confident that a majority of Iranians would like to be free of the fundamentalist terror theocracy, if only they could safely do so.

A strategy for supporting this enormous latent opposition to the mullahs requires political and economic as well as military components. The heart of such action would be to create a liberated “Free Iranian Zone" inside the Iraqi border, where opposition to the radical Iranian clerics could rally and organize, under US military protection. The Free Iranian Zone would provide:

• For a provisional government of free Iran to organize, begin to gain international recognition and begin to publicize a political program for the future of Iran;
• For that provisional government to control the largest oil field in Iran and make available to it, under some kind of appropriate international supervision, enormous financial resources for political, humanitarian and eventually military purposes;
• Provide a safe area to which Iranian expat military army units could rally in opposition to the mullahs, leading to the liberation of more and more of the country and the unraveling of the regime.

This would be a formidable undertaking, and certainly not one which will work if we insist on maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council. But with the stabilizing Iraq as a de facto "safe base" in the region, the US (and UN, if they choose to folllow) can use internally-fomented democracy against the mullahs, geared towards having results on an intermediate (2-3 year) timeline.

Concerted with limited military strikes on the Iranian nuclear facilities, to delay any imminent nuclear threat, the “Iranian Free Zone” on Iran’s border with Iraq would be the place for the Iranian democracy-in-exile government to form and operate.


[Apology to Paul Wolfowitz for the brazen cheesing]

Two Birds with One Bullet

AP item:

"MOSCOW - Russia's foreign minister indicated Tuesday that Moscow was not ready to support moves by the U.S. and its European allies to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, while the West stepped up pressure on Tehran. "


Note: Russia is a net energy exporter.


Screaming Red Flashing Lights: Venezuela, Iran, Russia all stop the flow of oil in a few years, and Iran has nukes.

Think that's crazy? Iran threatened to cut the oil off, last week.


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but the US is a heroin (oil) addict. Nothing but price seems to dampen the addiction. So absent a new $2 per gallon tax, let's force the price up, right now, to foster alternative energy development while we still can do so, on our own terms. And there's a nice convergence of (a) how we force it up to gain our long-term energy independence, and (b) how we deal with fanatical Iran.

Take out the Iranian nuke facilities, this year, while we are forward staged in the region.

Painful, yes, but far less painful than the clusterf*ck that's coming, if we do nothing. Act now = less pain and some gain. Wait = all pain.

1. Take out the Iranian nuke sites, this year.
2. Suffer the loss of Iranian oil. The long term benefit of $85 oil or $100 oil is that it will get the US into the heroin rehab unit. Nothing else seems to work.
3. Civil war within Iran. Let them fight their fight. We did it in Iraq already

Call me crazy.

Black Democrat MSM Immunity Card

Pat Robertson, fool.

Cf., New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. We knew he was part of the Confederacy of Dunces. He and the Governess couldn't find those 200 school buses... .

But he has an MSM Immunity Card: He's a big-city African-American Democrat. So when he says the same fool thing that Pat Robertson says, comes the MSM silence.

The MSM continues to accept the Black Democrat Immunity Card.

Don't leave home without it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Wolf and the Straw Man

Q: Will there be any early indicators that the Wolfowitz Plan is working?

A: Yes. As the the plan begins to work, those who oppose the U.S.'s preemptive use of military force in Iraq will claim that dictatorships are really democracies, and that democracies are really dictatorships, all in order to obfuscate the linkage between the Wolfowitz Plan and Middle East peace.


Mark Helpin of the Claremont Institute decides (via his essay in the Sunday LA Times - "The Myth That Shapes Bush's World") to attack the hypothesis that "democracies are peaceful countries."

With all due respect, Helpin's essay is a sophomoric exercise of the old Straw Man Argument. You set up a weak and easily refuted argument; you ascribe that weak argument as being the crux of your opponent's argument; you rebut the weak argument; and you claim victory.

Helpin's straw-man sleight-of-hand is in his describing Bush's military theory - the Wolfowitz Plan - as being built upon the theory that "democracies are peaceful countries."

Although the Wolfowitz Plan cannot be digested into a 4-word soundbite, it certainly is not the straw-man soundbite that "democracies are peaceful countries." The United States was anything but a "peaceful" country in WWII. "Peaceful" countries don't end up victorious over fascist military dictatorships.

A non-strawman soundbite summary of Wolfowitz is that, "Liberal democracies tend not to attack other liberal democracies." This is the strategy put forth by Wolfowitz and other pro-Iraq War thinkers. Helpin knows this, and he is being intellectually dishonest in setting up such a lame straw man argument.

Helpin states:

"It is possible to discover various statistical correlations among democracy and war and peace, depending on how they are defined and in what time frames.... [but] the postulate on which the president has in all good faith chosen to rely is contradicted by inconvenient fact."

The Wolfowitz Plan is contradicted by "inconvenient facts? " What might they be? Helpin finds three examples - THREE- from the 1900's, and claims that the military affairs of these 20th century "democracies" offer rebuttal to the strategems of Bush and the Wolfowitz Plan:

1. "Germany, the primary instigator of World War I, was a democracy."

2. Democratic Italy joined WW I, because it wanted some land back from Austria.

3. Japan was a democracy, heading into WWII.

I'm sure that Japanese citizens would be happy to learn that the pre-WWII Japanese military dictatorship, overlorded by the Emperor, was in reality a democracy. (You know, like, say, Margaret Thatcher's Britain.)

Those are the "inconvenient facts" that rebut Wolfowitz?

WWI Germany; WWI Italy; and WWII Japan? Democracies? OK, got it.

Helpin tosses in some more 1800's "democracies" to bolster his claim -- as if 19th century democracies (you know, the democracies of the halcyon days of European military colonialism) are somehow germane to a world 150 years later.

Teacher's note to Helpin:

Drop the Straw Man. Run credible numbers. For example, the following approximate values are likely available, and are illuminating as to the hypothesis that "Liberal democracies tend not to attack liberal democracies":

1. Equation 1: Total # of 20th century war casualties / # of war casualties resulting from a war commenced by a liberal democracy vs. another liberal democracy.

2. Equation 2: Total # of 20th century war casualties / # of war casualties resulting from a war commenced by a non-liberal democracy.

My guess is that the math will turn up some "inconvenient facts," alright. My guess is that the math will show that:

A. Liberal democracies military aggression accounts for less than 10% of the world's warfare.
B. The world that is governed by liberal democracy has seen a significant decline in warfare commenced by other democracies over the past 100 years.
C. The world that is governed other than by liberal democracy has not witnessed significant, or any, declines in warfare.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Roe Herring

Sorry to disappoint the Bummer 23, but Bummer is prochoice. But that is not synonymous with being a Koolaid drinker. Bummer thinks that reasonable restrictions are just fine.

Bummer is also pro automobile, and supports reasonable restrictions on who gets to drive.

Bummer also loves wine, and insists upon reasonable restrictions on who gets to imbibe and sell the stuff.

So long as there are something like a million abortions performed each year, it ain't "rare" in the way Clinton wished it to be. The radical feminist 'prochoice' advocates are just that - radicals. And they are not honest, nor reality based. Similarly, the pro-life advocates often are equally appalling in their tactics. Bummer is very bothered by the fact that there are a million abortions every year - 30+ million since Roe (that's 5 - count 'em - 5 Holocausts), so Bummer does give the anti-crowd a bit of sympathy ... because the numbers are 30 million and climbing. That is certainly something worth being radical about, although I tend to disagree with the pro-lifers.

If Roe is overturned, some states - maybe 10 of them, maybe 40 - will allow abortion. Other states - maybe 10, maybe 40 - will outlaw them. It is an almost certainty that State A cannot criminalize the act of a state citizen travelling to State B to do an act (gambling, strip club, gay marriage, abortion) that is legal in State B, under the theory that the the long-arm statute of State A governs conduct in State B, or interstate commerce in travelling from State A to State B. Bummer just doesn't buy into the dogma that a woman in State A wanting an abortion but having to travel 50 miles to State B to get one, is somehow (a) denied some fundamental right or (b) will change her decision to abort, based upon the obstacle of having to travel 50 miles. Bummer just doesn't buy it; it's a marginal argument.

The radical Left pro-choicers (and remember, Bummer is "pro choice lite") really bother Bummer, because of (a) their self-claimed "intellectual" stance and (b) their lack of intellectual honesty in any Roe debate.

James Taranto, author of the WSJ "Best of the Web" daily series (truly one worth signing up for), points out some of the sheer dishonesty of the pro-choice crowd, in vintage Taranto style:

Roe v. Truth

"... from the anti-Alito testimony of Kate Michelman, who hadthis to say about Alito's partial dissent in Casey v. Planned Parenthood:

When he ruled that a Pennsylvania law requiring women to notify their husbands before obtaining an abortion was not, quote, an undue burden, there was no sense that a woman like me ever existed or even mattered....I was awaiting the procedure when a nurse arrived to tell me that state law imposed yet another humiliating burden. The government required me to obtain my husband's consent. I was forced to leave the hospital, find where he was living, and ask him to give me his permission.

Michelman's linking this tale to Alito's opinion in Casey is highly misleading. The regulation that Alito voted to uphold did not require a husband's consent, only notification. ...

Michelman's assertion that Alito's opinion reflected "no sense that a woman like me ever existed or even mattered" is false as well. In fact, Alito expressly distinguished a situation such as Michelman's from that faced by a woman whose abortion was governed by the Pennsylvania law in question....

Michelmanic mendacity is all too common on the "choice" side of the abortion debate.

... The Harris poll pops up in another Times editorial today, and this time the paper gets the law right but misstates what the poll asked:

Judge Alito's assertions that he will keep an open mind on Roe are little comfort. With nearly 70 percent of Americans saying in a recent Harris poll that they would oppose Judge Alito's confirmation if they thought he would vote against constitutional protection for abortion rights, he was not likely to say at his hearings that he would do so. Few nominees would be so brave or foolhardy.

Of course, if public opinion were really so solidly in favor of legal abortion, overturning Roe v. Wade would be unproblematic for those who support it. After all, democratically elected legislators would not be so brave or foolhardy as to do away with a legal right that 70% of the people support. It's reasonable enough to say we need the Supreme Court to protect the rights of unpopular individuals from the will of the majority. It's preposterous to say we need the Supreme Court to insulate
popular policies from the democratic process
. All of which leads us to think that, although only a small minority of Americans believe that abortion is murder and should be always illegal, the American public is considerably less pro-abortion than the Times would have us believe.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cry Baby

Interesting BummerTalk 'around the watercooler yesterday. Hard core progressive types, aka Bush Derangment Syndrome folks, aka "Alito is evil" types, thought that the Alito wife crying episode was somehow unfair, and/or was a red herring away from serious issues.

BummerTypes are likely to snicker, if not guffaw, at that notion. Perhaps it's Right Wing Derangement.

On the other hand, I think the case can be made that the hearings - and in particular, the Alito hearings - have crested. They are now, just a circus. In some sense, the conservative nominee shows his core audience that he is...well, restrained, erudite and conservative.

Liberal senators, who of course all happen to be Democrats, knowing that they will not prevail, but also knowing that millions of dollars pour in from their core interest groups who get that money by promising to win battles just like this one, have to put on a show for their core audience. And the smart ones know that they can never, never admit that "We didn't have the votes."

"We didn't have the votes" = "We don't have the power."

"We don't have the power" = "Interest group money dries up"

Accordingly, the Dems have to invent some reason -- some transgression, some rule-breaking -- to explain away their failure to stop Alito.

So in the next 48 hours, as the Dems vote "no" but watch the Alito nomination get sent to the floor for a perfunctory, non-filibustered vote in the affirmative, watch for the accusation that protocol has been violated, and such violation is the only reason for Alito's nomination to advance.

In other words, the Dems will accuse the 'Pubs of cheating.

Watch it. You'll see.

The "crying wife" is the first, and perhaps will be the major, claim of "cheating" by the Dems, done to assuage their base as to why this battle was lost.


Cry baby cry
Make your mother sigh
She's old enough to know better
So cry baby cry

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bullworth I

Oh, if Bummer were a 'Publican staffer on the Hill. It would be so easy, so seamless, so much fun ... to cram down the windbag Senators. Substance is good. But Ted Kennedy? OHMYGOD what a wreck.

Remember Bullworth? What if you were a nominee, and you either (a) didn't care if you were approved or not, or (b) thought you were going down in flames? How much fun could you have?

"You see, Senator, that's a lot like Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution. We don't allow Congress to punish a family for the sedition of one member. That's clearly been the fabric of our political culture, because ... well, just take a look at Senator Kennedy, there. Yes, Senator Kennedy, you are a Constitutional artifact, indeed. If ever there were a case to be made that we should prevent some scion from ever tainting our public institutions, Senator Kennedy is it. But we cannot do that. Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution makes that unthinkable."

I would enjoy that, very very much.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Mexico is broken.

Rich in resources and climate, it has been a Latin American toilet of despotism, corruption and poverty for almost 100 years. The US attitude is inexplicable, unless you consign the whole affair to an unfortunate consequence of the Cold War.

In any event, the bandit country is kept afloat by 4 revenues sources:

1. 15 million illegal immigrants in the US, sending cash back to Mexico.
2. Narco trafficking to the US.
3. Nationalized oil - Pemex - sold to the US.
4. Tourism, mostly selling vactions to US tourists.

Now comes Mexico's government, calling US immigration repair shameful, stupid and underhanded. (Those verbal outbursts so common among Latin politicians: "Mexiquips".)

Isn't it high-time that the US simply annex Baja Mexico as a territory? Or as a joint territory, with Mexico? With US administration -- US police, courts, tax collection, etc. Mexico can run all social services. The US will remit tax money to Mexico.

Baja would boom. Within 10-15 years, huge revenues and tax base would be assisting Mexico,a nd more importantly, the government in Baja would become the model for the rest of Mexico. To clean up its pitiful act.

We're doing it in Iraq, to clean up the Middle East. Why not Mexico?

More here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rare Invoking of the Bar Against the Blood Curse

1960's pop star and hemorrhoid sufferer Harry Belafonte joined the ranks of Useful Idiots in his visit to Venezuela. On a trip sponsored by the Latin American subsidiary of Depends Adult Diapers, Belafonte assured Venezuelan commie dictator Chavez that, "No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: ...[M]illions of the American people ... support your revolution."

Not satisfied with exposing the effect that 60 years of rum immersion can have on the frontal lobes, Belafonte then also accused U.S. news media of falsely painting Chavez as a dictator. Belafonte, fresh from a counselling session with former President Gerald "Poland is a Democracy" Ford, insisted that Venezuela is a democracy, its a citizens are "optimistic about their future," and that he really did meet a Venezuelan leprechaun at the airport.

Meanwhile, to Bummer's knowledge, Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution still says:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist [of] ... adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. ...

"The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

The Belafonte daughter, nude model and pipesmoker Shari Belafonte can be thankful for that little Constitutional prohibition about Daddy's treason being deemed crime of the bloodline.


Please spend 3 minutes, brushing up here. *

Don't be stationary-on-ignorant. Too many others will be doing that. *

To wit: Bummer hopes and hopes there will be a filibuster over the Alito nomination. A real filibuster, that is. Where Senators must actually speak, on the record. Not just say, "I filibuster, let's adjourn so I can catch 'West Wing.' "

I can think of nothing more sanguine, more useful, more clarifying, than 240 hours of Leftist prattle, 10 months before the 2006 midterm elections.

The current use of the word 'filibuster' is a sham. Both the Dems and the 'Pubs are shameful, in pretending that their agreement to adjourn each day - to go attend to some other business - constitutes a 'filibuster.'

There is no filibuster practiced anymore in the US Senate. Just 2 sides, both too scared to engage in an actual voting democracy. Too messy. Messy. Messy.

Bring it on, says Bummer. Bring it on.


* - Brush up here. Here. Here. Here.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Leaky Lady

Despite its being 4-square within the subject matter of this blog, Bummer has sorta ignored yet another leak by the NYTimes of classified war information.

The matter - still breaking - is being covered so well, elsewhere, that Bummer has nothing substantive, or even witty, to add regarding this egregious example of effete thugs acting as if the law simply does not apply to them.

But ... a note, and a recommendation:

1. MemoGate Prevented an October Surprise. The NYTimes apparently received the leaked information at or near the time of the 2004 election. My strong guess is that the information was leaked to the Times as a matter of '04 electoral politics. The Times did not run with the story. And longtime '23 readers know what Bummer thinks about that: There was significant heat on the press in October 2004, as a result of RatherGate/MemoGate. In that environment, the Times' printing of the leak would have backfired, and the Times would have been ridiculed. So, they held it.

Thus, an overlooked benefit of the blogswarm that rebutted the crooked Memogate initiative and led to the firing of many at CBS News: The MemoGate corps likely prevented a similar "October Surprise" attack by the NYTimes.

2. Framing the Legal Issue. An outstanding legal overview of the recent leak is posted today by Scott at Powerline. Scott's money shot is this:

"Is the New York Times a law unto itself? In gambling that constitutional immunity protects it from criminal liability for its misconduct, the New York Times appears to me to be bluffing. Those of us who are disinclined to remit the defense of the United States to the judgment of the New York Times must urge the Bush administration to call the Times's bluff."

Scott, you can guest post here at S&C anytime you'd like.

Hinderaker chimes in:

"My guess is that the Times' decision to commit a crime by publishing the leaked information was based on a political calculation, not a legal one. They probably think the administration lacks the will to prosecute them, and that if the administration makes the effort, the Times will have a winning hand politically, and the Democrats will benefit. They're probably right on the first point, if not the second. Still ... the paper is taking a terrible risk."


You've heard it here again and again: Effete thugs with immunity.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dear Corporal Murtha

Yes, we know, War is hell. And the only reason that you were in the military is because you were drafted.

We understand, John, that in your twilight years with a little of Alzheimie setting in, you may not be able to comprehend this:
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked at a Pentagon news conference to comment on remarks by Rep. John Murtha ... that if he were eligible to join the military today he would not. "That's damaging to recruiting. It's damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed, and it's damaging to the morale of their families."

But your military training should have conditioned you to understand this.

So, we thank you for your anticipated cooperation. Really.

Katrina II

After the jaw-droppingly erroneous MSM Katrina coverage, why would we expect better press coverage of a sensationalist mine disaster?

Note the rare headline which is loathed more than anything by the MSM: "Media forced to explain inaccurate reports."

"Newspapers, wire services and cable news networks all failed ... to do their jobs properly when they reported that 12 men had survived the coal mine disaster in West Virginia... . [M]ore than half of the 250 U.S. newspapers [erroneously] published front-page stories that said the miners were alive. Few of those stories raised doubts about the report's credibility... for instance, that the news was based on secondhand accounts."

Least Effective Political Tool - II

Intentionally target and kill 100 civilians.

Believe it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Little Duct Tape and...

LGF used to say the Google was biased against RoC blogs. All Bummer knows is that hundreds of his old posts got "frozen" and hence are not retrievable via a Blogger search.

Mabye this little bit of index search witchcraft will patch it up. Then again, maybe not.

Also, this shameless index referencing for the webcrawlers.

Least Effective Political Tool

How about: "Blow up dozens of mourners at a funeral."

Yeah, those women and infants looked menacing. Kill those civilians, that'll show 'em. That'll convert them to your cult.

And some of you thought Bummer was being too fanatical about simply killing as many Islamofascists as possible.

PABy at Variety Cheeses from Bummer

So some PABy over at the entertainment rag Variety "borrowed" Bummer's various articles detailing how Drudge bags and shills for movies:

"Drudge headlined the first reports of Kong's less-than-record-breaking first day with the ominous words 'King' Bomb?'

"...Drudge actually tried something similar this season as "Brokeback Mountain" rode onto the scene, trying to scare the horses, if you will, with the alarmist tone of one headline.

"That isn't the case for Steven Spielberg's "Munich," which has moved to the center of the media circus. 'Now Israeli Spies Blast Spielberg's 'Munich,"' our man Drudge shouted Tuesday."

Hey, Variety, don't rip my original work without credit, you punk-a**ed b*tch (i.e., a PABy).

Monday, January 02, 2006

Effete Thugs Upset about Level Playing Field

Three generations of Americans have been inundated with hundreds of television courtroom dramas. Americans have a decent understanding that opposing advocates clash pursuant to detailed rules of engagement, officiated by a judge who knows the rules. Similarly, Americans have been inundated with unending television sports events, where opposing teams clash pursuant to detailed rules of engagement, officiated by a team of referees who knows the rules.

Contrast the US cultural norms caused by viewing such TV courtroom and TV sports shows, with the "cultural norms" of the MSM. Many if not most of the MSM became advocates for Progressive causes over the past few decades. The public had some belief that the Press was an impartial judge, or referee. Instead, the Press is an advocate, not interested in Truth, per se, as much as advancing one of its Progressive causes.

By courtroom analogy, the Mainstream media (like a court) is a truthseeker, a trier of fact. Yet as a trier of fact, the Mainstream media:

Acts as judge, deciding upon which facts and testimony are admitted, and stricken.
Acts as the advocate for one side.
Gets to pick which advocate, if any, speaks for the "other side".
Qualifies all witnesses for its side.
Qualifies - and disqualifies - any and all witnesses for the "other side".
Acts as jury, in deciding the angle of the story.

By sports analogy, the Mainstream media is a contest between competing versions of truth. The Mainstream media:

Acts as referee - staging the game, calling fouls.
Acts as coach for both teams - the journalist "picks" who each side's players are.
Acts as scorekeeper.
Acts as cameraman - what plays and replays get played, or suppressed.
Acts as sportscaster - calling play by play.
Acts as color commentator - spinning the plays.
Acts as sports writer - summarizing the game.

Any wonder that the US public doesn't have faith in the Press? With the TV courtroom and TV sports examples, the Average Joe sorta knows that the game is rigged with the Press. That wasn't true back 40 years ago, when the public generally thought of the Press as truthseekers - e.g., the judge or referee.

But what could the average person do? There was no alternative.

Kudos to the NYTimes (Business Section) for running this interesting piece today, "Answering Back to the News Media, Using the Internet."

"Even when subjects of news stories felt they had been misunderstood or badly treated, they were unlikely to take on reporters or publishers, believing that the power of the press gave the press the final word.

"But now ... [s]ubjects of newspaper articles and news broadcasts now fight back with the same methods reporters use to generate articles and broadcasts - taping interviews, gathering e-mail exchanges, taking notes on phone conversations - and publish them on their own Web sites. This new weapon in the media wars is shifting the center of gravity in the way that news is gathered and presented, and it carries implications for the future of journalism.

"...[T]he power of blogs is exponential; blog posts can be linked and replicated instantly across the Web, creating a snowball effect that often breaks through to the mainstream media. Moreover, blogs have a longer shelf life than most traditional news media articles. A newspaper reporter's original article is likely to disappear from the free Web site after a few days and become inaccessible unless purchased from the newspaper's archives, while the blogger's version of events remains available forever."

In the lame MSM apologist category ("I don't see any evidence that the media is liberal..."), the article includes the following critique of the new level playing field by a left wing, anti-war, ex-ABC/CNN staffer now running a "Bush Lied" website:

"[He] said that while the active participation by so many readers was healthy for democracy and journalism, it had allowed partisanship to mask itself as media criticism and had given rise to a new level of vitriol. 'It's now O.K. to demonize the messenger. This has led to a very uncivil discourse in which it seems to be O.K. to shout down, discredit, delegitimize and denigrate the people who are reporting stories and to pick at their methodology and ascribe motives to them that are often unfair.' "

[Yes, and poor Mary Mapes and Dan Rather were just "victims."- ed.]

In case you missed the crux of that critique, let me restate it:

The posting of source material on the internet to rebut and expose the slant of the MSM is a bad thing, because it embarrasses the reporters, and the people who do it are only interested in catching the MSM lying or spinning. The MSM is supposed to have immunity from this kind of oversight, dammit. It's unfair to expose the MSM to unregulated rebuttal by people who disagree with the MSM. It's...uncivil.

There will come in the near future a case before the US Supreme Court, where a blog et al will be sued for copyright infringement for posting an MSM article in its entirety, free.* The blog posting will prima facie have been effected for two reasons: (1) Scholarly comment and discussion [pure First Amendment activities]; and (2) political advocacy, akin to writing history, by recording just how wrong the Leftist MSM is at the time they speak.

The MSM will claim that its archives are hidden behind firewalls as part of a business model, and that the reprinting is a copyright violation because, via Google, readers can access a free version, rather than having to pay to view it behind a firewall.

As Bummer's girlfriend AC [OK, I fib - ed.] is so apt to point out, though, "Nexis/Lexis is the liberals' worst enemy; they get held accountable for being wrong." No doubt that the Leftist MSM, unaccustomed to having a medium they don't control, would prefer that their unchallenged writings of old would just disappear down the memory hole. Are Leftists trying to avoid the resurfacing of their words? Remember Orwellian "Newspeak?"

Or, is it a true clash of business objectives of the MSM, vs. political objectives of the MSM?

Interesting how the stated business desires of traditional MSM -- to make people pay for library content -- in the long run is hurtful to the Left's hegemony of getting to write the first draft, left-slanted version of history, via its dominance of the MSM.

Perhaps the cry of 1984 should have been, "the blogs...the blogs" instead of "the proles...the proles..."

I'm pretty sure that our copyright laws will prevent the Denver Post from simply copying a NYTimes article, wholecloth, and reprinting it.

I'm also reasonably sure that our copyright laws will allow this website (and Google and other search engines) to reprint such article, with commentary.* But the case will come. The business parties will be Google vs. Original Publisher. The long-term party will be ... history.

* - Here it is. Go for it, Google:

The New York Times
January 2, 2006
Answering Back to the News Media, Using the Internet
Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, or so goes the old saw. For decades, the famous and the infamous alike largely followed this advice. Even when subjects of news stories felt they had been misunderstood or badly treated, they were unlikely to take on reporters or publishers, believing that the power of the press gave the press the final word.
The Internet, and especially the amplifying power of blogs, is changing that. Unhappy subjects discovered a decade ago that they could use their Web sites to correct the record or deconstruct articles to expose what they perceived as a journalist's bias or wrongheaded narration.
But now they are going a step further. Subjects of newspaper articles and news broadcasts now fight back with the same methods reporters use to generate articles and broadcasts - taping interviews, gathering e-mail exchanges, taking notes on phone conversations - and publish them on their own Web sites. This new weapon in the media wars is shifting the center of gravity in the way that news is gathered and presented, and it carries implications for the future of journalism.
Just ask "Nightline," the ABC News program, which broadcast a segment in August about intelligent design that the Discovery Institute, a conservative clearinghouse for proponents of intelligent design, did not like very much. The next day, the institute published on its Web site the entire transcript of the nearly hourlong interview that "Nightline" had conducted a few days earlier with one of the institute's leaders, not just the brief quotes that had appeared on television.
The institute did not accuse "Nightline" of any errors. Rather, it urged readers to examine the unedited interview because, it said, the transcript would reveal "the predictable tone of some of the questions" by the staff of "Nightline."
"Here's your chance to go behind the scenes with the gatekeepers of the national media to see how they screen out viewpoints and information that don't fit their stereotypes," Rob Crowther, the institute's spokesman, wrote on the Web site.
The printing of transcripts, e-mail messages and conversations, and the ability to pull up information from search engines like
Google, have empowered those whom Jay Rosen, a blogger and journalism professor at New York University, calls "the people formerly known as the audience."
"In this new world, the audience and sources are publishers," Mr. Rosen said. "They are now saying to journalists, 'We are producers, too. So the interview lies midpoint between us. You produce things from it, and we do, too.' From now on, in a potentially hostile interview situation, this will be the norm."
All these developments have forced journalists to respond in a variety of ways, including becoming more open about their methods and techniques and perhaps more conscious of how they filter information.
"To the extent that you know there's someone monitoring every word, it probably compels you to be even more careful, which is a good thing," said Chris Bury, the "Nightline" correspondent whose interview was published by the Discovery Institute. "But readers and viewers need to realize that one interview is only one part of the story, that there are other interviews and other research and that this is just a sliver of what goes into a complete report."
Posting primary source material is becoming part of public relations strategies for interest groups, businesses and government. The Pentagon and State Department now post transcripts of interviews with top officials on their Web sites or they e-mail them to reporters, as does Vice President
Dick Cheney's office.
An early example of turning the tables occurred in 2001, when David D. Kirkpatrick, who then covered the publishing industry for The
New York Times, wrote an article about Dave Eggers, author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." Mr. Eggers posted a 10,000-word response on his Web site complaining about the tone of the piece, and included their e-mail exchanges, which Mr. Kirkpatrick had asked be kept private.
Individual newspapers and television stations generally reach a wider audience than individual blogs, and Mr. Eggers touched on this lopsidedness when he explained on his Web site why he was reprinting Mr. Kirkpatrick's e-mail messages: "It's the only remedy commensurate with the impact you enjoyed with your original piece."
But the power of blogs is exponential; blog posts can be linked and replicated instantly across the Web, creating a snowball effect that often breaks through to the mainstream media. Moreover, blogs have a longer shelf life than most traditional news media articles. A newspaper reporter's original article is likely to disappear from the free Web site after a few days and become inaccessible unless purchased from the newspaper's archives, while the blogger's version of events remains available forever.
In another case involving The Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a business reporter, interviewed Mark Cuban, the technology billionaire, via e-mail last summer for a column about Mr. Cuban's investment in an Internet company. Mr. Cuban was unhappy with the column and posted their e-mail exchanges, touching off an extensive discussion on the Internet about, among other things, the value of seeing a reporter's raw material.
Many bloggers said reporters should publish such material as a matter of course; others questioned the need to be inundated with every scrap of unorganized, unedited information and wondered where it would stop. (Just two weeks ago, Mr. Cuban posted another e-mail exchange with Randall Stross, another writer for The Times.)
While the publication of raw material is often aimed at putting the journalist in a bad light, it can sometimes boomerang on the source. The Pentagon got into a dispute with Bob Woodward of The
Washington Post in 2004 over quotations in his book "Plan of Attack" that were attributed to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld about the invasion of Iraq. The quotations had not appeared in the Pentagon's official transcript of Mr. Woodward's interview with Mr. Rumsfeld. But they appeared in full in Mr. Woodward's transcript, and the Pentagon had to admit that it had deleted those portions from its transcript.
Sometimes the subjects of news articles even post such material on the Web in advance of an article or broadcast, scooping the reporter and getting their version out first. Earlier this year, Edward Nawotka, a book critic based in Austin, Tex., described in The Texas Observer an interview he had conducted via e-mail with Ann Coulter, the conservative writer, a couple of years ago. She sent him a 2,000-word response by e-mail, which he then asked her to trim so he could include it in a daily e-mail newsletter - only to discover that she had already posted her entire response on her Web site.
Another example occurred in 1999, when "20/20," the ABC News program, interviewed officials from a company called Metabolife International. The company acquired footage of the interview and posted it on its Web site before the program was shown. This was so unusual at the time that the company bought advertisements in newspapers urging readers to watch the footage.
"People do it all the time," said Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN correspondent who is now a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, where she studies the effect of blogging on journalism.
Interview subjects are "annoyed that they're quoted out of context, or they did a half-hour interview and only one sentence got used. Or sometimes they're just flattered that a reporter called them," she said. "If you're one of a growing number of people with a blog, you now have a place where you can set the record straight."
Danny Schechter, executive editor of
MediaChannel.org and a former producer at ABC News and CNN, said that while the active participation by so many readers was healthy for democracy and journalism, it had allowed partisanship to mask itself as media criticism and had given rise to a new level of vitriol.
"It's now O.K. to demonize the messenger," he said. "This has led to a very uncivil discourse in which it seems to be O.K. to shout down, discredit, delegitimize and denigrate the people who are reporting stories and to pick at their methodology and ascribe motives to them that are often unfair."
Thomas Kunkel, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, said reporting on reporters had created a kind of "Wild West atmosphere" in cyberspace.
With reporters conducting interviews more frequently by e-mail, he said, "You have to start thinking a couple of moves ahead because you're leaving a paper trail. And the truth squad mentality of some bloggers means you are apt to have your own questions thrown back at you."
Posting of original material may be somewhat less common in the corporate world than among individuals representing themselves. Steven Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Communications, the New York public relations firm, said that posting raw material was "another tool in the tool chest" and that if a corporate client had been damaged, "you'll certainly want to get something out that's Google-able."
But, he said, a corporation must also consider whether publishing such material would alienate an influential beat reporter as well as an entire news outlet and possibly reporters for other outlets. "You have to balance the incident over the long-term relationship," he said. "But you can get your side out in a benign way. It doesn't have to be antagonistic."
Reporters say that these developments are forcing them to change how they do their jobs; some are asking themselves if they can justify how they are filtering information. "We've got to be more transparent about the news-gathering process," said Craig Crawford, a columnist for Congressional Quarterly and author of "Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media." "We've pretended to be like priests turning water to wine, like it's a secret process. Those days are gone."
Some news outlets are posting transcripts of their interviews with newsmakers, and some reporters are posting their own material. Stephen Baker, a senior writer at BusinessWeek, has posted not only transcripts from his interviews but also his own notes on his Web site, saying he likes to involve his readers in the journalistic process.
"Sometimes I say to my readers, Here's my interview. What story would you have written?" said Mr. Baker, who writes about technology. Journalism, he added, used to be a clear-cut "before and after process," much like making a meal; the cooking was done privately in the kitchen and then the meal was served. Now, he said, "every aspect of it is scrutinized."
And many journalists say they now expect that whatever they say or write to a source, even trivial chit-chat, will be made public.
"I don't carry an expectation of privacy anymore," said Bill Toland, a reporter for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who said his e-mail messages had cropped up on various Web sites. "I think it's fair game, as long as you're fair with the people you're dealing with."
While some say they are learning to accept the new interactivity, they also worry that the view of many bloggers - that reporters should post their raw material because they are filtering it through their own biases - ignores the value of traditional journalistic functions, like casting a wide net for information, coaxing it out of reluctant sources, condensing it and presenting it in an orderly way.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN's senior correspondent at the Pentagon, said the traditional skills of sifting through information and presenting it in context were especially vital now because there were so many other sources of information.
"With the Internet, with blogs, with text messages, with soldiers writing their own accounts from the front lines, so many people are trying to shape things into their own reality," he said. "I don't worry so much anymore about finding out every little detail five minutes before someone else. It's more important that we take that information and tell you what it means."
Ms. MacKinnon predicted that traditional journalism and the art of distilling information would not vanish. "Most people don't have hours and hours every day to read the Web, and they want someone who can quickly and succinctly tell you what you need to know," she said. "But it's great the raw materials can be made available to those who have the time."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Lyin' Lion In...


Bummer, who was a politico in the early/mid 80's, lost a lot of his burning interest in the ins&outs of politics. So Bummer and his ilk didn't really notice the step-by-step leftward march of the MSM. Then, 9/11 happened. Alas, Bummer got pissed off, and started paying more attention.

For others living here at the south gate of the Left Coast, the LATimes arrives at their front door each morning. What a piece of work, the LA Times. But given the outlandish behavior of other MSM, the LA Times is merely par for the MSM course. But the tide has crested, methinks.

Witness the 2003 California recall election. In one sentence, suffice it to say that a gerrymandered far-Left legislature kept pushing the envelope with a moderate Democratic governor, and when a $15 BILLION state budget deficit was admitted just days after the '02 election, a wave of populism (galvanized by the governor's deal-with-the-devil granting of drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants) resulted in a petition-driven "voters' impeachment" of the governor, and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as replacement governor.

Just 5 days - and 3 "business days" - before the October 7 (Tuesday) recall election, the LA Times went after Schwarzenegger -- on a Thursday (October 2). Schwarzenegger was a centrist Republican, leading a 3-horse race. Leftie loon Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante was the choice of the Left; he was of like mind with the statehouse that had brought the state to one credit rating above "junk bond" status, and his platform was, in effect, "tax the rich to fix the deficit."

The LA Times, of course, didn't want the existing governor tossed out (poll question #1); but if he did get tossed, Cruz was the choice of the LA Times (poll question #2).

Those who follow election news cycles know that the last punch gets thrown on the last Thursday before the election. Alas, that day, the LA Times ran a front-page "Shocker: Hollywood Star Has Groped Women" (and thus he is not suited for public office) smear story. (It had been "researching" the story for 2 months.)

A sexual harrasser running for office? Disgusting. We're shocked, just shocked.

The usual Leftwingers insisted the story embedded in the hit piece was legit, but I gotta tell ya, having lived through it with committed lefties in the entertainment biz -- even the lockstep Westside progressive partisans blushed at the cojones of the Times.

I think the October 2, 2003 LA Times Arnold Attack Piece was the zenith of the paper's liberal lunacy. It has since changed ownership; its readership is way down; and this year it fired many of its leftist editorial clowns.

Anyway, Paterico issues his annual report card on the LA Times, here. The LA Times will likely always be left-of-center, but methinks the lyin', thievin' LATimes that brought you the "Arnold hit piece" is in its winter days. We'll see.