Friday, June 25, 2004

Insert 'wish I was a fly on the wall' comment here.

At some point though the media really needs to stop swallowing Scottie Mac's non-denial denial. At no time has the White House issued a statement specifically denying the involvement of Dick, Scooter or anyone else in the outing of Valerie Plame, and in fact they have avoided doing so when specifically asked.
More fun from the 9/11 commission report.

Now while calling it a 'coup' as Kos does is a little harsh -- it's not like anyone should be surprised to find evidence that Cheney has his hand up Bush's ass -- I thought the fight over the report itself more interesting:

NEWSWEEK has learned that some on the commission staff were, in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president's account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report. According to one knowledgeable source, some staffers "flat out didn't believe the call ever took place." When the early draft conveying that skepticism was circulated to the administration, it provoked an angry reaction. In a letter from White House lawyers last Tuesday and a series of phone calls, the White House vigorously lobbied the commission to change the language in its report. "We didn't think it was written in a way that clearly reflected the accounting the president and vice president had given to the commission," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett told NEWSWEEK. Ultimately the chairman and vice chair of the commission, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean and former representative Lee Hamilton—both of whom have sought mightily to appear nonpartisan—agreed to remove some of the offending language. The report "was watered down," groused one staffer.

I like that. The White House wasn't worried whether the report reflected the truth; they were worried whether the report "reflected the accounting the president and vice president had given to the commission." Nice to know what their priorities are.

But why is the administration in such a tizzy over such a horribly partisan, biased effort?

Two years ago, when the commission was created after emotional lobbying by 9/11 victims' families, the White House didn't take the probe terribly seriously. The administration initially ignored its requests for some key documents, snubbed efforts to get Bush and others to testify and shrugged off threats of subpoenas. But the commission persevered, stoked by the passion of the victims' families, and persuaded the administration to cave on most issues. The skirmishing continues—and it's starting to get personal. Now, with a final report due next month, the Bush team is increasingly aware that the commission's body of work might someday stand as the nation's official record of 9/11. And Bush's credibility on key national-security issues—upon which he's staked his re-election bid—could well turn on whether the public believes the administration's version or the commission's.

Again, the priorities are clear, just as they've been along regarding the administration's attitude towards the commission.

Re-election above closure. Politics above truth.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I wonder what Mr. Brandini will make of this... wait, did I say Mr. Brandini? I meant Mr. Kaus.

This latest Bush gaffe should put the 'balanced in their stupidity' argument about the media to the test (i.e. Slate runs Kerry-isms to 'balance' their Bush-isms)...

UPDATE: Apparently I answered my own question -- the Reuters link takes you to an article from late May, not to Bush's more recent mangling of the name. Funny how it didn't get much attention then... and funny how the more recent butchering hasn't been reported on yet by anyone other than Jon Stewart.
I think the third word Brad searches for at the end of this post is exactly right. Big Media is decadent, in both the 'decaying' and especially the 'self-indulgent' sense.

To paraphrase Jay Bulworth, white people have more in common with black people than they do with news people.

This will sound heretical, but bear with me -- Fox News may have the right idea. at least in the concept of niche news marketing. If the media stopped pretending that they speak for Everyman and simply picked a demographic, we'd have less of this sneering contempt disguised as populism. Because isn't that what Saletan's feeble attempts to 'translate Kerry's speech into plain English' amount to? You simple plebes won't understand all the big words, so let me dumb it down for you! Ditto for Isikoff's 'don't worry your pretty little head, just go help with the dishes while us smart men retire to the library to smoke cigars and debate policy' implications, and Kakutani's leering demands for less Nigeria, more... you know.

That's not the NYT's audience. That's not MSNBC's or Slate's audience. I'm not sure that's anybody's audience, except possibly Entertainment Tonight's.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Newsday exposes the White House's, and their fellow neo-cons, cognitive dissonance:

In research conducted in Australia and the United States, people watched a member of their group take an unpopular position on a political issue. Not only did the speaker experience dissonance, so did the audience. Being a member of the same group caused the audience to bond with the speaker.

The audience felt uncomfortable when the speaker took a position that was at variance with the facts and with his true attitude. The members of the audience changed their attitudes to make them consistent with the speaker's public statement. And the more the audience members identified with their group, the more they changed their attitude.

Many Republicans may well do the same. It is not that Republicans will change their opinions because they are convinced by the substance of the administration's argument; the substance of the argument is barely relevant. Seeing their leaders making statements that seem inconsistent with facts will cause group members to experience psychological discomfort, and they may resolve it by becoming adamant about supporting the Bush-Cheney position.

Clearly the solution is to increase the cognitive dissonance being produced by the White House, until all Bush supporters either come to their senses or experience nervous breakdowns.
More he-said-she-said from Iraq: Fallujah's police chief, among others, is claiming that yesterday's air strike on a supposed safe house took out nothing but women and children.

Unlike last month's wedding fiasco, there doesn't seem to be actual evidence to make the US military look like liars. There is, however, a curiously parsable statement from the interim PM:

"We know that a house which had been used by terrorists had been hit. We welcome this hit on terrorists anywhere in Iraq."

Yeah yeah, translation errors etc. But "had been used"? How far back, exactly, does that past tense extend?

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