September 30, 2004
Final debate observations

If I didn't understand English, I'd say that Kerry won the debate on the basis of the non-verbal performance. He appeared more poised, confident and smooth and therefore more commanding. It helped that he's physically larger than the President. Bush came across weaker, more hesitant, at a loss for words and therefore unconfident and indecisive. He's just not as polished a performer.

And that's unfortunate. If you look at their words and not at the delivery, Bush was decisive and coherent. Kerry gave more of the same incoherent bluster that tells you nothing except that the war was both an unwinnable mistake and a winnable mistake that he was right to authorize; and that he plans to cut and run, but won't admit it.

Examples from the transcript follow in the next three posts.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:59 PM
How Kerry equated Iraq with Vietnam

In tonight's debate John Kerry proudly mentioned his Vietnam service. But if he really wanted to convince the world, the country and the troops in Iraq that he intended to "lead those troops to victory", why would he also remind us of this aspect of his Vietnam experience:

I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did.
Later in the debate he said that
our goal in my administration would be to get all of the troops out of there with a minimal amount you need for training and logistics...
Is his real goal to secure the peace as quickly possible and then to bring the troops home, or is the real goal to "get all of the troops out of there" regardless of the situation on the ground? I think the fact that he called the war a mistake several times during the debate and also went out of his way to remind us of how he "made right" an earlier war he called a mistake tells us everything we need to know.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:58 PM
Inkeherrynce on Pre-emption

I have to disagree with the conventional wisdom (and the President's own statements during the debate) that John Kerry keeps changing his positions. For John Kerry to change his positions means that John Kerry would have had to hold a position for at least a moment before he changes it. But as far as I can tell, John Kerry does not change the positions that he holds so much as he consistently holds so many positions that he is consistent and constant in his incoherence. Inkeherrynce.

Here is what he had to say in the debate about pre-emptive strikes:

The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. ... No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

I summarize: The President doesn't have to cede the right to take legitimate pre-emptive action as long as he cedes to "the world" the right to judge whether that pre-emptive action was legitimate.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:57 PM
Inkeherrynce on Iraq

Here are some of the positions about Iraq that Kerry held simultaneously during the debate (All of these statements, while cut and pasted from their respective locations in the debate, are in appropriate context).

Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, but he didn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he might have had weapons of mass destruction:

But we also have to be smart, Jim. And smart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and taking if off to Iraq ... where the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein.
...
What I think troubles a lot of people in our country is that the president has just sort of described one kind of mistake. But what he has said is that, even knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, even knowing there was no imminent threat, even knowing there was no connection with Al Qaida, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his words. Now, I would not.
...
We didn't guard the foreign office, where you might have found information about weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam was a threat, but he wasn't really a threat
I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence.
...
He also said Saddam Hussein would have been stronger. That is just factually incorrect. Two-thirds of the country was a no-fly zone when we started this war. We would have had sanctions. We would have had the U.N. inspectors. Saddam Hussein would have been continually weakening.
But even though Kerry says he was right to vote to give the President the authority to invade Iraq, he implicitly admits that he wasn't exercising his oversight responsibilities very well because the President wasn't yet ready to act on that authority
And he rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace. Now, that is not the judgment that a president of the United States ought to make. You don't take America to war unless have the plan to win the peace.
Bush should never have been given the authority to go to war in the first place because experts say that the war would be unwinnable. But Kerry will win it anyway.
You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said -- he wrote in his book -- because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today.
...
And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.
...
The national intelligence assessment that was given to the president in July said, best-case scenario, more of the same of what we see today; worst-case scenario, civil war. I can do better.
The war for which it was not a mistake for Kerry to vote Bush the authority, was a mistake. On the other hand, it was not a mistake
This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment.
...
Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we're there. We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake of judgment to go thereand take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It was.

Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?
...
LEHRER: Speaking of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came back from Vietnam, and you said, quote, How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?

KERRY: No

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:56 PM
Gov. Bill Owens for President in 2008?

I attended last night's dinner of the Washington Policy Center, a local center-right think-tank. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens was the keynote speaker. P.J. O'Rourke gave a very funny talk before the dinner. He explained why he hates politics and knows that the WPC is a good organization because not all of its policy recommendations entail politics. Politics, O'Rourke says, is not the right solution to every problem in society, just as frying is not the right solution to every problem in the kitchen. He also told an hilarious tale of watching a cow being artificially inseminated (visualize a man with his entire arm rammed up the cow's fundament), and likened the expression on the cow's face to the expression on his own face after reading the $180 billion federal agricultural subsidy bill.

Gov. Owens started his after-dinner talk with some examples of how he has improved state government. The most interesting to me was his executive order to end payroll deductions for the union dues of government employees, which had long been done without proper statutory authority. Union membership fell by 70%. Obviously, this protects the paychecks of the majority of state employees who don't see value in paying union dues. It also prevents the union from using its skim of tax dollars to engage in inappropriate influence of the political process. A similar measure would do a world of good here in Washington State.

Then Owens shifted to foreign policy. He talked of America as a fundamentally isolationist nation that onlly reluctantly got involved in the three great wars of the 20th century. He told of his own uncle who fell in battle in World War I; he quoted Life Magazine of January 1946 which claimed that we were losing the peace in Europe and that "a great many Europeans feel that the cure was worse than the disease". He pointedly observed that the media got it wrong then as they are getting it wrong now; he twice quoted Edmund Burke "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing", once before and once after his anecdote from one of his many visits to Russia where he has seen for himself the victims of Communism. The point being that the many good men did too little to stop the small band of Bolsheviks who took over and destroyed a great nation. By implication we good men must also prevail to prevent tyranny from re-establishing itself in Iraq, in spite of what the reflexively wrong might say. We must also prevail to turn back the slow encroachments on freedom here at home, including, for example, standing up to the public employee unions in order to defend the economic rights of both taxpayers and public employees.

Gov. Owens is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008. For a governor to spend half of his speech on foreign affairs is an indication that he's working towards higher office. He's a compelling speaker and demonstrated clear thinking on both foreign and domestic issues. I have no idea who else will be running in 2008 and it's a bit too early to really think about it. But I'll be looking at Gov. Owens with great interest in the next few years.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:40 PM
September 29, 2004
Patty "Osama Mama" Murray Video

The Nethercutt for Senate campaign has released a new ad featuring a video clip of Patty Murray making her infamous statement praising Osama Bin Laden for "building daycare facilities" and for having "made people's lives better". That statement has been widely reported, but I hadn't seen an actual video until today. It has to be seen to be believed how naive Patty Murray is, and how unsuited she is for a position of leadership during the war against Islamic terrorists.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:22 AM
September 27, 2004
Inkeherrynce

John Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill today on NPR's Morning Edition:

NPR's Steve Inskeep: Your campaign has begun describing Iraq as a quagmire. Is that a fair term to use and why begin using it now?

Cahill: Well, I think that we've committed $200 billion of United States money, taxpayers' money, to this conflict. And it does not seem as though the President has any plan to get us out of there. And the Bush administration has not trained Iraqis as they said they would in order to make the country more secure to allow elections to go forward.

This seems to confirm that the Kerry campaign believes that Iraq is a quagmire and that their top priority is to "get us out of there".

This requires an update to Kerry's position on Iraq, which now reads:

win the real war on terror by promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East, except in Iraq where we will win the false war against the terrorists there by making a genuine commitment to finish the job, which is a quagmire, and get out of there and without staying the course

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:57 AM
Foolproof Campaign Finance Violations, Part 2

I just spoke with Marilyn Raichle, Executive Director of Foolproof Performing Arts, which, as I reported yesterday, appears to be in violation of federal campaign finance and tax rules.

Raichle defended her Michael Moore "get out the vote" rally by saying that the voter registration component is non-partisan. But she also admitted that Michael Moore would probably encourage people to vote against the President. She declined to state what Moore's honorarium was, but claimed that his fee was not subsidized. She also claimed she was "talking with" Michael Medved and Ron Reagan about having them appear at Foolproof at some indefinite time in the future. "Talking with" Michael Medved is not the same as presenting a balanced program of events before the election. And Ron Reagan doesn't exactly provide balance to a Democratic line-up.

Here is what the Seattle Weakly had to say about Marilyn Raichle and Foolproof just last month:

This year, she is focusing on Novemberís election, using her series as a soapbox to get people involved in the political process. When people accuse her of preaching to the choir, she responds proudly, ďCímon, letís get the choir cracking!Ē
The Stranger wrote:
"As the political climate became more harrowing, I was having more and more trouble finding things that made me want to laugh," says Marilyn Raichle. This is not merely an existential dilemma for Raichle; she's the executive director of Foolproof Performing Arts, an arts group that presents a wide range of comedy--from Sinbad to David Sedaris--on various Seattle stages. "So this last fall, I thought, 'I'm just going to present the people I want to hear'"--all of whom were politically left-of-center speakers, not comedians, from documentarian Michael Moore to satirist Al Franken.
Raichle is also mentioned on the weblog of "No Vote Left Behind", which describes itself as "a hard money PAC that reports to the Federal Election Commission ...our goal: removing George W. Bush from office". NVLB says:
We here at No Vote Left Behind have been very fortunate to enjoy a high level of support from our community at large and other activist groups in particular. One of those supporters, Marilyn Raichle of Foolproof, is organizing a symposium on Humor and Politics ...
It's looks pretty clear to me that Ms. Raichle is abusing Foolproof's non-profit status to engage in prohibited political campaign activity. Of course she is entitled to produce whatever political events she wants to. I just think that she and her patrons should comply with the same campaign finance and tax laws that the rest of us have to comply with.

I registered a complaint about Foolproof to the IRS Tax Fraud Hotline. I am preparing a letter of complaint to the FEC.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:26 AM
September 26, 2004
Foolproof Campaign Finance Violations
This advertisement which appeared in today's Seattle Times, seems to point to flagrant violations of federal campaign finance and tax regulations.

The sponsoring organization, "Foolproof Performing Arts" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its roster of speakers leans distinctly towards the left wing of the Democratic party, with only a rare token Republican sometimes added to a panel discussion.

I'm no lawyer, but it's hard to see how using tax-exempt status to subsidize a Michael Moore "Get Out the Vote" rally ("All tickets only $15!") cannot be a violation of IRS rules barring non-profit organizations from engaging in political activity:
These organizations cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fund raising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate. Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501(c)(3).
the consequences can be serious:
If the IRS finds a section 501(c)(3) organization engaged in prohibited campaign activity, the organization could lose its tax-exempt status and it could be subject to an excise tax on the amount of money spent on that activity.

In cases of flagrant violation of the law, the IRS has specific statutory authority to make an immediate determination and assessment of tax. Also, the IRS can ask a federal district court to enjoin the organization from making further political expenditures.

Naturally, Foolproof and its patrons are free to sponsor Michael Moore or anybody else. I only want to see them adhere to the same tax and campaign finance rules that everybody else is subject to. I'm going to bring Foolproof to the attention of both the IRS and the FEC. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:27 PM
September 24, 2004
Inkeherrynce

I recently coined the word "Inkehherynce" to mean "Kerry Incoherence". Kerry's speech at Temple University today is a good example of this. Here are some excerpts, appropriately reordered to illustrate the inkeherrynce of Kerry's positions on Iraq:

One position is identical to that of the administration. Namely to win the war on militant Islamist terror by supporting democracy throughout the region, including, necessarily, staying the course to defeat tyranny and our common enemies in Iraq:

we see our enemies striking -- in Spain, in Turkey, in Indonesia, in Kenya, and now every day -- in the most despicable and gruesome ways in Iraq
and
we will promote the development of free and democratic societies throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Millions of people there share our values of human rights, and our hopes for a better life for the next generation. They are facing their own struggle at home against the forces of fanaticism and militancy. They are our natural allies. Their lost trust in our intentions must be restored. We must reach out to them and yes we must always promote democracy. I will be clear with repressive governments in the region that we expect to see them change - not just for our sake but for their own survival.
and
For al Qaeda, this war is a struggle for the heart and soul of the Muslim world. We will win this war only if the terrorists lose that struggle. We will win when ordinary people from Nigeria to Egypt to Pakistan to Indonesia know they have more to live for than to die for. We will win when they once again see America as the champion, not the enemy, of their legitimate yearning to live in just and peaceful societies. We will win when we stop isolating ourselves and start isolating our enemies. The world knows the difference between empty promises and genuine commitment.
and
I will wage this war relentlessly with a single-minded determination: to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their movement and free the world from fear.
Kerry's other position, simultaneously expressed, is that it is wrong to fight tyranny and terrorism in Iraq:
George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority.
But Kerry's other position is that even though the war in Iraq is not the real war on terror, he will finish the job anyway, whatever that means:
As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror.
and
We need to end this confusion. We need national leaders who will face reality - not only in Iraq but in the war on terror. And we need a president who has no doubt that the war on terror can and must be won.
Ending the confusion is a good idea, but along these same lines, John Edwards yesterday called the war in Iraq a "quagmire". House Democrat Nancy Pelosi said last week that
"It's clear that this administration didn't know what it was getting into, or else they grossly misrepresented the facts to the American people ... in either case, staying the course is not an option."
Kerry himself said the other day that
we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years
There are many ways to mix and match Kerry's statements with those of his running mate and his chief ally in the House of Representatives. The most coherent position I can synthesize from all of this is to
win the real war on terror by promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East, except in Iraq where we will win the false war against the terrorists there by making a genuine commitment to finish the quagmire without staying the course
Inkeherrynce.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:50 AM
September 23, 2004
What would we do without Bush?

Associated Press headline: "Bush: Terrorists May Plan More Attacks"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:14 AM
September 22, 2004
Seattle Times article about blogs

I'm mentioned in today's front-page Seattle Times article about blogs: "Web logs catch fire as kindling for change"

From his cyber pulpit, the Shark Blog, Stefan Sharkansky rips into local education levies and the monorail, among other diatribes against liberal media, John Kerry, Michael Moore and Yasser Arafat, to name a few.

He has gone so far as to compare King County Executive Ron Sims to Zimbabwe's dictatorial President Robert Mugabe, a comparison that even one regular reader said crossed the line.

Sharkansky, dubbed by another blogger as "the local political blogfather," has been operating the Shark Blog from his Green Lake home since May 2003, when he moved from San Francisco.

"I find that I'm having the most influence per time spent talking about local issues," said Sharkansky, 41, a software consultant. "There are so many people writing well on national issues. On the local issues, we really need to have alternative voices to what I call Seattle's political monoculture."

His audience is still tiny ó on Friday his site meter registered an average of 1,100 visits a day, most of them staying less than a minute. By comparison, the influential blog Instapundit recently averaged 300,000 visitors a day.

But Sharkansky credits his blog for helping him throw his voice into the debate on such local issues as charter schools and programs funded by Seattle's Family and Education Levy.

In July, Sharkansky and five other local bloggers launched a site called Sound Politics to comment on current events in the city, region and state.

I like the "local political blogfather" quote. (That was from Jacqueline Passey, who was also profiled in the article). I've been a snarky critic of the Seattle Times (and justifiably so, I think), so I wouldn't necessarily expect a glowing endorsement, which this profile of me isn't. At least it helps illustrate the pervasiveness of Seattle's monoculture of political discourse and why alternative voices are needed. For example:
From his cyber pulpit, the Shark Blog, Stefan Sharkansky rips into local education levies and the monorail
I'll grant that I rip into the monorail. But I'm disappointed with this characterization of my commentary on education levies. Here in Seattle, education levies routinely appear on the ballot and pass without much debate. The local monoculture of opinion dictates that one must reflexively support these things or be labeled as anti-tax, anti-education or whatever. The result is there is no constructive public oversight, leading to poorly designed, unaccountable and ultimately wasteful and ineffective programs. I've been one of the very few to offer constructive criticism of some of these things, calling for more transparency, accountability and effectiveness and in some cases doing more research and providing more information about the ballot measures than the local dailies have. A number of folks, including people campaigning for these levies and editorial writers from both daily newspapers have praised me (mostly in private) for raising the bar on the discussion and ultimately on the expectations voters have of these programs. To denigrate my contributions to the public debate as "rip into" seems only to delegitimize constructive opposition.
He has gone so far as to compare King County Executive Ron Sims to Zimbabwe's dictatorial President Robert Mugabe, a comparison that even one regular reader said crossed the line.
Here's an entry comparing Ron Sims with Mugabe. Clearly it's mostly tongue-in-cheek. But a lot of people have real concerns about Ron Sims frequently ham-handed behavior, which leans authoritarian even more than other contemporary big city machine bosses. In the cited example, Sims crossed a few lines himself in implying that Tim Eyman, a law-abiding political rival, should be thrown in jail solely on account of his legitimate campaigns against status quo government. That's too far in the direction of Mugabe-style leadership for my liking. It would have been helpful to put my comments about Sims in their proper context.

The article includes URLs for the Shark Blog and Sound Politics. The online version contains actual links. Oddly, there is no link to Instapundit, who is mentioned in the article, but there is a link to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, which is not mentioned in the article.

UPDATE: Reporter Kristi Heim, who wrote the article, e-mails:

Sorry if I couldn't give your comments better context. That's the hard thing with space limitations in print that blogs don't face. But readers who go to your blog can see for themselves.

Regarding "rips into": I was just trying to say you're not a girlie man!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:33 AM
September 20, 2004
He did it!

David finally peed in the potty this evening!

I hope he doesn't think he's going to score a chocolate doughnut every time he repeats this performance.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:27 PM
The Pro-Pajama Jeff Greenfield

I caught a few minutes of Wolf Blitzer and Jeff Greenfield on CNN today at around 9:30am Pacific discussing the CBS statement on the Bush memos.

Greenfield expressed the strongest praise for bloggers that I can recall hearing from any major mainstream journalist. He gave a big hat tip to the bloggers who exposed the forgeries (if not by name) and to the blogosphere in general, saying that blogs have "permanently changed" the way that the mainstream media will go about its business, forcing much tougher standards of fact-checking. He said that the mainstream media will have to get used to being challenged by critics from "obscure" places. He also criticized the mainstream media for too often practicing "post-modern" journalism, where a story is held valid as long as it conforms with the writer's beliefs, regardless of the underlying facts. Greenfield also ridiculed the former CBS executive who derided bloggers as guys who sit around in their pajamas, noting that in this case the questions from the guys in the pajamas were sharper and stronger than was CBS' defense.

[Greenfield also equated the forged memos with what he characterized as the discredited Swift Vets ads, ignoring the fact that many of the Swift Vets revelations have been confirmed to be true even by the Kerry campaign. Nobody's perfect.]

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:03 PM
September 17, 2004
Dan Rather Deathwatch

More nails in Dan Rather's coffin: "CBS' Andy Rooney believes National Guard memos are fake"

CBS curmudgeon Andy Rooney indicated Thursday he believes the controversial documents on President Bush's National Guard service are fake and said it could cost Dan Rather down the road.

``I'm surprised at their reluctance to concede they're wrong,'' Rooney said, referring to CBS brass.

Meanwhile, the overly cautious folks in the mainstream media are finally taking sides. Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial : "Rather, CBS should concede goof"

those documents, which were written in a font not commonly found in typewriters of that era, appear to be amateurish fakes.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:11 PM
September 16, 2004
When was George H.W. Bush in Congress?

According to both the George Bush Presidential Library and the U.S. Congress' biographical directory, George Herbert Walker Bush was elected to the House of Representatives in 1966 and 1968, serving from Jan. 1967 until Jan. 1971, followed by a stint as UN Ambassador until 1973. Nevertheless, a number of leading media outlets are this week reporting that George H.W. Bush was a congressman at the time when the forged Rathergate memos were supposedly written, i.e. in 1972 and 1973. The foregoing are not merely examples of the same wire story that was syndicated in multiple newspapers, but articles that were substantially edited by each outlet and published under the outlet's own brand name.

New York Times, Sep. 14

The memos indicated that Mr. Bush had failed to take a physical against orders and that Colonel Killian was being pressured to "sugarcoat" his performance rating because Mr. Bush, whose father was then a Texas congressman, was "talking to somebody upstairs."
CNN, Sep. 15
The author also wrote that Bush -- whose father was a Texas congressman at the time -- was "talking to someone upstairs" to get permission to transfer to the Alabama National Guard to work on a Senate campaign.
CBS, Sep. 15
Last week CBS News 60 Minutes reported that documents from one of Mr. Bush's commanders, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, indicated Mr. Bush didn't follow orders to take a physical and that Killian was being pressured to sugarcoat his performance ratings. Mr. Bush's father was a Texas congressman at the time. The network has not revealed how it obtained the documents.
Houston Chronicle, Sep. 15
Bush's father, former President Bush, was a member of Congress when his son was a Guard pilot. [but not at the time of the other events recounted in the article]
Chicago Tribune, Sep. 16
I imagine there was many a commander who decided it was easier to overlook some things and muster a guy out with an honorable discharge than to go through the bureaucratic hassle of pursuing every disciplinary infraction. All the more so, it would seem, if the guy happened to be the son of a member of Congress.
Associated Press, Sep. 16
The documents attributed to Killian indicated he felt pressure to "sugarcoat" the performance ratings of Bush, who [sic] father was a congressman at the time, and that he failed to follow orders to take an annual physical to maintain flight status.
Buffalo News, Sep. 16 [based on two original WaPo articles, combined with additional material]
The documents, purportedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, indicated that he was being pressured to sugarcoat the performance ratings of Bush, whose father, George H.W. Bush, was then a Texas congressman, and that young Bush failed to follow orders to take a physical.
If all of these big media organizations, with their professional fact-checkers and editors, can make an epidemic mistake on such an easily verifiable fact, how much confidence do they expect us to have in their reporting when they make claims based on undisclosed sources?

[Full disclosure: I was wearing less than pajamas when I first discovered the NYT error on Tuesday evening. I'm currently wearing proper pants and a shirt, but no socks or shoes].

Hat tip: Ombudsgod for the Chicago Tribune item

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:31 PM
September 13, 2004
Oh, That Fact-checking Media

And then there is Tuesday's New York Times article that cautiously foretells the impending implosion at CBS News over Rathergate: "CBS Offers New Experts to Support Guard Memos":

Several CBS correspondents said in interviews that such developments were making them increasingly nervous ... A longtime correspondent said flatly, "I'm distressed."
But this is the paragraph that really caught my attention:
The memos indicated that Mr. Bush had failed to take a physical against orders and that Colonel Killian was being pressured to "sugarcoat" his performance rating because Mr. Bush, whose father was then a Texas congressman, was "talking to somebody upstairs."
Actually, no. The memos in question were purportedly dated 1972-73. Bush was in Congress only from 1967-1971. Here is what the Biography of George Herbert Walker Bush from his presidential library has to say about the relevant time period:
During the 1970's, Mr. Bush held a number of important leadership positions. In 1971, he was named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He served there until 1973, when he became Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
But don't pay attention to me. I'm not the Newspaper of Record with a team of editors and fact-checkers. I'm not even "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas".

I'm in my basement home office. In my underwear!

UPDATE: The major media seem to be caught in the clutches of an epidemic of George H.W. Bush Congressional Term Distortion Fever. Many more case have been sighted, here

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:11 PM
Primary Endorsements

My endorsements in the Washington State Primary are posted at Sound Politics, here

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:50 AM
Big media pulls out the knives for Rather

With its strident but lame defense of the forged TANG documents, the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather has become to broadcast journalism what Fahrenheit 9/11 is to documentary filmmaking. CBS might as well put Michael Moore in the Walter Cronkite chair as allow Rather to keep sitting there.

This failure of credibility at CBS can only magnify doubts about the credibility of other media outlets. This time it's a serious enough threat to the institutions and brotherhood of journalism, big enough to overcome the mainstream media's antipathy to the President. It's no longer only the pro-Bush anti-liberal-media bloggers and conservative columnists who are motivated to go after CBS and Dan Rather. Many members of the mainstream media must now be saying to themselves that Dan Rather has to be taken out. The knives are beginning to appear.

A number of reports in the last few days have raised questions about the forged letters.

Today's article in the Baltimore Sun [free but annoying registration] is going after CBS itself:

What steps did they use to authenticate the documents?" asked Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter for ABC News. "It's good reporting to show off how much you know."
and
"I've never thought that simply relying on a source got you off the hook for your own credibility," said Brooks Jackson, a former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and CNN. ... "Any time an investigative news operation puts something out like that, they're putting their own credibility behind it," said longtime investigative journalist Jackson. "It doesn't look good for CBS - at least at the moment."
No it doesn't.

Dan Rather's career effectively ended on Friday. It's only a matter of how long will it take before he's finally ousted, and how interesting the media coverage will be between now and then.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:32 AM
September 10, 2004
Commemorating 9/11

Republican Radio, a fine local program with which I am proud to be associated as the newest member of the team of rotating co-hosts, is broadcasting a special 9/11 commemorative program this Saturday morning, September 11, 2004.

Unlike previous shows where we never take listener calls, Republican Radio wants people from all over the USA (and the world) to call in during the 1pm-2pm Eastern/10am-11am Pacific hour of the show and talk about 9/11ómemories, thoughts, hopes, or whatever they want to get off their chests about the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.

Phone numbers for Republican Radio listeners:

NATIONWIDE: 800-465-8770

SEATTLE: 206-421-0770

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:51 AM
September 08, 2004
Inkeherrynce

Today I have coined a new word: Inkeherrynce, meaning "Kerry Incoherence".

For example --

August 9, 2004

Responding to President Bush's challenge to clarify his position, Sen. John F. Kerry said Monday that he still would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq even if he had known then that U.S. and allied forces would not find weapons of mass destruction.
September 6, 2004
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Monday called the invasion of Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" and said his goal was to withdraw U.S. troops in a first White House term.
September 7, 2004, on the news of the 1,000th U.S. military fatality in Iraq:
We will always stand up and fight for what they fought for. And their sacrifice will not be in vain.
Translation:
We will always stand up and fight for the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time that we were right to vote to authorize in the first place and then pull our troops out as fast as we can!
Inkeherrynce.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:44 PM
Condoleezza Rice Talk

National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice gave a talk at the University of Washington yesterday evening. She spoke for about 15 minutes and spent the rest of the hour answering written questions from the audience, moderated by UW President Mark Emmert.

Rice offered a compelling explanation of the administration's achievements and goals for national security. She was interrupted by applause numerous times. I was pleasantly surprised how receptive the Seattle audience was and how few protesters there were (it is, after all, the Congressional district that re-elected Baghdad Jim McDermott with 74% of the vote a month after he went to Baghdad).

This post contains highlights of Rice's remarks, photos of protestors and finally an examination of how poorly the local newspapers reported on the talk.

Some highlights of Rice's talk:

Her opening remarks were in the form of "Three years ago..., and today ..." as she recapped the administration's accomplishments in making the world a freer and safer place in the three years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001:
* 10 million Afghans are now registered to vote in the first democratic election
* Pakistan's president is a friend and ally in the war against terror
* Saudi Arabia is a partner in apprehending and killing Al Qaeda leaders
* The threat of Saddam is ended forever
* Libya has dismantled its WMD programs
* The A.Q. Khan network is dismantled
* In homeland security: national missile defense, defense against bio-terrorism and removal of legalistic walls that prevented information sharing among security agencies.

Notable quotes: "The most effective weapon in the arsenal of freedom is freedom itself" and "Time and Truth are on the side of Liberty", refering to the initiative to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East.

She closed with the administration's national security to-do list :
* Destroy Al Qaeda
* Defeat terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq
* Prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons
* Make North Korea dismantle its weapons
It's a commitment of many years. It took 40 years to win the Cold War. Now Europe is whole, free and at peace. We will win the War on Terror however long it takes

Excerpts from Q & A
[I submitted a question asking why the administration continues to refer to our current war as the "War on Terror", instead of naming the specific enemy (Militant Islam) that is perpetrating all of this terror. This question was not among those chosen by President Emmert.]

On post-war reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan: Acknowledged that bringing peace, security and democracy is a major effort and it won't always be smooth. Mentioned our nation's own rocky experience with the Articles of Confederation: "The Afghans and Iraqis haven't made a mistake as bad as the one where the Articles of Confederation defined my ancestors to be 3/5 of a man"

On the failures in planning for the post-war in Iraq: The administration planned for a lot of contingencies; Some events that they planned for, like massive numbers of refugees, didn't come about, while they did have to face other events that they didn't plan for. But in historical times, the important thing is to "get the big decisions right" like removing Saddam Hussein from power. [the rest of her sentence was drowned out by applause]

On the liberation of women in the Islamic world: it is essential to winning the war on terror. Two main reasons: These societies will lag economically as long as they fail to use the talents of half of their population; when women have an equal voice in society, they will speak out as mothers, daughters and wives to stop their men from becoming terrorists and suicide bombers. She singled out Turkey as an example where women's rights are compatible with Islam.

She segued from a question on homeland security to elucidate the two-pronged approach to winning the war on terror: (a) dealing with the proximate problem of Al Qaeda; and (b) the "forward defense for freedom", expanding on the theme that she mentioned in the opening -- the way to prevent people from choosing to become terrorists in the first place is to create freedom and democracy and opportunity in the Middle East. Removing Saddam from power was an essential part of moving Iraq and the rest of the Islamic Middle East on the path towards freedom.

She closed by talking about her experience as Director of Soviet Affairs on the NSC in the George H.W. Bush administration, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union ended. She had the advantage of using policies that had been developed over four decades dating back to Truman and Acheson in the late 1940s. Things must have looked grim in the years 1946-49, when there was still starvation in Germany, large Communist electoral minorities in France and Italy, the blockade of Berlin, the Soviet Union acquired the bomb earlier than expected, China fell to the Communists. Nevertheless, the United States persevered in building democracy in Germany and Japan, and now these countries are our allies. She is certain that one day a democratic Iraq will be our ally in the same way that Japan is now our ally.

She won her third standing ovation from the crowd and walked off the stage. At that point I lost control of myself and shouted "Four More Years!" She looked over in my direction and smiled.

The protestors

The P-I reported that there was a group of 20 protestors outside the hall. I didn't see them. They must have gathered after I went into the hall. The only protest I saw outside the hall when I arrived was this one table with three or four members of the International Socialist Organization

At one point during the Q&A period, a young woman in the audience stood up and pointedly walked toward the exit. She was wearing a T-shirt with Rice's picture and the words "War Criminal". It was too dark for my photo to come out. Also there was this woman, who is apparently beyond the age of caring whether or not anybody thinks she's making a fool of herself

The Press Coverage

Both the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on the speech.

The P-I prominently misquoted Rice as saying "Time and truth are on our side", when her exact words were "Time and truth are on the the side of liberty". That does mean the same thing as being on "our side", although I'm not sure all of the P-I readers would view it that way. The article does open by citing Rice

U.S. policy in Iraq was part of "a forward strategy for freedom in the Middle East" that was succeeding steadily.
But it missed the central place in the War on Terror that she ascribed to the democratization of the Middle East. The P-I reporter lamented that:
She took no direct questions from the news media.
On the other hand, she did sit down separately with the Seattle Times editorial board, for what was described as a "wide-ranging discussion". (Perhaps the P-I was jealous that Rice didn't sit down with its editorial board, or perhaps the ongoing skirmish between the two Seattle dailies leads each paper to conclude that the other is not part of the news media. Maybe they're both right! -- Ed.). The Times editorial board, which endorsed Kerry the week before the Republican convention, can hardly be expected to give Rice a fair hearing, and they lived up to expectations:
Rice ... defended the decision to go to war [against Iraq], despite the subsequent failure to find any weapons of mass destruction and the 9/11 commission's conclusion that Saddam did not have a "collaborative" relationship with al-Qaida.
The article simultaneously mischaracterizes the findings of the 9/11 commission report while also failing to adequately convey Rice's defense of the Iraq war. Like the P-I, the Times largely ignored Rice's argument that the liberation of Iraq is part of the broader initiative of democratizing the Middle East in order to eliminate the political dysfunction that is the root cause of terrorism. Neither paper mentioned either of Rice's analogies of the current situation in Iraq to either the beginning of the Cold War, or to the rough early stages of our own democracy. Neither did they note Rice's mention of the importance of ending the oppression of women in the Islamic world as vital to winning the War on Terror.

The P-I concluded its report with:

She was not asked last night about the news that there have now been 1,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq.

Despite that news, she did note one positive effect of the war in Iraq and the deposing of Saddam.

Regarding those Iraqis who represented their country in the recent Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, she said, "The best thing is that those who did not win a medal did not have to fear torture upon their return."

That was indeed a positive effect of the war in Iraq, but the P-I presents it as if it were the only one.

The Times editorial this morning is mainly critical of Rice and the administration and for the strangest of reasons:

President Bush's vision of a democratized Middle East living in peace, security and freedom will not happen without consistent leadership on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. ... The Bush administration talked a good plan but has not delivered progress. U.S. leadership in brokering, enforcing and bankrolling a resolution is the only hope of success.
The day after the Palestinian ersatz Prime Minister justifies retaliation against Israel for bombing a terrorist training camp, the Times main comment on administration foreign policy is to blame the President for insufficient progress on making concessions to the Palestinians? Commentary this silly does not increase my confidence in the Times editorial board to shed light on the important issues of the day.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:31 AM
September 05, 2004
Brave New World

Here at the Shark Blog we are proud to be slow adopters of new technologies. Our skepticism of overhyped newfangled gadgets is a by-product of our professional experience as developers of leading edge computer software and specifically as users of other developers' leading edge software.

But just yesterday, our household entered the 20th century when we bought our first DVD player. What a marvel, the DVD. I'm not a licensed 747 pilot, so I can't quite figure out what to do with the remote control or the cockpit-like menu that it puts up on the TV screen. Nevertheless, our new DVD player seems to be sleeker and more versatile than the Betamax our whatever it is that we have been using.

We're so excited about our newfound embrace of innovation that next week we'll consider upgrading to dial telephones!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:08 PM
September 03, 2004
Leading the world to a more responsible place

John Kerry:

"We need a president who's prepared to stand up and lead the world to a more responsible place to create an entity to make peace within the Middle East".
Meanwhile, as the nation watched our "go it alone" President on TV last night, his administration enlisted France to help get this done:
The UN Security Council narrowly adopted a resolution on Thursday night telling Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, calling for the disbanding of Hezbollah and warning against outside interference in Beirut's upcoming presidential election.
I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to write a 10 word essay on the topic: "Did the Bush administration's resolve to do something about the region's other lunatic Ba'athocracy make it (a) more likely, or (b) less likely, that the Security Council would finally make a move on the Syrian problem?" Please, no cheating.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:01 AM
John Kerry Death Spiral

John Kerry's response to Zell Miller's withering attack on John Kerry's Senate record -- hold an emergency midnite news conference to announce for the 32,768th time that John Kerry spent four months in Vietnam:

The Vice President called me unfit for office last night. Well, I'll leave it up to the voters to decide whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.
Actually, I think the voters would be more interested in hearing John Kerry explain what he accomplished during his four terms in the Senate instead of during his four months in Vietnam. For some reason, he doesn't want to go there. Instead he seems to be spending all of his free time watching Fahrenheit 9/11:
Letting the Saudi Royal Family control our energy costs makes you unfit. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit.
I'll bet a lot of Democrats are privately saying that Joseph Lieberman is looking pretty good right now.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:11 AM
Girlie Man Watch

This Pad Thai-eating Jewish Republican says: David Horsey is a Girlie Man.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
September 02, 2004
Tweetie's Revenge

Forbes: "Bird Flu Found to Sicken Cats"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:23 PM
It's in the P-I

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer contains the most brilliant op-ed it has ever published: mine.

More explanation, here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
September 01, 2004
Spitball Hardball

Now I know why John Kerry has been campaigning on his four months in Vietnam and not his 20 years in the United States Senate. Sen. Zell Miller:

no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11.

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.

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces?

U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?

But for some, the only story is Zell Miller's anger.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:00 PM