Saturday, July 31, 2004

How to Succeed in Business

"I'll keep it short and sweet. Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business."

- Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Gore Waxes Humorous

"I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election. You know the old saying--you win some you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category."

- Veep/Duly-Elected Prez, Al Gore at the DNC convention, July 26th.

Must be the funniest thing he's ever said.

Reagan: I'm [not] a Believer

Apparently, last night Ron Reagan's speech at the Democratic convention was also somewhat of a milestone for (open) atheists.

Of course, as Ron Jr. points out, we're not likely to see one elected to high office any time soon. Unless Arnold Schwarzenegger's an atheist. You never know with those European types.

Anyway, Ron Reagan's a democrat and an atheist. Papa Reagan must really be shaking his head up in--well, presuming there is a heaven.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Emailing Prof. Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking has his own web site, and if you act now, you can buy his specially designed, wheelchair friendly hot air balloon basket.

You can even email him. So, I decided I would:
Dear Professor Hawking,

Thank you for making the field of physics more approachable to us all. At a time, here in the United States when ignorance of science is not just admitted, but boasted about, thank you for pressing forward on our behalf, exploring the unknown, and scraping at the veneer of superstition to reveal the truth beneath, whatever it may be.

Thank you also for being willing to admit when you're wrong. May you live long and may we continue to learn from you.

Kind regards,

Robert S.

Moore Vs. O'Reilly Smackdown

These guys deserve each other. And I've got to admit, O'Reilly wins this particular debate, too. Though I agree that we shouldn't have gone to war with Iraq, Michael Moore's just not being intellectually honest.

K.O. Carter

Some folks must think I'm a nutter when I tell them Jimmy Cater's my favorite living president. It's not that I think he was a great prez at the time. It's his humanity that impresses me: He's simply the most decent president alive. Easily. And no other president that I know of has done so much good since leaving the White House.

How great then to see him deliver that speech last night in Boston. Suprisingly, he came out swinging, and still he did it with unparalleled gravitas.

Some select quotes:
After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combatting terrorism.


Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made!

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "pre-emptive" war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.


In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls.


At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul. In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life, and in many ways the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.
The hits just kept on coming.

And all the mentions of Kerry's service in Vietnam didn't hurt either.

Monday, July 26, 2004

A Revolution, but What Kind?

Good newspapers are forums for discourse, so obviously we shouldn't expect to agree with everything we find within them. Occasionally, however, your local newspaper prints an opinion piece whose thesis is so muddled, so offensive, so inane, that you have to question the paper's judgment for printing it anywhere other than the letters to the editor section, where it can reflect the views of the rest of the local loons. Tom Ashcraft's recent opinion piece "Gay marriage: A revolution of the worst sort" fits squarely into this category.

In this hate-swollen piece, Ashcraft, a Charlotte-area lawyer, attempts to compare the homosexual community's fight for equal rights with battles fought by French and Russian revolutionaries. He regales us with violent imagery of "the guillotine ... snapping heads in 18th-century France" and "millions of people murdered and imprisoned, often for their Christian faith, by Communist fanatics." So it's homosexual fanatics we're supposed to fear. And it's their ability to marry that's supposed to horrify us specifically. So, having duly spooked us with images of one set of revolutionaries who were beheaded until they give in and one set who killed scores upon scores of Christians, now Ashcraft prompts us to react to these 21st century American revolutionaries.

At this point, you'd expect Ashcraft to launch into an expose of the gay community; you'd reasonably expect an accounting of the evils the gay community hopes to unleash upon our innocent nation. So, he reaches deep and pulls out the following information from an admittedly authoritative source, The Human Rights Campaign, the gay, lesbian, bi and transgender rights group:

• "Marriage equality would build on America's tradition of moving civil rights forward and erasing the inequities of the past."

• "Separate is not equal. Although any step toward legal recognition of same-sex couples and their families is a step in the right direction, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) families will not be truly equal until they, too, can receive marriage licenses."

• "GLBT people deserve equal access to the American dream. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people grow up dreaming of falling in love, getting married and growing old together. Just as much as the next person, same-sex couples should be able to fulfill that dream."
So, this is the substance of the one argument he bothers offering any support for: gays want equal rights. Horrifying isn't it?

From there, Ashcraft goes into a paint-by-numbers diatribe against the gay community, pulling out all the usual clichés and offering absolutely no support for any of his bilious and outmoded arguments. First, the genders are different, he argues, though what this has to do with marriage he doesn't say. He simply presumes--without offering any argument to support his presumption--that marriage should be between two people of the opposite sex.

His next argument proves even more bizarre: "Homosexual ideology disregards the most fundamental truth in the history of man: Humans are prone to go wrong, to choose evil -- they need wise guidance as to what is good." Homosexual ideology disregards what? What proof does he have for this utterly illogical statement? Sure, we all need wise guidance as to what is good, but gays (and the rest of us) have the right to follow the guidance of whomever they see fit. Tacit in this argument, apparently, is the idea that gays should follow some specific person's guidance. Whose? His argument presumes that the gay lifestyle is immoral and that we should all follow the "guidance" of those who believe that's true. Well, Mr. Ashcraft you can't force your muddled and archaic guidance upon me, and you can't force it upon my gay friends.

Next, Mr. Ashcraft reaches for a well-worn propaganda technique: he attributes nefarious goals to a group without offering any evidence that the goals exist. And they're the same unsupportable arguments many on the far-right keep offering: "Movement leaders really object to the created order and the one who made it. Rather than rejoicing in creation, its wonders, mysteries and limits, they resent nature and seek to overturn it." Oh, they "really" do, do they? Then why don't you have any quotes from the Human Rights Campaign proclaiming these goals then, Mr. Ashcraft? This argument, like many of those made by the lawyer, really descends into the absurd. Gays don’t need to "overturn" nature in order to be represented within it. Any one who pays the slightest attention to science knows that homosexuality not only occurs in nature, it's common throughout nature. Homosexuality is quite natural already.

What Ashcraft likely means, of course, is that his Bible tells him homosexuality is wrong. Apparently, he’s to afraid to come out and say this, though—perhaps because he knows he hasn’t the right to force his strict and increasingly irrelevant religious views upon the rest of us.

Finally, Ashcraft trots out yet another shop-worn and easily dismissed argument: "If marriage open to homosexuals becomes the new standard, they will have achieved an official repudiation of the understanding of virtually all civilization to date, including the great religions." The best response to this argument is, "So what?" Slavery was acceptable for thousands of years, too. That didn't make it right. Inter-racial marriage was forbidden in many cultures for millennia and still is in many. Doesn't make it right. The truth is, mankind is living in its moral infancy. With a few thousand years of recorded human history under our belt, we think we're tremendously evolved, when, actually, our cultural evolution represents barely a speck in the history of overall evolution. The fact that bigoted opinions have been held dear by societies and religions for a few thousand years is utterly irrelevant in the scheme of things.

Again and again, Ashcraft offers us specious arguments, which he doesn't even bother to substantiate.  Mr. Ashcraft is a lawyer; he should know better than to offer theses without any supporting arguments, without any evidence to make his case.  Certainly, he must know better, so his entire piece becomes an exercise in condescension: apparently, he depends on his readers not noticing that he, a lawyer, hasn't offered any proof to back his alarming claims.  He's more than happy to stir up the scary imagery: millions of dead in Russia; heads will roll (is this really the ending he sees fit for the gay "revolutionaries"?), but he's essentially unable to come through with the goods.

"Who will stop them?" Mr. Ashcraft asks throughout his piece, speaking of the gay revolutionaries.  Who will stop them then? Certainly not me. I plan to help.

You can help, too. Please give to the Human Rights Campaign to fight bigotry and obsolete and unscientific opinions like those of Mr. Ashcraft's.

As for the Charlotte Observer, they've printed this inaccurate, superstitious and baseless diatribe as an op-ed. They've dubbed him an Observer "columnist." Would they give a virulent racist the same space?

(I've copied Mr. Ashcraft on this post.)

500+ and Going Strong[ish]

I recently posted my 500th post and didn't even know it. Woo-hoo! Cel-e-brate good times. Come on.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Guitar Face

In other important news, check out this NYT piece about competing guitar grimaces. (Be sure to check out the slide show!) Known in England as "throwing shapes." Categories include "the pout, the pucker, the catfish (open mouth), the heavy squint and the full-face wince." That's the master, AC/DC's Angus Young, above.

Email your pose to to enter the contest. Seriously.

Also, this is one of those cases where you gotta love the NYT's well-known guideline, which insists on using formal titles. Therefore, Eddie Van Halen becomes "Mr. Van Halen."

What next? "Sir Edward Van Halen"? Well, maybe not.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Nader for President

Not exactly the real Ralph Nader for President site, but a hoot nonetheless.

Why Bush Can't Win

The National Review's Rich Lowry tells us about "W.’s Double Binds":
Sometimes a political figure becomes so hated that he can't do anything right in the eyes of his enemies. [Robert S.: Paging Bill Clinton!] President Bush has achieved this rare and exalted status. His critics are so blinded by animus that the internal consistency of their attacks on him no longer matters. For them, Bush is the double-bind president.

If he stumbles over his words, he is an embarrassing idiot. If he manages to cut taxes or wage a war against Saddam Hussein with bipartisan support, he is a manipulative genius.
Only one problem with this theory, Rich: no one thinks Bush is a manipulative genius. Karl Rove, maybe.

Read the rest to see how much sympathy you feel for Lowry's rather pedestrian thesis. Not particularly convincing.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Baghdad, USA

From Samir Haddad, a correspondent for Islam Online comes "New Iraq Tastes American," a brief article about the "Americanization" of Iraq. Not every point he makes is convincing, but he does make some seemingly valid points. Excerpting now:
  • The most striking feature was the new National Safety Defense Law passed by the interim government of Iyad Allawi on July 7 [and is compared with the U.S. "Patriot Act"].
  • A post of national security advisor, now occupied by Muafaq Al-Bubaie, was introduced for the first time in Iraq, and probably the entire Arab world.
  • Even the uniforms of US-trained Iraqi forces bear a great similarity to those of American soldiers, making it hard to distinguish between them.
  • Iraqi policemen wear on their arms American-styled patches with English acronym carrying the names of their affiliated force.
  • Even the new Iraqi police cars are similar to the Americans, with doors painted in blue and the word "Police" largely written on them.
  • Women were also enlisted in the new Iraqi army, for the first time ever in the Arab country, after being trained outside Iraq.
  • The American baseball game was introduced to Iraqi clubs, although it has not been known before to Iraqis, mostly fascinated with football matches.
  • Observers also noticed that the trial of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein looked American with Saddam, the defendant, sitting in a courtroom with no dock.
  • In schools, students were handed out bags and notebooks carrying a picture of two hands shaking each other, the slogan of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Some of these things we may be tempted to greet, no doubt, with a shrug. But it's telling to see the focus and the concern.

The Fault, Yes, but the Answer, Also

I was driving home from work tonight when I heard the local radio station interviewing Bob Edwards (whom I'm going to see tomorrow night) about his new biography of Edward R. Morrow.

They played a quote of Morrow's from a special broadcast of his See It Now program in 1954 in which he spoke out against Senator Joe Mccarthy. I thought it just as relevant now, including the line from Caesar:
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men ... who feared ... to defend causes which were unpopular .... The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay ... and whose fault is that? Not really his; he didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
That particular program won Murrow a Peabody. Must've taken some real intestinal fortitude to dedicate his whole show to the topic at the time. Apparently, it also heralded the end of the "Red Scare."

Like Teddy Told Us

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - Theodore Roosevelt

Quite possible I blogged this already, but . . . it's a good reminder.

Hitched to Everything Stock Value

Apparently, I come pretty cheap. (But I ain't easy.) Buy, buy, buy!

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Asimov Stirs in his Grave

In this Slate review, Chris Suellentrop confirms my fears about the new Will Smith vehicle I, Robot: namely, that it ignore's Isaac Asimov's kinder view towards robots. Instead, it takes the neo-Luddite run at things which must have the sci-fi master banging on his coffin lid. The whole idea that someone would make a movie called I, Robot and have it concern a bunch of evil robots trying to take over the world would give him fits.

The article also reminds us of Asimov's prodigious output as a writer: over 470 books by the time he died at 72 in '92. He also had at least on book in every one of the 10 classifications of the Dewey Decimal System.

Lego Spiderman

If you haven't seen Lego Spiderman already, it's really quite amazing. Looks like it was created to help advertise Spidey 2, and it shares some plot elements without creating any real spoilers. The flick was tons of fun if you haven't seen it.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Mini Review: House of Sand & Fog Soundtrack

I agree with many on Amazon who say that much of James Horner's music has sounded the same of late, but that this soundtrack is exceptional. Quiet, elegant, melancholy, moving: not words you'd use to describe a movie soundtrack, especially a wide-release flick like this, these days. I even agree that some of the pieces remind me of Henryk Gorecki. "The Waves of the Caspian Sea," for example, sounds remarkably like the Polish composer (and Gorecki is one of my favorites), to the point that I almost expect to see Gorecki's name in the credits. Themes from that piece recur throughout and also bring the disk to a close. Overall, truly haunting and beautiful.

What Kinda Ketchup You Got With Them Freedom Fries?

First "Freedom Fries" and now "W Ketchup"* to go with it. Are any Republicans embarrassed by this stuff?

I mean, if it were a joke, that'd be one thing, but these guys are serious!

Bush Country Ketchup is a competitor, and their spokesman points out though, W Ketchup is keeping 95% of profits and only giving the GOP 5%.

So, maybe we should just congratulate them for capitalism at it's finest.

Of course, most folks will probably just continue buying
Heinz ketchup, and the small market for alternative ketchup will just keep getting split up into increasingly small proportions by opportunistic Bushites.

By the way, Heinz has a prominent link on its homepage to information declaring itself publicly held and nonpartisan, and, above all, asserts that its "flagship ketchup is All-American." Furthermore,
Neither Teresa Heinz Kerry, Senator John Kerry nor any member of their family is involved in the management or board of the H.J. Heinz Company, the Heinz® Ketchup business or any of the company's other brands or products.
Of course, the folks buying "W Ketchup" probably aren't thinking of that. And the kind folks at "W Ketchup" ain't gonna tell 'em neither.

They do take care, though, to include a photo of Reagan (wearing a cowboy hat) on their site and to thank the recently deceased President "for his selfless service to this nation."

Aw, shucks.

They also include the following: "Choose Heinz and you're supporting Teresa and her husband's Gulfstream Jet, and liberal causes such as Kerry for President."

Dang, that's an outright lie, isn't it?!  Or I guess you could just call it "straight shootin'."

*They claim the "W" stands for "Washington."

Update: In the time it took to refresh my screen, the text about John Kerry's Gulfstream Jet had been edited off the page, though an allusion to it still appears in
the Comments area of the site. Guess all the scrutiny was getting to them. Nonetheless, Google's caching feature saves the day.


This recent Tom Tomorrow perfectly (albeit satirically) depicts the different ways Bush and Kerry are received. (See the larger version.)

For Kerry we hear, "Nuanced? That just means 'flip-flopper'" versus the excuses we hear for Bush: "Well, he's a straight shooter." Which covers a multitude of sins (and/or an awful lot of stupidity). 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Guess Who?

Which magazine declared that the Bush administration "alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through [its] arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity."

The Nation? The New Republic? The American Prospect? The Washington Monthly?

Which writer for that magazine explained
That's the reason we came into existence: to argue against a massive invasion of Iraq and to argue against, if you will, the neoconservative takeover--the hijacking of American foreign policy.
Kevin Drum? Matthew Yglesias? Robert Reich? Molly Ivins?

No, that would be The American Conservative and one of its founding editors: Patrick J. Buchanan

Topsy-turvy times, eh? (Except that Buchanan's always been known as a protectionist.)

(Via The New Yorker, July 12 & 19, 2004, p. 38, 39)

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


"Isn't that the ultimate homeland security? To defend the sanctity of marriage?" - Senator Rick Santorum.

Wow, Rick, so now gays are more of a threat to the United States than terrorists?

To quote Dick Cheney . . . .

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

Another Reason to Like John McCain

John McCain again proves he's the Republican who really deserves the "I'm a uniter, not a divider" mantle:
Many, if not most, Americans have reasoned that there is no overriding urgent need to act at this time. And they are right to do so. The legal definition of marriage has always been left to the states to decide, in accordance with the prevailing standards of their neighborhoods and communities. Certainly, that view has prevailed for many years in my party where we adhere to a rather stricter federalism than has always been the case in the prevailing views among our friends in the Democratic Party. Some fear that the decision in Massachusetts will ultimately result in the imposition of different views on marriage in communities where the traditional view of marriage is considered singular and sacred. But there really is insufficient reason presently to fear such a result.
(Via Andrew Sullivan)
Maybe McCain should run as an independent. He might be the one politician in the best position to do so.  

Friday, July 09, 2004

Finger Pointing

This--NYT News Analysis: Senate Report Does Little to Still Debate on C.I.A.'s Prewar Data--strikes me as obvious. Did the CIA come to the Bush administration and tell them that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States? I think not. Yet, this "It's the CIA's fault for the faulty WMD data" meme seems likely to take hold in the public consciousness. Let's hope not.

Let's not forget this: the Bush administration went to the CIA looking for reasons to go to war with Iraq. The evidence may've been inaccurate, but it's what they were pushing for. They wanted to justify a pre-emptive attack against Iraq. They wanted to finished a war that should've ended a decade before.

Cappuccino - Iranian Weekly Magazine

Can't hardly read a word of it, but this Iranian blog/online magazine features a simple, elegant design.

(Via Vagrantly, a fine photoblog itself)

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Surprise! (Take 1 & 2)

Take 1: Surprise! The Editors at National Review think Edwards a good choice for Veep and advise Republicans not to make too much of Edwards's career as a trial lawyer:
They should not overestimate the extent to which the public at large shares their dislike of trial lawyers. They make their money, after all, by telling sympathetic stories that win over ordinary people.
'Cos, you know, trial lawyers stick it to the man. I'd also advise conservatives not to make too much of Kerry and Edwards's deep pockets. 'Cos, er, Bush and Cheney are both filthy rich.

Take 2: Surprise! Kenneth Starr reviews Clinton's memoir My Life for the Wall Street Journal, but spends most of his review justifying his role in the Whitewater investigations. Ken, Ken, this is how you review a memoir.

Starr makes no specific mention of any passage in the book; neither does he quote a single word from it. Seems he's as bad a book reviewer as he is a prosecutor.

OK, technically, the piece is labeled an "article" and not a review, but still, if you're gonna write a 1031 word piece about a 1008 page book, shouldn't you refer to *something* specific in it?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Imagining Australia

As an expat, I'll hafta keep my eye on this collaborative Aussie blog. It's run by the authors of a new book called Imagining Australia: Ideas for our Future:David Madden, Macgregor Duncan, Andrew Leigh, and Peter Tynan. Looks like Madden's doing all the writing right now, though.

Hitched to Everything Radio Goes Live

this is an audio post - click to play

Hey, this audioblogger thing really works - and pretty well, too. Now, I can air whatever inane thoughts that come to mind as I tool around in my car.

Rush, Air America - watch out!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Those Unsullied Conservatives

National Review's John Derbyshire got a kick out of the little prank Kerry's team apparently played on the New York Post, but opines that
back of the smile, there is the dull, sad realisation that our people could never be so clever and devious. I get the same feeling about the War on Terror. Not only does the Devil have all the best tunes, he has the best tricks, too.

See, the problem with us conservatives is, we're too nice. Just don't know how to think dirty.
Ri-ight. This from the party of Nixon, Gingrich, and Rove. This from the party of redistricting. From the party whose members placed posters in Baltimore, Maryland telling black voters to vote on the wrong day. The party which excludes former felons--now qualified voter--from the voting. Whose members campaign for Nader to get him on the ballot in states where he wouldn't otherwise have a prayer.

Also today, Derbyshire, a homophobe of some note, highlights the fact that VP candidates are usually prettier than Presidential candidates. It's nice to know he's got an eye for such things. Wonder if he's the first to corner the Pretty Veep fetish?

Fortunately, elsewhere on National Review's The Corner today, Jonah Goldberg raises the discourse by suggesting that John Edwards wouldn't be running as VP if he weren't pretty:
His stump schtick plays well with the populist forces in the Democratic Party and he's pretty (no serious person I know thinks Edward would have ever gotten into politics if he'd been burnt by acid as a teenager).
So all this raises two questions: What is it with these tight-righties and pretty VP candidates? And isn't it a shame that William F. Buckley, the one writer at the National Review with any claim towards an intellect, has recently retired as editor in chief?

Shortly after announcing his retirement, Buckley confessed:
If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would have been in, I would have opposed the war. ... With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein was not the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration a year ago.
Too bad the rest of that lot in the corner aren't capable of the same intellectual honesty.

PDA Blogging

I realized recently that, technically, I can blog via my Sony CLIÉ by creating an email to send to my Blogger account, though I don't synch as often as I could/should, so entries might take a while to go up--and all this tapping is rather laborious!

Anyway, let's see how long it takes for this one to go up - 06/07/04 at 10:55.

(Update: Same-day post - Not too shabby!)

Kerry/Edwards (Duh.)

Kerry picks Edwards. The two Johns. You know Drudge ain't apologizing for pedaling rumors about a Kerry/Clinton ticket either.  And it's interesting to see Andy Sullivan apparently ecstatic at the selection.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Relativity in a Nutshell

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute - and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity." -- Albert Einstein

No Spin?

Behind the scenes at Fox News, Bill O'Reilly doesn't even *pretend* to be fair and balanced. He doesn't have to be, though, because anything which doesn't fit his agenda, as as his tirades, can be edited out. So, believe it or not, you're not seeing the man at his worst.

As the Washington Post reports, late last month, O'Reilly's show accidentally played a quote which said more than the host intended to. Apparently, O'Reilly had only planned to discuss part of the quote by 9/11 commission chairman Thomas Kean--the part which said "there were contacts between Iraq and Saddam Hussein, excuse me, al-Qaeda." Unfortunately, the other half of Kean's quote was played, too:
There is no evidence that we can find whatsoever that Iraq or Saddam Hussein participated in any way in attacks on the United States -- in other words, on 9/11.
It was played, yes, but the whole quote never made it to air on Fox News because O'Reilly complained that it was the wrong quote and retaped his commentary.

By all appearances, Bill O'Reilly wanted to use Kean's legitmate authority to rag against the New York Times' contention that there were no links between Iraq and al Qaeda, but he didn't want the same quote to be aired by that dignitary if the whole thing undermined the Iraq-was-involved-in-911 meme. So he trashed the soundbite and paraphrased the part of Kean's quote that he wanted to use. He selectively edited the quote to push his thesis.

Later on the show, O'Reilly interviewed Georgetown law professor David Cole who called him on the edit. Since the "The O'Reilly Factor" edited out Cole's confrontation, viewers had no idea that his charge was leveled or how O'Reilly reacted to it. All viewers saw was O'Reilly saying, "We make mistakes because we bring in people who are trying to cause trouble. I thought he was a rational person." So O'Reilly can pretend the segment was edited because of something inappropriate the guest did. And he can sound apologetic about it.

The response no one saw: O'Reilly called the Cole an SOB and kicked him off the show mid-interview and told him he wouldn't be invited back.

Bad guest then? No, just O'Reilly getting called on his own spin. And apparently, one of the rules of O'Reilly's No Spin Zone is never call the host on his own spin.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Greatest President from Texas Ever?

I'm talking, of course, about Lyndon Johnson, who signed the Civil Rights Act into being 40 years ago today. The bill demanded equal rights in voting, education, public accommodations, union membership, and federally assisted programs, regardless of an individual's race, color, religion or national origin. Suddenly, minorities could no longer be told which bars and clubs and restaurants they could attend, which water fountains they could drink from.  Furthermore, in one fell swoop, the bill Johnson had pushed so hard for gave racial minorities and women the right to apply for any job, effectively ending legal discrimination in employment based on race or gender.

The bill's effects were sweeping. At the time, Roy Wilkins, secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People called it "the Magna Carta of human rights." It's certainly the most significant piece of legislation in our nation's history.

In stark contrast, our current President, also from Texas, would like to be the first President to sign an amendment to the Constitution, which would encourage discrimination against an entire segment of the United States population.

Of course, aside from the fact that they both hail from Texas, Johnson and Bush do have another thing in common: they both lead us into ill-conceived wars during their administrations.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

David Leeson

Photo of an exhausted soldier in Iraq by David Leeson of The Dallas Morning News. His site includes striking photos of soliders and civilians alike and two documentaries: "Dust to Dust," his account of being an embedded photojournalist during the invasion of Iraq and "War Stories" which portrays Belo Corporation journalists covering the war in Iraq.