Friday, October 29, 2004

More Political Intolerance: Tech Support reports that two of his co-workers, both Kerry supporters, have been subject to harrassment. One incident involved his friend driving his car with a Kerry bumpersticker and having a "big black pick up truck" with a 'W' sticker on it come up behind him, pass him, and slam on the breaks in front of him.

The other co-worker says someone dumped garbage on his lawn after he put up a Kerry yard sign.

Both are looking forward to the end of the election.
Posted OCT 29 2004, 9:08 AM CDT (link here)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

More violence:

An 18-year-old Marine recruit remained in jail on Wednesday, charged with threatening to stab his girlfriend over her choice for president, news partner NewsChannel 5 reported in its noon broadcast.

The enlistee, Steven Scott Soper, of Lake Worth, became enraged Tuesday night when his 18-year-old girlfriend said she was leaving him -- and voting for John Kerry for president.

Posted OCT 28 2004, 11:58 AM CDT (link here)
The AP is reporting (subscription required) that

A group calling itself Al-Islam's Army Brigades, Al-Karar Brigade, claimed "heroic mujahedeen have managed by the grace of God and by coordinating with a ... number of the officers and the soldiers of the American intelligence to obtain a very huge amount of the explosives that were in the al-Qaqaa facility, which was under the protection of the American forces." The group's claim couldn't be independently verified.

and that,

Russia angrily denied allegations Thursday that Russian forces had smuggled a cache of high explosives out of Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Sedov dismissed the allegations as "absurd" and "ridiculous."

Posted OCT 28 2004, 8:48 AM CDT (link here)
Al QaQaa update:

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.

And there's more from the Washington Times (whose page won't load right now, so I'll quote from Roger Simon's page:

the explosives were "almost certainly" moved before the war (logical, isn't it?) and that Russian intelligence helped Saddam do it.

Media criticism is fun and healthy. I encourage it for everyone.

BTW, I'm up becaue Miss E. was up at 3 with a stomach ache and Snort was up at 4 with hunger pangs and a runny nose. But I'll give more shut eye one more try.
Posted OCT 28 2004, 4:28 AM CDT (link here)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Regarding intolerance, for instance:

According to the below Sarasota Police Department report, Barry Seltzer, 46, told cops that he was simply exercising his "political expression" when he drove his car at Harris and several supporters, who were campaigning last night at a Sarasota intersection.

Posted OCT 27 2004, 6:22 PM CDT (link here)
Gay marriage update at the NYT's:

He [President Bush] added: "I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others."

Mr. Gibson then asked, "So the Republican platform on that point, as far as you're concerned, is wrong?"

"Right," Mr. Bush replied.

Emphasis added. The story notes he would not have supported such a law in Texas.

Huh. Kerry was right. They do have the same position.
Posted OCT 27 2004, 4:47 PM CDT (link here)
Slate reporter goes into Bush territory in a Kerry-Edwards t-shirt:

In my Kerry-Edwards shirt, I enter Red America certain that I am on the verge of inciting to rage a gang of angry yachtsmen who would soon be strapping me and my lefty leisurewear to their mizzenmast. Instead, I encounter only shades of indifference—head shaking, "crazy idiot" expressions from older, very wealthy, very white folks in Newport Beach; terse nods from the middle- to working-class citizens of Bakersfield, which seem to indicate that people here have much bigger things to worry about than whatever is on my stupid T-shirt.

then Kerry territory in a Bush-Cheney t-shirt:

my T-shirt first makes contact with the locals as the server, a rather prim-looking Asian-American man, double-takes at my unabashedly partisan display, his smile freezing into a look I can only describe as bracing for me to pull out an assault weapon and open fire...

A fashionably dressed woman seated at a sidewalk table makes a disgusted face at the sight of me. On line at Psychobabble coffee house, another woman in a blue velour tracksuit rolls her eyes and grimaces at me with undisguised hatred. Realizing there are no seats but the one next to me, she stares intently into her cup, avoiding my polluting glance, until another table opens and she quickly relocates. Out on the avenue once again, I am gifted with my second "Asshole" of the day, this time muttered by a young man with bright dyed raspberry hair...

Dining nearby is a young girl who looks to be about 6 years old; she gazes at my shirt with a look so forlorn, I expect to learn that Dick Cheney just stole her crayons. Her mother arrives and gives her a hug of consolation. The girl starts to talk, but I can only make out "Bush shirt," which she says to her mother as she points my way. The mother turns and glares, shaking her head at me. I start to wonder what sort of person I am to inflict this on a poor child.

This reminds me a little bit of the college Republican who got in trouble for hanging a flyer in a student room inviting students to hear a conservative black author speak. A group of black students took offense, cried racism and brought him before the dean where he was asked to apologize or be expelled. I read about it at Critical Mass. I don't know how it turned out because I stopped reading Critical Mass. Too depressing.

It also reminds me of the time a few weeks ago at the gym when my trainer asked me to tell his other client that I was voting for Bush. Her name is Kiersten and he thought we had a lot in common so he'd introduced us before, but he was tired of her Bush-bashing and knew I was a news junkie and Bush supporter. Her eyes glazed over and she shook her head and twice told me how disappointed she was. I peppered her with questions regarding UNSCAM and Kerry's voting record. She revealed almost complete ignorance on both matters. Then, she told me her disappointment was "nothing personal."

Reasonable people can disagree, but incivility and violence are not reasonable, just sad and intolerant.

I haven't read a lot of stories in which lefties are scowled at or victimized--though a good 30 to 40 percent of my blog reading is from anti-Bush bloggers. I suppose it happens to them too. I certainly hope not. A few days ago, I watched a video of a middle-aged Kerry supporter slugging a twenty-something Bush supporter simply for standing behind him with a Bush-Cheney sign. (If I find the video, I'll post a link.) I have read in my local paper that both Kerry yard signs and Bush yard signs are being stolen.

Well, the election will be over soon, and once the (mostly) frivolous lawsuits are over, hopefully people will put their partisanship back on simmer, and keep it from boiling another four years.

Posted OCT 27 2004, 4:40 PM CDT (link here)
Somewhat apropos of yesterday's final thought regarding the missing 35 tons of highly explosive weapon, that the IAEA noted was missing from Al QaQaa in 2002, in 1995 Charles Duelfer asked the UN "to demolish powerful plastic explosives in a facility that Iraq's interim government said this month was looted due to poor security." But, "Instead of accepting recommendations to destroy the stocks, Mr. Duelfer said, the atomic-energy agency opted to continue to monitor them."

[Update: Fox News is reporting that IAEA confimed the RDX, etc. was in Al QaQaa in March, 2003]

Well, that's three years before inspectors were kicked out and seven before they were let back into to note the missing 35 tons, and nine years before all 280 of them went missing.

By now you know that both 60 Minutes and the NYT's were working on this story, with 60 Minutes hoping to air it two nights before the election. [Is that enough time for an administration rebuttal?-ed. Dunno.] Turns out, CBS had the story April 3, 2003. (Hat tip to Captain's Quarter's) That is, they had the story before an NBC crew went to Al QaQaa on April 10.

Question: what is the process of putting a news story together? When a newspaper or network works on a story that is going to make the government look bad, do they involve them in the process of the story? Or do they wait and let them comment/rebutt in the follow-up story? The original NYT's story quotes--I believe its their only named government source:

A Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said Sunday evening that Saddam Hussein's government "stored weapons in mosques, schools, hospitals and countless other locations," and that the allied forces "have discovered and destroyed perhaps thousands of tons of ordnance of all types." A senior military official noted that HMX and RDX were "available around the world" and not on the nuclear nonproliferation list, even though they are used in the nuclear warheads of many nations.

Emphasis added. Sunday evening. The story was published on Monday. Did they call him Friday and he didn't get back to them until Sunday? My guess is they called him Sunday and that was his best answer at the time. I guess that because the day the story broke, Monday, the administration had some better answers, which were published the next day.It took bloggers less than a day to either Google or scan Nexis for articles on Al QaQaa to find that the weapons in question weren't there when the 3rd Infantry Division showed up on April 10. Now we know from CBS, they weren't there as early as April 3. These tools are available to reporters at the NYT's. Why didn't they use them?
Posted OCT 27 2004, 3:38 PM CDT (link here)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Good grief. I don't get to the NYT's very often anymore, but I did yesterday in time to read the demoralizing news that the US. had lost 380 tons of dangerous explosives by not being on the job in Iraq at Al Qaqaa. Something stuck in my head though, as Tech Support and I discussed the story later that evening. It was this, on page 3 of the story:

"A senior Bush administration official said that during the initial race to Baghdad, American forces 'went through the bunkers, but saw no materials bearing the I.A.E.A. seal.' It is unclear whether troops ever returned."

It stuck with me for two reasons--it rebutts the entire article (one sentence--please don't elaborate!) and the rebuttal is on page three.

Today the blogosphere is crying foul.

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of 380 tons of powerful explosives from a storage depot in Iraq has taken a new twist, after a television news crew embedded with the U.S. military during the invasion of Iraq reported that the material could not be found when American troops arrived.

NBC News reported that on April 10, 2003, its crew was embedded with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division when troops arrived at the Al Qaqaa storage facility south of Baghdad.

(Bold in the original.) So what's with the New York Times? Was the story really a partisan hit job one week from the election? With the emails I get from the Kerry campaign, you might think so.

Subject Line: "Incompetence

This morning, The New York Times published a story that offers further proof of how the Bush administration's incompetence and arrogance has endangered the lives of our troops and the American people..."

Today, the Times is reporting that their story has become a hot potato of the campaign:

The White House sought on Monday to explain the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq that American forces were supposed to secure, as Senator John Kerry seized on the missing cache as "one of the great blunders of Iraq" and said President Bush's "incredible incompetence" had put American troops at risk.

Later in the same story ...

...the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, took the unusual step on Monday of writing to the United Nations Security Council to report that the explosives were gone. He usually sends a report every six months, and his last was just a few weeks ago.

"He doesn't do that to report trivia," a European diplomat familiar with Dr. ElBaradei's views said. "It's something that is considered grave."

But over at NRO's Corner, a government "source" gives this account:

“The Iraqi explosives story is a fraud. These weapons were not there when US troops went to this site in 2003. The IAEA and its head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, leaked a false letter on this issue to the media to embarrass the Bush administration. The US is trying to deny El Baradei a second term and we have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.”

It is chilling thinking of the HMX and RDX in the wrong hands, but it's comforting to know that, as the Times quoted and administration official, at last, today, that,

"...'more than 243,000 tons of munitions" that had been destroyed since the invasion. "Coalition forces have cleared and reviewed a total of 10,033 caches of munitions; another 163,000 tons of munitions have been secured and are on line to be destroyed'..."

The Times editorialists rail,

James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger reported in The Times yesterday that some 380 tons of the kinds of powerful explosives used to destroy airplanes, demolish buildings, make missile warheads and trigger nuclear weapons have disappeared from one of the many places in Iraq that the United States failed to secure. The United Nations inspectors disdained by the Bush administration had managed to monitor the explosives for years. But they vanished soon after the United States took over the job.

Emphasis added. Now, they didn't need to secure Al Qaqaa since there weren't any dangeous weapons there. But let's broaden what I'd guess the Times editors would then say--the weapons were probably lost or looted during the run-up to the war, and if we hadn't actually invaded, they would have stayed there and could have been monitored by the IAEA.

But we don't know that either. In fact, in one of the above Times articles, they note when IAEA inspectors returned in 2002, 35 tons of the weapons in question were missing--having been used, the Iraqis claimed, for harmless domestic purposes. No elaboration from the Times on that note.

Posted OCT 26 2004, 3:34 PM CDT (link here)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Let me try to be as honest here as I possibly can. When I was a flight attendant, a lot of women I worked with took offense at being called a "stewardess." They felt it evoked the image of a twenty-year-old floozy in a mini-skirt gazing at you from the television set saying, "fly me," in a velvety Gennifer Tilley voice. Me? I didn't care. People who called me stewardess were usually seniors who'd been brought up with that term and they used it to get the attention of a woman they quite rightly assumed would bring them peanuts and a drink.

I also take no offense to being called housewife for the same reasons. No, no, not because you can assume I'll bring you a drink. Of course any guest in my house is offered a drink--as long as they're polite. I take no offense because people of a certain age were brought up with that word to describe a woman who is married, does not work for pay and (for most housewives) takes care of the children. Personally, I think the word isn't as denotative as the term "stay-at-home mom." I'm not married to the house afterall, and my purpose for staying home is not for its care, though that is, as the old waitress in me likes to say, part of my sidework. The problem with the term "stay-at-home mom" or "stay-at-home parent" is that it is bulky and awkward to say, but I say it anyway because of the above.

So when a billionairess of a certain age refers to stay-at-home moms as not having a "real job," the first thing that comes to mind is this far into the campaign and she hasn't figured out yet how to speak to the press? And then I think people used to refer to paying jobs as real jobs. At least, I assume they did back in the day when women migrating into the workforce was a novel idea. (Incidentally, I heard from a professor at Columbia it was never a novel idea, but that's a different and no doubt more important story). That's the best I can give her--that she was using the lingo she was brought up with.

Still, the term festers. But wait, you say! She herself was a stay-at-home mom during that same period of time when other women were leaping from the house into the paying world. Yes, well, being a stay-at-home billionairess mom who can afford babysitters is a wee bit different than one who can hire a babysitter once every--oh, six weeks or so. (Really, six bucks an hour these days. Multiply that times three hours times four times a month times 12 months and you see what I mean.)

And yet, a woman who calls herself a "witch" when it came to monitoring her children's television viewing habits could only have been one by spending lots of time with them. But what does any of this matter? Oh yes, I remember the argument--since she has been a stay-at-home mom and still refers to it as not a "real job" then at best we can assume she's using old language, at worst, even after doing the work, she doesn't consider it real.

But I'm not here to look in the window of THK's life--she seems like a kooky, eccentric woman--the kind I wouldn't mind being personal assistant to, the kind that would admire my pluck when I told her she shouldn't say being a stay-at-home mom isn't a real job.

Yesterday was a particularly tough day for me, and reading her comments put the salt in my coffee. I admit to being a wee bit sensitive, but I haven't met a mom of young children who isn't, who doesn't feel like she should wear her decision to work or stay home on her sleeve, ready at any moment to defend should someone look at her crosseyed, or worse down their nose, or worse, smirk when she says she has to mop the floor before the playdate arrives.

And then THK quite thoughtfully apologized. She forgot that LB was once a librarian and school teacher. There's nothing offensive about forgetting someone used to have a job outside the home. It's nice to apologize, and I think it's as easily nice to recieve it graciously. Oh, no, no--I understand completely. We've hardly met, etc. But her forgetfulness of LB's "real job" was not really worth an apology--a clarification, sure. Someone in the campaign probably put her up to it, and that someone or someone else, in the party that gets votes by being sensitive, MUST have brought up the "real job" gaffe. Someone must have, mustn't they have? Someone must have mentioned to her that many Gen X women are going back home from the workforce to rear their children. No? Perhaps not.

Well, no matter. A candidate is his policies afterall, not his wife, whom on this day--this better day--I feel no differently about than two days ago.

Update: Well, I've screwed up dinner because of this post! Perhaps we'll have Friday-night-out tonight. Alas, no babysiter.
Posted OCT 21 2004, 5:13 PM CDT (link here)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Well, I've finally found Gregg Easterbrook, via Andrew Sullivan--he's at the NFL. This one's for you, Kenny.

Apropos TMQ's item on the death of deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, Kevin Pugh, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Toledo, imagines this postmodern football encounter:

Coach: How could you throw that crazy pass? Didn't you see the safety?

Quarterback: I did see the safety, but then I thought, how do I know the safety really exists? My eyes perceive a safety and he seems to be covering the receiver, but this might only be from my frame of reference. Someone in the stands might perceive the safety to be covering another receiver, or no one at all. Who am I to say that my perception is correct and theirs is wrong? Then I thought, maybe the safety does exist! But the taboo against throwing into double coverage is just an oppressive ideology used by the dominant hegemony to maintain the imperialist power structure. So you see, I had to make the throw in order to liberate myself.

Full disclosure: I had not heard of Derrida until yesterday.
Posted OCT 20 2004, 3:26 PM CDT (link here)
Quite the bad day for me to read this:

Q: You'd be different from Laura Bush?

A: Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things. And I'm older, and my validation of what I do and what I believe and my experience is a little bit bigger — because I'm older, and I've had different experiences. And it's not a criticism of her. It's just, you know, what life is about.

Italics mine. I became a stay-at-home mom at the age of ...32 or 33, can't precisely remember at this moment. I have bussed tables, waited tables, sacked groceries, scanned groceries, cold call outdoor and indoor sales, managed dining services on an airline, served as a flight attendant, receptionist, secretary, account executive, editorial assistant--just off the top of my head. The unreal job Mrs. Heinz Kerry speaks of--stay-at-home motherhood--is without a doubt the hardest job I've ever had in creativity, patience, physical work, oh, and a host of other things I have neither the time nor the energy to post here.

Bah. One of those days. (Hat tip: Roger Simon).
Posted OCT 20 2004, 2:36 PM CDT (link here)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Why I like Instapundit:

But it's not as if I pretend not to have opinions. I think that Oliver mistakes a reluctance to engage in name-calling with a facade of above-the-fray I-have-no-opinions "nonpartisanship." But in fact, it's possible to have opinions, even strong ones, and to express them in a non-abusive fashion.

But also I like him because when he does make a strong statement--i.e., Bush is a ( )or Kerry is a ( )--he links back to himself where he'd made the prior argument supporting his current premise. I don't usually need the links because I read him frequently, but when I go to a new blog, esp. an anti-Bush blog, looking for a way to challenge my notions on the election, and he/she doesn't link back to him/herself, they come off looking like they're making wild assertions (maybe they are) instead of building arguments. I'm looking for anti-Bush bloggers with strong linking, minimal or no name-calling and no abusiveness.

Okay, Daily Howler links real well and I haven't noted a lot of abuse, except when aimed at the media, but I don't think the public is as naive as The Daily Howler does. Josh Marshall is angry and Matthew Yglesias doesn't link well.

Posted OCT 19 2004, 8:52 AM CDT (link here)

Friday, October 15, 2004

Very quickly--Lileks:

What really sticks out is the idea that the Cheneys speak from shame. Because, you know, if you’re a Republican and your child is gay you are ASHAMED, just as Democrats are ASHAMED when their children join the Army. Right? Can’t possibly be proud of them, because all Dems are commie-lib traitors, just as all Republicans are homophobes who throw a blanket over the TV every time a rerun of “Ellen” pops up on Oxygen.

What nuance. What elegant understanding of the human heart.
Posted OCT 15 2004, 10:39 AM CDT (link here)
Weekend getaway to woodsy lake check list: Husband has day off? Yes. List of required foods coordinated with friends? Checked off. Baby? Hungry. Clothes? Not packed, but mentally organized. Two Hello Kitty flashlights (for ages 4 and up, but I think our three-year-olds can handle)? Purchased. Scull? Ready to be de-spidered and affixed to the car. Miss E.? Excited, giddy, giggly and has a fever of 102.6.

WHAT?

Now what?

A phone call to freinds. We dance around the selfish fact that we both really want to go anyway. No, no, no. I don't think my daughter will pick it up. She's picked it all up at daycare. I think my daughter will do fine even with the fever--she had one a month ago, but no other symptoms. She played during its three-day lifespan. Well, then. Yes, well. Tell you what. I'll call you in the morning. If she's the same, or even better, we'll proceed, unless you change your mind. I don't want to infect your family. Call me in the morning. Will do.

Here we are. The magic hour awaits. How does she feel this morning? So much depends on my sweet little ball of fire. Update later today or Sunday afternoon.
Posted OCT 15 2004, 7:37 AM CDT (link here)
Here's a good rundown on the arguments surrounding the Federal Marriage Amendment. It's the second clause which can be construed to withhold equal protection under the law. In fact, here it is:

[1.] Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.
[2.] Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
Cato has the federalist argument against.
Posted OCT 15 2004, 7:20 AM CDT (link here)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Well, the whole is-it-gay-baiting-or-is-it-not argument is being battled out in the blogosphere by better bloggers [or maybe those with just more time?-ed.] than I. Sullivan is carrying water for Kerry, but he loses me when he writes,

"The only way you can believe that citing Mary Cheney amounts to "victimization" is if you believe someone's sexual orientation is something shameful. Well, it isn't. What's revealing is that this truly does expose the homophobia of so many - even in the mildest "we'll-tolerate-you-but-shut-up-and-don't-complain" form.

Not true. If you thought or suspected someone might be injured because of who and what they are, advertising them in a national debate could alert or feed the bad guys who might wish to do injury. Injury here being anything from cold shoulder to Mathew Shepard. I don't think Kerry or Edwards wishes injury upon Mary Cheney, just her dad in lack of votes.

I don't know--I'm just terribly squeamish about bringing candidate's children into the public conversation. Yes, she's an adult; yes, she's out; yes, she's on Cheney's campaign staff, but so is Kerry's daughter Alexandra. Now, is her dress at Cannes fair game--as MaryBeth Cahill might put it--for a family values debate? I don't think so, but family values is an issue and some people might be worried that a White House pre-school tour might bump into her while she's running about in the altogether, I mean, dress. PS I think she looks great in it. PPS Sullivan's right. In the best of all possible worlds, it would be no big deal to talk about someone's homosexuality, but it's not the best of all possible worlds, and I don't think it's right for Sullivan to label people homophobes because they object to singling out candidates' children in a debate .
Posted OCT 14 2004, 5:09 PM CDT (link here)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Warning: no editing below: I put in a 45 minute video so I could do a little housework, and here am I nosing around the blogosphere.

Not much time as floors and bathrooms wait, so I'm writing on page. Trip to South Texas was great, except my body finally caved into pressure and picked up a 24-hour something that came with dizzying cries for sleep and a chatter-reducing throat, but it passed by the afternoon of day two.

Despite getting up early to leave and not sleeping the six-hour drive, Miss E. did great! She was admirably well-behaved and only lost control of life once before bedtime upon not seeing a couple of books she'd just laid down. Crisis in pre-schoolville. I'm NOT tired!, etc.

We stopped in Salado to nose around the gift shops and antique stores, saw a few things that came close to what we want in a wall clock and fireplace screen, but not close enough. So I bought a few postcards, some silver earrings (75% off!) and a cookbook called Quickies in the Kitchen. Thirty-minute meals call out to me. Alas, upon further scrutiny after the purchase there are too many recipes with ground beef. Ah, well.

Salado is old and old looking. They clearly built the town around the trees instead of knocking them down first and planting them later as we do in suburban exile. I asked the clerk at the postcard store about business. She said it's busy all the time, but especially on weekends. She grew up in Salado, when it was a town of 700, now she thinks, maybe it's 7000. Fifty miles north of Austin on I-35, it reminds me of Austin with its woodsy feel, historic houses and a creek running through. It beckons suburbanites to shop and browse with cheap knick-knacks and cards and such, but probably makes the rent on the occasional piece of furniture sold.

Autumn had arrived, so we walked in 78 degree weather. That's summer to some of you yanks I know, but for us 78 degrees means it's time to pull out sweaters to sweat in. Everybody, including those of us in the hot South, loves fall fashion.

Next trip down, I've promised myself to take pictures of every church in the small towns we pass. Tech Support asked what my criteria was: Does it have to have a population of less than 4000? Does it have to be fully visible from the road we're on? Does it have to be old? Sheesh. I'm already deflated. My response: the criteria is when I say, "Stop! Stop! Stop! I want to get a shot of this!"

Good man, he. Well, I'm supposed to be lifting the layer of dust that covered the house last week when we did some sanding, so we could paint the bathroom. That and mopping and sweeping. Perhaps I'll get out of my pajamas first. See you later, alligator.
Posted OCT 12 2004, 12:03 PM CDT (link here)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Kerry...

"The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position."

...which is why gay marriage is a non-issue for me this election. I haven't heard an argument yet to persuade me that gays should not be allowed marriage. Kerry is anti-gay marriage, but thinks it should be decided upon in each state; Bush thinks there ought to be a federal law prohibiting gay marriage. But that bill's not going to pass, so he can push the idea as a hat tip to the religious right secure in knowing it won't happen. Kerry can't be so sure about that. To my knowledge, both candidates agree gay couples deserve equal protection under the law, but passing the gay-marriage bans one state at a time could deny domestic partners those protections. Fortunately, the judiciary is on the job. Hat tip: Ann Althouse.
Posted OCT 7 2004, 3:28 PM CDT (link here)
Bystander and Kausfiles--(scroll to Wednesday post) thinking along the same line-- echoes my concern:

More debate folo: Alert reader S.H. clues me in on the obvious purpose of Edwards' creepy 'congratulations on your gay daughter' ploy: it was "a very thinly disguised way of letting Reagan Democrats (and other conservative-leaning members of the electorate) know that Cheney has a lesbian daughter." In other words, a cynical, premeditated appeal to prejudice. You can say it's an appeal to prejudice that's justly deserved, because it turns the Republicans' bigotry against them. But that assumes opposition to gay marriage is now the same thing as general prejudice against gays. Edwards was playing to the latter, uglier sentiment. It's still creepy. ... Just his cold confidence that he could pull the trick off without seeming evil (indeed, while pretending to be friendly) is creepy. ...

And if you're not following the UN oil-for-for-money-in-your-Yves Saint Laurent-pocket (and why would you? the US press isn't really covering it), then check out Instapundit!

More news via Roger Simon:

Benon Sevan, the former chief of the U.N. program, is among dozens of people who allegedly received the vouchers, according to the report, which said Saddam personally approved the list.

The secret voucher program was dominated by Russian, French and Chinese recipients, in that order, with Saddam spreading the wealth widely to prominent business men, politicians, foreign government ministries and political parties, the report said.
Posted OCT 7 2004, 9:09 AM CDT (link here)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Alack! More Pat Act Flack: The story:
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero found in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of an unidentified Internet service provider challenging the FBI's use of a type of administrative subpoena known as a national security letter. Such letters do not require court approval and prohibit targeted companies from revealing that the demands were ever made.

Marrero, whose court is in the Southern District of New York, ruled that the provision in the Patriot Act allowing such letters "effectively bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge" and violates free-speech rights by imposing permanent silence on targeted companies. Writing that "democracy abhors undue secrecy," Marrero ruled that "an unlimited government warrant to conceal . . . has no place in our open society."

The correction:
A Sept. 30 article said that a federal judge in New York found a key component of the USA Patriot Act unconstitutional. At issue in the case was the Justice Department's use of "national security letters," a type of administrative subpoena that allows federal agents to demand records from businesses and prohibits the companies from revealing that the demands were made. While the Patriot Act loosened restrictions on the use of the letters, most of U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero's ruling focused on earlier statutes governing the letters.

The editorialists say (subscription required):
If reporters had bothered to read Judge Victor Marrero's decision, they would have learned that the law he actually struck down was a provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Section 2709 authorizes the FBI to issue "National Security Letters" to obtain information from wire communications companies about their subscribers. NSLs are issued secretly and the recipient is prohibited from notifying anyone about the request.

Note
: the correction and editorial came out on the same day.
Posted OCT 2 2004, 9:36 AM CDT (link here)
I've updated the post on CBS below.
Posted OCT 2 2004, 7:33 AM CDT (link here)

Friday, October 01, 2004

There's a fascinating anatomy of a TV news story over at INDC Journal. CBS aired another controversial story--this one about a secret administration scheme to reinstate the draft. Apparently, they built the story on used emails circulating the internet, emails that had been de-bunked, but CBS did not include the de-bunking part, nor did they care to mention that the character--a worried mother with two draft-age sons--around which they built their story is "chapter president for an advocacy group called People Against the Draft, that seems to have a clearly anti-war position."

Bill at INDC interviews the CBS reporter and producer who worked on the story and they counter that the woman in question is a Republican and that even though the emails were hoaxes, that doesn't mean people aren't worried about the draft. Whatever you think of the story, take a look at how they put it together. I"ll run a few quotes:

Reporter Schlesinger: When we put the story together, I went looking for a Republican. We worked backwards from the e-mail, that’s how we found her. She told me that she was going to vote for Bush, though she said she may flip-flop."

Producer Karas: "The truth of the e-mails were absolutely irrelevant to the piece, because all the story said was that people were worried. It’s a story about human beings that are afraid of the draft. We did not say that this (e-mail) was true, it’s just circulating. We are not verifying the e-mail."

INDC:
"But what about Ms. Cocco? What about her affiliation with this group, People Against the Draft, that has an explicit goal of enacting a 'peaceful, rational foreign policy' that wants to bring U.S. troops out of Iraq?"

Karas: "I know that she’s affiliated with the group, and what her views are on the draft, and that’s what I was interested in. I was looking for a character that has a personal story that might be affected by the issue. And to be honest, I was looking for a Republican. I e-mailed several groups that deal with this issue, and she was the woman who responded that fit the profile and was the most interesting voice, because this is a woman with two sons ... and she is concerned about the issue. If I had some rampant leftist on there, what would you say?"

Emphasis added. You understand now, reader, that a.) just because CBS didn't give you the entire truth of the memos, it's not their fault if you misunderstand them and b.) this story was written before they actually met any of the characters, indeed really knew they existed. This is standard stuff in the journalism world, and it probably works most of the time. You can look for and find a representative person for the context of a good, sound story, but sometimes the stories are hatched out of reporters' fears, biases, etc., and the characters for their pieces are representative of only that.

Update: I've added a clarification in the text above. I don't know that CBC "built" the story around the emails, though from the interview, it sounds like that's where they got their idea for the story. I also think they should have pointed out that People Against the Draft takes an anti-war position, but they did point out that both candidates have anti-draft positions. But I'm not at all fired up about this story and some of the things they did or didn't leave out. As I wrote to a reader I simply find the process of putting the story together, that is, writing it before they actually find a character, is fascinating. As a student at Columbia's Journalism School, I certainly did the same thing myself.
Posted OCT 1 2004, 10:37 AM CDT (link here)