The Bush Song

In honor of a comment to an earlier post...
I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay
I sleep all night and I work all day
He's a lumberjack and he's okay
He sleeps all night and he works all day

/ G - CE7 Am7 / D D7 GC G / :

I cut down trees, I eat my lunch
I go to the lavat'ry
On Wednesdays I go shopping
And have buttered scones for tea
He cuts down trees...
He's a lumberjack...

/ G - C Am7 / D D7 G - / G - C A7 / D7 - GC G /

I cut down trees, I skip and jump
I love to press wild flow'rs
I put on women's clothing
And hang around in bars
He cuts down trees...
He's a lumberjack...

I cut down trees, I wear high heels
Suspendies and a bra
I wish I'd been a girlie
Just like my dear papa
He cuts down trees...
He's a lumberjack...

Draft Story Everyone Should Read and Pass Along!

Instead of describing and excerpting, I'm asking you all to just go read this. Daily Kos :: KOS MEMBER GETS SECRET FOI DOC ON DRAFT! POSTED ON ROCK THE VOTE BLOG!!


Two Days With No Limbaugh

I have had an interesting thought. The debate being on a Friday night means that the public is going to have two straight days to digest what they saw without the benefit of three hours a day of Rush Limbaugh telling them what they saw.

I'm not making a joke. You should not underestimate the effect of Limbaugh and the rest of right-wing radio on large segments of the country, with a resulting bleed-over to the rest of the country.

Earlier tonite I thought we might see a one or two point shift toward Kerry from this debate. Now I think we will see a larger shift over to Kerry than we might have seen had this debate been on another day of the week.

Local Report

Chuck Currie has a Report From St. Louis On The Debate & Kerry Rally.

Democratic Congress

Give President Kerry a Democratic Congress! Click the Campaign for a Democratic Majority icon on the left, or here, and send some bucks to help elect Democrats to the Congress!


Bush sure whines a lot, doesn't he?

And at the end, he was shaking hands, and he refused to shake the hand of a woman who had asked Kerry a favorable question.

Bush Blew It - 15,000 French Troops

Based on a mention at American Street, I tracked down this. Book: Dispute kept France out of Iraq:
"French President Jacques Chirac considered committing up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq until a dispute over U.N. support scuttled prospects for cooperation, according to a new book.

[. . .] The book maintains that Chirac ruled out sending troops because of a seemingly clear intent in the U.S. administration to attack Saddam Hussein's regime without support from the U.N. Security Council.

At the time, France pressed for renewed efforts by U.N. weapons inspectors to disarm Iraq. Chirac became a leading advocate for a peaceful resolution to the threat posed by Saddam.

[. . .] In one of its most significant allegations, the book says French Gen. Jean-Patrick Gaviard was sent to Washington on Dec. 16, 2002, to offer 10,000 to 15,000 troops, plus military planes and other equipment for an Iraq invasion, on the condition that U.N. inspectors were allowed to continue their work."
Imagine the different world today, if only Bush had only cooperated with the world...

How The Election Will Work

Go try out the Florida Election Ballot.

What's Up With Bush's Health?

Through t a c i t u s, this story: Bush postpones election-year doctor's visit,
After undergoing his annual medical check-up in August 2001, 2002 and 2003, US President George W. Bush has put the procedure off this year until after the November 2 election, his spokesman said.
Now, I'm not going to put too much on this, but remember when the Republicans were making a huge thing out of Clinton's medical records? They made it into a big national scandal!

So what's up with Bush lately? He is acting pretty strange, making wild and sometimes incoherent statements. He has been falling down and injuring himself a lot. And now he is skipping his physical until after the election. Should we be concerned? Remember the suspicious circumstances surrounding the last time he skipped physical? And, by the way, aren't ALL employees at the White House required to take drug tests? Is it LEGAL for him to just skip this physical?

On the subject of health at the top, what's up with the silent treatment on Bush's selection of a guy with a very bad heart to be his VP candidate? Shouldn't this be a big election issue?


Randi Rhodes just said that Bush has more ties to bin Laden than Saddam Husein ever had.

I Like It

I like the new ad, over in the right column, "Tell Ralph Nader to Send Back the Dirty Swift Boat Money!"

Draft Poll

Poll: Youth Tie Bush, Draft Reinstatement:
"The National Annenberg Election Survey found that 51 percent of adults age 18 to 29 believe Bush wants to reinstate the draft. Eight percent said Kerry supports bring back the draft, and 7 percent said both want to. A fourth of those polled said neither candidate favors the idea."
It's not about who WANTS a draft. It's about WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH TROOPS and will HAVE TO reinstate the draft.

The real question for young men and women is, do you want Bush and perpetual war with a side-order of government-by-fear, or do you want Kerry and international cooperation, diplomacy, and mediation of the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, etc?

Changing His Behavior Tonite

Four years ago Al Gore was criticized for "sighing" during the first debate with George W. Bush. During the second debate Gore was much more restrained, so he was widely criticized as being someone who changes his behavior in order to get votes.

So, for Bush tonite, which will it be, and if he does not act like a spoiled teenager will the press widely criticize him for changing his behavior in order to get votes?

Kerry will win the debate

The Bush team is 0-2, and there's going to be pressure to give them a win just to make the series more interesting. But let's not do that, OK? People were calling the VP debate a draw for that very reason, and the Republican spinners might have pulled it off if a lot of us hadn't pointed out that Cheney lied over and over again.

Don't be detached and fair-minded. This is about you and your future. Bush cannot win the debate because he has nothing to argue from. Bush has had a flood of bad news in the last week. Jobs, fiscal policy, Iraq -- the facts are all against him

Don't try to figure out what the American people think about the debate. You are part of "the American people" -- make up your own mind, and then tell people what you think. The American people, or some of them, might be counting on you to help them decide. Give them what they need -- don't try to read their minds and repeat their opinion back to them.

If this were an eleventh-grade debate about the death penalty, it would make sense to score it as a performance. But it isn't -- this is about our lives.

The Republican spinners are desperate and they're going to fight savagely. Show them no mercy.

I believe that in this debate, the next one, or afterward the Republicans are going to go Ann Coulter on us and accuse Kerry of treason or some equivalent. At that point, rather than standing there stunned or thinking things over in a philosophical way, we will have to turn our volume knobs up to eleven and cry foul as loud as we can. We're going to see every dirty trick in the book, and we have to be prepared for all of them.

DRAFT - Watch this now

Mr Ryan of Ohio. (via MyDD, via Ohio Countdown)


Giggle Search

Try a search on Support Ralph Nader for President

Spreading fear






Timing is Everything

Paperwight's Fair Shot: Timelines, Fear-Mongering, and Bush

Why A Few Taxpayers Pay So Much Of The Taxes

Stolen from the Bear Left site

Fact of the Week

In 2000, the 400 taxpayers with the highest adjusted gross incomes reported over 1 percent of all income reported to the IRS that year. Their average tax rate was 22.3 percent. If the Bush tax cuts of 2002 and 2003 had been in effect, their tax rate would have declined to 17.5 percent, with an average savings of $8.3 million. These taxpayers are the biggest beneficiaries of these tax cuts. To make the top 400 in 2000, a taxpayer needed taxable income of $86.8 million.

New York Times, 26 June 2003;
IRS report, June 2003.
Update - OK, OK... The reason a few taxpayers pay a lot of the income tax is because they get a lot of the income. When the Republicans say that the top X percent pay most of the taxes IT IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE MOST OF THE INCOME. The fact is that people at the top pay a lower tax rate than people in the middle AND DON'T PAY SOCIAL SECURITY - the largest item in most people's taxes - AT ALL on almost all of their income!!!!

Members of the Press

Members of the Press,

It's time to think about what happens to YOU if Bush is still in office next year. One-party, right-wing governments have a very bad track record for how they deal with members of the press. If you have any doubts about this, look up what happened to Bill Stewart in Nicaragua. There are so many other examples, but I always refer back to this one because I remember seeing him shot on-camera. (I can't find the actual footage online -- let me know if you locate a source.)

THIS right-wing crowd has a very, very bad track record in their dealings with the press. Sure, they have made more than a few of you very rich, but that opportunity lasts only so long as you play entirely by their rules and at their command. For all the rest it is threats and intimidation, mockery, lies, hate campaigns -- you get the e-mails and letters, you know what I'm talking about -- and mass propaganda directed against you.

Listen to Rush Limbaugh for a few days and then tell me how safe and secure you feel in your jobs. They are telling their followers not to trust you or even listen to you or read what you write. What do you think they have in store for you when they have absolute control? Or do you think they do not intend to have absolute control? Read Grover Norquist on the subject of the future of multi-party democracy. (Yes, in fact, he DOES speak for all of the Right.) Read George Will just today.

Honestly, you all remind me of my local newspaper, which carries the Mallard Fillmore comic strip -- a right-wing propaganda outlet that tells its readers not to trust, or even read, the very newspapers that carry it.

Why you gotta be like that?

There might still be time to get out there and REPORT what is happening. To INFORM your readers/listeners/viewers. To EXPOSE corruption in high places. You might be thinking that this is a choice between doing your job in the short term and the best interests of your own career in the long term. Cozying up to power and all that... But face it - and ten minutes of Limbaugh will confirm it - if the Right continues in power your careers are toast anyway.

Bloggered Again Again

The site is blooggered again. The archives are gone, the right column is gone... I apologize to the advertisers.

I am actively looking for new software/hosting. Does anyone have any suggestions?


P.S. Sell Google stock, this is intolerable.


Denver Post - Front Page

DenverPost.com - FRONT PAGE.


Not complaining TOO much, and I didn't ask anyone to, but if when you forward stuff you include the web address where you got it from, people can come back and get more...

Update - Newsweek, too!

Actually, Googling finds over 500 reposts. Cool.

Earpiece IV

Is Bush Wired?

E-Mail This To Your Aunt In Oklahoma

Go see the new video, Cheney vs Reality, at Democratic National Committee. Then send an e-mail to your aunt in Oklahoma and your cousin in Nebraska, urging them to see it, too!

Big Cheney Whopper

During the debate Cheney said that he presides over the Senate on Tuesdays and had never met Edwards until the debate.

Aside from this picture of Cheney sitting next Edwards at a National Prayer Breakfast event, there is the matter of Cheney's ACTUAL Senate attendance.

They just lie. Get that into your head.

Your Tax Dollars at Work!

I have a new post, Your Tax Dollars at Work!, over at The American Street.

Partisanship again

need for partisans

democracy partisanship and advocacy

hack and liar

kevin is not a deep thinker, just a compulsive moderate

"credibility" Rather liberals

a representative

mix in media

not a time for bipartisanship

Kant, Camus, Gandhi, Orwell

too weighty and cheesy for a debate game

too cheesy for a grave Bzrezinski--Kissinger debate

primarily move in partisan game

opportunism of special deals after 1980

WaMonthly wonk competence; TNR, Beck, Greenfield, DLC (Lieberman in Bush's speech today)

administrative/academic non-political

Germans: Mann, Weber (journalists)

My sensible discussion


Edwards Won!

Edwards took the battle to Cheney, and Cheney left many of his points unrebutted and had to lie in order to rebut others. Edwards also brought forward a lot of facts that are old hat to people here, but which most Americans have been previously unaware of.

I don't know what the rules are for scoring formal debates, but if they allow people to win debates by lying, we should ignore them.

You can say, "You know and I know that Edwards won, but in the battle of public opinion, it was a draw". Well, the battle for public opinion isn't finished. It's continuing, and we're now in the post-debate spin period. It's not hard to make a strong case that Edwards won, and we should make it.

I just got myself steamed up over at Kevin Drum, where Kevin thought the debate was mediocre and unimpressive and pretty much a draw. Too goddamn many Democrats are too fine to descend to actually playing the game. They have to speak from this elevated place above the battle. But there really isn't a high elevated truth about one of these political debates -- it's all politics, and if you bother with it at all, you should play. If you're too good for this stuff, you should translate Chinese poetry or something like that. (Which, as it happens, I sometimes do).

As long as Kevin is in the public sphere, he will be taken as a representative of the Democrats, and as a matter of principle, he will always refuse to act as a Democratic advocate. Which means that he will be whipped by the Republican advocate from time to time, like all the various various weak "Democrats" you see on TV. All of whom, of course, are very well paid.

Poor Kevin.


Josh Micah Marshall, as moderate as Kevin, comes to quite a different conclusion.

foreigner points out that you don't really win a debate if your facts are all wrong.

THIS is Where This Debate Will Matter

Poll Shows More than 4 in 10 Still Link Saddam to 9/11:
The same poll in June showed that 56% of all Republicans said they thought Saddam was involved with the 9/11 attacks. In the latest poll that number actually climbs, to 62%.
What it comes down to is, if you believe that Iraq was behind 9/11 then you want to vote for Bush, and if you do not, you do not want to vote for Bush. That's what it comes down to.

I think THIS is where Edwards hit hard at the start of the debate, and it is very, very important. And he repeated it. I don't see how ANYONE can come away from that without questioning their belief that Iraq was behind 9/11.

Debate Post -- Cheney Just Lies!

Cheny just lies! What else is there to say? It is stunning. One lie after another.

Has there ever been anything like this in the country's history? Since McCarthy's fictitious "list" anyway?

Draft Coming

Steve Gilliard's News Blog : Here it comes, the Iraq War draft......

Repeat - You're Gonna Get Drafted

Please take the You're Gonna Get Drafted post, copy it into an e-mail, and send it to people. Or write your own version and send it to people. Send it to people of draft age AND to parents of people approaching draft age. It starts,
"The Draft - A Reason to Vote if You're Under 30

You already blew it: You didn't vote last time, or voted for Nader or Bush, and now you're gonna get drafted. There's no way around it now, the draft is almost a certainty.

You're hearing about Reserve and National Guard units being called up, and about people not allowed to leave the military even though their term is up. Have you thought about what this means to you? You KNOW this means they're having trouble finding enough soldiers to go to Iraq, right? Of course Bush doesn't want to start the draft BEFORE the election. Duh! But what do you think happens the day AFTER the election?

I repeat, they are having trouble finding enough soldiers to go to Iraq. Think about it. Right, you're gonna get drafted."
Because they're gonna get drafted and they had better be voting!

Refighting the Civil War

They're refighting the Civil War right now over at Yglesias. Two of the resident trolls, Brett Bellmore and J. Scott Barnard, are cranking out their loony version of the party line (not exact quotes):

Affirmative action is like lynching. The main racists are the Democrats, especially the black Democrats. Saying that racism is a factor in the South is just as bad as McCarthyism. There was no Southern Strategy, and if there was, it didn't have anything to do with race. When the Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party, it was to get away from the racism of the Democrats. Blacks are Democrats because they are racists and want handouts; it has nothing to do with finally getting the right to vote, or anti-lynching laws.

There happens to be a very exact index of racism: the belief that interracial marriage should be illegal. This is not a proxy issue – there are no non-racist reasons for supporting these laws. In the year 2000, Republican Alabama voted on an constitutional amendment repealing the state constitution's ban on iterracial marriage. About 40% of the voters, and 50% of the white voters, voted to keep the prohibition.

I happen to be a Yankee the way a lot of "southrons" are Rebs, and I'm not too happy with the way they've taken over our government. Someone's got to lose, and right now it's me. Hopefully in the future it will be the CCC (KKK without the bedsheets) which is on the outside looking in, and not the NAACP (and me).


Conclusion from the second link above, a very careful study:

"This gap [between publicly professed racism and the actual vote in favor of a racist law] suggests two possibilities. First, survey measures of white racial attitudes might seriously underestimate the level of white racism: Pressure to give socially acceptable answers seems to lead whites to give response in surveys that they do not reflect the choices that they make in the anonymity of voting booth. Second, these results raise the possibility that the ‘old,’ biological racism that defined white attitudes prior to the civil rights era is not as dead as some have suggested.25 As mentioned previously, laws against interracial marriage grew out of traditional notions of blacks’ biological inferiority. That such views might still persist today suggest that white racism is perhaps both more prevalent and more pernicious than many have previously thought."

If Democrats Were Republicans

If Democrats were Republicans, this e-mail message would have been only the first of many, and would have started circulating a year ago:
How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a lightbulb?

The Answer is TEN:

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either: "For changing the light bulb or for darkness"

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new light bulb

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a stepladder under the banner "Light! Bulb Change Accomplished"

7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally "in the dark"

8. One to viciously smear #7

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along

10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.
One more difference, this e-mail is based entirely on truth.

Kerry / WMD



Dear Mike

Iraq sucks.


Thank you

Awhile back I posted a fundraising plea here. I have finally spent the money, getting a nice new state-of-the-art (ca. 2002) computer that's being closed out. It should last me for awhile.

I didn't say anything about thanking individuals publicly, so I won't (for fear of ruining their lives, for one thing), but "d2" and "d a rvis" gave the heftiest contributions. (I have been able to thank everyone individually by email).

If anyone wants to unload some more cash in this direction, go here. The big-eyed furry little creature (a tarsier) is the button to click. (Not the Tasmanian devil on the top).

Kerry Doesn't Want To Keep Us Safe

Just glancing at CNN, a guy in Ohio, business is way down... but voting for Bush because, "Bush wants to keep us safe. Kerry doesn't want to keep us safe."


Eruption VolcanoCam

Mount Saint Helens VolcanoCam, updated every five minutes.

I just heard on the news that hot magma is working its way up the shaft and an eruption is imminent. That is almost word-for-word, and no one snickered.

Now there is a large bulge forming.

Update - at night you will see just static.

PAINFUL Bush Video

BAGnewsNotes: More Bush Minus the Cue Cards. Others are funny, but it's just painful to watch this one. Moolaahs. Uh, uh, uh, blink blink blink.

Draft Alert!

The Century Foundation - Legions Stretched Thin: The U.S. Army's Manpower Crisis . From the report:
The U.S. military is facing demands that are more wide-ranging and intensive than at any time since the end of the Vietnam War. But evidence is mounting that the armed forces lack the manpower to meet those challenges. The occupation of Iraq, a major ongoing operation in Afghanistan, homeland security missions in the continental United States, and peacekeeping efforts around the globe are straining the military’s capacity to fulfill the Bush administration’s stated geostrategic goals.
How do you THINK Bush will get enough troops to accomplish his goals if he is still in office next year?

Look Over There

While I'm trying to get posting to work here, go read everything at The American Street.

Bloggers Bloggered

Bloggers, are you also experiencing continuing problems with Blogger? For some time it has been hard to reach the posting interface, and scary to click the button to post because there is always the danger that you'll just lose everything. (Usually I remember to copy the post and paste it into a text editor before I click - just in case...) Is it just me?

Is Google ever going to fix this? Or do they have better uses for their billions and billions of dollars?

Better question, when am I going to switch? My first reason is that I don't know how to migrate my archives. I', "tied in" to Blogger. Second is the time to set up something new. Third is the financial commitment of signing up for a new hosting service...

Thoughts? (Now, let's see what happens when I click the "Publish" button. -- First try crashed... Second try crashed... Third try crashed... Fourth try crashed... Fifth try crashed... mOK, I'll stop counting. Eventually you will see this post.)

Update - I see that over at Eschaton, Atrios posted this:
I tried to post about this late last night but Blogger ate the post.
I can now see this post listed in the posting interface, but not at the weblog... When I click to post a message I get the crash with "Server not found." But then I see that it made it as far as Google's Blogger server... but not onto the blog itself so you can read it. HOW high is their stock today?.


Look Who's Telling Catholics What To Believe

Take a look at the Kerry Wrong For Catholics website. Then look at the very bottom of the page, where it says who put the site up.

FOX fails to fact check "Communists for Kerry"

Will FOX News suffer any loss of credibility as a result of relying the assurance of the individual quoted below that his group was "not a parody group"?

Is FOX News in the habit of taking people at their word and not doing any background checks about the credibility or validity of the organization they claim to represent before airing a statement?

Should I call FOX News up, claiming to represent "Communists for Bush", and see if they'll put me on the air? :)

I look forward to seeing an on air apologia from Ms. Roh, and from FOX News, and a through raking of FOX News over the coals by the punditocracy.

Or maybe not...

Thomas Leavitt

P.S. It appears that they've attached a disclaimer:

Editor's Note:
In an version of this article that was published
earlier, the Communists for Kerry were portrayed as a
group that was supporting John Kerry for president.
FOXNews.com's reporter asked the group's representative
several times whether the group was legitimate and
supporting the Democratic candidate, and the spokesman
insisted that it was.

... apparently, this is what passes for "good journalistic practice" at FOX News. I suggest our readers take advantage of this the next time they run into a FOX News reporter. :)

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tim Finin finin@[deleted]
Date: October 2, 2004 7:58:51 PM EDT
To: Dave Farber dave@[deleted]
Subject: Communists for Kerry

Attached is a note I sent to FOXNews. I'm guessing they
assumed that people would see parts of their story on
reactions to the presidential debate as humor. Is it any wonder,
tho, that a study showed that people who get their news from Fox
News are less well informed than people who get their news
from other outlets, even the Jon Stewart's Daily News comedy


Today you published a story written by Jane Roh titled "Some
Voters Still Flip-Flop After Debate Saturday" [1]. The
story quoted a number of people on their reactions to the
first presidential debate. The story says:

"Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance
who had no doubts whatever about their candidate.

"We're trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that
capitalist enabler George Bush out of office," said
17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry.

"Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my
socialist values more than President Bush," Rob said,
before assuring FOXNews.com that his organization was not
a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington's
policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said:
"The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm
sure they support Comrade Kerry, too."

It is unclear whether the Kerry campaign has welcomed the
Communists' endorsement."

I am disappointed that your reporter reports this at face
value. Putting "Communists for Kerry" into Google turns up
their web site [2] as the first result. It's obviously a
satirical web site. Moreover, clicking on the "About Us"
navigation link produces a page which explains:

"Communists for Kerry" is a campaign of the Hellgate
Republican Club, a tax exempt non-partisan public advocacy
"527" organization that exists for the purpose of;

"Informing voters with satire and irony, how political
candidates make decisions based on the failed social
economic principles of socialism that punish the
individual by preventing them from becoming their dream
through proven ideas of entrepreneurship and freedom."

Our members help elect candidates who support economic
growth through Entrepreneurship, limited government and
lower taxes. Communists For Kerry is separate and distinct
from the Communist party of America and any of its
organization. None of it's members are members of any
communist organizations.

I'm afraid that this is just horrifically bad journalism.
Were Ms Roh and her editors so gullible that they thought it
was a serious organization? Or are they in the habit of not
doing minimal fact checking for a surprising part of her
story? Or are they in on the joke but wants to fool her
readers? Or do they think that all of your readers will
recognize that it's obviously political theater and not be
fooled? Or is this intended to spread misinformation? Or
some combination of the above?

In any case, it deserves a clarification and rethinking
your policies. It is just not good journalism.

Tim Finin
743 Oella Ave
Oella MD 21043

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134268,00.html
[2] http://communistsforkerry.com/
[3] http://www.hellgate.org/disclaimer/

Earpiece III

TalkLeft has a lot more about Bush maybe wearing an earpiece.

Also - Drudge and RW sites are launching an all-out "Kerry was cheating" thing, which tells me they are worried about the stories about Bush being caught cheating with an earpiece.

Update - Thanks to a comment here, directing to a post at Digby, the "evidence" that Kerry is cheating -- the accusation is that Kerry takes notes out of his coat pocket -- is a video you can watch, but when you watch it, you can see Bush TAKING NOTES OUT OF HIS COAT POCKET, unfolding them, and placing them on the podium. NO WONDER they have to quickly accuse Kerry of cheating!

AND, even beter, the right-wing site with the video says they had to take the comments down. Guess why? People were probably saying that the video shows BUSH taking out notes!!! Solution? Remove the comments.

If the truth is partisan, print the truth

Brad Delong and Kevin Drum have both commented on this passage by Michael Kinsley (the new editorial and opinion editor of the LA Times):

"The biggest problem is -- and I don't know what the solution is, so it's not a criticism, as much as it is a puzzle -- is that the conventions of objectivity make it very difficult to say that something is a lie. And they require balance, which is often just not justified by reality. The classic thing is the Swift Boats. If you follow what all the papers say, they inch close to saying what they really think by saying, "it's controversial," or "many have challenged it," euphemisms like that. And then they always need to pair it with something else. "Candidate X murdered three people at a rally yesterday, and candidate Y sneezed without using a Kleenex. This is why many people are saying this is the roughest campaign ever."

Why won't reporters call a lie a lie? Or at least (without using the l-word), why won't reporters say so whenever anyone says something that is known to be false?

I don't think that anyone is getting this right. The explanations I've seen over the years include: generalists writing about specialized topics; lack of intelligence and training; both professionalism and lack of professionalism; the herd mentality of the gaggle; and the commercialization of infotainment.

These all play some role, but the role of management and ownership is being allowed to slip by. The reason we have bad reporting is either because management doesn't care, or because management wants bad reporting. (Before you call this a conspiracy theory, by the way, you have to explain to me what's wrong with the idea that managers control the businesses that they're managing).

A pathology of professionalism is clearly at work here. Political reporters are expected to report the facts in a neutral, non-partisan way. So what does a reporter do if the facts are partisan – i.e., if one side is lying? The current rule is to continue to be non-partisan – just report the fact that one side says, for example, that the economy is growing, whereas the other side denies it. This satisfies both sides of the professional rule -- factuality and non-partisanship -- but unfortunately it fails to deal with the question of whether the economy is growing or not. Reporters systematically refuse to say that their sources are saying things that are not true, and they call their failure "professionalism".

It seems that there's really a simple answer to this: just invert the heierarchy of professional rules. "If the truth is partisan, report the truth".* So I've solved the problem, right?

No. For decades reporters have been learning that reporting the truth can be a career-ending move. Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry are probably the two most illustrious examples, but there are dozens of them. (The 2002 book Into the Buzzsaw is a mixed bag of first-person stories). By contrast, media liars like Judith "I Was Fucking Right" Miller, William Safire, etc., etc., have moved always upward and onward.

By watching the patterns of hirings, firings, and promotions, new reporters quickly learn what's expected of them. Since most of them have already picked up a big dose of cynicism by the time they show up for work, professionalism comes to be defined entirely in careerist terms. The professional's goal is to be as rich and famous as possible, and Hersh and Parry and their kind are pitiful losers who failed to understand which side their bread was buttered on.

Successful major-media reporters are paid pretty well, so they can easily manage that special arrogance that comes from driving a really nice car. Furthermore, while journalistic standards have been gutted, reporters still can claim to be professionals, and every profession believes that outsiders aren't qualified to judge their work. So reporters can always say to themselves that their neutrality is really a noble thing, even though ignorant people outside the business fail to understand what it is that they're doing.

In the media the highest management level thinks entirely in bottom-line terms, rather than ideologically. This might mean dumbing things down to get a greater audience. It might mean suppressing negative stories about the ownership's various other enterprises. It might mean trading political support for lower taxes, more favorable regulations, or new intellectual property laws.

Except at Fox, direct orders to lie or to slant the news are rare, but somehow or another big embarrassing stories end up on page sixteen with headlines that contradict the sense of the piece. The stubborn reporters eventually get fired, and the smart reporters learn to read management's lips.

So Kinsley is baffled. The simple solution to his dilemma is what I said: "If the truth is partisan, print the truth" -- but Kinsley can't do that. He thinks that this is because of professional standards, but it's not. It's because Kinsley is hired help.

In practice, Kinsley (like most of Peretz's former lackeys) is exquisitely aware of what's allowed and what's not allowed. But "what's allowed" is not something that he's allowed to write about.

* I've also proposed a supplementary rule, "Try not to be dumber than a bag of rocks", but I think that that is too avant-garde for the world of today.

Into the Buzzsaw

The Global Test

Someone has to tell the peanut gallery that foreign policy has to work outside the U.S. That's why we call it "foreign policy".

A foreign policy customized to appeal to the prejudices of 51% of American voters will be a horrible failure if it doesn't work in the rest of the world. That's "the global test".

Foreign policy is about foreigners. I don't know how to say it more simply than that.

But as O'Neill, Diulio, Clarke, General Shinseki, Genral McPeak, and General Clark and a dozen others have told us, for the Bush administration votes are everything, and reality is nothing.