January 19, 2005



jk (plus the whole Berkeley Square Blog crew is invited) is moving to new digs. AlexC from Pstupidonymous and I have been talking about a group blog.

The graphics are not finished and the comments will be buggy for a day or two, but you should probably reset your bookmarks to:


The allusion is to Natan Sharansky's incredibly powerful book, The Case For Democracy"

"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."

Over and Out! Or, as Douglas Adams might have said "so long, and thanks for all the fish!"

Posted by jk at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

New JibJab


I can't say that I like it as well as "This Land is Your Land," but the new JibJab is well worth a look/listen (It's a five meg download, but W's banjo playing during the d/l is strangely comprelling..

Give it a look.


Posted by jk at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

The Dumbest Idea


I am always happy to meet a progressive who pays attention, has a grasp of issues and can define his or her intellectual philosophy. I went to lunch with an old friend who fits that bill. Unfortunately, in catching up we had little time for politics.

Now that I have established some credibility for managing opposition, I want to rant a moment on a "protest" that is so insanely stupid that it makes me angry.

Once again, the Naderites of this great nation are declaring "Don't Spend a Dime Day." This time, it is to protest the war and is set to coincide with Inauguration Day.

"On 'Not One Damn Dime Day' those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending."

Funny, it seems that we just had an opportunity to speak. It was called an election. And those who opposed the war and consumerism could vote for Mr. Ralph Nader. And, about nobody did -- give or take some.

The same folks are now dreaming of empty Wal*Marts, and a whole nation saying "What Happened?"

On what level is this not insane? All these people are going to heat their home, eat food, burn gas, and consume normally. They are just choosing not to replenish on that day. Even if effective, they wouldn't influence any suppliers, all of whom certainly look at weekly, monthly and quarterly sales.

So, they have nothing to win. They can't really make a point. Their only choice is to lose: be even more ineffectual than in the election.

And there's where we can help. I am going to gas up both my cars, eat every meal out, and my lovely wife is planning to join me downtown for a shopping trip, right in the belly of the beast, Boulder Colorado.

Some have suggested wearing a dollar ribbon. Instructions for "rolling your own" can be found at http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/lewisandclark/dollarribbon.html

If you want a more cogent critique of "Not One Dime Day," let me recommend Tech Central Station.

You mention the five freedoms our country was founded on, and I agree with them if you are counting those freedoms as found in the First Amendment-although I count six. If you mean the freedoms as enumerated by FDR, there were four, and, of course, he looked "forward to a world founded upon" them. I pause to note none of these freedoms existed in Iraq before the U.S. liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Now they are beginning to.

You also cite the preamble to our Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…."

Why do we think all of these foregoing treasures belong only to Americans? When we see an oppressed and immiserated people, should we not do our best to liberate them? Is this not why, for example, so many looked to the U.S. after the Asian Tsunami and why, for further example, we have 13,000 U.S. troops there now? A mere 2,000 less troops than we have in Afghanistan?

Thursday -- TiVo the Inauguration and shop 'till you drop! Our very democracy may depend on it!

Posted by jk at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

Only Ten Years?

Andrew Sullivan is upset at the "relatively light sentence" of AbuGhraibist Charles Graner. In today's Daily Dish he opines:

I'm not so much shocked as intrigued by the relatively light sentence. It would be hard to find or invent a more graphic example of evil than that perpetrated by Graner in Abu Ghraib. And yet, he received only 10 years, rather than the maximum fifteen. Why?

To Andrew, the answer is of course nefarious reasons implicating key Administration staff.

I'll start. Whoa! This is a serious sentence. This young man screwed up big time, fed the propaganda needs of our enemies, and may indeed be a psychopath.

But if somebody comes into my house tonight and shoots me do they get ten? I bet not. Putting panties on the head of a prisoner is far more serious I guess than knocking me off. I was struck by how severe the sentence was.

I am not lobbying for less, mind you. I want to be on the side of right here, and the US Armed Forces have shown far more responsibility and courage than have the UN, CBS News(ish), or al-Zawkari. But I cannot cry that the sentence is too small. He risked his life for me.

As Taranto points out, Reuters also found "many" who thought it too short. Well, three:

Another Reuters "report" is headlined "Many Iraqis Say Graner Abuse Sentence Too Lenient." The reference is to Charles Graner, a soldier hit with a 10-year prison term for abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. We counted the Iraqis quoted to this effect in the Reuters piece: "trader Ali Ahmed," "38-year-old meteorologist Ali Mahawi" and "Ahmed Ali, 20, a van driver from Baghdad's Shi'ite Sadr City district."

So "many," in Reuterspeak, means "three."

Posted by jk at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

Long Term Tsunami Relief

SUPACHAI PANITCHPAKDI (I assume, that's another Norwegian name) writes an important piece in today's Wall Street Journal Ed Page (paid site, sorry!) Aid Is Good; Trade Is Better.

The aid from wealthy nations has been good. But as these countries try to regain self sufficiency, they'll be forced to contend with trade barriers.

[A]n important complement to these relief efforts has so far received little attention -- trade. The gains arising from lower barriers to exports from the affected countries may not have the immediate impact of debt relief or monetary assistance, but gains from increased trade would in fact be larger and more sustainable.

Consider that Sri Lanka, in 2002, paid import duties to rich countries in excess of $315 million, Indonesia paid $850 million, Thailand more than $1 billion. Taken together those duties constitute 50% of the funds pledged so far for disaster relief. The magnitude of these duties is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that Norway ($125.9 million) and Switzerland ($245 million) paid far less in duties to other rich counties while exporting considerably more.

The most durable and efficient response to this catastrophe would be a rapid conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. The benefits to developing countries accruing over time as a result of greater market access for their agriculture and manufactured products would be many times more than the total aid they receive each year. Greater access to markets in both developed and emerging developing country markets, as well as reform to their own trade regimes, would be a powerful contribution to economic recovery in the region.

Trade. Not Aid. It's a good cry for aspiring free nations in Africa, in the MidEast, and now in the aftermath of this natural disaster.

Posted by jk at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2005

The Big Cat

One of the great ballplayers who got the Colorado Rockies Baseball Franchise off the ground, Andres Galarraga was a big fan favorite in Denver. "The Big Cat" was beloved by all, especially Spanish-speaking fans.

He has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and has released a Motivational Video about his battle.

Newsday reports that he has signed with the Mets at 43 and is one HR away from 400.

Hat-tip (oddly enough) Samizdata

Posted by jk at 12:08 PM | Comments (1)
But Attila thinks:

Galarraga will be a bit player on the Mets, but he'll be a good influence on the team. (No Bobby Bonilla he.) And, man, he used to be one helluva ballplayer.

Posted by: Attila at January 15, 2005 08:07 PM

Lone Star Madman

...just doesn't seem to have the punch. Yet a certain "Kill-it-and-Grill-it!" author, and Gibson Byrdland maven has decided to vote with his feet. John Fund notes in today's WSJ OpinionJournal Political Diary:

Political scientists are turning up evidence that people are increasingly relocating to states where residents share their basic political values. Count the Motor City Madman, rocker Ted Nugent, as one of them. The lifelong Michigan resident, an enthusiastic conservative and gun owner, has pulled up stakes and turned Texan. He's even donating his services to help the local Crawford High School band raise the money needed to perform at the inauguration on January 20. He will hold a concert tomorrow night that he expects will raise a grubstake of $25,000.

Mr. Nugent says he still loves his native Michigan, but his new lifestyle can't be beat. "The folks are friendly, they have their heads screwed on right and I can shoot game almost outside my door," he told me last year. Mr. Nugent said he only wishes some of his liberal fellow celebrities would follow his example and move to places where they might find the neighbors' political views more congenial. "They always claim they want to move to France or Canada, but they never do," he added.

Posted by jk at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Virginia Postrel

I hope y'all are reading Virginia Postrel's Dynamist Blog every day. Hers is a great example of a "long-tail" blog. Her posts are infrequent but very insightful. They probably lend themselves better to an RSS blog reading system than to daily visits.

She has been on a tear lately. If you haven't clicked in a bit I would go read her top seven posts. Two of them are on Sarbanes-Oxley. I think she has captured the Conservative Zeitgeist once again. Buyer's remorse of this high-intentioned but ill-thought bill is really starting to set in:

Taxes and spending get most of the attention, but regulations can be just as expensive and far more wasteful. Take the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, passed in the post-Enron panic as a demonstration that Congress and the administration cared and were doing something. Compliance costs a fortune, siphoning funds from productive investments (including hiring); that the law took effect in the middle of a recession didn't help the economic recovery. More significant is the long-term effect. The law threatens to block smaller firms from going public, cutting them off from a major source of capital. That effect will filter backward, making venture capital funding more difficult by eliminating one way VCs get their money out.

Indeed, this bill was cited as a contributing factor toward the US's drop out of the Top Ten Freest Nations, and the Wall Street Journal has highlighted how it scares good people off of corporate boards, where they could really help governance.

This is a bad bill, passed in haste, to prove Congress could "do something about Enron." Well, yes, we could shut down all Corporations, that's one way to cut corporate corruption...

Posted by jk at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

What We're Up Against

The administration gets much legitimate criticism for profligate spending under its watch.

Legitimate because my guy has pushed two very expensive expansions to entitlements in the Medicare Drug Benefit and the No Child Left Behind Act (must...resist...crack...about...Armstrong...). No, he is not a Reaganite, small government conservative.

Yet nobody seems to credit the administration with just how hard reform is. If they cut $10 from an ineffective program, and give $20 more to one that works, the headline will be "Bush Cuts $10 from Poor!"

Don't believe me? Here is the Lead Editorial in my WaPo politics mail alert this morning: "Bush Plans Sharp Cuts in HUD Community Efforts."

The White House will seek to drastically shrink the Department of Housing and Urban Development's $8 billion community branch, purging dozens of economic development projects, scrapping a rural housing program and folding high-profile anti-poverty efforts into the Labor and Commerce departments, administration officials said yesterday.

"drastically shrink," "purging," "scrapping," and "folding high-profile anti-poverty efforts," all in the lede.

Obviously, this President likes poverty. Or does he? The second paragraph doesn't use bold language, but admits:

The proposal in the upcoming 2006 budget would make good on President Bush's vow to eliminate or consolidate what he sees as duplicative or ineffective programs. Officials said yesterday that economic development programs are scattered too widely in the government and have proved particularly ineffectual at HUD.

Those who don't have time for all that reading can just read the caption below Barney Franks's picture: "Rep. Barney Frank calls the proposal 'just appalling.' "

Posted by jk at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)
But Dick Cheney thinks:

You're right, since most of the spending actually occurs within HUD and 'other' spending is scatterred throughout other agencies, cutting HUD will save taxpayers the most money and have the largest effect on the budget. These cuts are occuring in the name of improving the balance sheet, in light of the massive increases in tax revenues that have occurred because of our tax cuts. You're clearly a great patriot and a good American.


Posted by: Dick Cheney at January 15, 2005 01:24 AM

January 13, 2005

CBS News: Top 10 List

Late Show with David Letterman : Top Ten

Top Ten Proposed Changes At CBS News

10. Stories must be corroborated by at least two really strong hunches.
9. "Evening News" pre-show staff cocktail hour is cancelled until further notice.
8. Reduce "60 Minutes" to more manageable 15-20 minutes.
7. Change division name from "CBS News" to "CBS News-ish"
6. If anchor says anything inaccurate, earpiece delivers an electric shock.
5. Conclude each story with comical "Boing" sound effect.
4. Instead of boring Middle East reports, more powerball drawings.
3. To play it safe, every "exclusive" story will be about how tasty pecan pie is.
2. Not sure how, but make CBS News more like "C.S.I."
1. Use beer, cash and hookers to lure Tom Brokaw out of retirement.

Posted by jk at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Supply Side Cuts Work

While media pick through the Treasury Report for bad news, Larry Kudlow finds some news he predicts "you won't find in tomorrow's front pages"

The really big budget story is the explosion in tax revenues prompted by tax-cut led economic growth over the past eighteen months. Under 50% cash bonus expensing for the purchase of plant and equipment, productivity-driven corporate profits ranging around 20% generated a 45% rise in business taxes. At lower income tax-rates, employment gains of roughly 2.5 million are throwing off over 6% in payroll tax receipts. Personal tax revenues are rising at a near 9% pace.

Kudlow says W is off to a roaring start on his second term even before inauguration day. I hold with him and his (very-Democratic) partner James Kramer that we are on the threshold of a Bull market that will raise all boats and help pass an ambitious agenda.

UPDATE: If you can handle more acronyms, percent signs and dollar signs, read Noel Sheppard's piece in TCS. He says "Frankly, with depressions like these, who needs expansions?"

Posted by jk at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

JK & Beinart

I read The New Republic to discourage "cocooning" where I read only things I agree with, to keep an eye on the "other guys," and -- most importantly -- to brag about how open minded I am.

Most of their writers are too deep into the Democrat swamp for me to agree much with, but Editor Peter Beinart always gets me thinking and every now and then we agree. In Golden, he suggests that Democrats take Gerrymandering as one of "their" issues.

And the response shouldn't be limited to the Golden State. Democrats across the country should jump on the Schwarzenegger bandwagon, demanding that their states also take redistricting away from the state legislatures that deny voters a real choice over who represents them. In a state like Florida, where the GOP has absurdly gerrymandered to ensure a mass of safe Republican seats, such a change could bring real Democratic gains and perhaps even help put control of the House back in play. More importantly, it would reinvigorate American democracy. Nothing would make our politics more responsive, more dynamic, and more fun than hundreds of contested congressional elections, all over the country.
Amen, Brother Pete! Somebody has to fix this. It would not be a bad partisan theme for the Ds. Like Beinart, they could use it to further demonize Rep. Tom DeLay. And it would position them as restoring little-d democracy, power to the people, make every vote count, eat all your peas, and all that.

Beinart is also right to make it effective in 2011 after the census. I don't think the current lines ultimately benefit Democrats or Republicans but they benefit every incumbent. Voting in 2005 for something that will not affect them until 2011 might encourage a less self-serving decision.

Posted by jk at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Sugarchuck emails: "It is good to read 'The Nation' once a week, not so much to see what the other guy is up to, but to provide a grateful attitude. Thank God, or NED as the case may be, that I am not as crazy as those bastards."

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2005 09:36 AM

The Most Important Story You Won't Hear

Well, you'll hear about it because you've developed resilience to my pedantic prose, but MSMers aren't likely to hear about MidEastern boom times which curiously correspond with the Deposition of Saddam and his wacky lads from Iraq.

A guest editorial today in the WSJ today (free site) says "The region is prospering in the wake of Iraq's liberation."

A search of newspaper and magazine stories in 2004 reveals more than 3,338 articles including the words "Middle East" and "war and terrorism"; only 102 stories linking the "Middle East" with "growth" and "recovery" can be found.

Yet definitive policies to normalize the Middle East have made regional and global market investors bullish, repatriated capital exported (or that had fled) from the region, and encouraged a sea change in foreign direct investment. The end of Saddam's regime sent a major, unconfused market signal after the West's years of disinterest in the Middle East as a Levantine backwater. Subsequently, every major capital market index in the Middle East has risen.

Regionally, stock markets rose over 30% in 2004 and represent a market capitalization of $470 billion. This has been accompanied by a surge in regional property values and a higher number of tourists. The main Egyptian equity index has increased 165%, while that of Saudi Arabia has gone up by 158%. The Saudi market's stellar performance is especially striking given the great amount of attention paid at the moment to that country's security problems. Israel's leading index has risen by 32%, the benchmark index of Kuwait's exchange by 73%, Jordan's by almost 60%, and that of the United Arab Emirates by 110%.

Rebuilding the Middle East in a free market model is going to take a lot longer than I thought. I was one of those starry-eyed neocons. I extrapolated a unique Iraqi affinity for freedom from viewing Iraqi ex-pats in Dearborn, MI.

Because something is hard, doesn't mean it won't happen. And there is nothing more important than economic freedom. Markets and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) tell the tale -- and it's looking like a pretty good story:

Until recently, the region attracted less than 1% of global FDI and only 4% of FDI directed at the developing world. The average annual amount of FDI for the three years preceding the war (1999-2002) was only $6.7 billion. According to our research, FDI for the entire Middle East since regime change in Baghdad will be up 76% or $4.8 billion to an average of $11.5 billion for the 2003-05 period. Overall, Middle Eastern countries are striving to make their economies more attractive to foreign investment. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Iraq. A new foreign investment law was passed on September 2003 permitting 100% foreign ownership of firms in all sectors of the economy aside from oil and other mineral extraction. Profits from foreign investments into this previously highly centralized, state monopoly economy can now be repatriated freely from both tax and capital controls.

Sounds like the ingredients for a bull market to me. While I don't forgive terrorists because of poverty (most of them seem to be well off), you can't help but think increased economic activity would add -- greatly -- to stability.

Posted by jk at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2005

President Clinton on TV -- Now There's a Surplus

Shhh. I don't want anybody to know, but "The U.S. government ran a $1 billion budget surplus in December, helped by a rise in corporate tax payments."

I'm sure you probably read this on Page One of the New York Times this morning, or heard it on NPR, but for everybody else, we're keeping it quiet.

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. government ran a $1 billion budget surplus in December, helped by a rise in corporate tax payments, the Congressional Budget Office said in its latest budget report released on Friday. The surplus, which compared with an $18 billion deficit in the previous December, helped create a smaller fiscal deficit for the first three months of the 2005 fiscal year, than in the same quarter of the prior year. "In December, most corporations make their fourth quarterly payment of income taxes," the CBO said, adding that corporate tax refunds were lower than in the previous December. Congress' nonpartisan fiscal watchdog said the 2005 shortfall now stands at $114 billion, about $16 billion less than for the same period last year. The 2005 fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
I did see President Clinton on TV the other day -- it's probably his doing.

Hat-tip: Gay Patriot

Posted by jk at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

A Stunning Admission

The RaTHergate Panel failed to go there, but Newsweek's Howard Fineman pens a column on the MSNBC website that describes MSM as a political party, the AMMP (American Mainstream Media Party), and pretty much says that the Democrats were subsumed into it.

The ideological energy of the New Deal had faded; Vietnam and various social revolutions of the '60s were tearing it apart. Into the vacuum came the AMMP, which became the new forum for choosing Democratic candidates. A "reform" movement opened up the nominating process, taking it out of the smoke-filled backrooms and onto television and into the newsrooms. The key to winning the nomination and, occasionally, the presidency, became expertise at riding the media wave. McGovern did it, Gary Hart almost did (until he fell off his surfboard); Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton rode it all the way.

Heady stuff from a serious player. I don't always agree with Howard but he brings a serious journalist's perspective to TV punditry.

Where I part on this piece is his assertion that, at the beginning, when Walter Cronkite soured on the war, and the WaPo took on President Nixon, that this movement's beginnings were benign and desirable.

The crusades of Vietnam and Watergate seemed like a good idea at the time, even a noble one, not only to the press but perhaps to a majority of Americans. The problem was that, once the AMMP declared its existence by taking sides, there was no going back. A party was born.

Fineman is burdened with zero doubt that the US's abrupt betrayal of our South Vietnamese allies was a good thing. I don't want to refight Vietnam until Senator Kerry runs for President again, but I fail to see how the public was served by a media that discarded objectivity to pursue an agenda -- just 'cause it's one Fineman likes.

It is a good column and an important admission. I think he is dead-on about both the rise and the fall of the AMMP. I quibble with his credits to the early institution.

UPDATE: Glenn thinks Howard is looking for good old days of objective media that never were.

UPDATE II: Jonathan Last wonders if the panel would not underscore the (obvious to most) fact that the documents were indeed fraudulent, what else was left out?

Leave aside the "no political bias" finding; leave aside the kid-glove treatment of Dan Rather and Andrew Heyward. This abdication of responsibility by the panel in the face of their own expert's conclusions is so startling that it legitimately calls into question--by itself--everything else in the report.

Posted by jk at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

Sullivan Doesn't Get Blogs

Quite an accusation, n'est ce pas? But reading the blog pioneer's post today on Howard Fineman's article is like the RaTHergate report: good facts, bad conclusion:

Are we now the establishment? Fineman says we are. His admission that the mainstream media have acted as a de facto political party for three decades strikes me as a big deal - the first crack of self-awareness in the MSM. But I truly hope the blogosphere doesn't become its replacement. Blogs are strongest when they are politically diverse, when they are committed to insurgency rather than power, when they belong to no party. I'm particularly worried that the blogosphere has become far more knee-jerk, shrill and partisan since the days when I first started blogging. Some of that's healthy and inevitable; but too much is damaging. In challenging the MSM, we should resist the temptation to become like them.

The Fineman article is important (post coming up on that!) it is a watershed moment.

But Sullivan misses the idea of the blogosphere. As individual blogs become more partisan and shrill, that does not mean the same happens to the blogosphere en masse.

And in the middle is an unfortunate pot-kettle-black moment. He is "particularly worried that the blogosphere has become far more knee-jerk, shrill and partisan since the days when I first started blogging." Funny, I am particularly worried that he has become far more knee-jerk, shrill and partisan since the days when he first started blogging.

Posted by jk at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2005

Nope, No Bias Here. Move Along.

At the risk of adding nothing new, I have to post my opinion of the RaTHergate report. Like many, I was stunned with its clarity and thoroughness. I expected a quick whitewash, released Friday at 5. And it is not that. As the WSJ Ed Page says (paid site):

CBS promised last fall to get to the bottom of Dan Rather's discredited September 8 broadcast on President Bush's National Guard service. Yesterday's report by the independent panel charged with investigating the "60 Minutes" segment fulfills that vow. It is a thorough, no-holds-barred look at how it happened. If only it were as good at explaining why.

It was a thorough report, providing proof of serious allegations. But, stunningly, its conclusions are preposterous! More WSJ Ed:
It pins the blame instead on Ms. Mapes's "myopic zeal" in pursuit of a ground-breaking story that other news organizations were also pursuing. So we are supposed to believe that the flawed CBS segment was the result of overeager journalists' desire to be "first" with a will-o'-the-wisp of a story that was at least four, and arguably closer to 10, years old -- and, by the way, that it was merely coincidental that these eager beavers pushed the story out after Labor Day amid a bitter election campaign.

The discussion on motives includes a section titled "Factors that Support a Conclusion that a Political Agenda Did Not Motivate the September 8 Segment." And the No. 1 example is "The Previous Work of Rather and Mapes." Really.

As we saw it, the last election included the most one-sided political reporting we've ever witnessed, including the coverage of Richard Nixon circa 1972-74. Most of the established media outlets favored John Kerry -- which is fine by us if they would only admit it. CBS's reporters made the further mistake of letting that bias so color their judgment that they were willing to believe phony documents from a partisan source without proper authentication. Good for CBS for coming clean about the process, but good luck convincing its viewers about the lack of partisan motives.

The best roundup is probably Glenn's column on glennreynolds.com:
And that "no political agenda" bit is why CBS is only half-clean. So a network noted for its anti-Bush sentiments airs a story based on obviously bogus documents (How obvious? Just look at this animated gif comparing the allegedly typewritten memos CBS relied on with the same material typed into Microsoft Word using its default settings.) runs with a story just in time to swing the election, but there's no politics involved? Well, short of the Vulcan mind-meld, I guess there's no way to be absolutely certain what's in people's minds. But on the other hand, as law professor Jim Lindgren notes, CBS's panel is happy to level accusations of political motivations at its critics.

Nope, no bias here. That cannot ever be admitted I guess. But, like "Hindrocket" says at PowerLine:
True enough, but let me offer this alternative theory: the fundamental problem that led to the downfall of 60 Minutes and, perhaps, CBS News, was the fact that no one involved in the reportorial or editorial process was a Republican or a conservative. If there had been anyone in the organization who did not share Mary Mapes's politics, who was not desperate to counteract the Swift Boat Vets and deliver the election to the Democrats, then certain obvious questions would have been asked[...]

Competitive pressure. Not bias. Just another casualty of Michael Barone's "Hard America." They will admit everything but the obvious. And the story was obviously driven almost entirely by liberal bias at CBS. The Swift Vets provided better scoops, but they were on the wrong side.

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow weighs in:

The shocking thing is that Andrew Heyward did not lose his job. Had Heyward been fired, it would have suggested that CBS is reevaluating the biases and blindnesses that led them to air the report in the first place. It's clear, now, that CBS will be doing nothing of the kind. (The report goes so far as to explicitly deny that political motivations were primary for the CBS team, insisting that competitiveness with other news outlets drove them to it.)

The good news is that the MSM has lost its monopoly.

Posted by jk at 10:06 AM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

The CBS "investigation" employs a similar strategy as the 9/11 report - one which has become de rigueur for such political introspections - namely, to make a complete and thorough accounting of all the facts and information that can not be denied and then to pull a rabbit of exoneration out of the hat with an illogical, unobjective and fanciful conclusion. It's the same M.O. as junk science except that the issues involved are so simple than any lay person can see the emperor has no clothes... if he chooses to look.

Most abhorrent of all though, is the shameful attempt to blame the capitalist motive of competition for their misdeeds. These schmos wouldn't know competition if it knocked them on their butts.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2005 01:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen -- like they would push just as hard to get an anti-Kerry story out!

It does boggle the mind. The proof of your no-competition claim is the soft treatment of this story by their competitors: ABC and NBC soft pedaled this story, FoxNews hit it pretty hard.

It seems Fox is in competition with MSM more than they compete with each other.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2005 02:31 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I think this is the real two Americas, not the one John Edwards or the Red State/Blue State folks talk about. It is a polarization of ideas brought about by one sided views continually reinforced as more and more people only tune in to ideas they already agree with. In my view Fox has always been more slanted than the big three MSM's (which of course could just be my biased myopia, I can almost hear JK's teeth gnashing) but this is something I took as a David vs. Goliath type response. To be heard above the din of the big guys with mild liberal bias Fox had to respond with a little more conservative bias. The question is where this leads. It looks to be shaping up as a real dividing line, not only are your core viewers likely to share your bias, thus reinforcing your reason for having it, but so too will your reporters, commentators and even interview subjects. I already see that liberal and conservative politicians tend to only appear on shows with their bias. So what is wrong with a little bias? Nothing really, we all have it to some degree and all need to learn to have a discerning view of what we take in, mindful of its source, but I wonder where compromise will go. Intelligent compromise requires thoughtful discussion which in turn requires some sort of common ground for a starting point. The more we separate into two camps the less likely this becomes.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 11, 2005 04:53 PM
But jk thinks:

You have good hearing, Silence. My teeth were gnashing.

For what it's worth, I think that that Fox is exactly as biased as any of the big three. Not measurably more or less. This bias I cite is that of the producers and anchors. The stories chosen benefit the right, and Brit Hume cannot help but telegraph his inner feelings when he reports.

I will take exception to your second part, and say that where Fox does do better is the airtime given to other views. All manner of lefties are given serious airtime on FoxNews, both on the opinion and journalism shows. You see fewer conservatives on MSM, and they are always labeled as such. Every one of Brit Hume's broadcasts ends with the "all star panel" which will include either Juan Williams or Maura Liasson from NPR, or Cici Connelly from WaPo (sp? on all names).

The idea of a forceful conservative challenging Dan Rather or Peter Jennings at the end of the show is too incredible to imagine, yet it happens every night on Fox.

Lastly, I think Hinderocker is right that there is such a paucity of Conservative voices at CBS, bias is never challenged. There are several liberal voices at Fox, and I think this prevents the myopia that facilitated RaTHergate.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2005 09:18 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

No teeth gnashing here over your reply, but a quibble none the less. Much of the serious airtime given to liberals on Fox is the pairing of forceful hard conservative with a soft spoken moderate liberal, a class to which I would put both Liasson and Williams. The Hannity and Colmes show is the epitome of this.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 12, 2005 02:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I can't defend "Hannity & Colmes" but Juan Williams is a forceful voice, almost always orthogonal to Brit Hume's or Fred Barnes's. Maura and Cici are a little more soft spoken, but they provide a quieter, intellectual voice along the lines of Bill Kristol's.

And, we are comparing the voice of Williams or Liasson or Connelly to whom? There is NO voice on Dan Rather's, Peter Jennings's or Tom Brokaw's broadcasts. My buddy John Stossel somehow climbed the ladder at ABC (kudos to ABC) but a conservative voice on the nightly news broadcasts would be a huge step up for the MSM.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2005 03:35 PM

New On The Blogroll

GayPatriot says he's not "the new Andrew Sullivan." Fair enough, we're all individuals ("Yes, we are all individuals!").

Longtime readers will know I was a big Andrew Sullivan fan. He is my archetype of a blogger, and I copied his style as well as my lack of writing skills allow. A link, an excerpt, and an opinion -- that's blogging to me. The blogosphere then becomes an organic reading machine, allowing an obscure thought to rise to the top if a few readers find it interesting. Hayekian Journalism -- distributed knowledge and authority.

Sullivan's writing skills and his depth of thought still impress me. I hate to turn on somebody because he doesn't agree with me anymore. The not-new-sully-gay-guy has got it right:

The real question isn't where the GP site is the "new" Andrew Sullivan. The question is was Andrew Sullivan ever anything more than a blow with the wind conservative? The other term for that is -- a Clinton Democrat. If the polls supported the war in Iraq by over 66%, Sully was for it. If they start to head down below 50%, Sully bolts. He reminds me of a Philadelphia Eagles fan, circa 2004.

(PS -- Andrew, the Eagles are an AMERICAN football team. That's the game with the helmet, not the bloody knees and broken teeth. In America, we have another name for rugby -- its called hockey.)

Andrew's main problem is that he, along with his fellow Clinton Democrats, do not understand Red State (and the majority of) America.

I am adding GP to the blogroll and will start to read it because my vision of the GOP is a lot more gay-friendly, as we libertarian and lasseiz-faire social customs folk expand influence.

Sullivan was an important voice in that to me. Now that voice is no longer there. I'll be reading GP.

Posted by jk at 09:24 AM | Comments (4)
But AlexC thinks:

Hey! I used to be an Eagles fan. Until 2003. Now I root for them, only so they can lose in dramatic, spectacular fashion.
I was right last year. Lose in the NFC championship.
I look forward this year's SuperBowl catastrophe where they will make the '86 Patriots Super Bowl team look like the '72 Dolphins.

Posted by: AlexC at January 11, 2005 05:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought the "Eagles Fan" might draw a comment! We'll see what goes down but this Bronco fan is in no position to throw stones (they'd likely be intercepted anyway...)

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2005 09:21 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hold on there Snidely. My boy Jake just set a new Broncos passing record this season. And his interceptions are comparable to those of other "star" QB's, e.g. the Rams' Mark Bulger, who his head coach calls "the greatest QB I've ever coached" and yes, this includes Kurt Warner.
The Donkey's failure vs. the Colts was on defense, where their strategy of stopping the run failed to observe the fact that, by and large, the Colts don't run anyway.

As for the Iggles, I still think they're the Super Bowl champs if TO gets healthy enough to play full-speed. If not, the Steelers are my pick.

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2005 01:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, you're right. Jake did a great job this year. I was just trying to be funny.

I am always pessimistic but it just didn't seem that this year's team was the one that was going to do it.

This year's Colts-AFC-Wild-Card game made me nostalgic for last year's shellacking.

Fear not, I am a Broncs fan by birth (I was born in Denver) and I will utter the team cry: "Wait'll next year!"

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2005 08:10 AM

January 10, 2005

Better Living Through Bloggers

We're all aware of the tremendous impact the blogosphere has had on our society in recent months. Now, the beat goes on in Washington State. From John Fund:

"In his new book, "Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation," radio host and law professor Hugh Hewitt calls the new media a form of "open-source journalism" in which gatekeepers can no longer control what reaches the public. Readers and listeners interact with bloggers and talk show hosts so that a free market of ideas and information can emerge. "Blogs analyzed the Washington state election shenanigans in a more sophisticated and comprehensive way than the mainstream media," he told me."

And what has been the result? "A poll taken last week by Seattle's KING-TV found that by a 20-point margin state residents back a new election, and by 53% to 36% they don't think Mr. Rossi should concede."

The rest of the column is good stuff, detailing some of the voting "irregularities." For example, "At least 1,200 more votes were counted in Seattle's King County than the number of individual voters who can be accounted for." And worse. Take a look.

Posted by JohnGalt at 08:38 AM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

John Fund's book on election fraud is fantastic (I haven't bought the Hugh Hewitt book).

I can't get behind the idea of a do-over. As I mentioned, you prosecute fraud where you can, but at some level you admit that the vote counters were elected once themselves.

I think the GOP wuz robbed in Washington State. But maybe they need to be voted in by a wide margin, to clean house.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2005 04:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Did you also think the Ukrainian re-vote was a mistake?

I understand your principled position that after we follow the complete, established process, the results are final and binding. The problem with that approach is that it institutionalizes cheating by those who have the chutzpah to do it in plain sight and then say "it's unfortunate, but it happens." This is the mother of all slippery slopes.

The "wide margin" you speak of is reflected in the poll data showing residents back a new election by a 20 percent margin. But how can they vote in the GOP by a "wide margin" if they can't get in in the first place to remove dead and fictitional Democrats from the voting rolls?

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2005 01:13 PM
But jk thinks:

No, the Ukrainian revote was proper because the vote counters were not legitimately elected.

I hate to seem sanguine about this -- it is a crime that the world's best democracy (and its States) find it so difficult to stage a fair election. And I do NOT think it fair if Gregoire wins, considering the "infelicities."

If fraud can be proven, the election should be challenged. I would like to investigate different ways to isolate the "fishier" ballots in Washington State, and perhaps recount.

Yet I do not support a new vote unless it somehow called for in the state constitution, which it seems not to be.

If there is no way to better count the ballots from the election, then we must let the vote counters decide.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2005 02:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The unverified provisional ballots were counted (in King county) and the mystery ballots were counted (also in King county) and it matters not whether those doing the counting were elected or not. It is still illegal. The fact that the courts (in King county) declined to take heed of that little fact in their decisions to allow the "process to proceed" means that the Democrat machine in the greater Seattle area stole the election, "fair and square."

No objective observer can condone this merely because the vote counters were elected, legitimately or otherwise.

I agree that a re-vote may not be constitutionally justified, but if that is the only recourse to achieve an HONEST and LEGAL count of verifiably REGISTERED voters then so be it.

Posted by: johngalt at January 12, 2005 01:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Do you know if there is a recall procedure in WA? That would be a good outcome.

The lead WSJ Editorial today comes out against a revote. Few are more partisan than I, but I like the stories of Nixon's not challenging Illinois in 1960, and the county office a few years ago where the participants tossed a coin.

On one hand, do everything possible to improve the accuracy and legality of elections. On the other hand, keep all the civility and humility that the process of elections is more important than the outcome.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2005 02:19 PM

January 07, 2005

90s Nostalgia

The Clintons were always so good at releasing bad news Friday afternoons at 5PM Eastern. Glad to see they haven't lost their touch. AP Friday 5:08 PM: Sen. Clinton's Finance Director Indicted

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (news - web sites)'s former finance director has been indicted on charges of causing false campaign finance reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission (news - web sites), the Justice Department (news - web sites) said Friday.

The indictment of David Rosen, unsealed in Los Angeles, focuses on his fund-raising for an Aug. 12, 2000, gala for Clinton in Los Angeles. The New York Democrat was still first lady at the time.

While the event allegedly cost more than $1.2 million, the indictment said, Rosen reported contributions of about $400,000, knowing the figure to be false.
The indictment charged that Rosen provided some documents to the an FEC compliance officer but withheld the true costs of the event and provided false documents to substantiate the lower figure.

I think I'll go home and put my Spin Doctors CD in...Watch Seinfeld reruns...

Posted by jk at 03:27 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

What are the odds that the Rathergate report will come out on a friday?

Posted by: AlexC at January 7, 2005 11:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah -- October 23, 2009 is a Friday, I'm thinking that might be a good pick...(Weeks, not months, eh?)

Posted by: jk at January 8, 2005 11:05 AM
But jk thinks:

I stand corrected -- CBS has delivered! At first glance, it actually sounds somewhat serious and thorough...

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2005 11:33 AM


Jonathan Last at Galley Slaves links to a Meryl Yourish post about Saudi Arabia's response to the tsunami.

It seems that after some called the Saudi offer of $10 Million "stingy" (with or without a Norwegian accent), the princes dug deep and increased the official government offer to $30M. And a telethon raised supplies and an additional $31.2M.

The AP article points out that other telethons for Iraqi affected by the war and for Palestinian martyrs also raised "tens of millions."

Yourish digs up the exact figure paid to the Palestinian terrorists martyrs and he and Last and jk question their priorities:

Embarrassed for only putting up $10 million for the tsunami victims, the Saudi's have upped their ante to $30 million, with the help of a nationwide telethon.

But it turns out that this isn't the first time the Saudis have dug deep for others. In 2003 they raised $11.5 million for Iraqis--and $109 million for Palestinian "martyrs."

It isn't that Islamists don't know how to give to a good cause. It's that they have very different ideas about which causes are good.

We would do well to remember this in the future.

Posted by jk at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Damn Fundamentalists!

Now this is funny! It comes to me through GOPUSA. I suspect it is factually true, though the articles are biased. Oliver Stone tells a London crowd that "Alexander" bombed because fundamentalists couldn't handle a gay character:

Despite nearly universal disapproval from U.S. movie critics of the Macedonian conqueror film starring Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer, and Angelina Jolie, Stone blasted what he called "a raging fundamentalism in morality" in America for the film's poor performance in the U.S. while attending the British premiere of the film in London on Wednesday.

"I was quite taken aback by the controversy and fierceness of the reviews about a character we don't really know too much about," Stone told reporters in London on Wednesday. "I operate on my passion and sometimes I'm naive, I don't think about the consequences."

Stone ridiculed people from the South in the Bible Belt for causing the 3-hour saga, which cost nearly $200 million to make and market, to earn less than $35 million since its American debut on November 24.

"From day one audiences didn't show up," Stone lamented. "They didn't even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words, 'Alex the gay.' As a result you can bet that they thought, 'We're not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him.'"

"Despite nearly universal disapproval from U.S. movie critics" well, I'm sure most US film critics are confirmed gay-hating fundamentalists.

Perhaps the movie, ummm, was no good?

Posted by jk at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

Quote of the Day

From today's OpinionJournal's Political Diary

"Here's one thing (liberals) need to do now: Find our Arnold. The Dems need to embrace Hollywood because they don't know how to tell a compelling story that people connect to in a visceral way... The Republicans discovered that America loves Hollywood, loves actors, and when given a chance they vote for actors. Reagan, Arnold, that guy from the Love Boat, Sonny Bono. The Republicans run professional actors and really good amateur ones, like the one in the White House, that bumbling Gilligan, the genius at his craft" -- Nation magazine editor Katrina Van den Heuvel.

Katrina Van den Heuvel called the President a genius -- that's news!

Posted by jk at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

NED Bless Jonah

A Corner Post:

NEW DRINKING GAME [Jonah Goldberg]
Every time Specter mentions his experience as a prosecutor, do a shot. And why does he say "Patriot's Act" instead of Patriot Act? Maybe you should chug a beer when he says that.

I'm proud to be at work, missing the hearings today; Leahy would just drive my blood pressure up. I heard a rumor yesterday that my new Democratic Senator, Ken Salazar, plans to support Gonzales.

I hope this is true. While I supported Mr. Coors, I think Senator Salazar might be a responsible Democrat, joining forces with Evan Bath and Barak Obama, and Harold Ford when he gets there. Here's to hope!

Posted by jk at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2005

Where do we find these people?

AnySoldier.com is a great place to go if you want to know how and where and what to send our military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also a moving reminder of the decency, compassion and courage of these fine men and women.

1SG John Molamphy, somewhere West of Mosul writes

05 Jan 2005:

All of us are doing fine. Thanks for all the incredible support.

My guys and I would really be grateful if you'd do something for the survivors of the earthquakes and tsunamis. Some of us would like to do something but it's a little difficult from over here. Save the cost of a care package and donate it on our behalf to whatever relief effort you feel is worthy. No, I'm not trying to be nice; it's just those guys got their collective butts handed to them and they can't fight back.
Thanks and have a great new year.

John P. Molamphy
"Blackjack 7"

Thanks to all who serve! We got a Christmas letter from a jazz-loving soldier we sent some CDs and a small package to. Very cool.

Posted by jk at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

For This We Elect Republicans...

Usual, reflexive, party-cheerleading has been canceled for this post. John Fund writes in OpinionJournal's Political Diary today, that House Republicans have decided to wait for a rainy day to cut spending.

On Monday, a group of conservative House Republicans tried to get their party's caucus to endorse tough rule changes that would have made it harder to increase federal spending. Many Republicans say they are concerned about the spending surge since President Bush took office, but apparently not so concerned as to actually put some muscle behind their rhetoric.

All but one of the budget changes offered by conservative House members were defeated in a meeting of the GOP caucus. Some of the defeated amendments would have required a three-fifths vote to increase entitlement spending; required a "rainy day fund" for emergency spending; required roll-call votes on bills costing more than $50 million and repealed a rule that allows automatic passage of a debt ceiling. Plans to let caucus members vote in secret on Monday may have backfired, since it allowed the pork barrellers to vote one way while talking another.

House leadership aides insist they still plan on tough measures to restrain spending but insist they will do it "our way," meaning taking on faith that this year's budget can be restrained by force of will alone. Consider this a thumb in the eye of the National Taxpayers Union, which strongly endorsed the rule changes. "What most taxpayers and even some avid followers of politics don't know is that Congress's own rules create significant incentives for higher levels of spending, and make it exceedingly difficult for lawmakers to maintain oversight of the massive federal budget," points out NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing.

Before you forward the Democrat Registration forms, though, I still have to vote for the people who at least talk about what I like. The GOP talks about shrinking government and fails -- the Ds talk of expanding government and deliver.

Join me and change it from the inside!

Posted by jk at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Despite this setback, Denny Hastert said yesterday that "the 109th will be a reform congress" and it was reported today that Dubya has allowed a summary of his SS reform plan to be made public - it calls for privatization (assetization) of two thirds of a worker's FICA tax. Hopefully this is not only two thirds of the worker's half, making it one third of the government's total take (and only one third of any self-employed worker's tax).

If two thirds of the total FICA tax goes into a private account for each worker, and only the remaining third stays in the Ponzi scheme, then I would endorse Alex's plan for that last third - but with the caveat that the tax must eventually sunset and there is NO benefit program for handicapped, disabled, etc. (Altruism by force is immoral and anti-American.) That being said, if it happens I will also eat Alex's neighbor's hat!

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2005 01:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope you're right about the 109th. Politically, it would be a huge setback to have House, Senate and White House all GOP and continue this profligacy.

I for one will be happy with an incremental step toward assetization. when people have a small nest-egg that is really theirs, they will want more.

If it is sunsetted, I will provide your choice of sauce for the hat...

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2005 02:39 PM