For the second day in a row, we return to the self-described "wild men" of The Wall Street Journal editorial page. This morning I noticed this column by Bret Stephens, entitled "Why Iraqis Back McCain." You might think, based on the hed, that the article might contain some evidence that a majority of Iraqis would prefer to see the election of John McCain over Barack Obama. Alas, that would be awfully optimistic of you, dear reader. In fact, the author does note "Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey of more than 24,000 people in 24 countries. Result: From Japan to Tanzania to Germany to Russia, the world has 'more confidence' in Barack Obama than in his Republican rival to 'do the right thing regarding world affairs.' " As for the Iraqi view, well, Stephens talked to four guys, absolutely none of whom said they preferred McCain to Obama. He concludes, therefore, that "Iraq, all but alone among the nations, will be praying for a McCain victory on the first Tuesday in November."
We remind you that the Journal -- together with The Weekly Standard -- is considered to be the most high-minded and intellectually impressive of the right's various organs of opinion.
In most places in the world, men capture shrimp. In Washington, shrimp captures the man, (or, more specifically, David Broder). Speaking of Broder, is it now a condition of employment at The Washington Post that all of their most famous journalists must embody the concept of conflict of interest coupled with unbearable sanctimony and hypocrisy? More here. And hey, if the Mets can fire Willie Randolph over a year too late, surely the Post can wise up after a few too many decades ...
Bad sex. No, really ...
James Kirchick has a pretty amazing op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, titled "Bush never lied to us about Iraq." (Next week: "Liberace was the straightest man alive.")
His basic claim is that intelligence agencies supported every assertion the Bush administration made prior to the war, and so critics should not worry about the president, but "vent their spleen at the CIA." It's basically a variation of the "everyone agreed Saddam had WMDs" argument, and you can see our recent Think Again column for more on that.
Without getting into an entire history of the Bush administration's case for war, let's just deal with the only evidence Kirchick offers in his column, the findings of the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report:
Yet Rockefeller's highly partisan report does not substantiate its most explosive claims. Rockefeller, for instance, charges that "top administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and Al Qaeda as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11." Yet what did his report actually find? That Iraq-Al Qaeda links were "substantiated by intelligence information."
OK. Now let's go to the report:
Conclusion 12: Statements and implications by the president and secretary of state suggesting that Iraq and Al-Qaeda had a partnership, or that Iraq provided Al-Qaeda with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
So...what is Kirchick talking about? FAIR guesses that Kirchick is referring to a section in the report that says that some contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda were substantiated by intelligence. But the report also goes on to say that "policymakers' statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments of the nature of these contacts, and left the impression that the contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation of support of Al-Qaeda."
I believe that "did not accurately convey" is government report-speak for "lied."
Kirchick adds that "The same goes for claims about Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons, as well as his alleged operation of a nuclear weapons program."
From the report:
Conclusion 1: Statements by the President, Vice-President, Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor regarding a possible nuclear weapons program were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates, but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed in the intelligence community.
Conclusion 5: Statements by the President, Vice-President, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense regarding Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction were generally substantiated by intelligence information, though many statements made regarding ongoing production prior to late 2002 reflected a higher level of certainty than the intelligence judgments themselves.
I won't ask why Kirchick insists on misleading in order to cover for the administration's own misleading; his odd politics are what they are, and are usually pleasantly confined to the pages of The New Republic. But why is the LA Times printing it?
(We note also for the record that NewsBusters congratulates the "lefty," "liberal" Kirchick for his honesty.)
We've mentioned the upcoming Supreme Court case of Fox v. FCC, where the network is suing the Commission over its "fleeting expletive" policy that levies heavy fines for passing obscenities, as happened during the 2002 Billboard awards when Cher said the f-word.
Interesting as the case is, there is a potentially even more intriguing and wide-reaching component of the case that could forever change how the FCC operates. When the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the FCC over its obscenity policy, it also observed that "technological advances may obviate the constitutional legitimacy of the FCC's robust oversight." This is not a new argument -- the misguided idea is that with technology like the V-chip, there isn't so much a need for the FCC.
Furthermore, there was a 1969 Supreme Court case, Red Lion Broadcasting v. the FCC, that established a lot of the legal logic to the FCC's duties, Justice Byron White wrote that a scarcity of frequencies demanded the government apply the First Amendment to the airwaves. He wrote that "It is the purpose of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, rather than to countenance monopolization of that market, whether it be by the Government itself or a private licensee." But big broadcasters are arguing that mediums for transmitting data are no longer all that scarce, given the Internet, and so the logic of Red Lion doesn't really hold anymore.
Abolishing the FCC's ability to levy fines over obscenity sounds nice, but gutting its other oversight duties -- such as its ability to require certain amounts of educational children's programming, prevent monopolization, etc. -- would be awful. It will be a fascinating case to watch. (You can read more here.)
McCain Suck-up Watch: On Hardball, Todd Harris falsely claimed that "it was Senator [John] McCain who called for Don Rumsfeld to be sacked." Chris Matthews responded: "Right." But a McCain spokesman reportedly acknowledged that McCain "did not call for his resignation." More here.
Name: Ken Bilderback
I'm reminded of the familiar refrain that First Amendment is designed for unpopular speech, because popular speech doesn't need protection.
The same applies to human beings. No matter how bad someone is (and let's face it, we have no idea how bad these prisoners are because many haven't even been accused of anything), the Constitution expects government to treat them fairly and equally.
I'm still waiting for the bigger issue to be addressed. Someone, please, pin down John McCain about what, constitutional issues aside, he proposes we do with the prisoners. Keep them at Gitmo for 100 years?
As a former intelligence analyst in the Army, I must respond to The Fool's misconceptions about intelligence. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to KNOW what the enemy's capabilities are with 100% certainty. The nature of intelligence is that experiences from history teach analysts to always hedge their bets, which is why any intelligence report is misleading without those doubts being spelled out. A "smoking gun" is rare because such intelligence can be faked or our own spies could be double agents feeding us wrong information, and there are many ways to fool spy satellites and planes.
That being said, I agree with everything else in The Fool's post, which points out how intelligence can be wrong even if we have a high degree of certainty that the information is correct.
After reading all the commentary, Tim Russert was known for his great preparation -- and that would have suited him well for the classroom but could the master interviewer have withstood the heat coming at him where there will be no protocol, manners, civility and the most foul language, attitude and contempt hurled his way?
I've personally witnessed fine people in the community (lawyers, businessmen, etc.) idealistically walk into an inner city classroom only to have their head handed to them by the end of the day or week and are left mumbling...the horror...the horror! Of course it's not an impossible task but teaching those type of students will test the power of your will like no other and yes it can be done and is done daily throughout this country by the great front line teacher.
I am saddened for Mr. Russert's family and friends by the sudden end. It reminds me, though, as I put on my body armor for another day to appreciate every minute of every hour of every day, to live life in service of myself and others as if there will be no tomorrow then celebrate again if I am granted another...
I tuned in for Olbermann's show last Friday, and it was basically turned into a wake for Tim Russert. I don't want to dance on the man's grave or anything, but based on what was said about Russert, you'd have thought that he singlehandedly exposed all of the Iraq WMD lies, saving us from going to war, and that his testimony in the Plame case resulted in a perjury indictment/conviction of Karl Rove.
This is the punditocracy. I think they may actually believe a lot of the revisionist history they spew, particularly in regard to their role in enabling the current administrations excesses.
Again, not to be disrespectful, but my guess is David Gregory will be taking over Meet the Press, but maybe a bolder choice would be Scott McClellan? Or anyone else that would at least acknowledge the media's lapdog mentality. Maybe Bill Moyers? Now I'm just talking crazy, I know.
On the Tim Russert memorial edition of Meet the Press Sunday morning, Tom Brokaw read a note of condolence from Bruce Springsteen, who said he'd miss Tim's big happy face at E Street Band concerts. They then played "Thunder Road" behind a montage of images from Tim's life.
This story has the smell of the whole "cold fusion" promise of the 1980's. Water cannot be both the fuel source and the waste generated by a fuel cell based car (this violates the basic laws of thermodynamics). *Something* has to be causing the chemical reaction which breaks down water into hydrogen and oxygen (the hydrogen is later used in the fuel cell to power the car). As the manufacturer claims that no external energy is involved, that implies an internal, consumable catalyst.
After a quick search (as the manufacturer does not specify how the chemical reaction is produced), it appears that lithium is a likely candidate for the catalyst being used in the reaction. Thus, such a car would need to be periodically refilled with lithium (or whatever catalyst is actually used in the system) which basically refutes the concept of the "car that runs on water" story.
These types of articles should either be well researched and accurately reported or just dropped. In its current form, the story offers an unrealistic "holy grail" to the world's fuel problems that will simply misinform people and, potentially, lead to the mistrust of valid scientific solutions to genuine problems.
"Speaking of Radiohead, the only great (in every sense of the word) band to emerge since the 1980s -- with U2 and R.E.M. being the only great bands to emerge in the previous decade ..."
Uh, The Cure? I mean, seriously, how can you overlook The Cure? Sure, Robert Smith may not love himself as much as Bono loves himself or Michael Stipe loves himself but, come on, how can you overlook The Cure? Disintegration is the greatest album ever made (just ask Stan and Kyle) and Mega-Robert Smith destroyed Mega-Barbra Streisand, which has to count for something.
Depeche Mode is still fantastic after all these years, as well.
Eric replies: Yech x 2.
Taking nothing away from Radiohead, there have been other bands. At the top of any rock band list from the late 80s/early 90s period has to stand Guns n' Roses. I know Altercation tends to feature friendlier fare like the Beatles or Bruce, but nobody took the bad boys of rock cudgel from the Rolling Stones and swung it any harder than GnR. Sure -- they proved ultimately to be self-destructive, but who among us is not amazed that most of the Stones are still alive?
And then in the 90s, Nirvana has to stand at the top of the tree as a band that reinvented the very sound of rock, perhaps in a way that no one had since Hendrix - and how fitting that they came from Seattle too. Again, Kurt Cobain flamed out under the klieg lights, but if the fact that Pearl Jam is still performing festival rock shows to good reviews means anything, it should tell us that Nirvana has entered into that "great band" category.
Eric replies: Yes, Nirvana. I forgot Nirvana. Sorry. I did not "forget" GnR; I just hate them.
OK, I'm sure you'll get a ton of these responses, but how can you not include Talking Heads and The Clash as great bands of the 70's? Is it because they don't still exist as bands while U2 and R.E.M. do?
Eric relies: Because, bub, I was talking about the '80s, not the '70s. (I saw U2 three times in the LSE gym in the winter of 1980, as it happens. That's my Hendrix-at-the-café-a-Go-Go story.)
Name: Brian Donohue
You baseball fans are going to have to come up with something fairly strange to match the drama yesterday near the Lou Dobbs border in SoCal.
I don't go for superlatives, because they almost always bite us in the ass in the end. My rule, I can break it: Woods is the greatest professional athlete. Ever. Case closed.
Eric replies: Dear readers: As a rule, just because you assert something to be true, that rarely, as a rule, closes the alleged case. It just sounds silly, as in the above. That's our lesson for today. See, for instance, under: Williams, Ted, DiMaggio, Joe, and of course Jordan, Michael.