Saturday, May 27, 2006

Really Wrong "Rockin' Right"

Let’s face it, people these days are defined by what rockin’ songs they have on their I-pods.
But what can you do as a conservative to be 21st-Century cool whilst still maintaining your core 18th Century conservative principles?

Doesn’t it seem like most of the coolest bands are a bunch of degenerate tree hugging America-haters ? How on earth will you ever be able to accumulate
50 rockin’ songs that won’t eventually turn you into a tax and spend fag?

Well look no further, ‘cos your prayers have been answered!

John J. Miller of National Online Review has compiled a list of 50 of the rockin’est songs for the Right.

Not only does John let you exercise your freedom of choice by telling you what to listen to, he also explains why, with lyric excerpts and explanations so you don’t have to learn the whole song, just the important conservative bits! Then you all be conservativin’ wit da kool!

Don’t believe me? Then believe your own ears by looking at these examples from
John J. Miller’s Rockin; the Right—The 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs.

1.“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who.
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all.
“There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.”
The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

And Bush's favorite song too!
Did you know conservatives also supported the Magna Carta and the English Civil War and instituted the American, French, Russian, Chinese and Cuban revolutions? Conservatives are all about radical social and political change!

Here are some of the less conservative bits:

We'll be fighting in the streets/ With our children at our feet/ And the morals that they worship will be gone/ And the men who spurred us on /Sit in judgement of all wrong /They decide and the shotgun sings the song/
The change, it had to come /We knew it all along/ We were liberated from the fold, that's all/ And the world looks just the same /And history ain't changed/ 'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

2. “Taxman,” by The Beatles
A George Harrison masterpiece with a famous guitar riff (which was actually played by Paul McCartney):
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street / If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat / If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.” The song closes with a humorous jab at death taxes: “Now my advice for those who die / Declare the pennies on your eyes.”

Tax Man was written when the wealthiest in the UK were taxed at a staggering rate of 90% and at a relatively low threshold (that included the Beatles of course) by the Labour government. It’s about a stupid tax policy....stupid!

3. “Sympathy for the Devil,” by The Rolling Stones. ;
Don’t be misled by the title; this song is The Screwtape Letters of rock.
The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that “every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints.” What’s more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism: “I stuck around St. Petersburg / When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain.”

No…..actually it’s about how not making tax cuts permanent increases abortions and aids the enemy in his War on Christmas.

4. “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. ; A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young’s Canadian arrogance along the way:
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”

Now this is a song that conservatives can rally around! Lynyrd Skynrd matches Neil Young’s nasal whine in their vocals and defends Alabama’s proud heritage of slavery and xenophobia and trumpeting the solid moral virtues of state-wide poverty

5. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” by The Beach Boys.
Pro-abstinence and pro-marriage: “Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do / We could be married / And then we’d be happy.”

Happily married like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and abstinent like Karl Rove.

6. “Gloria,” by U2.
Just because a rock song is about faith doesn’t mean that it’s conservative. But what about a rock song that’s about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That’s beautifully reactionary: “Gloria / In te domine / Gloria / Exultate.”

Latin makes all the difference! Never mind that Latin is closer to Spanish than it is to the now “official” language of the US. Never mind that the song ain’t exactly “Ave Maria”. The important thing is that it’s reactionary—a fundamental aspect of conservatism!

7. “Revolution,” by The Beatles:
You say you want a revolution / Well you know / We all want to change the world . . . Don’t you know you can count me out?” What’s more, Communism isn’t even cool: “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.” (Someone tell the Che Guevara crowd.)

And pay no attention to:

You tell me that it's evolution/Well, you know/We all want to change the world/But when you talk about destruction/Don't you know that you can count me out
You say you'll change the constitution/Well, you know/We all want to change your head/

You tell me it's the institution/Well, you know/You better free you mind instead

Hey John, why don’t you go to Cuba and tell the Che Guevara crowd. Oh wait, you aren’t allowed to, And they are all dead anyway.

8. “Bodies,” by The Sex Pistols. Violent and vulgar, but also a searing anti-abortion anthem by the quintessential punk band: “It’s not an animal / It’s an abortion.”

Don’t forget to ignore the very first lines

She was a girl from birmingham/ She just had an abortion/ She was a case of insanity/ Her name was pauline she lived in a tree/ She was a no one who killed her baby

And don’t listen to this bit either:

Dragged on a table in a factory/illegitimate place to be/ in a packet in a lavatory/die little baby screaming

It’s about unwanted pregnancy and do-it-yourself abortions, you douchebag!

9. “Don’t Tread on Me,” by Metallica.
A head-banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: “So be it / Threaten no more / To secure peace is to prepare for war.”

Almost right. Close enough for supporters of this Government anyway. Never mind that it wasn’t the US that was trodden on.

10. “20th Century Man,” by The Kinks. ;
You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I’ll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci, and Gainsborough. . . . I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy got no liberty / ’Cause the 20th-century people / Took it all away from me.”

Got no privacy, got no liberty, yup that does sound conservative.

You don’t need to know about this bit:

"This is the age of machinery/A mechanical nightmare/The wonderful world of technology/Napalm hydrogen bombs biological warfare,"

We all know it’s liberals who control the military industrial complex

11. “The Trees,” by Rush. ;
Before there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes? “The trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw.”

You have to read the whole song to really appreciate it, and by that I mean poke rusty forks in your eyeballs.

13. “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders. ;
Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh’s radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative’s dissatisfaction with rapid change:
“I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride.”

Just listen the other way when this bit comes up, it doesn’t concern you:

"The farms of ohio/had been replaced by shopping malls/and muzak filled the air/from seneca to cuyahoga falls"

Ah yes, it’s those sneaky liberals again crushing the unsubsidized farms and filling stores with Muzak, like liberal old Walmart.

18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour. ;
A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: “I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I’m the cult of personality.”

But not Ronald Reagan or George Bush, or sexy Don Rumsfeld or Pat Robertson

28. “Janie’s Got a Gun,” by Aerosmith.
How the right to bear arms can protect women from sexual predators:

No, I think it’s more like how gun-owning dads should'nt molest their daughters if they don’t want their brains redecorating the house.

29. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Iron Maiden. ;
A heavy-metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?

It’s about time we another rockin’ Right song inspired by opium addiction: How about , “I’ve Got This Damn Bird Around My Neck” by Lame Duck ?

34. “Godzilla,” by Blue öyster Cult. ;
A 1977 classic about a big green monster — and more: “History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men.”

And we all know how Godzilla was created out of the misguided interference of atomic scientists and liberal environmentalists and not God.

37. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” by The Band. ;
Despite its sins, the American South always has been about more than racism

Yes, the American south is also known for brain-damaging booze AND racing around ovals for hours on end.

So there you have it kids, just a few of the awesomest, pro-life, Christian, pro-marriage, pro business pro-war, pro GOP songs ever recorded!

Friday, May 26, 2006


The “big news” from Bush and Blair’s latest confab according to quite a few in the MSM is the admission of “mistakes”.
Bush admitted “Bring em’on“ was a mistake because “it sent the wrong signal to people” and that the Abu Ghraib scandal was the “biggest mistake.”
Blair said “we could have done the de-Baathification in a more differentiated way than we did.” (Actually the UK had nothing to do with de-Baathification, that was entirely Bremer’s scheme).
Missing from this list of “mistakes”?

Abandoning Afghanistan to invade Iraq in the first place.
Invading despite international objections.
Lying about the casus belli.
Lying about the financial cost of the war.
Ignoring advice on troop levels needed to establish security and order.
Sending troops into battle with insufficient armor and bullets.
Failing to secure 477 tons of explosives.
Allowing looting.
Preventing immediate local regional elections
Promulgating Ahmed Chalabi as a national leader.
No-bid contracts.
Hiring juveniles from the Heritage foundation to administrate a country.
Cutting soldier’s benefits.

Of course there are more mistakes to list, but the biggest mistake of all perhaps lies not with Bush alone but with ignorant, self-obsessed, arrogant and easily-swayed Americans more interested in shopping and American Idol than choosing a responsible and reasonable government that makes life and death decisions.

The time for admitting mistakes will come in November 2006 and then in 2008. In the meantime tens of thousands will suffer and die as a result of even these three admitted “mistakes”.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Media Really Does Matter

I'm watching Gwen Ifill right now on PBS Newshour.
The subject is Al Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth".
The guests are two... hmmm... supporters I suppose, I can't remember their names. No contrary guests.

Ifill: "Has Al Gore been radicalized? ...Has he gotten over the 2000 election? ...Has Gore gone Hollywood? ....Is he planning to run in 08"

Hey Gwen! Are you a reporter, a journalist or a blinkered political junkie? Think you could spend two minutes dealing with the subject of the movie instead of the personality behind it? And do you think you could describe the CEI as being not just a bland "think tank" but as an organization exclusively funded to promote the interests of energy companies?
Apparently not.
C'mon Gwen, I know you're better than this! Or have you given up too?

CORRECTION: CEI is not "exclusively funded by oil companies" and to characterize it properly it is worth reading from it's own site :

"The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. We believe that individuals are best helped not by government intervention, but by making their own choices in a free marketplace."

Hmm, ...sounds like they are super-qualified to provide unbiased views and information of envonmental issues. NOT!

Guilt By Association: My Meal with NPR Ombudsman Dvorkin

Hold on to your hats, this is the longest and most tedious thing I'm ever likely to post but don't blame me, blame Mr. Dvorkin, the NPR Ombudsman.
This post is a response to his inane response to criticism of recent comments by NPR reportor Mara Liasson on Fox News who went out of her way (or suffered a serious brain-fart) to paint the Abramoff scandal as being bi-partisan.
Called to account by Think Progress and Media Matters and intelligent "netizens" (sorry!) NPR Obmudsman Dvorkin responded by impugning all bloggers everywhere, the mentioned websites and the majority of NPR listeners without a shred of evidence or an ounce of logic

I e-mailed him the following (though in fairness I have since added a colon or two and the odd otherwise missing word--none of which negates my intent, meaning or argument).

That which follows is adressed to Mr. Dvorkin and not to my regular or irregular audience who consistently exhibit the kind of wit, decorum and rational intelligence that Mr Dvorkin himself apparently neither possesses nor has apparently been exposed to of late.

Nonetheless I offer it here as an example of how a rabid, politically motivated other-directed moronic reactionary and vituperative blogger can not only challenge with facts and reason an accredited journalist and established obumdsman, but bludgeon the same into submission with his own metaphorical shoe and as an example of how fucking irritating it is to have to explain to members of the MSM how to do their own fucking job! I give you the following:

Guilt by Association: The NPR-FOX Connection


It is plainly evident in its variety of programs, contributors, personalities and the time it allots to each that NPR consistently presents as “bi-partisan” a “fair-and-balanced” delivery of news, analysis and information as possible. NPR’s broadcast product and the organization overall can I think be reasonably described as “non-partisan”.

However, and still perfectly reasonably, various individual NPR correspondents consistently demonstrate their own particular biases or partisanship (this is also true of other news organization).

It is quite understandable that any given correspondent (in any news organization) may lean towards one side or another of a particular story as it develops, and when asked in an interview to express an opinion, actually gives an opinion instead of a recitation of dry facts.

Given a fact (that is, corroborated evidence) or rather a set of facts a journalist may arrange those facts in a way that can emphasize one or more aspects over the others according to what the journalists thinks is most important or compelling about the story being reported.

Thus for instance a cat being rescued from a tree by firemen can be reported neutrally, or could emphasize the cat’s ordeal, or the firemen’s efforts or that cats getting stuck in trees are a waste of municipal resources--which might be the tack that a cat-hating journalist might choose to take (especially if his or her editor also hates cats).

Now, an emphasis or a bias in a reporter’s story does not necessarily invalidate the story, nor a given opinion, as long as all the relevant facts reasonably support the emphasis or bias of the story, or the opinion or argument expressed (as per the above cat-in-a-tree example).

You assert in your article “Guilt By Association” that:

“Frustrated public-radio listeners tell me that the NPR presence only serves as cover for FOX's claim that it is "fair and balanced."

I’m confident that some have indeed expressed that opinion as I’ve seen such viewpoints written elsewhere but it might help to substantiate your assertion by providing at least one verifiable example. Nonetheless I’m willing to accept it as very likely.

The particular claim by these critics that NPR correspondents’ appearances on FOX “serve as cover” to justify the FOX News appropriation of “fair and balanced” is a small issue in itself and not something for anyone to get excited about, were it not for the larger implications.

As I suggested above, NPR as an organization can reasonably claim to be non-partisan in its delivery of news and commentary over the course of its programming as a whole. Thus the “brand” of NPR may be considered synonymous with the phrase and common notion of “fair and balanced”. FOX News as a whole is demonstrably neither “fair” nor “balanced”.

If anyone deserves to use such a signature it is NPR, and not FOX News whose various reporters and personalities have consistently and across the board ignored established facts that would undermine their preferred perspectives, severely misrepresented public records, simply lied or have made unsubstantiated claims and presented them as fact or expert opinion without any foundation whatsoever and in editorials and opinion pieces that often make no sense at all.
Any public corrections tend to be made not by internal diligence, but only due to external pressure—and even then very rarely.

The examples of such “journalism” are legion but Bill O’Reilly, as FOX News’ most popular and successful pundit or “journalist” (and a former award-winning reporter) offers a rich and obvious vein of bias, lies and simply irresponsible journalism that, were he subject to NPR’s reputed typical oversight, wouldn’t last a day. Indeed he didn’t complete an interview with Terry Gross which I well recall (and as much as I admire Terry Gross’s professionalism I happen to think she performed below her usual standards that day).

O’Reilly for example has claimed he won two Peabody awards, and when challenged claimed he “misspoke” and had meant to say Polk, which was not true either (and never mind that the criteria for the awards are different).
He claimed that his call for a boycott of French goods due to French opposition to the invasion in Iraq led to a major reduction in French exports to the US—actually they increased---and he “quoted” the “Paris Business Review” to support his claim despite the fact that it was a complete fiction (within a day some wag had established a satiric website of the same name which of course did nothing to substantiate O’Reilly’s claim).
These are the better-known examples of FOX’s “golden boy” of radio, TV and print journalism and there are dozens more from him and his colleagues such as Brit Hume, Neil Cavuto, John Gibson, Sean Hannity and so on.

FOX News is not just overwhelmingly politically biased (which it is allowed to be, just as the Daily Worker is or any white supremacist or black-power newsletter is allowed to be under the 1st Amendment), it actively promotes disinformation, misinformation and indeed utter lies all the while claiming to be “fair and balanced” and in direct contravention of principles described by the U.S. Constitution which specifically identify a “free press” as being an essential additional check against the triumvirate of the Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary in the balance of political power so that the public might have a persistent voice and presence beyond and between elections in order that democracy might be maintained and endure.

Unlike NPR, which as an organization clearly takes its role as a member of the “Fourth Estate” quite seriously, FOX News has no regard for debate, dissent, honesty or accurate information.
FOX News overwhelmingly supports the party in power and perhaps more significantly, demonstrably attacks the minority, at the very least by claiming the mass media has a “liberal bias” when in fact most TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and books are owned by powerful right-leaning conglomerates invested in the Republican government and upon whom the Republicans depend.
Any reportage critical of either the party in power and of course it’s corporate media bedfellows is commonly attacked as being “un-American” with the critics being characterized as ‘traitors’ ‘treasonous’ ‘lunatics’ ‘deviants’ ‘satanists’ ‘terrorist sympathizers’ and more.

It is probably because of this clear and exclusive relationship between FOX and the GOP that members of the NPR audience feel they are losing a truly “fair and balanced” source of news and commentary when NPR correspondents regularly appear on the FOX network, apparently legitimizing a “news” organization that obviously functions as a powerful propaganda wing of one political party rather than being “fair and balanced” as an organization and as a whole.
But perhaps what galls complaining NPR listeners most is the revelation that certain NPR correspondents so clearly subscribe to the FOX “School of Journalism” which is miles distant from NPR’s well established standards or those of any other respectable journalistic entity (such as the Columbia School of Journalism).

The recent remarks of Maria Liasson provide a great example and your own remarks are quite illuminating too.

Quoting you:

“On FOX News Sunday, for May 7th, NPR's Mara Liasson reported (accurately, in my opinion) that the polls indicate the public sees the Abramoff scandal as being essentially bipartisan even though only Republicans took money from the now disgraced, but once well-connected lobbyist.”

Here’s what Liasson actually said (emphasis added):

“And I think that every time you hear another one of these kind of bipartisan scandal stories, where it's Democrats, not just Republicans, taking money from Abramoff, it underlines a feeling that people tell pollsters over and over again, which is that everybody does it, that there's not really much difference. Now, of course, in terms of the lobbying scandals and the money-related scandals, there are more Republicans involved. They're the majority party.”

Now, firstly Liasson uses the words "bipartisan scandal stories"—she’s not talking about polls or opinions here, she is characterizing the scandal in question as being ipso facto bipartisan.
Then she states that Democrats as well as Republicans took money from Abramoff. That is patently untrue, as you yourself note.
So why would Liasson say something that is untrue, long after the claim had been debunked?

Moving along...:

"...where it's Democrats, not just Republicans, taking money from Abramoff, it underlines a feeling that people tell pollsters over and over again, which is that everybody does it, that there's not really much difference.”

Well of course polls would reflect a view that the corruption was bipartisan if that’s what people are told repeatedly by reporters and pundits (and partisan republican guests like Newt Gingrich onTV news shows), even though it isn’t true!
Liasson is thus “reporting accurately” on the polls (supposedly) reflecting opinions based on a lie which Liasson herself just repeated---that Democrats took money from Abramoff.
Finally she states: “Now, of course, in terms of the lobbying scandals and the money-related scandals, there are more Republicans involved. They're the majority party.”

So Liasson’s masterful analysis is that because there are simply more Republicans than Democrats ‘logic’ dictates that more Republicans than Democrats would be implicated in the Abramoff scandal.

Except that there aren’t any Democrats involved, at all. That is a fact!
Bear in mind that Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review (not exactly The Daily Worker by anyone’s standards) wrote in a January 10 editorial (that’s over four months ago) that the Abramoff affair is “in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.”

So, to summarize for the moment:
Liasson herself first characterizes the Abramoff scandal as bipartisan (not true), repeats the lie that Democrats took money from Abramoff, then notes that the polls reflect a public belief in the lie she (and others) have promoted, and then further promotes the notion saying that more Republicans are involved (thus implying less Democrat involvement) simply because there are more Republicans (than Democrats). Is it any wonder then that public opinion reflects the disinformation provided by reporters?

Is it also any wonder then that NPR listeners who expect facts, truth and intelligent analysis would find Liasson’s performance on FOX less than satisfactory and complain about it?
When the audience itself is better-informed about a subject than the reporter and has to correct the reporter, clearly something is seriously wrong, wouldn’t you say?

And that brings me to the subject of your listeners (of which I am one and yes, I have given money to NPR).

You write:
“Frustrated public-radio listeners tell me that the NPR presence only serves as cover for FOX's claim that it is "fair and balanced." And that frustration is further pumped up by some political blogs, seeking to trash both FOX for being conservative, and NPR for looking like FOX's willing agents whenever its news representatives participate on FOX's programs.”

Pay no attention to your listeners that claim the NPR presence only serves as cover for FOX's claim that it is "fair and balanced."
Anyone who disagrees with FOX’s worldview is ipso facto unfair and unbalanced, because FOX says so. FOX certainly doesn’t need the occasional NPR reporter to deflect criticism—the preferred method is simply to lie, tell its critics to shut up, question their patriotism or simply threaten them with FOX security.

Now as far as political blogs “seeking to trash both FOX for being conservative, and NPR for looking like FOX's willing agents whenever its news representatives participate on FOX's programs” , which political blogs do you mean? Little Green Footballs? PowerLine?

Or are you referring to Media Matters and Think Progress? Though their politics may be obvious, only one of these is a political blog—that would be Think Progress. Media Matters is a media watchdog organization.

By using the word “trash” you imply that these “political blogs” are indiscriminate in their criticisms of FOX and of NPR representatives who appear on FOX. If indeed you are referring to Media Matters (which isn’t actually a political blog) you will note that they take great pains in ensuring accuracy and in substantiating their criticisms.

That FOX is a common target is not indicative of some blind political vendetta, it is that FOX consistently distorts the truth, lies and actively promotes a clearly biased view—all contrary to the best practices of good journalism and clearly at odds with the slogan “Fair and Balanced”, and when NPR representatives such as Mara Liasson repeat lies and distortions that fit perfectly with FOX’s practices then clearly she is subject to the same criticisms as FOX and appears therefore as a “willing agent”.

Now let’s return to “The Abramoff Scandal (Again)”

You write (and note I’m trying to avoid parsing to maintain the integrity of what you wrote):

“It happened again, just the other day. On FOX News Sunday, for May 7th, NPR's Mara Liasson reported (accurately, in my opinion) that the polls indicate the public sees the Abramoff scandal as being essentially bipartisan even though only Republicans took money from the now disgraced, but once well-connected lobbyist.
The FOX transcript did not initially record it like that. Due to a misplaced comma, it left the impression that Liasson said that both parties had profited directly from Abramoff. FOX soon issued an accurate transcript, but the correction was ignored by two blogs,
Media Matters and Think Progress.”

I haven’t seen the FOX transcript but Media Matters has the recording and Media Matters’s transcript excludes a few hesitations by Mara. The whole words and sentences are in order and in perfect synchronization with what she said. Unless Media Matters manipulated the video and thus the audio, the transcript provided matches perfectly.

It is true that a comma implies a pause, and Mara Liasson does not in fact pause when she says “…where it's Democrats not just Republicans...” and indeed she provides no emphasis at all. Were Media Matters (or myself) really interested in manipulating what she said to make her appear biased in an attempt to “trash” NPR and its representatives, the transcript might have appeared more like this: “...where it's Democrats! not just Republicans..” (or some variation thereof) to imply inflections and emphasis where none in fact exist.

So how does the inclusion or exclusion of a comma change the import of her words? It doesn’t! Nothing changes the fact that she maintained that Democrats were also involved in Abramoff’s corruption when in fact they weren’t (and this months after the claim had been debunked by journailsts from the political Left and the Right not to mention the actual facts of the case).
So why should Liasson resurrect and promote a falsehood? Is she stupid or not paying attention? Or does she have a vested interest in promoting a lie? Discriminating NPR listeners (those not all juiced-up by partisan blog rhetoric of course) might like to know.

Your protestation that the inclusion of a comma in the transcription of her words somehow significantly alters what she said beggars not just belief, but fact—it makes no difference to what she said; that Democrats as well as Republicans received money from Abramoff and thus the scandal was bipartisan; months after the facts the claim, like your excuse, has no merit.

Moving on…

“The blogs encouraged people to complain to NPR, and hundreds did, many with a surprising level of rancor and vituperation, which was shockingly intense, even in these times of "take-no-prisoners-and shoot-the-wounded" political debate.

Which blogs encouraged people to complain?
Think Progress? There is nothing on their site that encourages people to complain about anything and nothing in their Liasson post either.
Media Matters? Accompanying every article page is the following :

"When contacting the media, please be polite and professional. Express your specific concerns regarding that particular news report or commentary, and be sure to indicate exactly what you would like the media outlet to do differently in the future."

Media Matters has no control over the words used by those who choose to write to the media. It is in their best interests should they be referenced by a complainant that comments or criticisms NOT be vituperative or unreasonable lest Media Matters be found guilty by association. Ironically that’s the title of your article and it seems the foundation of your own complaints.

But let’s continue….

“The blogs got it wrong because FOX's original transcript was in error. But the blogs, unlike FOX, never bothered telling their supporters about the correction.”

“The blogs” (still presumably meaning Media Matters and Think Progress) didn’t use FOX’s transcript which you say “was in error”. Mara Liasson spoke quite clearly and quite fluidly and any normal person above the age of 10 would be able to write a perfectly accurate transcript from the footage.
Regardless of the accuracy or otherwise of the transcript the video is the primary evidence wherein Mara clearly says “…where it's Democrats not just Republicans taking money from Abramoff...” (note the lack of commas here).
Because neither used FOX’s transcript the blogs you criticize would have no reason to report that Fox had supposedly made a "mistake" in its transcript which was then “corrected”.

“The role of the blogosphere in this matter seems worth exploring because while it encourages people to express strong feelings, the level of pure acrimony in this case, seemed to me to rise to the level of hate speech.”

The “blogosphere” (the entirety of blogs) doesn’t “encourage” people to express strong feelings. The blogosphere simply reflects its constituents. It is up to individual bloggers to choose how to express themselves.
The number of blogs that make up the “blogosphere” is currently estimated at 50 million.
It would certainly be illuminating to visit every single one and note exactly how many of them encourage people to express strong feelings and how many of them employ acrimony and hate speech.
It would be even more interesting to determine which of those listen to NPR or read Media Matters or Think Progress.

It might help your claim if you actually provided some examples of pure acrimony and hate speech.
Whilst you are busy doing that, I’ll just think back to the time when the Washington Post shut down its blog after being inundated with “hateful” and “vicious” attacks from “bloggers” regarding Deborah Howell (also an ombudsman defending an employee with dubious credentials for honesty), at least according to Deborah Howell who eventually never came up with a single example (out of over 1000 comments received) to substantiate her claim.

But never mind that for the moment, we’re almost done deconstructing your article.

What About NPR on Other Media?
“At the same time, there is rarely any objection from listeners to NPR journalists appearing on or in other media. Political editor Ken Rudin is a regular on CNN. Reporters Nina Totenberg, Andrea Seabrook and Tom Gjelten, among others have often appeared on PBS.”

That may be so but you provide no evidence. Still, if NPR listeners do therefore have an apparently unreasonable anti-FOX bias as you seem to suggest here, as ombudsman are you going to listen to your audience, or ignore them?

“The few complaints I receive about those appearances are minor compared with the astonishing level of anger, rebuke and personal attack whenever NPR journalists appear on FOX”

Perhaps your listeners. when they find NPR reporters on FOX speaking the same lies and distortions that they’ve come to expect from FOX broadcasters feel perhaps a little betrayed by the news organization that they regard as being independent and “fair and balanced” such as NPR itself claims to be?

“The reasons for this are somewhat complicated, but I think it's worth looking into why normally mild-mannered public-radio listeners (if indeed, they are as they claim) start biting the carpet each time a blog points out the latest alleged NPR misstatement on FOX.”

Ah yes, “alleged…misstatements”.
How for instance would Mara Liasson’s statement on recorded television, where she says “'s Democrats not just Republicans, taking money from Abramoff...” be in anyway alleged? She said it, that’s a proven fact, it’s on the record.

What’s more on Jan 12 2006 on All Things Considered Liasson said “Although a handful of Democrats did get money from Abramoff's clients, the vast majority of members and staff involved, are Republicans”.
That is in fact true ( finally some truth!) but the Abramoff scandal wasn’t and isn’t about Abramoff’s clients giving money to politicians of both parties (that is irrelevant and not what Abramoff has been charged with or admitted), it is about Abramoff defrauding his own clients and then giving money to Republicans in exchange for favors.
This earlier statement of Liasson’s at least emphasizes a deeper Republican involvement, but it is still shy of the fact that the scandal as defined by the courts was and is exclusively Republican.
Her more current statement, after months of reporting by others proving the exclusively Republican nature of the scandal, is actually undermined by her own earlier words. If Liasson has simply “misstated” a fact then she need only issue a correction—a standard journalistic practice---and would then be less prone to accusations of bias. Instead both you and FOX appear to have manufactured a defense by arguing that her innocence can be proven by misinterpretation of the presence of a comma in a transcript, political agitation and the rants of angry and hysterical bloggers possibly misrepresenting themselves as NPR listeners.
“First, for many in the blogosphere, the issue is FOX -- pure and simple. Many who write to me describe FOX as the "anti-NPR." They say that while NPR represents some of what is best about American journalism, FOX represents the worst.”
And what do you say? You have an opinion on “the blogosphere”; what about your opinion on FOX? Or does your role as ombudsman preclude you expressing an opinion?

“In a free country, free expression should be a sacred trust. But when the blogs launch a campaign, there is a mean-spirited, venomous quality to the e-mails. Of the hundreds I received complaining about Mara Liasson’s putative error, many were as nasty and as personal in tone as I have ever seen.”
The “blogs” haven’t “launched” this particular “campaign”; blog readers have taken it upon themselves to complain, and they are simply exercising their free expression. Even if Media Matters provided no immediately accessible link, I’m pretty sure the average internet user is capable of finding a web address on their own. And again the quality of any arguments you received is attributable only to the individuals, though a pattern may well be perceived from them. But it is still possible to express anger and yet make a valid argument.

Once more you claim Liasson’s statement to be an alleged (putative) “error”. Again it is not “alleged”, it is a fact that she said what she said and what she said was the repetition of lie, something she as a journalist should have known was a lie. So either she lied, or she’s a remarkably uniformed reporter.

“Perhaps only three or four of those who wrote to me had actually seen the report on FOX. Those listeners thought Liasson might have made the argument in a less ambiguous way. While the tone of their emails was oppositional, they were reasonable and respectful.”
And perhaps the rest of the complainants couldn’t be bothered to click on a few links to gain a larger perspective, determine the facts and then write because of course by your estimation bloggers apparently are all reactionary mental midgets who never research anything and abuse freedom of speech, unlike an NPR reporter who delivers facts and informed opinion!
As for those listeners you claim thought that Liasson "might have made the argument in a less ambiguous way", there’s simply no ambiguity in what she said.

A Journalistic Drive-By Shooting

“The rest of the e-mail traffic, however, had all the journalistic subtlety of a drive-by shooting. The reaction to Liasson's statement and other recent experiences with blog-inspired campaign [sic], leads me to an inescapable conclusion: These blogs appear to be making our public life even more crude and vulgar than it has been up to now. I'm sure that pointing this out will likely result in another wave of crude and nasty notes, though I hope it won't.
My question to the bloggers: When will you start running corrections and taking responsibility for your actions like the "mainstream media" you so disdain? “

My questions to you Mr Dvorkin are:

When will Mara Liasson of NPR correct her ill-informed statement for which she is responsible?

When will you recognize the difference between responsible blogging and mere invective?

When will you admit that there is a clear distinction between assertion posing as fact and supportable, verifiable fact?

When will you recognize that the MSM no longer controls public information and discourse?

When will you acknowledge that it is the MSM that is accountable to the public, and not the public to the MSM?

When will you and the MSM return to the principles of good journalism by reporting the facts and providing reasoned argument and informed analysis?

When will you and your colleagues take responsibility for what you write and say?

When will you understand that the public is mad as hell and is in not going to take being manipulated and talked down-to any more?

From NPR’s own ethics guide:
10. In appearing on TV or other media, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as journalists on NPR's programs. They should not participate in shows that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis; that whenever they appear in public, they represent NPR and its journalistic standards and practices. They should not express their personal opinions on matters of public controversy because that impairs their ability to report credibly on those same matters for NPR. NPR journalists have, in my opinion, an affirmative obligation to remain reportorial at all times.

Hoist by your own petard methinks, Mr Dvorkin.
And not one instance on my part as an NPR listener and a blogger of using invectives or hate speech! Note also the use of facts and reason.

To conclude let us return to the title of your original post: Guilt By Association.

NPR reporters represent NPR. An NPR reporter appears on FOX and repeats a common theme of FOC pundits that Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans, which was not and is not true. Liasson perpetuated a lie and misrepresented a political story, complying with FOX’s modus operandi. Guilt by association, provided by your reporter, Mr Dvorkin!

You receive complaints via the internet encouraged, according to you, by “the blogs” though you only specify two, one of which you incorrectly identify as being political (Media Matters) and neither of which actually encourage a “campaign” against NPR or FOX (though both are clearly critical of misrepresentation masquerading as fact). Nonetheless you conclude and without any evidence that both named blogs have instituted a “campaign” and furthermore that blogs in general are participants in an organized criticism of FOX and NPR. Guilt by association.

You go on to say that the complaints you received were overwhelmingly filled with “rancour and vituperation” (you provide no evidence, though I’m sure you have some examples) and suggest that the majority of complainants are duplicitous (claiming to be NPR listeners) vindictive and likely part of the entire blogosphere that is populated by reactionary morons: Guilt by association.

Rather than prove your case against your critics and those of Mara Liasson with facts, you have proven your critics’ case by trying and failing to apply the very tool you accuse them of using: Guilt by association.

I look forward to your response to this dimwitted, confused easily manipulated NPR listener and vulgar blogger.

You remain my servant, as ombudsman and dependant on my generous contribution to NPR,

Simon Waugh

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Jefferson: A Piece Of The Pie Hole

Rep. William Jefferson, (Democrat-LA) has apparently been found with his hand in the cookie jar—better make that a mouthful of pie, with evidence smeared around his greedy lips. It doesn’t look like he’ll be “movin’ on up” anymore.

The Daily Muck has plenty of details on how this public servant has been serving himself in private.

There’s little comfort in knowing that Jefferson’s corruption (if proven, and the evidence offered so far sounds damning) is nowhere near the level and scale of Abramoff and it remains to be seen whether it approaches that of Duke Cunningham’s ( which it still may).

Sure there’s plenty of comedy to be had from his sheer incompetence in hiding $90,000 cash in the fridge (greens go in the crisper, not the freezer), but then again he didn’t major in Home Economics; his specialty was the law—he used to be a JAG, he’s a Harvard Law School graduate and he’s a law firm partner.
Oh yeah, and he’s one of those guys who gets to write the laws that the rest of us are supposed to abide by.

He has spent a good deal of time speechifying about Katrina and FEMA naturally, but apparently he’s been under investigation by the FBI (since March 2005 at least).
Interviewed by Paula Zahn of CNN on 9/14/2005 (not the most professional of reporters IMHOP) Jefferson caught some quite (though not completely) unfair shit from her about visiting his house in the aftermath thanks to government resources (everyone was doing it). But she did ask a very pointed question:

ZAHN: Congressman, one final question for you tonight. You are, of course, as we mentioned in the preceding piece, the subject of a federal investigation. Your home in Washington had been searched before, your home in New Orleans. Was there anything in that house that you were trying to get out that was critical to this ongoing FBI investigation?

JEFFERSON: I would doubt that.The thing that I wanted to get out was my daughter's laptop computer and my daughter's suitcase that I took away. The FBI had been in my house, as you know, for seven, eight hours. Whatever was there, they got it. I had been living in my house for three weeks after they came. If there was anything in there, I could have taken it then. There was no reason to go in there to retrieve anything related to the investigation. This is all NRCC smear they're putting out, which is quite a shame

The “smear” defense is an easy excuse, playing to the notion that the Republicans are masters at it. Whilst that is I think true, Jefferson doesn’t back up the claim (conveniently he’d run out of time!). He also said very reasonably that the FBI had plenty of time to find anything incriminating for a period of weeks (and they’d certainly have the power and the smarts to subpoena his daughter’s laptop). But he also said he would already have removed evidence ( doh!)

But his immediate response to Zahn asking if there was anything he was trying to remove that might be critical to the FBI investigation was “I would doubt that”.
Surely his answer should have been no—either the truth or a lie, but anything other than I WOULD DOUBT THAT!!

There’s one other odd thing about Jefferson.
He voted for the permanent repeal of the so-called “Death Tax” on April 13 2005, ( search through his speeches starting with this Project Vote Smart link) disputing that it affected only the wealthiest and arguing that the law somehow cost more to apply than the $20-odd billion it produced annually.
I guess he was looking to the future when he’d be able to hand over his two houses and some freezers full of cash to his five daughters , because after all, doesn’t every American deserve to move on up and get a piece of the pie?

Adios pie-hole! Enjoy being Abramoff's bitch in the slammer!