June 07, 2003

This news really made my weekend !! The San Fernando Valley is finally going to be served by a weekly paper, after years of non-existent (or worse, condescending) coverage by the LA Weekly, called the Valley Beat. Even better news, though, is that this might lead to the return of Jill Stewart. For those of you who have never read her column, Ms. Stewart has long been a guilty pleasure of mine, comparable to those half-hour ads Lyndon LaRouche use to run during the Presidential elections, or to a movie like J.F.K.. Just as LaRouche tried valliantly to warn America about the nefarious dealings of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, and would obsessively spin loopy stories involving the Queen of England, Ms. Stewart would dwell on the nefarious dealings of L.A. School Board administrators and the teachers' unions, and would obsessively spin loopy stories about Kevin Murray. The return of Jill Stewart is even better news than the Cubs besting the Rocket this afternoon. KOBE AKBAR !!!

UPDATE: Jill Stewart is not going to be writing for Valley Beat. Her fans will have to settle for her vanity site for the time being.

June 06, 2003

This will probably kill any chance I have of winding up on Tony Pierce's blogroll (well, that and sponging off him at the Dodger game in April), but I must sadly report that the selection of his current amore as the new Miss Universe has not been a popular one among pageant aficionados. Eighteen year old Amelia Vega, Miss Dominican Republic, won the title in spite of being described as "very immature", and having allegedly been involved in "several incidents" with her competitors.

Miss Universe 2003

The high school senior becomes the ninth winner from Latin America in the last nineteen years(and third straight), leading to some complaints that the process for choosing a winner is little different from how the W.B.C. ranks boxing contenders.
Howard Owens has a thoughtful analysis on the aftermath of the Iraqi war (well, duh, all of Mr. Owens' takes are thoughtful; any conservative on my blogroll has to be thoughtful--I ain't linking to a right-wing version of Smythesworld). He doesn't try to soft-pedal the non-discovery of WMD's, or pretend that it doesn't matter in the face of the brutality of Saddam Hussein.

When we attacked Iraq on March 19, I listed what I thought were twelve inarguable points about the war. Since I started this blog last year, I have made any number of statements that I regret, that were unfair, unkind, and/or just plain daffy. Visiting my own site's archives, I find posts that are truly cringe-worthy, exacerbated by the fact that this blog is read by many dozens thousands of people each day. The problem with self-publication and self-editing is that anyone can smell the cerebral farts I cut.

That post was not one of them. If only I could be half as brilliant the rest of the time, I could start charging for the privilege of dispensing my wisdom. That post alone should place my talents in demand as a foreign policy expert; a post in a future Administration awaits.

In particular, Point No. 6 is more interesting now than it was when I wrote it: "The U.S. withheld evidence from the inspectors that might have made discovery of WMD’s possible, but didn’t provide it so as to not minimize the case for going to war." As it turns out, the evidence we "withheld" was that we weren't really sure if Iraq had any WMD's. This is no small thing, since the primary justification we used to attack Iraq before the international community was that they had violated U.N. Resolutions 687 and 1441 in not disarming. Bush also used Iraq's ties to terrorist organizations as a rationale, but since any direct connections to Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attack were tenuous at best, it took a back seat to the WMD issue. It was most decidedly not that Iraq had a poor human rights record, or that Iraq might have a WMD program in the future, or that a "free" Iraq would get both sides to the table over a Palestinian state. Skepticism about the extent of the Iraqi WMD program was the principal reason France and Germany opposed going to war before the Security Council; for such statesmanship, those countries were deemed part of the "Axis of Weasels".

If we weren't certain that the information we were providing to the world was accurate, but continued to act as if it was, then we were lying. Even if WMD's are ultimately found, it will not lessen that lie; it will only mean that our hunch paid off. A free people do not deserve to be lied to by their government, especially over an issue as fundamental as whether to go to war.

June 05, 2003

Well, this story ties up two threads on this board: the Ducks, and unethical journalistic practices. It now turns out that the New York Post, the infamous Murdoch-run tabloid aimed at people who can't read, fabricated a boast allegedly made by Anaheim owner Michael Eisner, to the effect that he "guaranteed" there would be a "victory parade" in Anaheim after the sixth game of the Stanley Cup finals. The only person who's guaranteeing Ducks' victories around here is me !!
Let's see: you accept the resignation of the managing editor of your newspaper, ostensibly because of credibility problems in some of the stories your paper has recently covered. Then, as his replacement, you re-hire the editor on whose watch two of the biggest frauds in journalism history, the Whitewater "scandal" and the persecution of Wen Ho Lee, were published. The New York Times will never learn !!

June 04, 2003

How on earth is Hans Gruber ranked behind Joan Crawford? Behind Freddie Krueger? Behind (egads !!) Annie Wilkes?

June 03, 2003

When even William F. Buckley is questioning the validity of the WMD rationale, you know the President has some 'splaining to do. [link via Hobbs]

June 02, 2003

Lord Love a Duck: I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the winner of tonight's game wins the Stanley Cup. Obviously, if the Devils win, they're up 3 games to 1, needing to win only once in the two games scheduled at New Jersey. After their incredible, mind-addling win in Game 3, a repeat performance tonight by Anaheim will tie up the series, reinforce their mystique as a team-of-destiny, and stick a dagger so deep into the subconscious of New Jersey that I don't think they could recover. Anyways, a stool awaits at Over/Under....

June 01, 2003

In the wake of the current troubles coming out of New York City, several controversies have recently arisen concerning our own hometown newspaper, the Los Angeles Times. The first concerns an opinion article written by Robert Scheer that called into question the Pentagon's account of the "rescue" of Jessica Lynch; the second, a memo written by a Times editor attacking "liberal bias" in an article about an anti-abortion measure recently enacted in Texas.

In both cases, the more important story was the reaction by the right to any journalist who dares criticize one of their shibboleths. In the case of Robert Scheer, his original article summarized the findings of a BBC report that questioned the official Pentagon account concerning Private Lynch's capture and liberation. As Scheer correctly points out in a follow-up, subsequent reporting by such lefty rags as the Chicago Tribune have reaffirmed what the Beeb originally reported, that while certain claims made by witnesses were unlikely, such as the use of blanks in the raid, the full scale raid to "rescue" Private Lynch may have been executed more for show than necessity. Conservative outrage at Scheer's opinion should be humbled by the pattern within both the Pentagon and the Bush Administration for consistently dissembling to the public during the recent Iraqi adventure.

Others on the right are also having a field day with a memo written by Times editor-in-chief John Carroll, attacking one of his own writers for allegedly putting his leftist leanings into an article about a recent law passed in Texas, requiring pregnant women to receive "counseling" about the link between abortion and breast cancer. Perhaps in the journalistic tradition of finding someone in the Flat Earth Society to rebut claims that the world is round, or quoting an economist who actually believes that the Bush tax cut will help the economy, Mr. Carroll was upset that the writer mentioned the overwhelming evidence that there is no such link, but didn't give equal time to medical "experts" who believe that it does exist. Of course, the writer did quote such an expert, but nevermind.

The other examples of liberal bias consisted of the writer referring to the law as requiring "so-called counseling" to pregnant women, and his reference to the fact that a legislator who supported the bill was not a doctor. The latter point is too trivial to expand on; the former, far from being an ideologically-slanted phrase, reflects the fact that there is a dispute about whether pregnant women who are being told something that the vast majority of experts do not believe to be true are receiving "counsel".

Ironically, abortion is one issue where complaints about liberal media bias have some merit. In fact, the most famous study concluding that reporters tended to be pro-choice, and that bias seeped into articles on the subject, was published in the LA Times back in 1990, by media analyst David Shaw. Eric Alterman devotes an entire chapter in his recent book to exploring that very fact. I would be very surprised if most reporters covering national affairs didn't vote for Bill Clinton in 1992, or even Al Gore last time. After Shaw's study came out, newspapers took great pains to confront this alleged bias, which can be attested to by the fact that the article Mr. Carroll complained about gave a supporter of the new law the last word, and made no reference to the fact that the faction in the Texas state legislature that passed the bill recently attempted to use the Department of Homeland Security to locate and arrest their opponents.

The complaint, though, seems to run far deeper than simple ideological animosity. People who whine the loudest about the political bias of the media, both on the left and the right, are those who are most threatened by any sort of independent inquiry into their values and beliefs. So they kill the messenger.

Unfortunately for them, there are not two sides to every issue. Just as a journalist need not quote David Irving in every article about the Holocaust to provide "balance", a writer should not be browbeaten by an editor to pretend that the scientific mainstream believes a link exists between abortion and breast cancer.