Friday, January 27, 2006

Other Items

Who has the most embarrassing job today: David D. Kirkpatrick or the team of Adam Nagourney & Janet Elder? Kirkpatrick is at least reporting in "Democrats in 2 Southern States Push Bills on Bible Study" outlines where the myth of the values voters has taken us. Yeah, that's why Dems lose races. It's not lousy communication and it's not the complete breakdown of the Party structure in the South. It's all about religion.

"Whose religion?" is never asked in by people like this. And they assume that the Bible is everyone's religious text or that everyone studies the same lessons. (Who doesn't study Noah's Ark in the Christian denomination? Consider it a bonus question and one that some Dems in the south may learn of when parents complain.) So we'll have time to study for the standardized testing and we'll have time to study the Bible? Everything else be damned. Truly.
(By the way, check our Rebecca's post from last night for thoughts on education.)

But something absolutely must be done because the ungodly churches have stopped offering Sunday School. Oh wait . . . They haven't. But we can continue to cut the funding to the arts education programs while we offer a class on how the Bible influenced the arts? While we continue to blur the line between church and state, the fall out over the Piss Christ apparently continues.

There are religious schools, of course. But there is also, again, Sunday School. Will Jewish students be excused when the discussion turns to the portrayals of Christ in history and art?
And what happens to them if they leave class?

These are serious questions. But the ones pushing this nonsense don't want to ask serious questions, they want to, as the article notes:

The Democrats who introduced the bills said they hoped to compete with Republicans for conservative Christian voters.

Well, reproductive rights is being kicked to the curb so maybe it's time the two national parties did in fact merge? And tossing out Bibles (tossing them out to the crowds/masses) is certainly easier than attempting to get your message across. It's certainly easier than making an argument for a liveable wage or universal healthcare or anything that people actually need from government.

They don't need religious teaching from government. Places of worship have long done their job of tending to the spiritual needs of communities. But it's easier to play the God card then to offer anything that might actually improve someone's life. It's easier to hop on the job done by the clergy (not do the job, just hop on the bandwagon) than it is to do the job that lawmakers are supposed to.

Singing that old time religion is a huge mistake.

When you can't craft a message to appeal to individuals, you've got a problem. You can low lights and trick mirror it, the way the Republicans have for some time, but the Democratic Party fails to grasp that people are fed up, that the Green Party is rising in popularity and that a continued failure to distinguish themselves from the Republican Party will lead to the rise of a true opposition party.

While the Bully Boy tries to play Afghanistan and attempts in Iraq as freeing people from theology based governments, some Dems are insistant upon hopping the Republican bandwagon of "faith based" politics. It's the easiest thing to do and we're talking about very lazy individuals.

Who helped spread the "values voters" myth? Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder in November of 2004 summarizing a poll. Now they had to fudge the actual figures. For example, there was no turning away from gay rights or gays and lesbians in the actual numbers (and we went over this in November of 2004, we're not going through it again, do a search, it's four entries in one day on their "summary"). But their front page fudging helped do more damage than Cokie Roberts hissing gas for her five minute segments on Morning Edition.

Now their back with a new "summary" of a poll that ended Wednesday night. They wrote this on Thursday. Demographers everywhere chuckle. The reporting sample has increased in this poll (from less than 900, if I remember correctly) to 1,229. Is there any depth to this? No. It's conventional wisdom and things you already knew. Elder's actually in charge of polling which is what's so shocking. If Bully Boy can sell spying as a way to protect America, he'll have more luck; if he can't, if it's seen as a violation of civil liberties, he's in hot water. Is that news to anyone? Didn't think so.

If a braver soul wants to go through the questions, I'm sure you'll find areas where they fudge.
They're known for combining groups at will and pleasure. They'll take a question with five or more possible answers and group together answer categories that are similiar for some questions and not group them together on other occassions. So if there's a brave soul out there who wants to, look at the polling data and then look at the summary. It's very likely they continue to fudge the results. I don't have time for it. I'm not interested in hacks (Elder) and journalists pretending that they grasp a poll (Nagourney). I'm not interested in fudged margins of error. Whether you think poli sci is a hard science or soft science, hack summaries don't help anyone. It's too insulting to the field. So Republican or Democrat or third party or swing voter, have at the polling data. Chances are you'll find multiple examples of Nagourney and Elder again fudging data to massage the results.

The paper's own poll (with CBS of course) isn't really front page news but it allows the paper to pretend they've presented the public's views. And it's so much easier than a survey article where a reporter might actually have to do some work. There are people capable of doing this work, they just don't generally work at newspapers and they're not foolish enough to think that they can provide a summary, without peer review, in one day. Real researchers study the data. There's nothing scientific (hard or soft) in what Nagourney and Elder do in today's paper.

(In other, "You call that front page news?" the Times has Oprah's book club, because, apparently, they had no one covering the latest on the Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey marriage.)

Some may enjoy the results and feel that the poll is valid (reporters like Nagourney and Elder are sure to include a little something to please everyone) but don't confuse it with social science because it's not. It's akin to putting Nagourney on the medical beat, teaming him up with a second year medical student and allowing them to perform brain surgery together on the unsuspecting.

So Nagourney and Elder win, right? They had the most embarrassing job, right?

They would have but David D. Kirkpatrick also contributes "Kerry Urges Alito Filibuster, but His Reception Is Cool." Kerry's presence at the World Econmic Forum (a gathering the Times supports) is reduced to some sort of hobnobbing where John Kerry can be found "mingling with international business and political leaders." That's in the first paragraph and it only goes futher into the gutter.

"Now wait," you say. "The paper editorialized against Alito's nomination." Yes and they covered it far from any reality basis turning it into a game of Strategy. Which they then bemoaned editorially as though they hadn't done that themselves. There's a line (I won't claim strong) between the editorial board and the reporting side of the paper. But if the editorial meant anything (which it didn't), the article Kirkpatrick does today would have been about something other than "What's the likely result." Predicitions pass for reporting. And the Times thinks it's done something really wonderful with their editorial? They'd be better off explaining the job of reporting to their staff.

Kirkpatrick quotes a spokesperson for John Cornyn. I know Texas members are sick of how often he pops up in the paper. I think it might be interesting to do a study of the Times. (Or of the Sunday chat and chews.) Forget gender, race and political beliefs. Just get a ranking of which states have senators quoted the most and which have senators quoted the least. The paper seems to doubt that we do, in fact, have fifty states and one hundred senators. And reporters are allowed to go to the same names in the rolodex repeatedly.

Though Cornyn sits on the Judiciary Committee, he's been in the paper a great deal since he became the junior senator from Texas in the 2002 elections. Maybe he just desperate for ink and the paper feels sorry for him?

(It should also be noted that this will be a vote of the full Senate. There's no real reason to go to Cornyn over some other Republican unless he's just in dire need of attention.)

Or maybe they wouldn't know how to contact anyone not already mentioned repeatedly in the paper? For a paper that wants to be the national paper, they have a funny way of showing it. (A futher study of Represenatives from which states get quoted the most would also be interesting.) My guess for high rankers? Cornyn, KBH (I always mispell her last name), Ted Kennedy, John McCain (they couldn't live without McCain), Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman (especially in Nagourney articles), Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Hatchet-face. Least? Barbara Boxer would probably be the biggest "name" on that list. Senator Boxer is apparently not their kind of people.

Blanche Lincoln could be a national name (I'm not weighing in on whether that would be a good thing or not) if the paper bothered to note her the way they do others. Paul S. Sarbanes, do you think most readers of the paper know he's in the Senate? Could most tell you which state he represents? (He holds the record for longest service in the Senate for his state of Maryland.) (Prior to that he served three terms in the House, which is where he introduced the obstruction of justice charge against Nixon.)

Do Times readers know who Daniel Akaka is? Which state the senator hails from? Probably not if the paper is the sole or main source of "news."

Instead of boring us with "White House Letter" (their attempt at 'local color' for the Bully Boy), maybe the paper could do a Senate letter and bother to check in with all one hundred senators serving the people (well, that's what the senators are supposed to do anyway)? Maybe that would be better than mythical lists of Bully Boy's readings?

When not making sport of Kerry, Kirkpatrick continues the nothing-to-see-here-it's-a-done-deal. Now the paper may end up right. They were wrong about it being over earlier, but who knows? Still, that's not really their job (predicting). News is what happened. Not how a vote might go, not the speech that someone passed to you ahead of time and will be delivered next week. (Minus any changes after reporters critique it in print.)

The editorial had good points. I also thought that the freedom of the press series had good points. Apparently, no one reads the editorials? How else to explain "news predicting" passing for news reporting. Handicapping as if we should all rush to the OTB, not anything we should think about or explore. And when an under-informed nation surprises the paper, count on Nagourney and Elder to rush in with a poll summary offering easy, pat answers as to why that happened.

But for reducing the news of Kerry's filibuster attempts to racetrack odds, Kirkpatrick embarrasses himself more than Nagourney and Edler -- and who would have thought that was possible?

Skip the article, you'll learn more from the e-mail Kerry's sent out this morning:

Yesterday, Senator Ted Kennedy and I told our colleagues that we supported a filibuster of Judge Alito's nomination for the Supreme Court. And we weren't alone. But the bottom line is that it takes more than two or three people to filibuster successfully. It's not "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." If you want to stop Judge Alito from becoming Justice Alito, use your own email list and organize. We can't just preach to our own choir. We need to prove to everyone - from our friends and neighbors to our fellow Senators - that the American people know Judge Alito will take our country in the wrong direction, and they expect something to be done about it.
So I'm asking you to join Senator Kennedy, me, and concerned citizens across America who are signing this petition to support a filibuster. If there was ever a time to forward an email on to friends and family, this is it. One way or another, we're going to find out in the next few days if Judge Alito is going to become Justice Alito. You know where I stand. The time to make your voice heard is now. So please sign this filibuster petition and get as many friends as you can to do the same.
Sign the filibuster petition
If Judge Alito gets on the Supreme Court, it will be an incredible mistake for America. And remember, this is one mistake that we can never take back.
I voted against Justice Roberts, but I feel even more strongly about Judge Alito. Why? Rather than live up to the promise of "equal justice under the law," he has consistently made it harder for the most disadvantaged Americans to have their day in court. He routinely defers to excessive government power no matter how much government abuses that power. And, to this date, his only statement on record regarding a woman's right to privacy is that she doesn't have one.
There isn't a shred of doubt in my opposition to Judge Alito's nomination. I spent a lot of time over the last few years thinking about what kind of person deserves to sit on the highest court in the land, so I don't hesitate a minute in saying that Judge Alito is not that person. His entire legal career shows that, if confirmed, he will take America backward. People can say all they want that "elections have consequences." Trust me, I understand. But that doesn't mean we have to stay silent about Judge Alito's nomination.
Sign the filibuster petition
President Bush had the opportunity to nominate someone who would unite the country in a time of extreme division. He chose not to do this, and that is his right. But we have every right -- in fact, we have a responsibility -- to fight against a radical ideological shift on the Supreme Court. This nomination was a sellout to the demands of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. The president gave no thought to what the American people really wanted - or needed. So now that the president and Judge Alito have proven they won't stand up for the majority of Americans, we have to stand up. We have to speak out. That's the true meaning of "advice and consent."
John Kerry

In other news, the second littlest Nixon won't be a senator's wife this year.

And here's some Alito news you won't find in the Times. They prefer the great unwashed public to be numbers they can crunch as opposed to living, breathing persons who actually do act and think. Andy's highlight, Nini Thomas' "Activists Gather for Second Time to Protest Alito Nomination at Frist's Office" (Tennessee Indymedia).

Nashville, TN: Protesting for the second time in as many weeks, representatives from a variety of constituencies gathered in front of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's Nashville office to once again voice their objections to the nomination and pending vote on Samuel Alito as the next Justice of the Supreme Court. Protesters expressed a variety of opinions ranging from concerns about women's rights to separation of church and state issues. Cliff Fiedler of Americans United, said that Alito has clearly indicated support for an "official religion" for the United States and another protester said that if Alito is voted in women are going to be forced to resort to having illegal abortions, and women are going to die.
Dan Sweeton of Lebanon, Tennessee said Judge Sam Alito is bad for America, "From past decisions I think it is clear that he supports an imperial presidency. All his decisions in the courts have been against the people and against the environment. With the things President Bush has done in the past few years to destroy America, it is no wonder he chose Alito. If he is voted in we will be stuck with him for three decades. He is too dangerous to have in the Supreme Court."
A man who chose to only be called Bob, said he was there to protect a woman's right to choose, "I am here to demonstrate against voting for Alito. We are standing outside of Senate Majority Leader Frist's office to send a message. Alito is the fifth Catholic to be nominated and perhaps confirmed to the Supreme Court. He is not good for preserving Roe vs Wade. I am against the government herding women. Women need a choice and they are going to die if they are forced have illegal abortions. That is why I am here."
Beverly Sweeton, also from Lebanon, Tennessee said she was there to protest the nomination of Samuel Alito, "Alito is not right for the Supreme Court. He is not the man for the job, he is just a political mouthpiece for George Bush. Alito voted against the environment as a judge. He believes the President should have unlimited power. He is against the American Constitution. I believe all three branches of government should be balanced. Bush has desregarded FISA and he has disregarded the Constitution. We do not need a Samuel Alito type on the Supreme Court. He lied on his resume and he tried to deny his affiliation with a radical publication, which indicates he may be a prejudicial person. We don't need him on the Supreme Court."

From Iraq Dispatches, Eddie notes "Interview with Karen Kwiatkowski:"

In July, 2003, Karen Kwiatkowski retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force, having served since 1978. From May, 2002, to February, 2003, Karen Kwiatkowski served in the Pentagon’s Near East and South Asia directorate (NESA). Dr. Kwiatkowski presently teaches at James Madison University, and writes regularly for
Interviewed by Omar Khan for, read the interview of Dr. Kwiatkowski's blistering and revealing comments about the neo-conservatives, Bolsheviks, fascism and the Bush Administration agenda in Iraq and beyond.
[. . .]
OK: Please say a little bit about your experience in the Pentagon.
KK: I worked four and a half years for the Pentagon. Between May of 2002 and March of 2003, I worked in Near East South Asia (NESA) bureau in the Pentagon, which worked alongside The Office of Special Plans (OSP)--a group of twenty-five people or so in August 2002--under Bill Luti. It was dissolved in August 2003--about four months after the invasion and the mission accomplished declaration by the president.
Its job had been done.
The whole idea with Iraq was to destroy Iraq. It was not to rebuild it, turn it into a democracy. It was simply to take a country that had no navy, no airforce, and a very small--you know--fourth rate army and turn it into a country with no navy, no airforce, and no army. We did this, and OSP did its part in promoting that. Once it was done there was no need for OSP.
One of the amenities with which we were provided as staff officers were talking points--Saddam Hussein, WMD, and terrorism. If there is anything that you'd need to research on Iraq, you'd only need to take verbatim from the latest version of what OSP had produced on any one of these talking points. These same bullet points would of course be in presidential speeches. I can only assume--since they were producing them for us, on a very routine basis--I can only assume that OSP was the creative entity here in doing that.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had a staff of 6 or 7 people dedicated intelligence people who had no other job than to support our boss, Bill Luti (Deputy under NESA and OSP). Their only job was to answer Bill Luti's questions and provide Bill Luti with the intelligence that the intelligence community had, particularly DIA intelligence. So the means by which a policy receives its information was perverted. It may have been perverted before then, but I know that it was perverted in the time that I was there, from May 2002 to March 2003. The DIA people were told: 'no this is not what I want to hear, go back and do a better job'
This is what I saw as an observer. Not as a person inside DIA. But I can tell you, I talked to these guys--who'd come over to brief the lower level people on a routine basis: They were always under pressure. OSP saying, 'I don't need that, give me what I need,' and DIA saying, 'I can’t give you something that doesn’t exist.'
I actually explained this to the Senate staffers during the Phase I investigation of intelligence. They were like: oh, whatever. Basically unwilling to entertain the possibility. But there was clearly a huge contempt for information; what they did, instead was to ask for exactly what they wanted to hear, probably about 95% of which was entirely false.

passes on the scheduled topics on today's Democracy Now!:

We are broadcasting from San Francisco
We survey reaction in the Middle East to the Palestinian elections with MOSIAC host Jamal Dajan.
We also talk to U.C Berkeley Professor and labor expert Harley Shaiken about the recent cuts at the Ford Motor company.
And we look at an array of technology and government issues with UC Berkley Law Professor Deidre Mulligan.

And remember that Amy Goodman will be doing three Un-Embed the Media

* Amy Goodman in
San Francisco, CA: Fri, Jan 27
*TIME: 12:15 pm
IPA 2006 Conference
Marines Memorial Hotel,
609 Sutter Street,
San Francisco, CA

* Amy Goodman in Oakland, CA:
Fri, Jan 27
Alice Walker & Amy Goodman: Media Alliance's 30th Anniversary Kick-Off
First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street,
Oakland, CA
Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Reception is
$75 generally,
and $40 for recent MA donors already possessing an event voucher.
The Reception is reservation only, by phone, in advance.
Purchase tickets online:
Or purchase by phone at 510-832-9000 Å~305
For more information:
Reception Information:
7pm -
Join Amy Goodman and the Media Alliance Board for a wine and cheese reception to launch the 30th Anniversary
$75 admission includes reception, 1 preferred seat for 8pm talk, and commemorative poster
$40 admission for recent MA donors possessing event voucher

* Amy Goodman in Arcata, CA:
Sat, Jan 28
An Evening with Amy Goodman
Center Arts Van Duzer Theater
Humbolt State University
1 Harpst St.
Arcata,CA 95521
Tickets are $25 general,
$20 Senior/Child
and $15 for HSU Students
For more information:
Tickets are available by calling the University Ticket Office at 707-826-3928.
Doors open at 7:30

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[Note: Post has parentheticals, added since originally posted, for clarification. Also three typos have been fixed.]