I knew my posting yesterday about conservative media bias would get conservatives in a lather. Despite the fact that the Republican Party has the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, its own 24 hour news channel, eight out of nine weekday Prime Time news hours and talk radio hegemony, Republicans still like to fancy themselves a put-upon minority.
I wrote the posting because Fox News' second rudest host, Sean Hannity, is openly campaigning for Republican Senator Rick Santorum without being either reprimanded, fired or called-on-the-carpet by either his network or the media. This soft bigotry of low expectations for conservative media stars -- who can't be expected to meet the same standards other news people meet -- has a certain history. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough appeared on behalf of President Bush during the 2004 campaign. Scarborough has five hours a week of prime time during which he regularly bitches about liberals controlling the media. After his campaign appearances he spent a lot of that time telling the country how great President Bush is and how vile Democrats are.
My point was that supposedly liberal media have to live by a different set of rules than conservatives. That's because conservatives control the media agenda. They're able to elevate itty, bitty little things into national issues by repeating them over and over whether they're true or not. When liberals who do something bad -- Dan Rather's misadventures come to mind -- the conservatives go apeshit, forcing the subject into more rational media. When conservatives do something bad -- mocking the medals of a decorated combat veteran, for example, on the floor of the Republican National Convention -- there's no liberal noise machine to amp it up into the public consciousness. The protective conservative logic is that they can do whatever they want because they're an oppressed minority. It's the same logic as that used by '60s retreads who claim that blacks can't be racist because they were discriminated against themselves.
I asked my regular reader for a single example of a liberal newscaster allowed to raise money for a political candidate. This request, you'll be shocked to discover, belched forth Dan Rather's name. I suspect Rather will be used as evidence of media bias hundreds of years into the future because he once gave a speech at a Travis County, Texas, Democratic fund-raiser. It was a bad and obvious choice, and having spent a certain amount of time with Rather while writing a magazine profile, I believe that had he known it to be a fund raiser he wouldn't have appeared. Rather, whatever his underlying biases (and neuroses), was not one to make obviously partisan gestures. Still, even if you believe Danbo was doing it out of naked political animosity, you can't deny that for his trouble he was reprimanded by CBS and both the conservative and supposedly liberal media.
Rather's mortal sin, however, was flashing documents to provide visual juice to dry facts about President Bush's inadmirable military service. While the documents proved false, the facts they illustrated were either already well established or have not since been disproven. This enormous act of liberal media bias resulted in Rather losing his job.
Normal people might not use Rather as great evidence of the way the media coddle liberals, since, after all, he got fired for it. I wouldn't use Hannity and Scarborough to make my case that conservatives live by different rules if Scarborough and Hannity had been fired for their activities. But they haven't been, and aren't going to be, and that's the point.
Another comment made the following claim:
Everyone knows Hannity and Scarborough are right-wingers, so it doesn't
raise a stink. A lot of the network anchors lean to the left, but try
to pretend they're objective. Being human beings, of course, they
aren't. Nothing wrong with that, but I wish they'd own up to it.
In other words, the media people are all liberal but they hide it so you can't tell.
So, to recap: One anchorman fired for sloppy reporting caused by liberal bias, and other liberals in the media hiding their bias so you need to deconstruct newscasts to even see that it's even there, is a greater sin that a coordinated, out-of-the-closet series of media empires openly working toward a common political outcome on behalf of a single political party. Included in this coordination is not simply reporting the news the way the Republicans want it reported, but also allowing network personalities to go out and actively campaign and raise money for that party.
And conservatives are serious, right? They really believe that liberals have the upper hand?
Anyone out there know of a single news anchor who has been allowed to appear at a Democratic fund-raising event? Of course not. The conservative media would go nuts, and rightly so. But when conservatives do it, not a peep.
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed...Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No
doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
We’ve been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.
This despite the fact that Kristol has vociferously defended the Bush Administration's Iraq policy.
When Democrats say these kinds of things the conservative media go nuts, accusing everyone involved of undermining the war effort and, in some cases, rooting for the enemy. Last week, all Rush Lmibaugh could talk about was how Democrats were hoping that Iraq would devolve into a civil war because it would prove the President wrong. He offered not a single shred of evidence for that; the idea that anyone opposing the President's policies also opposes the goal of victory is so accepted on the right that no proof is required.
It will be interesting to see if the rad right will now turn on its own. Don't bet on it; they've never showed much inclination toward honesty when there are politcal cheap shots to be taken.
Barbara Walters is famous for her regular "How did that make you feel?" stock question. She fits it into every interview she ever conducts. According to the entirely credible Drudge Report, in an interview with a woman whose claim to fame is having lots of sex with lots of men, Oprah Winfrey asked:
So you've had men ejaculate in your face?
I think this should become Oprah's stock question. It would certainly liven-up her show.
A researcher at the increasingly entertaining University of Paisley has conducted a study comparing the relative merits of masturbation and sex with another person or people. Stuart Brody, who earlier demonstrated that having sex before exercise actually improved athletic performance, studied blood levels of the pleasurable hormone prolactin in the blood of no-doubt-enthusiastic volunteers after they either masturbated or had sex with another person.
Surprisingly, after orgasm from sexual intercourse, the increase in
blood prolactin levels is 400 per cent higher in both sexes compared
with after orgasm from masturbation.
Which may explain why people masturbate four times as often as they have actual sex: They're just catching up.
There's no reason to worry about Dubai Ports World running American ports.
This one's not even hard. Breath into a paper bag for a minute and calm down.
While I'm not generally the kind of guy to call people idiots, in this case I will: People who are worried about this are idiots. They're like people who can't sleep because they're worried that a comet might hit the Earth, wildly overestimating a threat because it sounds like something they might have seen in a made-for-TV-movie.
I'm not sure why President Bush isn't driving two points home repeatedly, with malice aforethought.
Point One: We're in a battle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, which is increasingly convinced that the United States is in a world (aka Jewish) conspiracy to keep noble Muslims down. If we break-up a business deal simply because one of the parties is Arab, that confirms all the bad things we don't want Muslims to believe about us. If we let the deal go through, it's harder for people to believe that we're reflexively anti-Muslim. Even though, apparently, we are.
Point Two: The ports will still be run overwhelmingly by the same Americans who are running them now. The big, bad Dubai company isn't going to show up one day with a bunch of swarthy Arabs to take over port operations. It will, instead, do all the business things that holding companies do, which is basically set policy, manage capital, scrape a little off the top of the cash flow and chose the health plan. The Dubai operators will have powerful political and economic incentives to run the ports well, as they have the ports they already operate all over the world.
What we have here, pure and simple, is American ignorance and provincialism on parade. We're confirming every accusation of bigotry ever leveled at us. Somewhere, al Qaeda's P.R. team is laughing.
The ports aren't being sold; security isn't being handed over to anyone, let alone unindicted 9/11 co-conspirators; and Dubai's ties to 9/11 are about as wispy as Cuba's ties to the Kennedy assassination.
You want to be mad about American ports? Be mad at the Bush Administration, which has done almost nothing to improve port security since 9/11. If some horror comes into the U.S. through the ports, it'll be Dubya's fault, not Dubai's.
With the destruction of the al-Askariya Mosque in Iraq, apparently by Sunni terrorists, the situation on the ground in Iraq has changed substantially. The mosque is, according to Shi'ites, the place where the 12th Imam will return to Earth. That, for Shi'ites, is roughly the equivalent of the Second Coming of Christ.
So, as of yesterday, the best-case scenario in Iraq looked like this:
Promising, if shaky democracy takes hold in Iraq. The U.S. is able to pull out most of its troops, but maintains permanent bases that will irritate Moslem fundamentalists just enough to produce a continual stream of suicide bombers willing to make one-way trips to the U.S. Still, Iraq grows stronger, if slowly, and puts pressure on other Arab nations to democratize.
A couple of bombs later, the best-case scenario looks more like this:
The civil war in Iraq stays pretty well self-contained despite the fact that it's not so much civil as it is religious, in a part of the world where religion trumps everything. And, in case you forget, one of Iraq's neighbors is the apocalyptically Shi'ite Iran, the President of which believes we're in the Moslem equivalent of the End Times and the 12th Imam could appear at the now-defunct mosque any minute. And boy is he going to be pissed. Still, for some reason, Iran doesn't invade in support of its fellow Shi'ites -- or if it does, at least it does so without nuclear weapons. Up north, the Kurds, who've wanted a homeland of their own for centuries and who could make a pretty reasonable case that they're just getting away from a Shi'ite/Sunni war that has nothing to do with them, for some reason decide against declaring their independence from Iraq. Hey, it could happen. That keeps Turkey from declaring war on the Kurds and prevents the whole region bursting into flames like the Hindenburg. Only a few hundred thousand Iraqis die in the prolonged civil war, which reminds everyone of the last 20 years in Lebanon.
On the other hand, maybe there are enough reasonable people in Iraq that this glimpse over the abyss of civil war will cause massive peace demonstrations and "why can't we just get along?" moments between Shi'ite and Sunni neighbors.