samedi, août 30, 2008

The scent of a woman

I couldn't even hear them-and they ticked me off.

I had the rare honor of watching CNN and Fox, sound off, on two large screens at the gym. It must have been braniac day at the gym-yesterday three channels were set to sports and one to soap opera.

CNN was playing some video of a speech Sarah Palin gave and talking about hurricane Gustav. No James Carville to score the easy points.

At Fox, they were not losing a moment in stirring the pot of gender warfare.

With the public eye now on Sarah Palin, the possibilities apparently are endless, according to the conservative pundits.

To be fair to Fox, it's not only the rightwing crowd who is playing the gender game.

Hillary Clinton's success in 23 primaries, and her ability to rally 18 million voters, can be analyzed in many different ways. Again and again the punditocracy have gotten seduced by the Clinton drama, as opposed to looking at the women and men who actually voted for her.

But one thing is indisputable-Clinton's success means that women are a powerful force on the American political stage. Which doesn't mean that female voters are monoliths. Nor that it's all about sexism.

Back to the boys of Fox.

I should say that in an attempt to achieve balance, Fox had a woman academic from American University representing another point of view-pretty much every time one of the guys would say something, she would contest it. And one of my favorite conservatives, Juan Williams, didn't say anything outrageously dumb-but how hard can it be to act like the voice of reason in a bar full of slaphappy drunks?

Fox's bloated, complacent, middle-aged white guys hit some new lows for lowbrow foolery. Joe Biden is going be afraid to be too hard on Palin because women will get mad, one said. Another, criticizing Hillary's Clinton's pantsuits, said he was happy to see women dressing like women.

Attacking the "liberal" media, one of them noted that CNN's John Roberts had stepped in it by implying that Sarah Palin might be pulled between being VP and taking care of a child with a disability (their baby son has Down Syndrome).

Although this is not a popular point of view, I think Roberts had a point, however unPC it may be. Someone is going to have to spend a lot of time with that child...Fair enough, perhaps it will be Palin's husband. But let's face it-most of the time, it's the mothers who do the lion's share of parenting. Should they? Heck no. But to ignore that reality is to pretend we have an equal playing field. I'd love to know what Governor Palin thinks of the Pauline verse that asks women to be subject to their husbands as Christ to the Church.

I find it enormously insulting to think that someone would vote for Palin because she's a woman. But then, I could not see voting for Hillary because she is female, or Obama because he's partly African. Perhaps that is a failure of empathy on my part-or a covert elitism that believes that identity politics isn't a winning gamble. John McCain has staked a lot on his pick. Did this newborn conservative choose Palin because of his principles-or hers?

vendredi, août 29, 2008


Are you feeling a little disoriented?

Last night, the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, we heard a 46-year old man born of a Kenyan father and white mother accept his party's nomination as President. While I thought the speech did what Obama had to do and made a strong case for him as a candidate.... I wondered once more about his reticence. Is he a cold, ambitious politician? Is he is reluctant to play on our emotions? Or is he just too hip to flip (in public, anyway)?

My sense is, the latter.

Today his opponent, John McCain, told Americans that his running mate is a 44-year old Alaskan governor, and mother of five. Sarah Palin, the former Miss Wassilla, has only had two years experience in state government. On the plus side, she's know as a reformer who sold the former governor's private plane.

On the questionable side, she is also involved in some kind of ugly dispute about whether or not she tried to get a state trooper, formerly married to her sister, fired.

Sounds like something that might happen in Wallace Township-once we get a police department.

That being said, the past couple of days have definitely not been politics as usual.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Gustav is on track to hit the Gulf Coast right around the time of the Republican Convention. Those considering the chance that they might reschedule the convention may take some comfort in the idea that this year the forces of change are at the helm.

It doesn't pay to get your knickers twisted.

As for us-let's batten the hatches and pray for the residents of the Gulf States-losing an election is one thing. Losing your city, your home and your neighbors is another entirely.

jeudi, août 28, 2008


In this article (link) by NYT columnist Nick Kristof, he travels back to a few columns he wrote in 2002 that mentioned a "person of interest" in the investigation of the dealdy 2001 anthrax attacks. That person, Dr. Steven Hatfill, has now been awarded a multimillion settlement from the US government for wrongly pursuing him. Hatfill's suit against him and the paper was dismissed.

In the column, Kristof apologizes to Hatfill, and then asks when public interests outweighs possible emotional harm to a person, or persons, under investigation.

In setting out three examples of possible stories, and asking us to become the journalists making the judgement call, Kristof asserts that where the scales tip in the public interest, journalists should be " very wary" of withholding information.

That's such a careful turn of phrase. In this arena journalists get to play God-and blessed the men or women who are disturbed by that.

Every such decision will be made with the possibility that it may have unforeseen consequences.

mardi, août 26, 2008


There is growing evidence (link) that, based on false intelligence perhaps, American forces killed over 90 civilians in Afghanistan. Sixty of them were children, killed in a village while they slept. Although both the UN and a member of an Afghan government commission says that we bombed civilians, we insist that we only killed guerillas. I suppose that, once the evidence (the tiny bodies of children) is irrefutable, we will express some form of official apology. Wouldn't it be wonderful if for once we could just say we were tragically wrong and sorry beyond our ability to express? Wouldn't we want that if someone flew over our country and bombed a village-a village like mine?

Lies, damned lies and...politician's lies

Reading the Slate article on Joe Biden's plagiarisms is rather discouraging. Admittedly, they occurred a few decades ago. But the sheer shamelessness of stealing whole riffs from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock-even if they really have no application to your personal history-is scary. Apparently it wasn't the only time Biden was accused of plagiarism.

Then there is John McCain. I heard yesterday on the radio that the "guard and the cross" episode he mentioned while talking to evangelical pastor Rick Warren may also be found in Solzhenitzyn. The author being interviewed also noted that it wasn't until recently that McCain began mentioned the guard drawing a cross at all.

If McCain did lie, and is exposed, it will be much worse for him than for Biden. After all, a lot of people know Joe Biden had a brief period when he was Neil Kinnock. But if the McCain allegatin turns out to be accurate, it will serve as an exclamaition point on something we know already-politicians think we will would prefer the illusion of candor to the complex truths that make them less like fictional characters, and more like us.

dimanche, août 24, 2008

Interesting finding-italics and comments mine

Is this another example of liberal media on a rampage?

Here are a couple of hypotheses that fit the "liberal press conspiracy" argument:

The sadism theory-because most of them really like Barack, they feel like they need to bash him instead of sending bouquets.

The infidelity theory-maybe they liked him-before they didn't. Hell has no fury like a disillusioned journalist.

Or...maybe we always turn on the ones we love.

Tell me you believe any of this, and I'll tell you what you were smoking this morning.

The facts can be found below, but the opinions are much more seductive, aren't they? (see "conspiracy America" post)

It's even possible that they were doing their job-unlikely as that may seem.

However you dice the numbers, they are a perverse lot, the press.


July 28, 2008


Study Finds Obama Faring Worse On TV News Than McCain

Barack Obama is getting more negative coverage than John McCain on TV network evening news shows, reversing Obama’s lead in good press during the primaries, according to a new study by Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). The study also finds that a majority of both candidates’ coverage is unfavorable for the first time this year. According to CMPA President Dr. S. Robert Lichter, “Obama replaced McCain as the media’s favorite candidate after New Hampshire. But now the networks are voting no on both candidates.”

These results are from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) 2008 Election News Watch Project. They are based on a scientific content analysis of 249 election news stories (7 hours 38 minutes of airtime) that aired on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Fox Special Report (first half hour) from June 8, 2008 to July 21, 2008. Previously we analyzed 2144 stories (43 hrs 30 min airtime) during the primary campaign from December 16, 2007 through June 7, 2008. We report on all on-air evaluations of the candidates by sources and reporters, after excluding comments by the campaigns about each other.


Since the primaries ended, on-air evaluations of Barack Obama have been 72% negative (vs. 28% positive). That’s worse than John McCain’s coverage, which has been 57% negative (vs. 43% positive) during the same time period.

This is a major turnaround since McCain and Obama emerged as front-runners in the early primaries. From the New Hampshire primary on January 8 until Hillary Clinton dropped out on June 7, Obama’s coverage was 62% positive (v. 38% negative) on the broadcast networks; by contrast, McCain’s coverage during this period was only 34% positive (v. 66% negative).

Obama ran even farther behind McCain on Fox News Channel’s Special Report (we are shocked,, shocked, shocked) with 79% negative comments (v. 21% positive), compared to 61% negative comments (what, Fox journos don't like McCain, either?) (v. 39% positive) for McCain since June 8. During the primaries Obama had a slight lead in good press on Fox, with 52% favorable comments (v. 48 % unfavorable), compared to 48% favorable (v. 52% unfavorable) for McCain.

Obama’s bad press has come at a time when he was much more visible than McCain. Since June 8, he has been the subject of 120 stories on the three network evening news shows, 50% more than John McCain’s 80 stories.

Examples of Obama’s evaluations:

Positive: “Obama came to Baghdad and he brought his star power with him…..hundreds of U.S. troops and State Department personnel mobbed Obama at the embassy here.” –Terry Moran, ABC

Negative: “You raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying, even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, ‘why’?” – Katie Couric, CBS

Negative: “Far more Americans say John McCain would be a good commander in chief than Obama” – Jake Tapper, ABC

CMPA has monitored every presidential election since 1988 using the same methodology, in which trained coders tally all mentions of candidates and issues and all evaluations of candidates. For previous CMPA findings on the 2008 elections: