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The Right, to Mislead

Posted by Rick · June 23rd, 2004 · 15 Comments

Yesterday, I posted an article which was actually not intended to be about the Michael Moore movie. Instead, I used a quote by Michael Moore about his plans for dealing with the expected right-wing attacks that would libel him as a jumping-off point to talk about the ways in which the right-wing has impaired our ability, as voters, to obtain information.

In response to my article, a comment was posted by Bob, containing a story which, ironically, proves my point.

Let’s be clear about something: I’m not saying Bob aimed at impairing the voter’s ability to get good information. On the contrary, Bob copied and pasted a story from such an attempt to impair the information; in other words, the story was done well enough to pull Bob into using it for the purpose at which its original creators aimed.

So you don’t have to go back to the comment, here’s the article Bob posted:

Rep. Kennedy no fan of Michael Moore film ad
Associated Press

Rep. Mark Kennedy, a Republican, is a little annoyed at leftist film maker Michael Moore after an edited version of an interview between the two appeared in the trailer for Moore’s upcoming U.S. release of the film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

“I was walking back to my office after casting a vote, and all of a sudden some oversized guy puts a mike in my face and a camera in my face,” Kennedy said. “He starts asking if I can help him recruit more people from families of members of Congress to participate in the war on terror.”

Kennedy said he told Moore that he has two nephews in the military, one who has just been deployed in the Army National Guard. But to Kennedy’s annoyance, his response to Moore was cut from the trailer, which was released Thursday. His response was also cut from the film, according to a spokeswoman for the movie.

“The interesting thing is that they used my image, but not my words,” Kennedy said. “It’s representative of the fact that Michael Moore doesn’t always give the whole story, and he’s a master of the misleading.”

A spokeswoman for the fiercely anti-Bush film, which has found a U.S. distributor after the Walt Disney Co. refused to release it, said she had no comment.

A transcript released by the film’s producers shows Moore telling Kennedy that “there is only one member (of Congress) who has a kid over there in Iraq.” He asks Kennedy to help him pass out literature encouraging others “to get their kids to enlist in the Army and go over to Iraq.”

Kennedy replies, “I’d be happy to. Especially those who voted for the war. (As Kennedy did.) I have a nephew on his way to Afghanistan.”

To which Moore replies: “I appreciate it.”

Anne Mason, Kennedy’s spokeswoman, said Friday that Kennedy now has one nephew in the military and another one who got out of the Navy since the Moore interview. In addition, Kennedy’s cousin’s son recently completed his military service.

Source: http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/news/politics/8838660.htm

After my reaction, which was to sarcastically note that a commentary on the honesty of the film appeared to be made in the absence of actually seeing the film, Bob indicated that he hadn’t made such a decision and that he was merely showing “that both sides are playing the same game.” He indicated that it was obvious from this that Moore “had an agenda before filming his first interview.”

Well, in the benign sense that when someone is going to make a movie, they obviously know what they’re going to make a movie about, this is correct. The makers of the movie, Superman, starring Christopher Reeve had an agenda in that sense, also. The makers of Dumb and Dumber had an agenda in that sense, also.

As to the idea that Moore’s agenda included being dishonest, I don’t know that this is true. In fact, I don’t believe it is.

There is a sad situation right now that every time someone says something against the Right, someone on the Right comes out and says, “No…this isn’t really what happened. Regardless of the photographic or testimonial evidence to the contrary, this (fill in the blank with a twisted version of what happened [or didn’t] here) is really what happened.” Often, they’ll even suddenly release numerous documents in what is described as an information “dump” — even when they “refused” to release those documents before. (Or maybe the delay is explained by the fact that when the first refusal was made, the documents had not yet been created?)

If you look back over all the articles I’ve been writing about the ways in which the Right is doing this, one of the first clues that this might be what happened with the Kennedy story above, as well, is the statement, “I was walking…some oversized guy puts a mike in my face.” The story is told as if Kennedy did not have a single solitary clue what was happening; it’s just “some oversized guy.” Now, that’s a possibility, but if you think about the fact that the oversized guy had a camera crew with him, most congressmen, who frequently encounter such things (unless attempting to prejudice you against the oversized guy with the mike) would have said something like, “Some reporter….”

In addition to just another dig at his weight problem, this story is intended to indicate that Michael Moore was dishonest, is it not? (By the way, why are Republicans so hung up on the appearance of people who oppose them? What’s so critically important about the haircut, the supposed “Botox-addiction,” or the corporal dimensions of liberals and Democrats? What makes a presidential candidate a “poodle”? But, anyway, getting back to issues…) There’s no indication that Michael Moore was being dishonest in this story, is there?

It’s representative of the fact that Michael Moore doesn’t always give the whole story, and he’s the master of the misleading.

He’s not giving the whole story why? Because he used a snippet of the interview , but not the whole interview? (This was used in the trailer, by the way, in order to stir interest in the movie; it’s not in the movie. Isn’t it typical of trailers to be made for the purpose of encouraging people to see the movie? Aren’t trailers normally short? So not putting an entire banal encounter into the trailer compromises the integrity of the film maker?)

Nearly every night when we watch the news and they’re showing pictures of people in the background, you’ll see someone being asked a question and perhaps giving part of the response. After that, the reporter starts with their own voiceover, or with reading a news story while the images of the rest of the interview continue to play over their shoulder. Does this mean we’re not getting the whole story? Is this misleading when it happens? Somehow, I don’t think that’s what makes a story misleading.

Perhaps Kennedy means that Moore isn’t telling the whole story and is misleading because Moore said to him, “there is only one member who has a kid over there in Iraq.” And Kennedy had just said that he had a kid on the way to Afghanistan. Could this be why Kennedy says Moore “doesn’t always give the whole story”? (Moore’s comment, by the way, doesn’t show up in the trailer, either. As noted, most trailers are shorter than movies and thus show portions of scenes.)

The statement from Michael Moore in response to the story quoted above contains, at the end, the transcript of the “interview.” Personally, I’d call it an encounter, not an interview; but that’s a technicality. In it, you’ll note that it’s almost the same as the story above reports; it’s just the ordering of words which slightly changes — a normal feature of writing a story, but one of those “meta-issues” I dealt with in two articles last week that discussed the difference between advocacy and partisanship.

At any rate, nowhere in either version of this report is there an indication that Moore lied, was dishonest, or even misleading. He says that there is no member of Congress with kids in Iraq right after Kennedy says that he has a kid on the way to Afghanistan.

First — and this is a trivial point — it’s well-known to most Americans by now (I hope) that Afghanistan is not Iraq. And although Iraq appears by far the most dangerous of the two, neither is safe. Anyone fighting in either theater is at risk of being killed.

It should be also obviously recognizable that someone “on the way to Afghanistan” is not “in Iraq.” Furthermore, it would be entirely possible, without being dishonest, to not know that someone was “on the way” somewhere when they weren’t there. Moore doesn’t have to be seen as misleading for not having known this.

Now the first good response to this is “Well, that’s irrelevant. Moore’s point is that Congress isn’t sending it’s own kids to the war, but they are.” Maybe. At the time Moore was making the film, he notes that there is only one member who has a family member in Iraq. Neither Kennedy nor anyone else has denied this; they have indicated there are members of Congress with family members serving elsewhere.

Incidentally, there’s a confusing statement in the transcript that appears to indicate that it is one “Corporal Henderson” who is helping Moore; Kennedy greets him and indicates it’s good to see him. I don’t think this is either the member of Congress nor his son who is purported to be in Iraq. So that would be another good reason to not use this “interview.”

There may be misleading things in Moore’s movie, when all is said and done. I personally can’t say there are not, since I have neither seen the movie, nor been consulted as a fact checker.

Yet there is reason to think that this few seconds from a trailer for the movie is evidence of some massive distortion of reality which ultimately proves the prejudice of the entire project; a fortiori, it is not evidence that “both sides are playing the same game.” (Underlined emphasis mine; italicized emphasis in Bob’s original comment.)

As further evidence that both sides are not playing the same game, consider the fact that liberals are not consistently lobbying to get people fired for expressing conservative ideas; liberals aren’t calling theaters with death threats because those theaters might show someone’s movie, liberals aren’t busily about the business of censorship — not even here on this blog where it would be perfectly acceptable, I might add — nor are liberals generally writing books stating “In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent’s argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth” as neoconservative strategist David Horowitz has done. Nor are we sending out thousands of copies of this book, as Tom DeLay, Republican majority leader, and other Republicans have done.

This game, which is ultimately destructive of our nation’s ability to make sound decisions, because the data available to us is repetitively warped. And, one reason for this is because people like David Horowitz say,

When you do get to speak, don?t forget that a sound bite is all you have. Whatever you have to say, make sure to say it loud and clear. Keep it simple and keep it short. (A slogan is always better.) Repeat it often. Put it on television. Radio is good, but with a few exceptions, only television reaches a public that is electorally significant. In politics, television is reality. — Horowitz, “Full-Contact Politics” (April/May 2000) The American Enterprise Online.

Republicans loathe having to actually debate an issue; they always lose on issues. Their forte is quips and name-calling. Paula Zahn, for example, practically nightly for the past week, has made comments along the lines of “unbalanced,” “out there,” “bizarre,” and other such things whenever speaking of people like Al Gore, John Kerry or other Democrats. Oftentimes, she doesn’t even use these in sentences, but merely exclaims them as single-word commentary when someone else mentions one of these Democrats names. (In one of her shows this past week, I counted four such comments in the space of about two-and-a-half minutes.)

Liberals, on the other hand are “booooring” because we try to develop actual arguments as opposed to sound bites. Horowitz likes to pretend that labeling and sound bites emanate from liberals:

Because the religious Right has been associated by liberals with moralistic intolerance, it is easy for liberals to portray them as a threat to any constituency that does not share their values. “They will impose their morals on you.” It does not matter whether this is true or not. Once a negative image has stuck, the target is wounded — often mortally — for the political battle. — Horowitz, Ibid.

Is it deliberate that he doesn’t mention any of the actual circumstances where this is done? Granted that the so-called “marriage amendment” recently proposed was not proposed until after Horowitz’s comments quoted above, it’s merely the latest, not the first or only demonstration of this right-wing proclivity. If it’s “easy to portray them as a threat” it’s because time after time, whether the question is abortion, the censorship of books in schools, imposing requirements to teach pseudo-science in our schools, or fighting to “put G-d back in control” of our government, the Religious Right has become a demonstrated threat; it’s “easy to portray them as a threat” not independently of “whether this is true or not,” but because it’s been repeatedly shown to be true.

I’m sorry, fellow-citizens, but this is not “the same game.” One side is about not just twisting facts, but about shutting down — “wiping from the face of the earth” — any disparate points of view.

And I don’t know what dictionary you use, but in mine (Merriam-Webster Unabridged), this is the antithesis of the definition of “freedom.”

Should it ever happen that Republicans decide they will play “the same game” as Democrats and other liberals, I’ll be happy to play with them.

Categories: Politics-In-General


15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 nick meyer // Jun 23, 2004 at 7:19 pm

    In response to the comment that both sides are playing the game I have to agree, Moore went into this project specifically with the intent to show President Bush in the worst possible light. He has as much said so. If in fact he is not being dishonest than he is being decptive. Not telling the truth is the same, or has the same effect as telling a lie. Lying by omission is just as bad as a outright verbal deception. We all can be cast in negative light if someone tries hard enough. In a past post someone near to all of us wrote something about how they used to love working in the yard. Yet if I wanted to put that into question I can refute that fact by stating that I have never seen that person doing yard work. In fact I have seen that person standing there when his wife has been running the lawn mower, or conversing with her as she is pulling weeds from her pretty landscaping. It seems to me this post was biased from it’s inception.. We can all play word games, “Interview VS. encounter.” whatever word serves your agenda fits in the sentence. You seem to feel that the rigjht is the only side playing the name calling, mudslinging game. This is totally false and you know it. You use media quotes and bites when it serves your purpose4 and at the same time tell us not to trust the media or print. So again, both sides are playing the game and that cannot be honestly refuted!!

  • 2 Rick // Jun 23, 2004 at 9:54 pm

    I was overjoyed to see your evidence that Moore was not dishonest, but he was deceptive and lying by not putting everything he ever filmed into his movie. After all, every other documentary film-maker ever making documentaries in the entire world always put everything they filmed right into the film. (I, and several others, including Moore himself, already showed that the supposed “dishonesty” of Moore left out nothing of significance. There was and is nothing misleading about saying that only one member of Congress has a family member serving in Iraq when that comment is the truth. The fact that Kennedy, or any other member of Congress has a family member somewhere else does not change that comment into a lie. I have several relatives in Florida. This is not converted to a lie by noting that my wife and/or even my closest blood relatives live in California.)

    I believe the time has come to simply shut down the blog. It’s no longer achieving the intended purpose of encouraging honest discussion. When people who have not — because they cannot until at least next Friday — see the movie, nonetheless are capable of spewing crap they’ve already absorbed because of the concerted efforts of those who do not wish you to think about it, then I see that virtually everything I’ve written over the last two weeks has been perfectly useless.

    There is an old saying about pearls before swine. (Matthew 7:6 — Fancy that, me, the Jew; I actually read the Christian Bible.) I’ve spent a lot of time researching and writing about stuff that apparently simply goes unread. Why should I put so much effort into researching these things and writing about the importance of making oneself an informed citizen if after I’ve done all that someone will come back with a comment that indicates they didn’t even read what was written?

    I’ll not do it anymore.

    There’s an article of Mark’s to post tomorrow and that, I think, will be the last posting to Unspun™.

  • 3 abi // Jun 23, 2004 at 10:53 pm


    Settle, petal! You sound angry – will you still feel like ending the blog when you’ve cooled down?

    Without having researched it, I can’t factually refute your claim that Moore wasn’t dishonest. And not having seen the film, I can’t comment on it in detail. But there are a couple of themes to this argument that don’t pass the most basic reality check.

    First off, documentaries are inevitably affected by their directors’ (and entire crew’s) feelings on the subject documented. Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will is the obvious example of a filmmaker whose politics affected the films she made. But for a less contentious example, think about all those DVD “extras”, little documentaries on the making of films, which somehow manage to make even the biggest turkey the cinema has ever seen look like a great and wonderful project. Are we to believe, then, that the man who made that Oscar speech managed to find some mythical neutral point of view for this film?

    Secondly, I don’t believe there is any sort of test for sainthood in joining the Democratic party. The left wing is as full of control freaks as the right – I should know, I went to UC Berkeley in the late 1980’s, at the height of the political correctness boom. So when you say:

    What if, instead of silencing debate, Republicans did what Democrats always do and encouraged it?

    I’m afraid I stick at the word “always”. There are Democrats, and self-identified liberals, who will throw everything they can at a right-wing opponent (Witness Mark’s comments on Reagan’s hair dye. Wasn’t it enough to discuss all his political sins? Moving the argument to his personal appearance would make any Reagan fan unable or unwilling to agree to any of the argument.) I’m sure some will stop at nothing to rubbish the Republican Party. And even the moderates are not fighting purely on the issues. For instance, the namecalling on this blog has been widespread on both sides, even if you feel that some people “deserved it”.

    If this is how I’m seeing it, I can see why Nick has reacted the way he has. Maybe it’s time to take a big step back from politics, maybe blog a bit about that garden that Nick was mentioning, or how the neighbors’ dog is getting on, or what driver you have your eye on for your golf bag nect. But don’t shut down unspun, dude! I’d miss it.

  • 4 Rick // Jun 24, 2004 at 12:32 am

    Abi, I appreciate the comment, but I’m quite literally tired of spending hours and sometimes (as with several articles recently) days researching, only to have comments that act as if nothing had been said; that is, the exact same factual elements which I’d addressed, and not just the arguments, are re-presented, without even an attempt to add anything new, save what really simply amounts to “I think what I just re-presented is true.”

    And this by people who sometimes say things like, “I don’t have time to read about this.” So it’s not as if they were ignoring views with which they didn’t agree because they’d actually researched those views, or arrived at them after some examination and thought.

    I suppose I can write a journal, but I already do that. (I just don’t publish it in a blog.)

    And I do agree with you — as I did with Bob — that one cannot deny the presence, in the real dictionary meaning (not the pejorative one which is rapidly supplanting the old meaning) of an agenda in the making of a documentary film. I myself have written more than once recently about the fact that there is no such thing as a perspectiveless point of view. (I didn’t use that obviously self-contradictory phrase before; I’ve said something like that it’s impossible not to include ones biases in what one says.) That, however, is not — to reuse Bob’s phrase, now parroted by Nick — “the same game” as that currently pushed by the Right.

    There has always been vehement disagreement when it comes to politics — in America as anywhere else. Besides the Revolutionary War and before the Civil War, there was (as I recall from reading in my youth) at least one fist-fight in Congress and, of course, famous duels, including the one between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (although now that I think about it, that one was probably primarily personal and not political). I noted recently Jefferson’s comments in his Second Inaugural Address concerning the dishonesty of the press.

    I don’t believe that even back then there was the pervasiveness of the lying that appears to come primarily from the Right in America today. For one thing, the technology (and law) of the day did not make it possible for any one cadre to control the primary means of the dissemination of information such as is available today thanks to the near-abolition of antitrust oversight in the United States. (Incidentally, did anyone catch Paula Zahn on that extra CNN channel tonight advocating the need to “control” or “regulate” blogs because they don’t adhere to the same journalistic standards as Fox, CNN and the others? Are you aware that this same idea — according to authors Rampton & Stauber writing in Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing is Turning America into a One-Party State, if I recall correctly — has been discussed in Republican “think tanks”?) As I said, however, although people might have spread lies in the early history of American politics, the practice was not as pervasive as it is today.

    You did not then have people sitting around saying things like, “Our goal is not to win a debate on the issues (we couldn’t give a damn about the issues); our goal is to wipe our enemy from the face of the earth.” (This, you’ll perhaps recognize from a recent post of mine, is a near-quote from David Horowitz, who spends much of his time these days as an advisor to the Republicans, primarily to Republican leaders.)

    There’s a reason to blog; several, actually: Education, forcing oneself to think things through as a prerequisite to crafting coherent arguments, encouraging debate on issues, trying to make a difference and probably several others — but those spring immediately to mind. None of these except the one I also get (with less frustration) from my more private journaling — forcing myself to think — seem to actually occur here.

    Now, perhaps I, too, am a deceitful liar. I tend not to think of myself this way, but, who knows? Maybe I’m such a deceitful liar that I’ve managed to trick even myself. But I think I actually spend significant — huge — amounts of time researching the issues about which I write. I recently re-read huge chunks of Democracy in America — who the hell reads that anymore? — in order to consider some of the things I wrote about yesterday. And that’s typical of the work I put into building arguments. And — again, it’s possible I’m a deceitful liar — I don’t think de Tocqueville is a partisan participant in modern political debates on either democracy in general or the United States’ model of a democratically-driven republic in particular.

    After all that energy and work, I get to log on and see someone say (synthesizing and paraphrasing from one commenter’s posts), “I don’t have time to research anything myself. But let me make these unfounded assertions that I heard: Michael Moore is a deceitful liar.” (Substitute someone else in place of “Michael Moore,” depending on the post at which the comment is aimed; substitute an “issue” if the writer is “refuting” an issue instead of a person.)

    Several contemporary political writers are noting that the reason liberals are losing out right now is because they fail to understand that what Horowitz originally wrote in his book, The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win, and what he then pretended to have learned from Democrats in his article “Full-Contact Politics,” is true. (I say “pretended to have learned from Democrats” because in his book, he recommended this as a strategy for the Republican Party; in the article, he falsely indicated it was the actual practice of Democrats. He failed to note, except in one quote of Lenin, that his primary source was actually early Communist and Socialist writings; his ideas were developed before he became a neo-conservative, when he was still an advocate of the Black Panthers’ War on Whitey.) These writers indicate that liberals mistakenly believe we’ll prevail in a debate because the issues are with us.

    But the American public has no patience (or time?) for actual consideration of arguments, e.g., “a coherent series of reasons, statements, or facts intended to support or establish a point of view,” as defined by Merriam-Webster Unabridged (def. 3b). If it’s not a sound-bite, they do not notice it; if it’s a sound-bite with which they disagree, they cannot consider it.

    The attitude was perhaps best summed up by a (younger) fellow student who made a comment to me at school tonight on some non-political event. When I pointed out that the event she was commenting upon had actually been witnessed and was different than she thought, she indicated that she wouldn’t change her mind even if she witnessed it herself. “It’s a matter of independence,” she said.

    Am I angry about these attitudes? Yes. No doubt. One does not like to have actual experience, or spend hours or days checking facts only to have someone “pop off,” or regurgitate an argument — not even an argument, actually, but merely a mangled sound-bite — carefully fed to them by right-wing “think tanks” that one has already addressed, as if one had never mentioned a thing about it. Nor is the irritation lessened by the recognition that “it’s (just) a matter of independence.” If I said, “Such-and-such a group recently reported that so-and-so proved the Earth was perfectly flat” and I then gave an actual argument about how the Earth was not, in fact, flat and then someone posted a comment to the article in which I wrote that argument saying, “Well, you know…the truth is that the Earth is flat (period),” then I think anger on my part might be a justifiable reaction. Although an answer like, “That argument you just gave, Rick, makes sense, until you consider this [put reason number one here] and this [reason number two] and so on [add as many reasons as you’re able to muster]” might be frustrating, if I truly believed that I was in the right, it would at least be recognizable as participating in a discussion. And I would be honor-bound to participate and respond in kind, or even to concede points where appropriate.

    That would not be “pearls before swine” or “giving that which is holy unto the dogs.” (Matthew 7:6.) That would be two people who have a different perspective trying to explain that perspective to one another; they might even end up both ameliorating their points of view.

    That — from at least the time of Nat Dawson’s appearance here — has not been my experience as a participant in “discussions” on this blog.

    And, frankly, I’m tired. I’m tired of doing the research, trying to be sure I don’t actually get things wrong, mislead, or deceive, only to have someone respond as if I’d never written a word.

    Because, just as I told Bob in an email message (yesterday, now, as I prepare to post this), if both sides are, in fact, playing “the same game,” we might just as well all take our balls and go home. If, in fact, everyone is lying and distorting the truth, there is no possibility of communication; we’re all defeated by Kantian Antimonies and there is no equivalent to the Refutation of Material Idealism for our political discourse.

    And if I buy that, then I think Schopenhauer and Nietzsche were right to follow that path to nihilism.

    It seems to me that — so far as blogging is concerned — that road brings one to the ultimate stop sign.

  • 5 Bob // Jun 24, 2004 at 7:57 am

    Moore is readying for a conservative counterattack, saying he has created a political-style “war room” to offer an instant response to any assault on the film’s credibility. He also hired outside fact-checkers, led by a former general counsel of the New Yorker and a veteran member of that magazine’s fact- checking team, to vet the film.

    That said, Moore’s fact-checkers said they do not view the film as straight reporting. “This is an Op-Ed piece. It’s not a news report,” said Dev Chatillon, the former general counsel for the New Yorker. “This is not the New York Times. It’s not a network news report. The facts have to be right, yes, but this is an individual’s view of current events. And I’m a very firm believer that it is within everybody’s right to examine the actions of their government.”

    Source: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/06/24/MNGSC7B3L21.DTL

    (Emphasis mine)

    Since I am credited with starting this whole thing, let me finish it.

    Moore is not a source that I take at face value. For the record, neither is O’Reilly or George W himself.

    Moore’s previous body of work speaks for itself and his views. Anything that Moore creates will be put into that light until he proves otherwise. The reviews that I read have given no hint that Moore has proven otherwise.

    As a comparison, if I attend an opera by Mozart I would not expect to hear rap. If I attend a movie by Moore, I would not expect a movie by Fellini. Moore’s artistic and political visions are tied together and he relies on that for ticket sales. In other words, in my opinion, he cultivates the image that I am being accused of reading into his film, sight unseen, just like he wants.

    (In fact, the timing of the release so close to the election makes me think even more that this film is “spun” fact (i.e. opinion).)

    I stand by my opinion that both sides spin for their own purposes. Sometimes that purpose is to counter the opposition spin but it’s still spin.

    You clearly state in your researched article that the Republican Noise Machine is alive and well. No debate from me on that.

    In my unresearched opinion there is a Noise Machine for the Democrats and Moore, willingly or not, is a part of that Noise Machine. That’s what his previous films, interviews and statements have indicated to me. This seems to upset you. Sorry, but it’s my opinion , it won’t change unless presented with compelling reason.

    Respectfully, your researched article did not provide that.

    I don’t have to see a film from such an openly biased source to be able to speculate on it’s content, purpose or value. I have been wrong on this blog before and, if my memory serves me well, I am the only author on this blog to apologize when a “fact” was wrong or an opinion offended. I would have gladly written a comment about how pleasantly surprised I was that the Moore film was accurate and unbiased.

    I believe the time has come to simply shut down the blog. It’s no longer achieving the intended purpose of encouraging honest discussion. When people who have not ? because they cannot until at least next Friday ? see the movie, nonetheless are capable of spewing crap they’ve already absorbed because of the concerted efforts of those who do not wish you to think about it, then I see that virtually everything I’ve written over the last two weeks has been perfectly useless.

    Shut down the blog or don’t, that’s your decision.

    Since my opinion, as flawed and imprecise as it is, is viewed as spewing crap I will take it somewhere else. You can write to like minded people and have them all in agreement. You won’t have to waste your time researching articles that solicit opinion not in line with yours.

  • 6 Mark // Jun 24, 2004 at 8:52 am

    Rick, Bob:

    I suggest both of you take a step back and a deep breath.

    This is all supposed to be fun, right? Don’t take things quite so personally. There’s no reason that those with differing opinions cannot respectfully agree to disagree. I firmly believe this. I suspect that both of you do, too.

  • 7 Groundpounder // Jun 24, 2004 at 9:32 am

    The above posted comments show great restraint and a moderate tone. No finger pointing, no name calling, no rhetoric. Rick, you should be glad that indeed there are people who read your blog that do not agree with everything that you post. If every one agreed, then there would be no debate. There would be no growth. The majority of the comments that I have read on this blog are posted by individuals who seem capable of forming their opinions without the benefit the “talking heads” from either side of the political spectrum.

    As to your comment about yourself as the Jew, read the Bible, and pearls before swine: totally unwarranted, and insulting. Beneath a man of your talent. I seriously doubt that your being Jewish is any concern of your readers. I’m glad that you read or have read the Bible. That is certainly to your credit. Now, to what end do you use the knowlege? Pearls before swine was in reference to spiritual truths. In as much as I have enjoyed this blog, I have yet to see anything that would fall into that catagory. Sorry all.

    Be glad that your friends on this blog think enough about you to disagree when warranted and and give props when they are deserved. Give your readers a little credit.

    Semper Fi


  • 8 Rick // Jun 24, 2004 at 10:53 am

    Just for the record, you’ll note “the procedural history” of my comment. Bob, you’re giving yourself too much credit (or discredit, depending on how you view it). 😉

    “Spewing crap” was aimed at people who say things like “I don’t have time to research these things, but [fill in the blank with some unsupported claims that amount to ad hominem].” It seems to me that given that this is happening, my comment is not merely insulting, but an accurate assessment.

    Your comments have usually been actual arguments (at least as often as mine have been) and have been responded to as such, as they will be in this comment. Were it any different, I would not have asked you to be a co-blogger and I would not have continued to post your articles.

    And you are not the only person to have apologized for either getting facts wrong or writing opinions that offend. Go back through the comments and you’ll find I did so with respect to at least one comment of Nat Dawson way back when. I believe no one — certainly not you or me — has apologized more for getting facts wrong than has Nick Meyer.

    You say,

    Moore’s previous body of work speaks for itself and his views.


    Moore’s artistic and political visions are tied together and he relies on that for ticket sales. In other words, in my opinion, he cultivates the image that I am being accused of reading into his film, sight unseen, just like he wants. [Emphasis yours.]

    No evidence is given that a) this indicates falsehood or deception, or that b) Moore wants you to see him this way. As I understood it, what you read into Moore is that he “spun” his story; that it was misleading. You said this although it would have been impossible for you to verify, since you cannot have seen the as-yet-unreleased movie. And I find no reason — it appears to me to go against reason — to assume that a person wants you to believe his work is biased and that your interpretation of his work as biased and deceptive is “just like he wants.”

    Most importantly,

    He also hired outside fact-checkers, led by a former general counsel of the New Yorker and a veteran member of that magazine’s fact-checking team, to vet the film.

    This is what I’ve indicated differentiates liberals (including, but not limited to, Democrats) from Republicans. Liberals are concerned with fact-checking; they are concerned that what they say is not false and they aim at not being misleading.

    The facts have to be right, yes, but this is an individual’s view of current events. And I’m a very firm believer that it is within everybody’s right to examine the actions of their government. [Emphasis not mine.]

    I don’t believe this is anything different than what I’ve said by noting that there’s no such thing as a perspectiveless point of view. The spokesperson here doesn’t say, “We hired fact-checkers, but we don’t really have to get it right.” The spokesperson doesn’t say, “We hired fact-checkers, but it’s okay for us to distort those facts and mislead people.” The spokesperson doesn’t say, “We hired fact-checkers, but it’s okay for us to lie.”

    The reason the Republican Noise Machine is called the “Republican Noise Machine” is because it does just that: It puts out false stories, aimed at discrediting its opponents. It puts out lies, as if they were true (e.g., the story, repeated on this blog by another partisan writer, that Kerry was honored by the Viet Cong via placement of his picture in “the protesters’ section” of their War Crimes Museum in Ho Chi Minh, when no such section exists and photos of other members of the veterans’ delegation with whom he went were placed on either side of him in that same museum, no longer, by the way, known as a War Crimes Museum). And it does this in high volume. Republicans have actually organized around treatises and think tanks with the specific goal of determining the best way to smear people and “wipe them from the face of the earth.” (Horowitz, The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win.) They have been quoted as being aware that much of what they’re feeding the public via the so-called “liberal media” is false. Some of them occasionally note that this so-called liberal media is doing itself in because it’s so concerned with “being fair.” (See generally Chapter 3 of The Republican Noise Machine for more on this.) I’m not putting words in their mouths; they’ve been quoted as saying this themselves. In an interview I believe I’ve quoted before, JournalismJobs.com spoke to Matt Labash, senior editor of the Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard. He was asked why conservative media outlets such as the Standard and Fox have become more popular in recent years. His reply?

    Because they feed the rage…. While all these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity, the conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. We’ve created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as possible. It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It’s a great little racket. I’m glad we found it actually. — JournalismJobs.com, “Interview with Matt Labash, the Weekly Standard,” (May 2003). [“Hand-wringing Freedom Forum types worried about objectivity” would be people like me.]

    The Media Elite was written in 1990 by political scientist Rothman and researchers Robert and Linda Lichter. It was one of the few actual studies of “liberal bias” in the press. The trio of researchers has been funded by Irving Kristol, William Simon, the Olin and Scaife foundations — all hardcore right-wing groups which fund right-wing “think tanks.” Rothman once said of himself that he wasn’t “as conservative as Dick Scaife, but I’m a conservative.” And yet, in the book, they note,

    When leading journalists confront new information, they usually manage to process it without interjecting their own viewpoints. — quoted in Brock, The Republican Noise Machine: Right Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy (2004) at p. 88. [It’s noteworthy that Brock himself was once part of this Republican Noise Machine; he became famous, by his own admission, for tarnishing Anita Hill as “a little nutty and a little slutty” and for pursuing stories about the Clintons engaging in sex orgies, drug-running and murder — charges he himself noted were absurd and outrageous, but fit the conservative agenda he was paid to pursue. None of these “charges,” of course, has ever been seriously pursued in a court of law because they are patently absurd. Yet they continue to be circulated to this day.]

    This same trio noted, after its scientific claims were challenged:

    The findings that should be understood tell us only about the backgrounds and attitudes of journalists as individuals. They do not tell us about the content of the news they present, nor indeed whether the content is affected by their personal views at all. — Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman, writing in the Washington Post, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine, at p. 88-89.

    In a lecture to the Heritage Foundation in 1992, L. Brent Bozel III, who established one of the “best” (e.g., most successful) right-wing groups, the Media Research Center, crowed that the conservative network had broken the liberal monopoly on the news — the one that Rothman and the Lichters had shown didn’t exist. He went a step farther, though. He noted,

    More often than not, you won’t see the MRC name on much that appears on the subject of media bias. [That would make this next point too obvious. But] I will go so far as to warrant that 90 percent of the stories in both the electronic and print media which deal with the political bias in the industry have their origins in the Media Research Center. — quoted in The Republican Noise Machine, supra., at p. 98.

    Grover Norquist, a Republican strategist, has said,

    The conservative press is self-consciously conservative and self-consciously part of the team. The liberal press is much larger, but at the same time it sees itself as the establishment press. So it’s conflicted. Sometimes it thinks it needs to be critical of both sides, to be nonpartisan. — Glastris, “Why Can’t Democrats Get Tough?” (March 1, 2002) Washington Monthly, no. 3, vol. 34, p. 38. [Emphasis mine. The implication is that the Right doesn’t have that problem.]

    Bernard Goldberg, who authored a vitriolic tome called Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, in which he claimed, among other things that Dan Rather wore suits that cost more than Goldberg’s house (uh…okay, I’ll buy that such suits exist), said on television that the charge of “liberal bias” in the media had to be right, because so many Americans believe it. But he wrote,

    In newspaper articles published since 1992, the word ‘media’ appears within seven words of ‘liberal bias’ 469 times and within seven words of ‘conservative bias’ just 17 times. If people are disposed to believe that the media have a liberal bias, it’s because that’s what the media have been telling them all along. — The Republican Noise Machine, supra, at p. 113.

    This is the very definition of “circular reasoning.”

    Finally, as Eric Alterman of Nation says,

    Think about it. Who among the liberals can be counted upon tobe as ideological, as relentless and as nakedly partisan as George Will, Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan, Bay Buchanan, William Bennett, William Kristol, Fred Barnes, John McLaughlin, Charles Krauthammer, Paul Gigot, Oliver North, Kate O’Beirne, Tony Blankley, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Tony Snow, Laura Ingraham, Jonah Goldberg, William F. Buckley, Jr., Bill O’Reilly, Alan Keyes, Tucker Carlson, Brit Hume, the self-described ‘wild men’ of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, etc., etc.? In fact, it’s hard to come up with a single journalist/pundit appearing on television who is even remotely as far to the left of the mainstream spectrum as most of these conservatives are to the right. — Altman, “What Liberal Media?” (February 6, 2003) The Nation
    Show me the equivalent “Democratic Noise Machine”.

    This is why I assert that “both” sides (there are actually numerous political parties and numerous “sides”) are not playing “the same game.”

    And what I find frustrating — and what causes me to think of all this as hopeless — is that when I write out these arguments, I get more responses proving my point than I get reasoned arguments like those given by Bob Marcotte. I have no problem with Bob Marcotte’s approach, although I disagree with it. What bothers me is that we have, by and large, our own “mini-noise machines” voicing unsubstantiated claims and unsupported opinions.

    And it’s tiresome to try reiterating the same arguments with new and different facts in the hopes that one day they’ll actually be read and not result in flip replies that simply re-assert the claims, without this support, that I’ve just debunked with real evidence and real arguments.

    Postscript: Having just noticed a few new comments posted while I was digging up citations for the argument I made above, I’ll add this one comment, directed at what Jeff said: My posts over the last few weeks have been specifically aimed at what I see as the biggest problem facing us today. It’s not George Bush, as some people say. It’s the denigration of the idea of “objective” reporting. The “talking heads” to which you refer are largely pushing a neo-conservative agenda, rather than reporting news. Snide remarks made by folks on CNN or Fox under the guise or rubric of “news” reporting would have been unthinkable 15-20 years ago. Unsubstantiated reporting of rumor and innuendo, focusing on sexual foibles (where, by the way, are voluminous “news” stories of Senator Ryan’s sexual exploits?) of President’s as a means of “getting” a President who couldn’t be gotten otherwise, and so on, would have relegated such “reporters” to the National Enquirer. Don’t get me wrong: The National Enquirer sells tons of papers to people who lap that stuff up, right along with tales of alien babies (one of which was reportedly fathered by Bill Clinton), but that’s not news. People definitely should be “capable of forming their own opinions,” but this should be based upon real and actual facts. My main claim for something like three or four articles now has been that this is becoming increasingly impossible because of “noise.” And that noise has the deliberate purpose of bringing about this very thing. And the people making that noise do it because they know their opponents will, for the most part, play fair.

  • 9 Bob // Jun 24, 2004 at 9:48 pm

    Note to Rick, I’ll trade you a “pearls before swine” saying with a “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.

    Note to everyone else: my good reader, if you want to skip a bunch of well intended words just jump to the summary at the end of this piece. I can be accused of attempted genius but not intentional infliction of boredom.

    This begins the boredom ?

    Noise is Noise is Noise?

    This was taken from a letter to the editor of the St Petersburg (FL) Times.

    Plenty of Democratic noise

    Re: Partisan noise, by Margo Hammond, May 30.

    Margo Hammond writes, “What (David) Brock finally proves is that conservatives have simply been better at manipulating the media for its own ends in recent years. And, yes, its about time that the Democrats fight back with their own noise machine.”

    Time for the Democrats to fight back with their own noise machine? Is she serious?

    Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and imagine she’s never read the New York Times. If she had, she would be forgiven for thinking it was the publishing arm of the Democratic Party. And what about the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post? Is she suggesting these these newspapers are evenhanded in their political coverage? Perhaps Hammond hasn’t read Time or Newsweek in the last 20 years? Plenty of Democratic noise in the print media.

    Has Hammond ever watched the network morning shows, network nightly news, or CNN, CNBS, and MSNBC? Not exactly a bastion of conservative views. In a Gallup poll taken in the fall of 2003, 45 percent of Americans felt the news media are too liberal, while only 14 percent felt they were too conservative. There appears to be plenty of Democratic noise in television news.

    Ms. Hammond, please don’t get discouraged or worry about the Democrats, even if you don’t believe they make enough noise in the various media outlets. They still have NPR, the recently introduced liberal talk radio network, George Soros and numerous “527” issue groups willing to spend millions and millions of dollars to defeat Republicans.

    — Larry Miller, Hudson

    Source: http://www.sptimes.com/2004/06/06/Opinion/Don_t_turn_away_from_.shtml

    The ears of the beholder will find, and behold, whatever spin they’re looking for. Democrats hear Republican noise, Republicans perceive Democratic noise. What they don?t perceive as noise they call truth. In my opinion Rick, your ears are particularly perceptive to Republican noise. Many people watch the same broadcast and hear Democratic noise. From your recent reading and your long time political preferences you are acutely attuned to REPUBLICAN noise.

    Noise is Noise but Techniques Change?

    The basis of your recent writings boils down to this: Republicans are liars. The basis of my recent comments boils down to this: Republicans AND Democrats are liars. There is a difference in technique but the bottom line is the same.

    An example: Democratic Congressman David Bonior brought 75 ethics charges against Newt Gingrich in his bid to be reelected as Speaker of the House. Seventy four charges were dismissed and the last was used to get Gingrich fined on tax technicalities. (Source: http://www.rightgrrl.com/carolyn/newt.html).

    A smear is a smear. Seventy four dropped charges speak for themselves. I admit that the source is not mainstream but history has not been rewritten here, seventy four charges were dropped.

    How does this technique manifest itself on this blog?

    I did not want to bring this up for fear of kicking yet another dead horse but a point in Mark’s article about Reagan was just not fair. (Abi pointed it out in her comment as well. And for the record, Abi is a very smart lady.)

    Mark states in a comment about his claim that Reagan dyed his hair:

    The hair thing simply illustrates that Reagan was not honest in any area of his life. I went through a period when I dyed my hair. During that time, I freely admitted doing so when anyone asked. People who lie tend to lie all the time. It?s a way of life for them. This was simply one of many examples of Reagan?s unfamiliarity with the truth.

    Based on that definition of honesty, Bill Clinton was a liar and must have been a liar all of his life when he said:

    I did not have sex with that woman.

    Based on the blanket of morals applied to Reagan, Clinton was a liar when he said it. He also was retroactively convicted of lying all his life because ?People who lie tend to lie all the time?. And Clinton is also a future liar because ?It?s a way of life with them?.

    That means everything the Republicans accused him of is true. It means he did something illegal in the Whitewater deal. He also DID have sex with Paula Jones despite her coaching behind the scenes by Republican lawyers, etc.

    Not very fair but the moral blanket MUST cover both parties, right?

    Demeaning a person for use of hair dye and stretching that into habitual lying is character assassination. It is an example of character assassination as well designed and executed as anything you will hear on Fox or by any Republican mouthpiece. It is the same thing. It?s the same game, whether it?s a Congressman or a passionate Democrat, it?s the same game.

    A Comparison of Noise Machines

    And if we compare noise machines we cannot leave out the Hollywood noise machine. These people who act for a living may or may not have a brain cell to think with but they do have high visibility and they use it often for Democratic candidates. Barbara Streisand, the Dixie Chicks, Santana all come to mind. And then there is Michael Moore?

    Once upon a time, of course, the Democratic establishment kept Moore at arm’s length, deeming him too controversial and mercurial to be of much political use. But those days are gone. Earlier this year Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark shared a stage with Moore at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, at which Moore questioned Bush’s National Guard service, branding him a “deserter.” And while the press pounced on Clark for standing by Moore while he made such a harsh — and factually inaccurate –criticism of Bush, Democrats couldn’t help but marvel at how Moore single-handedly revived the issue of Bush’s military service, injecting it into the campaign, where it remains to this day. Now that Moore has come out with a film that’s filled with a slew of harsh — and, in some instances, unfair –criticisms of Bush, Democrats are giddy about how Moore and his movie might affect the presidential election. “I think anyone who sees this movie will come out en masse to make sure John Kerry is elected president this November,” McAuliffe said after the premiere. “Credit to Michael Moore for taking the time to put this together.” As one of Moore’s associates explained, the filmmaker is “the point in the spear for the Democratic party. … He’s willing to be at the leading edge, pushing these thoughts and ideas that have an impact on Bush and relieving Kerry from having to deliver that hard negative that has repercussions.”

    Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/06/24/opinion/main625985.shtml

    (Emphasis mine)

    Noise is noise is noise is noise?

    Lying is the Oldest Profession?

    And the biggest lie told by Democrats might be that the Republican party is made up of greedy business owners ready to profit at your expense. Name a topic and the Republicans in office have friends who will profit from it, right? But where do Democrats get their play money? Is it all $5 and $10 donations from retired school teachers?

    Perhaps not ?

    Published on Sunday, March 25, 2001 in the Boston Globe

    Democrats Fall Short on Shame

    by Jim Shannon

    Twenty years ago, in the first months of a new Republican president’s term, Tip O’Neill, the Democratic speaker of the House, was attacked by Republicans and some Democrats for being out of sync with the times. He was criticized because he felt President Reagan’s economic program was unfair to working people and the disadvantaged. He held the line, and demanded that the Democratic Party in the House take a stand even if it meant losing on vote after vote in the Congress.
    Within a year, O’Neill’s defense of Social Security, government programs for the poor, and tax relief for middle-income families had sealed his reputation and turned him into an American folk hero. Democrats made huge gains in the next election.
    If he were alive today, Tip O’Neill probably would not recognize his party.
    Last summer at the Democratic National Convention, the Massachusetts delegation met every day for breakfast to pick up that day’s credentials. Each day, the breakfast was underwritten by a different sponsor. On the day that a big pharmaceutical company bought our breakfast, the guest speaker, a United States senator, attacked the Republicans for being in the pockets of the drug companies.
    The convention itself had all the charm of a Fortune 500 trade show. While the delegates squirmed in their seats through tedious infomercial-style presentations, the real business of the convention went on up in the sky boxes where lobbyists and politicians schmoozed, oblivious to the proceedings below.
    There is little shame in the Democratic Party these days when it comes to fund-raising. Last year Democratic candidates for the Senate received more in soft money contributions than Republicans. Soft money is the worst, but by no means the only, kind of special-interest money allowed by the law. The interests that donate these hundreds of millions of dollars have the greatest influence over both parties.
    Soft money contributions create fewer credibility problems for Republicans because the GOP has always been seen as the pro-business party. For Democrats, these contributions are deadly, since they undermine what has historically been our greatest strength, an abiding concern for the economic interests of working people.
    Today, the Democratic Party’s addiction to soft money has crippled its ability to mount a credible challenge to our new Republican president’s economic policies. In 1981, leaders like O’Neill could take on Reagan and credibly argue that Democratic alternatives were better for average people. Now, many people do not see much difference between two parties that seem to be in thrall to the same interests. The strong bipartisan support for the egregious bankruptcy legislation is just the most recent example of the influence of this money.
    Even the infamous pardon of the eponymous Mr. Rich by President Clinton served to reinforce a public perception that Democrats are more interested in bestowing benefits on benefactors than in fighting for fairness. It was, after all, the Democratic Party’s finance chair who guided that decision as she took the money for the party.
    Democrats’ failure to generate public support for alternatives to President Bush’s tax and budget priorities should not surprise anyone. The Democratic Party, so patently beholden to big contributors, is in no position to argue that Bush’s tax plan skews too much benefit to the rich and that his budget shortchanges working people’s needs.
    The feeble efforts of the Democratic leadership to counter Bush’s plan is just a recognition by them that a vigorous argument based on traditional Democratic principles would appear so inauthentic as to be laughable.
    The Democratic Party will not succeed at countering the Republican administration’s program until we have restored our credibility by taking the lead in breaking the grip of money on our political process. There are several steps Democrats should take right away.
    Democratic leaders in Congress should make the McCain-Feingold bill the centerpiece of the Democratic program. Nothing else Democrats say will matter if the public views our rhetoric as inauthentic.
    Twenty years ago, Democrats in Congress who supported the Reagan program were marginalized. Key committee assignments were denied to members who did not support the party’s position. Some faced primaries in the next election. Others switched parties. The Democratic Party was better off when they left. A ban on soft money is important enough for the country for our leaders to enforce that kind of discipline to achieve it.
    Democratic leaders should suggest to the new chairman, Terry McAuliffe, that he step aside for the good of the party. McAuliffe’s only qualifications for the job are his ability to raise vast amounts of soft money for the party and his willingness to make his own personal wealth available to the Clintons as needed. It is hard to imagine a less appropriate face for the Democrats right now.
    Democrats should plan for unilateral disarmament if necessary. The fate of McCain-Feingold is in doubt. If it does not pass this Congress, Democrats should, as a party, establish guidelines that limit what the party will take from special interests. Just because a contribution is legal doesn’t make it ethical.
    The Democratic National Committee should appoint a commission of respected Democrats to propose limits that the party will live by whether or not McCain-Feingold passes. There is no reason why such a commission could not establish guidelines to be put in place for the 2002 election.
    With these steps, the Democratic Party has an opportunity to reassert itself as a party that stands up for people against the power of special interests. Then Americans might listen when Democrats offer an alternative to President Bush’s policies.
    Jim Shannon is a former Democratic Congressman and former Attorney General of Massachusetts.

    In Merciful Conclusion ?

    A quote from Rick ?

    Unspun was created with the hope that questions could be raised, not by providing ?an alternative point of view,? but by a variety of methods that include challenging false ?news? stories and beliefs, pointing out the potential problems with policy directives of the government, pointing people to outside sources for reading (i.e., outside controlled media like Fox and CNN) and/or even using Fox and CNN, where possible, to point out inconsistencies and problems, among other things.

    (Emphasis mine)

    My good reader, my point is not to demoralize our gracious host. It is also not to engage Mark the Bulldog in protracted debate, a debate I will eventually lose due to lack of training and intelligence on my part.

    My whole intent is to show that ?spin? is more perceived and perpetuated by the ?edges?, by the people who align themselves with a purer interpretation of their party?s purpose. It is my opinion that Rick and Mark belong to that elite club, a club inspired as much by anger at the opposition as by their political dogma.

    My point and purpose always has been that the view from the center is bittersweet. From where I stand I cannot always see positive direction in government or politics. But what I can see with some clarity is ?spin? for political gain.

    From my view, I see two well intentioned parties using similar techniques to achieve the same goal, to occupy the White House.

  • 10 Mark // Jun 25, 2004 at 7:29 am


    I can’t agree with everything you say, especially the part about your supposed “lack of training and intelligence.” Don’t sell yourself short.

    Your ability to stick to issues places displays an intellectual honesty and a level of class that will never be known by those posters who resort to name-calling and other boorish behavior.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Clinton lied when he said he did not have “sexual relations” with Lewinsky. For many, myself included, the term “sexual relations” means coitus. While I am well over the age of 30, it is my understanding that most persons under 30 share my definition of that phrase. I would be willing to bet that prior to Clinton, most Republicans did, too.

    The right-wing media keeps pounding Clinton on the honesty issue (while conspicously giving a free pass to someone who lies continually about his “service” during Viet Nam and the reasons for starting an unprovoked war). Let’s take the Gennifer Flowers case. Flowers said she had a 12 year affair with Clinton. During his first race for the White House, Clinton said that Flowers’ story was not true. He didn’t deny having sex with the woman. Later, he openly admitted doing so. He said HER STORY wasn’t true. And it wasn’t. He didn’t have a 12-year affair with her. In saying that Flowers’ story was false, Clinton was telling the truth.

    It’s important to hear not only what people say, but also what they don’t say. All of us are prone to read what we want to hear into the words of others. That’s human nature.

    That being said, I believe that a fair and impartial review of Clinton’s statements about his private life will reveal a careful use of language at times, but no blatant dishonesty.

    I also believe that a fair and impartial review of George W. Bush’s words about his arrest record, his desertion of his post in the National Guard, the reasons for getting hundreds of young American men and women killed in Iraq, and a host of other issues is something the mainstream media has no intention of ever doing.

  • 11 Bob // Jun 25, 2004 at 1:54 pm

    Mark writes:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Clinton lied when he said he did not have “sexual relations” with Lewinsky. For many, myself included, the term “sexual relations” means coitus. While I am well over the age of 30, it is my understanding that most persons under 30 share my definition of that phrase. I would be willing to bet that prior to Clinton, most Republicans did, too.

    I will not argue the finer points of language, it’s not my way. I’ll put it in my own terms:

    If the ‘outcome’ is the same, it’s sex

    It was sex.

    He was lying.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • 12 nick meyer // Jun 25, 2004 at 2:24 pm

    I am baffled by Marks belief, or opinion that Clinton did not lie to us. In the two interviews that I could stomach this week, Oprah Winfrey and Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America he admits he lied and has said he regrets not being honest. And yet in a past post it was mentioned that Ronald Reagan could as much as admitted his supposed misdeeds to me personnally and I still would choose not to believe it. BOTH SIDES PLAY THE GAME> The hatrid for the current adminstration is so evident that mARk has his blinders on and refuses to see the STUBBORN FACTS> And then in the comment section of todays post you talk about the oral sex incident with Miss Monica. Yet in the same breath you also state that (as you so eloquently put it) a B.J. does not constitute sex. Again and again we continually see the word play manipulated to fit your agenda and again and again you vehemently deny doing so, blaming the right wingers. Now that Nat is gone it is YOU mARk that continually bring this subject up and get upset when we try and debate or bring about the truth. Did you get a signed copy of “My Life” yet?

  • 13 Mark // Jun 25, 2004 at 7:59 pm

    Clinton says he lied to his family about Lewinsky. I wasn’t there when he spoke to his family, I didn’t see it on TV. I did, on TV, see him say he did not have “sexual relations” with Lewinsky. And I still say that particular, precise statement was not a lie.

    Just out of curiosity, Nick, what “facts” about Shrub am I ignoring? Are you talking about the false report showing terrorist attacks around the world dropping, when the State Department was later forced to admit that the report understated terrorist attacks by HALF and that in fact they are at the highest level today that they have been in 20 years?

    I apologize for not bringing this fact to your attention earlier, Nick. There are a ton more I could mention, but I don’t want to hog all of the opportunities to present facts about the appointed occupant of the White House.

    Your turn. Share some facts, Nick.

  • 14 Carmen // Jun 25, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    Hi, everyone. New opinions coming at you:

    Mark, it was sex.

    Bob – you’re gorgeous!

    Nick – proofread.

    Rick – look up the word “brevity” in Webster’s.

    Whatever happened to Nat?

    Howzabout a new topic – someone write something on Midget tossing, or Hawaiian fusion cuisine.


  • 15 Bunny // Jun 26, 2004 at 7:10 pm


    I respectively ask that you not allow any discussion of midget tossing on the blog.

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