What? He Says A Thrill Went Up His Leg?? — Rover, Bad Dog!!

Some of the millions of words spoken each year on TV and radio are unintentionally hilarious. Here are some of the most amusing utterances the talking heads produced in 2008.

Honestly, What The Hell Next?? Just How Crazy Are Those Brits? Is This Caused By Bad Food, A Lack Of Dental Care, Or Soccer Hooliganism??

The report is stunning: in response to the traditional Christmas address delivered by Queen Elizabeth II, the…

…UK’s Channel 4 has a “alternative address” set for Christmas day. Despite the tortured logic, they present their hero in that exercise. The message is to be given by the most unlikely friend of the shallow agnostics and feelies of the world, an orthodox muslim, none other than Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

This newsletter is struck dumb by the insanity. The Brits, however, are not similarly disabled. End of report.

An Unbelievable Lie Resurrected

In a recent report, National Public Radio (NPR) has tried to breathe new life into the dead myth that the Burkett/Killian memos are genuine. Those fake documents were handed to a CBS News producer of 60 Minutes II, Mary Mapes, and put before the public by Dan Rather some eight weeks before the presidential election; they assert that George W. Bush was AWOL for part of his Texas Air National Guard service. CBS investigated the papers incompetently and swallowed the hoax. Before long one Charles Johnson, a weblogger, had demonstrated the truth. The resulting scandal cost Mad Mary Mapes her job and precipitated the departure of Rather.

That should have ended the matter, for the proof of a hoax was conclusive. Now, however, NPR is reporting that the bogus documents might be real. The best that can be said for the NPR story is that it’s sloppy journalism. A more objective appraisal reveals it as a filthy trick.

The crux of the issue is whether the memos were produced on a typewriter. Because their claimed date is 1973, and because there were no office computers and word processing software then, they must have been typed on a conventional typewriter (the sort that could conceivably be found in a Texas Air National Guard office at the time) — if they are genuine.

Rather’s attorney says his investigators found typewriters that could have created the disputed documents. If that were true, those elderly machines would be on prominent display, churning out endless examples to prove the memos could have been typed in 1973. No such typewriters exist. Nor have they ever existed. Claims to the contrary are, to put it technically, bullshit.

The memos were created and printed out by a version of Microsoft’s Word, software that did not exist until 1983. Rather’s legal representation is lying.

Looking back over the four years since the hoax was perpetrated, one might well ask why CBS didn’t check the memos properly. Yes, the “verification” of the memos was a farce. One of the experts CBS asked about the documents never saw the forgeries, but was questioned about them over the telephone; she later complained that CBS misrepresented her remarks as confirming the memos’ authenticity. (The absurd process was reported at the time in the PenPo’s predecessor, The Terrapin Gazette, and copies of those issues will be sent to those who request them.)

CBS behaved idiotically because the TV network was eager to come up with something, anything, that would cost Bush the election. That was primarily Mad Mary Mapes’s passion; she had been working on it for about three years when Burkett passed her his crude forgeries, and CBS gave her the support she needed. Too, don’t forget that Mad Mary told the Democrats she had some dynamite stuff on Bush before60 Minutes II went on the air. “Journalist”?

Evidence that the memos are fakes is solid. The conclusion is beyond even unreasonable doubt. Have a look.

Today Dan Rather is the poster boy for TV news bias. After taking a tremendous beating from Bernard Goldberg (in Goldberg’s book,Bias), Rather has become the quintessential stubborn media ideologue who simply cannot grasp how much trouble he is in. He thrived in an environment of political prejudice and hubris, led the way into a disaster, and continues to see the world as exactly what it is not. It was “Rathergate” that convinced hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of US news consumers that CBS simply could not be trusted.

Perhaps the most significant fact about Dan Rather and Mad Mary Mapes is their utter inability to adapt. They have clung to baseless beliefs and lies when rational folks would have moved on; Mad Mary struggled in vain for years to find proof that Bush was AWOL. After about three years, her pleas for evidence were heard by Burkett, who was a man with a grudge — and a disordered mind. Today, still insisting the fakes made by Burkett are genuine, Mad Mary whimpers about the fact that the memos were Xeroxed, claiming that was held against them, when in fact that irrelevant issue never even surfaced (you will have to dig deep to find it mentioned at all).

Rather’s persistent gullibility is equally appalling. He says the debunking of the memos has not held up. He can only smother the issue in words, rather than deal with the simple, crucial and easy questions — such as, was a typewriter used, and if so, what was it and where can we get one?

Disgraced CBS veterans Mapes and Rather are the victims of political opinion become fanatical faith. Ultimately their story is almost a classical Greek tragedy, for two people who once had great potential for good have been ruined by their pride. That is nothing to celebrate.

If their descent into wishing-makes-it-so obsession teaches us anything, it must be that smug ideology can divorce us from reality and destroy our critical abilities. Then the Utopian dream manifests itself, becoming just visible in the distance, luring us on. It must be real, it has to be real, we can reach it, we are almost there….

When the perspective provided by reason and compassion fails us, as it so horribly failed Mapes and Rather, what resources have we?

The Implications Of The Burkett/Killian Memos

Those who bother to click on the links in the above item will find the comments of Charles Johnson, the man who showed the world something the mainstream media did not and still do not want anyone to see.

Johnson proved at a stroke that Microsoft software had created the bogus memos, and demonstrated that fact with a brilliantly simple graphic. If you have not seen it, by all means go back.

Note, please, the attitude NPR takes toward this ironclad proof. Here is the full quote:

The Sept. 8, 2004, report was aired just eight weeks before Election Day. Conservative bloggers slammed CBS and Rather immediately — poring over decades-old typefaces and fonts to charge the documents were forgeries.

Compare that account to what Johnson says on his website. At best, the NPR account is dishonestly incomplete; at worst, it’s a flat lie. You call it.

In any event, the first implication of the memos is that the mainstream news media very often — even after years of losing battles over truth to the new medium — have little or no respect for webloggers, dismissing their activities and results out of hand.

Implication The Second: in spite of repeated scoldings for poor performance, proof of bias and valid criticism of procedures, the mainstream media continue to feed the public lies, distortions, half-truths and biased accounts of reality. The legacy media are not about to reform. They are stuck on biased.

Implication The Third: the widening gap between propaganda and honest reporting is widening the cultural gap between the bi-coastal elites and “flyover country.” The culture war has been exacerbated by the news media’s sins, and there is no reason to believe the future will be different. Large media businesses, threatened by reactions to their mindset and misbehavior, are responding with maladaptive bitterness rather than honest self-evaluation.

Implication The Fourth: in an age of technological complexity, sloganeering has lost none of its traditional popularity. This works to the advantage of liars. The internet has attempted to fill in the many gaps left by the mainstream media, as well as give the lie to the hoaxes and distortions of the press, but progress toward reason has been slow. Immediate prospects are not good.

Implication The Fifth: in response to the fresh breeze created by the internet, censorship in general is enjoying a new popularity. It is currently promoted by a heterodox gang of villains. The UN wants to seize control of the internet, a disaster that would cheer every bloody-handed dictatorship in the world; of course China, Iran and other equally disgusting regimes in Africa and the Islamic world are behind the UN’s hijack attempt. The deceitfully-named Fairness Doctrine is almost certain to be imposed by the new-old Congress (there isopposition). Muslims in the West continue their assault on Liberty, often using the institutions of the target nations. According to a wide range of national, cultural, political and religious groups, restrictions on the flow of information must be imposed.

The mainstream media join in this shameful assault on Liberty every time they distort, expediently ignore, or lie about webloggers’ revelations of fact and bias. There are weblogs reporting on the BBC’s propaganda and the misbehavior of the Los Angeles Times; many others exist (among them this excellent site), while innumerable weblogs that are not exclusively devoted to the media’s bigotry publish stinging critiques of journalistic malpractice. Their targets routinely ignore or dismiss the commentary as amateur efforts.

The mainstream media do not understand that self-censorship and deceitful bias are, ethically speaking, the close kin of active repression of free speech and press. No news medium should allow the trends of political correctness to dictate how the news is reported — or whether it is reported at all. Censorship is wrong, period.

What NPR did to the truth in the case of the fake memos is just one facet of the campaign to control expressions of fact and opinion.

The broad, general move back toward censorship has the traditional purveyors of news marching in lockstep with some of the worst villains on earth. Fear and hatred of Liberty extend from Nancy Pelosi out to the Western news media and on to the ayatollahs of Iran. The target of this disparate, degenerate legion of autocrats is nothing less than the Enlightenment itself. When Pelosi whines about talk radio’s freedom, she aids and abets all enemies of the constitution of her nation, for Liberty is indivisible. Attack part of it, and you attack all of it.

As this newsletter has said several times, the fascists of the world hope to replace all freedom of the press with licensing of the press. That will allow them to continue their present policies (reporting whatever they want as they want, and suppressing all else), and give them the additional ability to silence their political opponents. The relative freedom found on the internet is directly in their way, as the madcap example of Mad Mary Mapes, Dan Rather and CBS News clearly shows.

The Anthropogenic Global Warming Concept Gets Hammered Again

Ten failed predictions lead the AGW news today, followed by an attempted Czech-mate of the junk science.

His Name Is Ehrlich, And He Wrote A Book That Should Never Be Forgotten. If He’s Back, Be Afraid — Be Very Afraid, Because He’s Seriously Delusional And Seriously Dangerous

So you say Obama’s appointments to various high positions in the next administration haven’t upset you; this newsletter is happy for you. Now, Pilgrim, read why there’s one that should make you choke on your mulled cider. Hysterical obsessively pessimistic fanaticism and Nazi-oid science cannot be taken lightly when they have the ear of the politically powerful. Oh, cripes. Obama should have done more reading in the 1970s.

The Iraq Distinction

Iraq is (and was, under Saddam Hussein) a complex, multicultural entity, not strongly inclined to Islamic fundamentalist hostility to the West. Of course there were and are Islamofascists there, but the same is true of the United Kingdom and the USA; the point is that Iraq was never a hotbed of Muslim terrorism. It was not in the same class as Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of The Philippines, Indonesia, and a few other states. Only after the removal of Saddam did Al Qaeda realize what was happening to the Middle East and take over the battle against the US-led coalition. By then it was too late; the strategic balance had been adjusted, and the center of the region was headed straight for some sort of democratic governance.

Credit the Bush administration for realizing, probably dimly, the geographic and cultural potential of regime change in Iraq. It will take a generation or two for the scholars to recognize what happened, but eventually they may leave politically correct partisan politics behind and realize that reworking Iraq was a clever, far-sighted policy.

Bin Laden and Company were in cahoots with Saddam — proof exists — but the two entities were not closely allied and fully supportive of each other. Al Qaeda was content with that, for it meant Iraq was a useful and safe neighbor. When Saddam was tossed out, AQ realized that the very center of the region was likely to pursue the westernization Islamofascists despise. Iraq was no longer safe. Bin Laden knew the large, oil-rich nation would not only become an example for Syria, but would evolve into a monster too powerful and independent to be intimidated by jihadis. This was no Afghanistan or Pakistan; it was increasingly a willing creature of the West. That’s why AQ moved in, hoping to abort the process. When the surge worked and civil war was rejected by the Iraqis themselves, AQ suffered a defeat greater than its initial losses in Afghanistan.

It’s a good bet that the security of the USA was enhanced when the USA took Al Qaeda on directly in Iraq.

Occasionally evidence of the multi-layered Iraqi mindset trickles into the mainstream media, where it is usually drained off into the sewer. The public has little awareness of just how tolerant a significant minority of Iraqis actually are, therefore (and no, they don’t all hate us, as many Iraqis know firsthand what Chomsky, Pilger and the New York Times don’t: the USA is both altruistic and practical). The facts suggest that Iraq can emerge as a more modern state than its neighbors — and nothing could be worse for Islamofascism. That’s why the facts are under-reported, if they are reported at all.

Sometimes posts on the internet can circumvent the mainstream media, however.

The Mobile Phone As Initiator Of Insane Behavior

An essay published in 2004 proves relevant today….

One of the groups Goffman studied keenly were mental patients, many of them residents at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., and his comparisons often draw on the remarkable disconnect between the behavior of people in normal society and those who had been institutionalized for mental illness. It is striking in revisiting Goffman’s work how often people who use cell phones seem to be acting more like the people in the asylum than the ones in respectable society. Goffman describes “occult involvements,” for example, as any activity that undermines others’ ability to feel engaged in social space. “When an individual is perceived in an occult involvement, observers may not only sense that they are not able to claim him at the moment,” Goffman notes, “but also feel that the offender’s complete activity up till then has been falsely taken as a sign of participation with them, that all along he has been alienated from their world.” Who hasn’t observed someone sitting quietly, apparently observing the rules of social space, only to launch into loud conversation as soon as the cell phone rings? This is the pretense of social participation Goffman observed in patients at St. Elizabeth’s.