"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Hutton report released

It seems that the 740-page Hutton Report (328 pages, not including the intro and appendices, now available online as HTML or PDF [excluding appendices]) actually does smash my predictions of yesterday into little tiny bits.

Or does it?

Having watched the last half hour or so of Lord Hutton himself summing up the report a short while ago (live on TV), followed by opposition leader Michael Howard verbally duking it out with Tony Blair (live on TV), it seems that the collections of quotes, like this one provided by CNN to identify "key findings," for example, don't provide the complete picture.

QUOTE: "I am satisfied that Dr. David Kelly took his own life by cutting his left wrist and that his death was hastened by his taking (painkiller) co-proxamol tablets."
DEFINITION: "[T]ook his own life" = suicide. But you already knew that. Read on.

QUOTE: "I am further satisfied that there was no involvement by a third person in Dr. Kelly's death."
CONTRADICTION: What?! Was there a second person involved? If there's a second person but no second corpse, that'd be called "murder." I thought Hutton said it was suicide! (See previous quote. Also realize that Lord Hutton spent more than four months writing this report, giving him plenty of time to catch it, if it was a mistake.)

QUOTE: "[N]o one realized or should have realized that those pressures and strains might drive [Dr. Kelly] to take his own life."
CONTRADICTION: Is Hutton saying that Dr. Kelly committed suicide spontaneously, mere hours after sending one e-mail to Alistair Hay saying "Hopefully it will soon pass and I can get back to Baghdad and get on with the real job," and another e-mail to Judith Miller (possibly one of the "dark actors" referred to in that very letter) that "I will wait until the end of the week..." You can read more that I have written debating the suicide claims here.

SEMI-QUOTE: [T]here had been "a great deal of controversy and debate" about whether the government's dossier on Iraq's banned weapons was strong and reliable enough to warrant war.
RESPONSE: So, is this supposed to be some sort of a "conclusion"?

"QUOTESQUE": [T]he row had "continued because of the failure at the time of writing this report to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." But [Hutton] said a "question of such wide import which would involve the consideration of a wide range of evidence, is not one which falls within my terms of reference."
INTERPRETATION: Hutton cannot draw any conclusions about the WMD issue because there is still a complete lack of evidence that there even were any.

HARDLY A QUOTE AT ALL: Hutton said BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's claim that the government probably knew the assertion that Iraq could launch WMD in 45 minutes was wrong -- and that the dossier was "sexed up" -- were "unfounded."
HARDLY JUST MY OPINION: If you go back and read some of the hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of pages of transcripts and evidence on the Hutton Inquiry website -- as I have done over the past few months -- you'd see otherwise. I have written my thoughts on this topic previously, here and here.

The quotes continue, but as usual, they don't tell the story behind the story. For that, you'll have to move your mind.

UPDATE: Tom Tomorrow brings us his unusually clear view of things while discussing the dubiousness of the presentation of the Hutton Report:
I was reminded of [the peculiar politeness of British signage -- as opposed to American directness] as I read summaries of the Hutton report, which purportedly clears Blair of the charges of "sexing up" British intelligence (and in which the BBC comes off pretty badly)...specifically when I read this paragraph:
However, (Hutton) did wonder whether the "desire of the prime minister to have a dossier which, while consistent with the available intelligence, was as strong as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment".
Harrumph. Quite right, old chap.
[Emphasis mine] [LINK to Guardian article quoted above]

Let me repeat that for clarity and re-emphasis: [T]he "desire of the prime minister to have a dossier which ... was as strong as possible ... may have subconsciously influenced ... members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier ... stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

"[T]he despicable act of a morally bankrupt Government"

That's what Tory co-chairman Liam Fox is calling the leak of information published by British newspaper The Sun related to the results of the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly.

According to Femail.co.uk, The Sun -- known for its pro-Blair/pro-war stance -- has said that Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, and Geoff Hoon were all said to have been "cleared" or "exonerated" by the Hutton report and that "Andrew Gilligan and the [BBC]'s management came in for fierce condemnation."

Both of these things stand in stark contrast to the predictions of my post immediately below this one. However, Femail has also published an article in which 3 doctors claim that Dr. Kelly "may have been murdered." Their claims are based upon their opinions that Dr. Kelly "could not have died from such a small wound and with such a small amount of painkillers in his bloodstream," and that "the artery supposedly severed by Dr Kelly could not have produced enough blood to kill him." While these doctors do not appear to have any direct links to the investigation, their conclusions mirror some of my own thoughts upon reading a substantial section of the transcripts of the forensic testimony at the Hutton Inquiry.

If you think the "murder" theory above is dubious, take a closer look at the "National Enquirer" nature of the Sun article.

UPDATE: D'oh is me! It's a day and a half later that I've realized that the owner of the Sun is none other than Rupert Murdoch. That changes things a bit, as noted by this article in the Washington Post:
Only the tabloid The Sun, Britain's largest circulation daily also owned by Murdoch, downplayed the story.

"The public never really cared much about the Hutton inquiry because they all rightly deduced that it was only going to tell them what they knew already," the editors declared.

"That the Prime Minister did not act dishonestly, as his accusers claimed."

"That the BBC system was deeply flawed."

"And that Dr David Kelly largely brought his problems on himself by giving unauthorised interviews."

"There have been many casualties which could have been avoided if people at the BBC had just done their job properly."
This from a pro-war paper?! They're raving mad!

I'd like to remind my readers of something I posted September 3, 2003:
I sure hope Rupert Murdoch gets called to testify at the Hutton Inquiry. I can't imagine why he'd want to protect David Kelly. I can only assume he wanted to protect himself in case other media outlets got ahold of the story.
Go back and read that post (it's a long one -- search for "Murdoch") to see why I hoped Murdoch would testify.

Get back to work!

Ah! It's good to be back from my Lunar New Year vacation and see that nothing in my apartment had been stolen by the lowlife scum in my building (who don't mind stealing the emergency lights when they haven't paid their electric bills). Also after 3 nights and 4 days of running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to see all the sights, going back to work will be sort of a welcome change.

In the meantime, a lot has been happening. Howard Dean frenzily shrieked, but it took days for anybody to notice the story behind the story. David Kay -- while quitting his job -- told us (despite the spin) that there were, in fact, no WMD (which according to AlterNet, "Impeaches Bush") -- just weapons of mass destruction program-related activities, as Bush so tongue-twistingly described it -- and South Knox Bubba happily placed many warmongers' feet directly and firmly in their mouths.

In the upper reaches of the Blogosphere, Atrios was attacked by Andrew Sullivan (who simultaneously claimed that because Atrios uses a pseudonym he can't be attacked) for -- get this -- not being able to come up with a recent example (off the top of his head during a radio appearance on the Blogging of the President: 2004) of criticizing the left. Andrew Sullivan is a stunning example of irony in vivo.

French president Jacques Chirac -- who correctly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- is also waxing horribly ironic with his warning to Taiwan about its plans to hold a defensive referendum while under the constant threat of nearly 500 Chinese missiles aimed in its direction.

The Hutton Inquiry report on the investigation into the death of Dr. David Kelly is scheduled to be out this afternoon. I'm dying to hear what the warmongers' reactions to that will be! (You might guess that I think I know how it will turn out. I don't, but I'm pretty confident that doubts will be cast on Dr. Kelly's "suicide," Andrew Gilligan will receive a mild chastising for poor record-keeping (while being cleared of any wrongdoing), and Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon will both get the red-ass!)

Lastly, I've just added a "search this blog" function (via Google) down at the bottom to the sidebar of the page and an syndication feed, whatever that is. Give 'em both a whirl.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

More on the 2-faced madness (Bush = Hitler, Part 2)

Two days after my last post mentioning the two "Bush = Hitler" videos which have riled up "the dark side," FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) posted an informative Action Alert on the subject.
The controversy over comparisons between George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler in two ads submitted to the anti-Bush ad contest run by the online activist group MoveOn.org says less about the state of left discourse than it does about the double standards at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

News Corp's Fox News Channel started the controversy on January 4, airing Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie's complaint about the Bush/Hitler comparison. "That's the kind of tactics we're seeing on the left today in support of these Democratic presidential candidates," Gillespie charged, calling such tactics "despicable."

The whole next day (1/5/04), this was a major story on Fox News Channel. John Gibson asked, "What about the hating Bush movement, the MoveOn.org and George Soros sponsoring these ads that compare Bush to Hitler?"--before being corrected that the ads were not sponsored by MoveOn (or Soros, a funder of the group), and were taken down in response to complaints.

Sean Hannity accused a guest: "You guys on the left are going so far over the cliff. You're making comparisons to the president and Adolf Hitler." Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said on Hannity's show, "This is the hateful, vitriolic rhetoric that has become the Howard Dean Democratic Party." Bill O'Reilly cited the ads as evidence that "right now in America the Democratic party is being held captive by the far, far left."

It should be noted that however hyperbolic, comparisons to Hitler and fascism are not unknown in the American political debate. Rush Limbaugh has routinely called women's rights advocates "femi-Nazis," and references to "Hitlery Clinton" are a staple of right-wing talk radio. Republican power-broker Grover Norquist on NPR (10/2/03) compared inheritance taxes to the Holocaust.

Closer to home for Fox News, on the very same day that Gibson, Hannity and O'Reilly were talking about the Hitler/Bush comparison as evidence of the left's extremism, a column ran in the New York Post that described Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean as a follower of Josef Goebbels, referred to him as "Herr Howie," accused him of "looking for his Leni Riefenstahl," called his supporters "the Internet Gestapo" and compared them to "Hitler's brownshirts."
FAIR has also posted a link to The Memory Hole, where you can download both videos (each 5.1 MB, QuickTime MOV format), read a bit more commentary, and make up your own mind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Mad at the truth? (Bush = Hitler)

"I'm like freaking out totally -- they insulted my leader!" ought to be the headlines of some of the recent articles and blog posts by people getting bent out of shape about a video (or two) comparing Bush to Hitler made by one of the entrants in the "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest sponsored by MoveOn.org.

To be honest, it absolutely sickens me...

... that MoveOn.org has apologized for allowing truth to be spoken when nothing but lies have come out of the White House for the past 3 years!

It was some Bushies over at A Small Victory who especially irked me in a post whose comments begin with this easy target:
I forget -- where is that crazy-ass "God told me to strike al-Qaida" quote from?
[This refers to the on-screen text in the video]
I know it was attributed to Bush (ha ha), but who actually made that attribution?
[Others making comments "pointed out" that it was "former Palestinian PM Mohammed (sic) Abbas ... a noted Holocaust denier."]
I did a google search and got a bunch of tinfoil-hat sites.

Posted by: Dan at January 4, 2004 09:58 PM
[Bracketed comments mine]

Dan mentions [G]oogle, but he doesn't seem to know how to use it very well! (Nor is he paying close enough attention to his "leader.") He could've tried this search for ["god told me to strike" "and I struck them" bush], and he would've found more than 1,700 references to the quote. Duh!

Because of the many variations of the transliteration of "al Qaeda" from Arabic (and the infinite number of misspellings), I was careful enough to remove those words from my own search.

Now, how is Bush like Hitler? Let's see if I can come up with a few things off the top of my head...
die Heimat Homeland Security
Concentration Camp X-Ray, er, Delta *
Blitzkrieg Shock and Awe
Goe... Karl Rove
Is/Wishes he were a dictator
... and so many more.
In fact, if you are in dire need of something with which to fill your time, go read Bush's own quote about "just so long as I'm the dictator" -- 2,100 times.

Some people are referring to the Bush/Hitler comparison as "hate speech." This would most certainly depend on your definition of the term. Those who are "on Bush's side" might need to be reminded of this. (Stick that in your two-faced pipe and smoke it.) Or take a look at this World Nuts Daily (WND) article equating Arafat with Hitler and calling for him to be shot. Where was the outcry from the Bushies then?

UPDATE: While the RNC link to the videos posted on many sites doesn't seem to be working (What?! The RNC hosted the videos on their site? Of all the nerve!), and I was unable to get them via the peer-to-peer 'net, I finally found video #2 (the one with the "God told me to strike al-Qaida" quote) on the WWW (via a Google search, of course).

Monday, January 12, 2004


A (dead) mosquito bit me. So I know the locusts' arrival is imminent. Really! Look how my nose is swelling!

"Maddog! You must be trippin'!"

No, I'm not! I'm just imitating what I see in the mass media. Maybe I am trippin', eh? All right, here's the real deal.

It was reported over the weekend that troops from Denmark and Iceland uncovered some corroded shells "buried in the desert" south of Baghdad and "leaking a mysterious fluid." Or as the New York Post screamed in an ALL CAPS headline: "WMD GAS SHELLS DUG UP IN IRAQ." (Notice how that's stated as an indisputable fact.)

Here's a quote from the more reasonable body of the New York Post article linked in the exaggerated headline to this post:
The mortar rounds, which Danish investigators suspect had been buried for at least 10 years, were likely left over from Iraq's war against Iran, they said. [Emphasis mine]
Leftover WMDs! From a war supported by the U.S.! Ha ha ha! Check out the "fear factor" in the sidebar of this FOXNews article. I'm shaking in my boots.

No wonder Bush and Blair are more feared than Osama bin Laden.

UPDATE: Lots more on the Evidence and Implications (or lack thereof) regarding WMD in Iraq can be found here. PDFs of the full text or smaller key sections and chapters of a new report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace can be downloaded from that link.

This is just one element of the snowball of unusual clarity coming out of the media in the past couple of days. Others adding to the girth include the new book by Ron Suskind (The Price of Loyalty) which has put former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in the spotlight by his revelations within regarding Bush's plans for an Iraq invasion just days after breaking and entering into the White House, Colin Powell's "[no] smoking gun" admission, David Kay planning to give up his post, a 400-member team searching for WMD being "quietly withdrawn" from Iraq, and so much more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: (posted January 15, 2004) "Mortar shells found in southern Iraq by the Danish military do not appear to contain chemical weapon agents as originally suspected, Fox News has learned." Notice how the WMD story was SCREAMED over the weekend, but you won't be able to hear the retractions over ALL THE SCREAMING about Bush's plans for going to Mars (to look for WMDs?).

"To infinite deficit... and beyond!" -- Bush Lighthead

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Newswriting 101

Even when I was a child, I knew that a well-written news story should tell you the basic things you need to know in its first paragraph. Over the past couple of decades, the kind of news writing which succeeds at doing so has become a rarity. Headlines state the complete opposite of what the articles tell you, and basic information is delayed until paragraph 13 -- or 23! As I see it, this is both a cause and a result of the dumbing down of society. The more it happens, the less we know, and vice-versa.

In my opinion, eliminating things like clichés and spelling errors is secondary to presenting the news clearly and accurately -- the main job of the newswriter. I'm sick of news which tries desperately to sound like a novel. It's no wonder I'm seeing increasingly frequent references to "heads exploding."

While doing some research on ledes last night (after reading a particular post on Atrios' blog), I came across this gem:
A Lede Should . . .

• Contain the essence of a story. What is this article about and why should we care? For instance, look at this lede from the National Post:
A Toronto police officer was shot in the face yesterday during a highway pursuit, following a break-and-enter call to a quiet residential neighbourhood.
This lede answers key questions: Who (a police officer); What (shot); Where (on a highway); When (yesterday); Why (a thief was trying to escape); How (with a gun). Always try to answer these five W's and one H questions in your lede.

• But be as concise as possible. Don't stall the reader with too many peripheral elements. Consider the following lede from the New York Times:
In a rare look at crime aboard the United States' growing cruise fleet, Carnival Cruise Lines reported in court papers filed Tuesday that its crew members were accused of sexually assaulting passengers and fellow workers on its ships 62 times in the five years ended last August, a rate of more than one a month.
What is this story about: the growing crime rate on cruise lines, or sexual harassment problems on Carnival Cruises? And while we're at it, is Carnival Cruises being sued, or are they testifying in a general court inquiry? At 55-words, this lede is confusing.

[Adjustments have been made to formatting]
Read the entire article on lede writing in HTML format here or as a PDF file here.

For an example of contradictory information, check out the headline and first paragraph of this recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Viral *Cure* for Diabetes *Discovered*

FRIDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDayNews) -- Researchers in California have found a virus that could possibly provide an inoculation against type 1 diabetes. [Emphasis mine]
Can you spot the difference? In case you can't, a "cure" implies that someone who already has diabetes wouldn't have it anymore after being given this new treatment. An "inoculation" is something to prevent someone at risk from getting a disease. The word "discovered" is a verb used in the past tense, suggesting that this is something already available to the public. The words "could possibly" indicate that not only is it not available, but it might never be. I imagine that a few people might have paid for the print edition just to read that article. Fortunately, I read it online, but I wrote a letter to their editor anyway to complain about it.

Readers: demand better! No matter how small the mistakes you find may be, they will happen more and more unless you show the editors that you are paying attention.

So-called professionals: shape up or ship out! The bloggers may just replace you.

Monday, January 05, 2004

CNN supports meme

Just two days ago, I wrote about questioning what the media tells you. Here's a clear example.

A short while ago on CNN, I heard Candy Crowley talking about Sunday's Democratic debate with a great emphasis being on how everybody was bashing Howard Dean. Here's one of the questions supportive of this statement for which she provided a soundbite:
[SENATOR JOHN] KERRY: Howard, Joe raised the question about things you say versus things that you do, and things you sometimes say and then change.

For instance, you said that if George Bush released his records, you would release your records. Then when you found out George Bush had released his records, you changed.

Another example of that: When you were asked by the Concord Monitor about Osama bin Laden, you said we couldn't prejudge his guilt for September 11th. What in the world were you thinking?
What Crowley didn't let us know was the answer to that question, so I went looking for it. Here it is in its entirety:
DEAN: I'll tell you exactly what I was thinking, Senator. I understand that Osama bin Laden has essentially claimed responsibility for these unbelievable terrorist acts. And as an American, I want to see Osama bin Laden get what he deserves, which is the death penalty.

But I was asked that question as a candidate for president of the United States, and a candidate for president of the United States is obligated to stand for the rule of law. I was asked yesterday by Newsweek what would I do if I was the president and the troops had Osama in their sights -- we would shoot to kill. But the fact is, if we captured him alive, we have to stand for the rule of law.

I have no doubt that if we capture Osama bin Laden, he will end up with the death penalty. But as president of the United States, I'm obligated to stand for the rule of law.


[LINK] [Emphasis mine]
What the fuck is Kerry thinking? What the fuck is Crowley doing? Is someone afraid of what they would find out if there were a trial for bin Laden (or Saddam Hussein, for that matter)? What is it with the desire to show just how "American" one is by throwing out the basic tenets of democracy (innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial, etc.)?

Why the fuck aren't more people asking these questions?

Guilt by appellation

Comment vous appelez-vous?:
US delayed flights due to a few suspicious surnames

French irritation over US controls on transatlantic flights was reinforced on Friday when the interior ministry revealed that American intelligence based its suspicions on passengers' surnames only.

This led to a child with a name similar to a Tunisian terrorist, a British insurance agent and an elderly Chinese woman restaurant owner being questioned by counter-terrorist police when several flights from Paris to the US were cancelled shortly before Christmas.

Three other "suspects" who were questioned were French citizens with Arab-sounding names.

All the suspects' names, supplied by the US, were found merely to be similar in sound or spelling to those of wanted al-Qaeda activists. [LINK] [Emphasis mine]
Wow! Let's say we just skip all the surnames beginning with "al-" and go right to the "B" names.

We can start with "bin Laden":
In the two days immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, the U.S. government allowed bin Laden family members to fly within the country during a general ban on air travel. [LINK]
Here's someone else with a very suspicious surname -- Barbara Bush:
[Y]ou can criticize me, but don't criticize my children and don't criticize my daughters-in-law and don't criticize my husband, or you're dead. [Emphasis mine]

Barbara Bush on CNN's Larry King Live, October 22, 2003
That's not very nice, Mrs. Bush. Knowing your son's record of quick executions, I no longer have to wonder where he gets it from.

She has some fucking nerve, but it doesn't surprise me coming from the Bush Family Evil Empire. Her husband and her children deserve something much worse than just criticism. They need to look in the fucking mirror.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Say, you want a resolution?

Anybody still trying to come up with New Year's resolutions might want to consider this one:
Never trust anything anyone tells you, especially if it's the government or the mass media doing the telling.
In the past year alone, the U.S. has lived under an administration in the White House that has lied about everything from poetry to weapons of mass destruction. These are openly admitted lies that brought us to war. Bush even says "We found the weapons of mass destruction." But the things he found weren't even weapons. They've "found" weapons of mass destruction going across the Kuwait border from Iraq. (Oops, according to even the Freepers, Fox says they were "artifacts," not WMD. No cigar. Not even close.) Well, they did find some Botox, but from the recent pictures, it doesn't look like Saddam ever used it (and from the "What's the difference?" statements, one could deduce that it doesn't count as a WMD).

The Pentagon faked a "dramatic rescue" mission for Jessica Lynch -- whom Iraqi doctors had already tried to hand over to U.S. troops. (Did that make you feel good? It made me fucking sick!)

Someone in the Bush administration "outed" an undercover CIA operative in apparent political retribution for revealing some of the aforementioned lies. Three months after Bush told the public "I want to know who the leakers are," and "I welcome the investigation," Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself from the investigation and replaces himself with an "independent" investigator.

I personally believe the current administration was involved in rigging the California recall to place yet another actor in the governor's office in Sacramento.

The "Department of Be-Very-Afraid" (known to some as "Homeland Security") has adjusted their terror threat level back and forth between yellow and orange depending on the needs of the administration. Just after telling us that they "captured" Saddam Hussein (which we'd been promised would make us safer), the threat level was again raised to "HIGH" once again. And for speaking the truth about this, Howard Dean is said to need rehabilitation and is still called "unelectable."

The media will tell you all about Michael Jackson and even play a tape of him whistling as "proof" that the police didn't abuse him, but you can't count on them to tell you the real deal about really important things. The media in the year 2003 has brought us the unrepentant Robert Novak, the fake Jayson Blair, the opportunistic Rick Bragg, the dark Judith Miller, and too many others to list. As someone imitating an anchor once said:
It's a storm of lies, a blizzard of lies, a hurricane of lies you're living in every day.
We've got you coming and going.
We assault you with so many contradictory messages that you don't know what's going on at all.
You're crazy out of your mind.
You don't know if anything is real.
Even in this "blizzard of lies," one can find the truth, though it's not always an easy task. It's certainly not as easy as 2+2, but it's not impossible either.

Verify what you can. Seek out contradictions and other elements that simply don't make sense. If you thought that former Iraqi information minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf was funny (which is not the same as laughing out loud at how obvious his lies were), you're a fool because what you were seeing so clearly when you watched him is exactly what I see every time I see Bush or any news anchor open their mouths.

DISCLAIMER: What you see above doesn't prove anything, but I did use deductive logic to parse the information available to me in order to come up with the conclusions I have presented. (Read The Daily Howler for some lessons.) Don't just take my word for it. As I've said before, question everything -- especially this.
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