Blogs > Cliopatria > Friday Rituals, a Fest, and a Historical Note ...

Sep 11, 2004 9:44 am

Friday Rituals, a Fest, and a Historical Note ...

There's something about Fridays that appeals to our instinct for rituals. I see three forms on the net. There's Eric Alterman's Slacker Friday. Alterman begins long weekends on Friday and leaves the blogging to others. Then, there's Adam Kotsko's Friday Afternoon Confessional. There's a whole education in what students of the University Without Condition think needs confession. Finally, Friday Cat Blogging is the most common net ritual. I don't intend to get into it because cat blogging is addictive. There's a whole Carnival devoted to it. Kevin Drum had a serious case of it before he went professional and on the wagon. Atrios's cat has been withholding favors until you give money to the Democrats. We know what that's called. This, however, I never expected to see. Does that cat look desperate or what?

More seriously, at the end of the week on the blogosphere, doff your caps to its right wing. Wednesday's revelation on CBS's"Sixty Minutes, II" about the President's service in the National Guard turned into a righty bloggers' fest as more and more questions arose about the authenticity of the documents. Make no mistake, if the documents prove to be forgeries, and there seems little remaining doubt about it, the righty bloggers get the credit for closely interrogating them. Almost literally from a dentist's chair, Instapundit was directing traffic and passing on tips and Volokh was giving legal advice, but the spadework was done at Free Republic, Powerline, and Samizdata. Wretchard at Belmont Club has a good summary of the action. On the left, Kevin Drum outlines serious questions about the documents' authenticity. I don't share Kevin Murphy's willingness still to think them authentic, but I like his observation that, if the documents are forgeries, somebody tried to"frame a guilty man."

One last note, Kirk at American Amnesia reminds us that, however polarized we may be in 2004, things haven't yet reached the point that they did in Mesilla, New Mexico, in August 1871.

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Richard Henry Morgan - 9/11/2004

National Review (Jim Geraghty Reporting) is linking to a piece by CBS' document expert which appeared in the September 27th, 2002 issue of The Practical Litigator. Therein, the expert says one can't authenticate a document from a copy -- a lesson from his own self that he apparently forgot when CBS waved some dollars before his eyes.

Richard Henry Morgan - 9/11/2004

And interestingly, almost on a weekly basis, I read about another terrorist cell being rolled up in Europe or elsewhere. I look eagerly for the signs that our sojourn in Iraq has destroyed the prospects for a war on terror, and I can't find them.

Whether Iraq turns out to be a quagmire is still to be determined -- at least by my lights. I admit it is a risky venture -- trying to set up a base of democracy in the heart of Islam, in a country with no tradition of democracy -- but I'm not sure yet that the costs of failure on that score will turn out to be more than the costs of doing nothing and leaving Saddam in place.

Kerry seems to be from the Carter-State Dept-Kumbayah school of international affairs: if we just sit around and hold hands and make nice, we'll get by. His suggestion, a few weeks back, that his administration would reassign troops, to include troops from Korea, followed three weeks later by Bush's decision to do just that, followed then by Kerry's claim that now was not the time to reassign troops in Korea (what good are tripwire troops when N. Korea now has nukes? Thanks, Jimmy) does not fill me with confidence that Kerry has a hint of a shadow of a clue. He may yet turn out right on Iraq -- his single policy of doing nothing will at some point turn out to be the right choice in some situation, just as a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

We've lost 1,000 in Iraq, and we lose over 40,000 a year on the roads of the US. That 1,000 is one-tenth the number that military genius Ted Kennedy (his military genius acquired while a PV2 to avoid dismissal from Harvard for hiring his roomate to take his Spanish test), seconded by Kerry, predicted in the first Gulf War. I'm a little leery of declaring a quagmire in Iraq after such a short time, and such comparatively few casualties -- less than a third of what we lost on 9/11. Kerry says he won't abandon Iraq, just do it better, though he is remarkably unspecific on how he would do that. Is Kerry part of the problem pointing to a quagmire? One thing is for sure. Kerry (your twit) failed miserably on the great challenge of our time -- the challenge of the Soviet Union. I hope that if he is elected president, his past turns out to be no guide to the future.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/11/2004

Richard, Today is 11 September. There was a war to be conducted against terrorist networks. Your twit diverted precious resources and lives from that war into a quagmire in Iraq. Looks like he wants another in Iran. Do think again before you rush us down that drain.

Richard Henry Morgan - 9/11/2004

Ralph, I readily and heartily admit that Bush is a twit. I'm not all that happy with his spending like a sailor on shore leave, either. It's just that in the land of twits, the one-neuroned man is king, and that man ain't Kerry. What exactly, given that the situations were completely reversed, compelled Kerry to see another Vietnam in Nicaragua? What compelled Kerry to go to the Senate floor and proclaim that Reagan's military buildup could not possibly succeed in bringing down the USSR? What in the history of sanctions suggested to Kerry that sanctions would get Saddam out of Kuwait? Given all we know about French and Russian financial interests in keeping Saddam in power, what makes Kerry think that a coalition with them in Iraq was possible? If Kerry had had his way, the unelected Sandinistas would still be in power in Nicaragua, the USSR would still be lumbering along, and Saddam would still be in power in Iraq. Of course, on the positive side, we would have 1,000 more Americans still alive. Bush is indeed a twit, but on average, when it comes to foreign affairs, advanced twitdom is something Kerry aspires to but can't quite reach.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/11/2004

I'd be hesitant about throwing the word "twit" around just now, Richard, if I were you. We've got one for a president and, apparently, you're supporting him.

Richard Henry Morgan - 9/11/2004

You have a point, Ralph, inasmuch as Rather can be seen as simply a symptom of the disease -- a disease not remedied by removing the symptom. But in conservative circles, fairly or unfairly, since Goldberg's book, Rather is seen more as news director and shaper of news content, rather than as a mere announcer. When the Berger controversy came out, the NY Times buried the story on A16, and then two days later, ran a frontpage story, without a single foundational fact, speculating that Republicans were behind the leak of the Berger investigation. It was only after the second NY Times story appeared that Rather addressed the issue on CBS News and -- you guessed it -- he did it only by prefacing his story with unfounded speculation that the Republicans were behind it. I guess that's what passes for journalism in some circles these days.

Similarly, Ted Kopel had Demo Attack Chihuahua Chris Lehane on his program the other night, and they put their tiny little brains together and concluded, deductively, that Kerry and the Demos couldn't be behind the fraudulent documents because, were they caught out, the result would be devastating -- a line of thinking that, as one wag put it, conclusively demonstrates that Nixon and the Republicans weren't behind Watergate.

But you're right, conservatives positively detest Rather. A long trip through RatherBiased will give you some more inkling as to why.

Of course there's the current Demo spin -- that evil genius Karl Rove must be behind this. But would it take a genius to figure out that CBS and Rather wouldn't perform due diligence in their assessment of the "documents"? I submit no. Still, if it wouldn't take a genius, is that evidence that Rove isn't behind it? Hmmm. I have to admit, it is a neat distraction, from the Republican point of view. And from that point of view, it can only be manna from heaven that Sid "Grassy Knoll" Blumenthal jumped on the documents bandwagon just as it got hit by an air to ground missile. What a twit.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/11/2004

Apart from this incident, I don't understand all the joy among the conservatives over Dan Rather. He's only an announcer after all.

Richard Henry Morgan - 9/11/2004

Credit should also extend to Hugh Hewitt, who has some excellent info from a computer science prof from Rice, and RatherBiased, which has documented the whole charade. Seems CBS' "document expert" only authenticated one out of four documents, and that was based on a photocopied signature (turns out CBS only had photocopies to start with). Now it turns out that the guy who was supposedly pressuring Killian to sugarcoat a report left the service a year and a half before the date of Killian's purported memo to the file. Pretty shoddy journalism by CBS, I'd say, but what should one expect from Rather, who once said that most journalists don't even know what party they belong to? I guess Rather never learned that for a lie to have any chance to succeed, it has to at least pass the laugh test.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/11/2004

Yah, I hope they get those "Democrat operatives." At least the Republic operatives had the decency to sign their own names to their smears. Course they signed some other peoples names to them, too, who hadn't given their permission. But what's a little identity theft between operatives? Doubt it was Rove. He never leaves finger prints on his dirt.

Michael C Tinkler - 9/11/2004

Actually, no - I think it shows the WH staff didn't have copies themselves and weren't trying to cover it up but discuss it. By the way, since you've raised service vs. nonservice as a criterion, Ralph, did you feel the same way about Bill Clinton vs. Bush pere -- a draft dodger (not even the Nat'l Guard) and a volunteer?

I'd rather get out of background (so-called "character") and talk about current events -- like Iran, or the economy. But if Democrat operatives are going to forge documents, I certainly hope they're found.

Or do you believe that it was Karl Rove?

Ralph E. Luker - 9/11/2004

I understand that we are probably going to vote for different candidates for president in November, but don't you find it a little embarrassing that the White House staff, apparently assuming the underlying truthfulness to the claims about National Guard service, simply handed out copies of the CBS documents as if there were no doubt of their authenticity? Rather reminds one of national security's gullibility on documents about Nigerian "yellow cake." In fact, we've seen some pretty shoddy stuff circulating in opposition to both candidates. For me, the background bio story boils down to Kerry volunteering for service in a war he developed grave doubts about and Bush seeking privileged shelter from service in a war he claimed to support.

Michael C Tinkler - 9/11/2004

"Framing a guilty man" -- isn't that the excuse offered by corrupt law enforcement people for what they do when they suppress evidence and the like? Oh, well - I haven't presumed that JFKerry was serving in the Naval reserves while he met agents of a foreign government for private negotiations; I just suspect it. I'm waiting for actual documentation, despite my registered copy of Photoshop Elements.

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