S.M.B. - Logic and Rhetoric
Friday, February 28, 2003

Columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New Yawk Timeses:

Some of the most secret and scariest work under way in the Pentagon these days is the planning for a possible military strike against nuclear sites in North Korea.

Officials say that so far these are no more than contingency plans. They cover a range of military options from surgical cruise missile strikes to sledgehammer bombing, and there is even talk of using tactical nuclear weapons to neutralize hardened artillery positions aimed at Seoul, the South Korean capital.

There's nothing wrong with planning, or with brandishing a stick to get Kim Jong Il's attention. But several factions in the administration are serious about a military strike if diplomacy fails, and since the White House is unwilling to try diplomacy in any meaningful way, it probably will fail. The upshot is a growing possibility that President Bush could reluctantly order such a strike this summer, risking another Korean war.


Virtually everyone who has used e-mail knows the feeling: You press the send button and realize that you just sent something embarrassing to someone by mistake.

That happened to Cornell University on Wednesday: It sent welcoming letters to 1,700 high school students who had submitted early-decision applications, including nearly 550 who had already been rejected in December.

That's Ivy material...


There is no need for me to go on about the hits the Catholic Church has taken recently. Many of the priests in the Church have committed crimes of abuse and assault against young kids, but in the name of civil liberties a line in the sand must be drawn. Prosecutors and other lawyers are attempting to unseal grand jury records that exposed accusations of sexual misconduct against almost 150 priests, one indictment has been brought in this investigation. This district attorney is obviously doing a bad job in this case, and now he's trying to pull a French style guilty until proven innocent trick. Unfortunately for this prosecutor we do not start out by assuming the guilt of any individual (unless they're arbitrarily called enemy combatants by the Federal Government, but that's a different issue) and this is a display of the fact that the prosecutor is not confident in the strength of his case. If the prosecutor truly feels these priests are guilty, what is keeping him from bringing indictments in the remaining 144 abuse cases?

CLEVELAND, Feb. 26 — When a grand jury looking into sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy finished its work in December, it reported that it had uncovered accusations against 145 priests.

But the panel indicted just one of them, leaving parishioners to guess about the names of the others and setting off a battle over whose rights are being protected, the priests' or the youths' whom they are accused of sexually molesting.

Many sexual abuse victims and news organizations are pressing to make the records public. This week, the county prosecutor here took the unusual step of asking a judge to consider whether Ohio law allows them to be unsealed.

But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is fighting such a move, saying it would violate the law on grand jury secrecy, which is intended to protect the confidentiality of witnesses, including abuse victims and people who are accused of but not charged with an offense.


The New Yawk Timeses says:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 — Warning that human cloning amounted to a dark and dangerous step into an unethical realm of science, the House of Representatives voted today to ban all human-cloning experiments, whether for baby-making or to create cells that might be used to treat disease.

The bill, adopted by a vote of 241 to 155, is nearly identical to one that passed the House in July 2001. It has the strong support of President Bush but an uncertain future in the Senate.

The measure would make any attempt to clone a human embryo a crime, punishable by a $1 million fine and up to 10 years in prison, and would also bar the importing of medical therapies derived from cloning.

So the Republicans want to ban cloning? The House voted to do it, and I'm all for that. They lumped stem cell research, which can possibly open the door to many opportunities in medical research and advancement, with clonaid. That is bulljizz, to equate a few cells in frozen glass jars with freak accident clones that are products of mad scientists.

As someone once put it to me, if these pro-life men care so much about the stem cell lines living, then why don't they get their wives and daughters lined up to be filled with the hot sticky fodder of test tube life? Why don't these pro-life, sanctimonious, "I'm on moral heaven" women line up and spread their legs for the poor babies that are trapped in these test tubes? All of them are full of shit.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Saddam says he refuses to leave, even if it is to avoid war. Dan Rather didn't offer to kill him, unfotunately, but Saddam had a lot to say:

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein said he would refuse any offer of exile, even to avoid a war, telling CBS's "60 Minutes II" that he will die in his country to "maintain our honor."

Saddam's comments were made during a three-hour interview with Dan Rather. The network, which termed the conversations between Saddam and Rather as wide-ranging, planned to air many of the Iraqi president's comments Wednesday on "60 Minutes II." The network provided excerpts of the interview.

"I have taught my children the value of history and the value of human stands. ... Whoever decides to forsake his nation from whoever requests is not true to the principles," Saddam said after being asked if he would go into exile. "We will die here. We will die in this country and we will maintain our honor."

He added that whoever offers Saddam asylum "is in fact a person without morals."

It was thought that Saddam would consider an offer of exile to save his country from a possible war. The United States is amassing thousands of troops in the region while U.N. inspectors search the country for suspected weapons of mass destruction.

OH SADDAM!!!! It takes two to tango, so don't try to turn this into a hunt for your post life legacy. You should have known the Bushies wanted to get you, but selfishness, greed, conceitedness and disregard for the innocent among your people all keep you from making a well informed decision. The United States is not compassionate for your people, the U.S. government is quite hypocritical right now, on this issue,
nevertheless OH SADDAM, you should have the concern for your women and children of Iraq, to NOT use them as human shields, not let the U.S. Airforce drop daisy cutters and napalm on them, and you should leave Iraq, with your money, and save your people from what will be a dreadful war...


I will not be watching CNN, FOX, MSNBC, or any of the prepackaged chicken shit they serve us.
Here's just another reason why. Robert Fisk, possibly my favorite reporter in the whole wide world
(besides Matt Drudge), reports in the Independent of Britain:

Already, the American press is expressing its approval of the coverage of American forces
which the US military intends to allow its reporters in the next Gulf war. The boys from
CNN, CBS, ABC and The New York Times will be "embedded" among the US marines
and infantry. The degree of censorship hasn't quite been worked out. But it doesn't matter
how much the Pentagon cuts from the reporters' dispatches. A new CNN system of "script
approval" – the iniquitous instruction to reporters that they have to send all their copy to
anonymous officials in Atlanta to ensure it is suitably sanitized– suggests that the Pentagon
and the Department of State have nothing to worry about. Nor do the Israelis.

Indeed, reading a new CNN document, "Reminder of Script Approval Policy", fairly takes the
breath away. "All reporters preparing package scripts must submit the scripts for approval,"
it says. "Packages may not be edited until the scripts are approved... All packages originating
outside Washington, LA (Los Angeles) or NY (New York), including all international bureaus,
must come to the ROW in Atlanta for approval."

The date of this extraordinary message is 27 January. The "ROW" is the row of script editors in
Atlanta who can insist on changes or "balances" in the reporter's dispatch. "A script is not approved
for air unless it is properly marked approved by an authorized manager and duped (duplicated) to
burcopy (bureau copy)... When a script is updated it must be re-approved, preferably by the
originating approving authority."

Note the key words here: "approved" and "authorized". CNN's man or woman in Kuwait or
Baghdad – or Jerusalem or Ramallah – may know the background to his or her story; indeed,
they will know far more about it than the "authorities" in Atlanta. But CNN's chiefs will decide the
spin of the story.

CNN, of course, is not alone in this paranoid form of reporting. Other US networks operate equally
anti-journalistic systems. And it's not the fault of the reporters. CNN's teams may use clichés and
don military costumes – you will see them do this in the next war – but they try to get something of
the truth out. Next time, though, they're going to have even less chance.

Just where this awful system leads is evident from an intriguing exchange last year between
CNN's reporter in the occupied West Bank town of Ramallah, and Eason Jordan, one of CNN's
top honchos in Atlanta.

The journalist's first complaint was about a story by the reporter Michael Holmes on the Red
Crescent ambulance drivers who are repeatedly shot at by Israeli troops. "We risked our lives
and went out with ambulance drivers... for a whole day. We have also witnessed ambulances from
our window being shot at by Israeli soldiers... The story received approval from Mike Shoulder. The
story ran twice and then Rick Davis (a CNN executive) killed it. The reason was we did not have an
Israeli army response, even though we stated in our story that Israel believes that Palestinians are
smuggling weapons and wanted people in the ambulances."

The Israelis refused to give CNN an interview, only a written statement. This statement was then
written into the CNN script. But again it was rejected by Davis in Atlanta. Only when, after three
days, the Israeli army gave CNN an interview did Holmes's story run – but then with the dishonest
inclusion of a line that said the ambulances were shot in "crossfire" (i.e. that Palestinians also shot
at their own ambulances).

The reporter's complaint was all too obvious. "Since when do we hold a story hostage to the whims
of governments and armies? We were told by Rick that if we do not get an Israeli on-camera we would
not air the package. This means that governments and armies are indirectly censoring us and we are
playing directly into their own hands."

The relevance of this is all too obvious in the next Gulf War. We are going to have to see a US army
officer denying everything the Iraqis say if any report from Iraq is to get on air. Take another of the
Ramallah correspondent's complaints last year. In a package on the damage to Ramallah after Israel's
massive incursion last April, "we had already mentioned right at the top of our piece that Israel says
it is doing all these incursions because it wants to crack down on the infrastructure of terror. However,
obviously that was not enough. We were made by the ROW (in Atlanta) to repeat this same idea three
times in one piece, just to make sure that we keep justifying the Israeli actions..."

But the system of "script approval" that has so marred CNN's coverage has got worse. In a further and
even more sinister message dated 31 January this year, CNN staff are told that a new computerized
system of script approval will allow "authorized script approvers to mark scripts (i.e. reports) in a clear
and standard manner. Script EPs (executive producers) will click on the colored APPROVED button to
turn it from red (unapproved) to green (approved). When someone makes a change in the script after
approval, the button will turn yellow." Someone? Who is this someone? CNN's reporters aren't told.

But when we recall that CNN revealed after the 1991 Gulf War that it had allowed Pentagon "trainees"
into the CNN newsroom in Atlanta, I have my suspicions.

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

I suppose "freedom of the press" gives the press the freedom to enslave itself, lie for the
government, violate principle, and betray journalistic integrity...

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The BBC reports:

US consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest level since October 1993, prompting
fears about the prospects for economic recovery.

Confidence fell by an unexpectedly-steep 15 points in February, figures from private
business group the Conference Board showed.

Rising oil prices and the threat of a war with Iraq have been blamed for the gloomy mood.

The monthly survey is seen as a barometer of future consumer spending, which makes up
about two thirds of the US economy.

This is not good news, you don't need me for that analysis. Nevertheless, this is George
Dubya's downfall, this issue is going to kill him as long as the Democrats don't become
republicrats and kill themselves again... There has been virtually no tv coverage of the
economic issues that matter... Tax cuts for the wealthy don't matter to most people,
how the economy is doing matters to everyone, so where is George Bush on these issues?


The most interesting thing in the New York Times today:

On Feb. 25, 1870, Hiram R. Revels, R-Miss., became the first black member of the United
States Senate as he was sworn in to serve out the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis.

A black man succeeded Jefferson Davis, I can't believe it myself...

Washington, Feb. 25 [1870]-- Mr. Revels, the colored Senator from Mississippi, was sworn in
and admitted to his seat this afternoon at 4:40 o'clock. There was not an inch of standing or sitting
room in the galleries, so densely were they packed; and to say that the interest was intense
gives but a faint idea of the feeling which prevailed throughout the entire proceeding. Mr. Vickers,
of Maryland, opened the debate to-day, arguing against the admission, on the ground that Revels
had not been a citizen for nine years, and therefore was not eligible. Mr. Wilson followed on the
other side, and was succeeded by Mr. Casserly, who took a new departure and arraigned the
entire reconstruction policy, charging that all the Southern Senators were put in their seats by the
force of the bayonets of the regular army. This aroused Mr. Drake to a white heat, and provoked
him to utter remarks and to make personal allusions to Mr. Casserly which were certainly in bad
taste, and in no way pertinent to the subject before the body.

Boy, news was different back then, wasn't it?

Monday, February 24, 2003

(CBS) In an exclusive interview with CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, Saddam Hussein has
challenged President George W. Bush to a live, international television and radio debate
about the looming war.

Saddam envisions it as being along the lines of U.S. presidential campaign debates. The
Iraqi president also flatly denies that his al-Samoud missiles are in violation of United
Nations' mandates and indicates he does not intend to destroy them or pledge to destroy
them as demanded by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. Blix had set a deadline for
at least a promise by this weekend.

Is Saddam serious? Maybe if Saddam does the debate in English he'll blunder as many
times as Dubya usually does and our nation won't be embarassed. Or, if Dubya is as
clever as I think he is, he'll reject Saddam's request and save himself the rehearsal time...

Sunday, February 23, 2003

The Smoking Gun dot com reports:

In the latest church sex scandal, a Catholic pastor in Florida has just been stripped of his duties
after church officials learned that the reverend had placed a personal ad--complete with a naked
photo of himself--on a gay web site.

Along with a full-frontal photo of Gera (which TSG has tweaked, at right), the personal ad described
the preferences of "Poppa Bear": "likes younger, TOP, slim-muscular men, 18-40. he lives in daytona
beach, florida and can be reached at [an AOL address]." The e-mail address included in the personal
ad was the same one at which parishoners would correspond with Gera.

Is anything shocking? Is this shocking? :

Sexy. So this priest is banished for baring his manhood for an adult, consenting gay audience.
Understandable. Dozens of priests are moved to different parishes when the Church of my Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ, discovers that these priests are bending over little altar boys... Not...
understandable... How did it come to the attention of the church officials that this man had pics
posted on a gay porn personals page anyway? I guess the lord works in mysterious ways...

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