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CNN Website Gives Edwards Affair Higher Billing than the Russia-Georgia Fighting:

It's telling that, as of midnight today, the CNN website is giving the Russia-Georgia conflict a lower billing than the latest revelations about John Edwards' extramarital affair. This order of priorities is ludicrous from the standpoint of the real relative importance of these events. But it does fit my theory that most people who follow political news do so primarily to get information they find interesting or entertaining rather than to learn about objectively important issues in order to become better-informed voters. A tawdry affair by a presidential candidate who dropped out of the race a long time ago is insignificant compared to a bloody conflict with major implications for US strategic interests in a crucial part of the world (to say nothing of the loss of life). But the affair may have greater entertainment value, and entertainment is what CNN must provide in order to give the majority of viewers what they want and keep up its ratings.

UPDATE: MSNBC also has the Edwards story as its top headline. But, to its credit, the Fox News site is giving top billing to the Russia-Georgia story - despite Fox's longstanding reputation as the more superficial of the three big news networks.

UPDATE #2: I suppose I should make it clear that I'm not claiming that Fox is generally less superficial than CNN or MSNBC, merely that they chose the right order of priorities in this particular instance.

Guest McGuesterston (mail):
Certainly this proves that Fox is a legitimate news organization driven by mainstream market pressures and not the ideological whim of its owner. Certainly.
8.9.2008 1:40am
Ilya Somin:
Certainly this proves that Fox is a legitimate news organization driven by mainstream market pressures and not the ideological whim of its owner. Certainly.

The two theories are not mutually exclusive. Fox fills a genuine market demand for conservative-oriented news coverage - as its strong ratings prove. At the same time, it's also true that that orientation fits the ideology of the owner.
8.9.2008 1:48am
Ilya Somin:
In this case, of course, if the "ideological whims" of Rupert Murdoch were the deciding factor, Fox would have billed the Edwards story higher, as that story embarrasses a prominent liberal Democratic politician. The Russia-Georgia story, by contrast, doesn't offer Fox a comparable opportunity to make liberal Democrats look bad.
8.9.2008 1:51am
Orson Buggeigh:

Certainly this proves that Fox is a legitimate news organization driven by mainstream market pressures and not the ideological whim of its owner. Certainly.


Well, maybe. But to me, the interesting story is how long the MSM sat on this. Nearly two full weeks after the Times (the one in London) determined that it was suitable to carry (Times of London, 27 July, 2008 the US MSM decided to get interested. While it isn't proof of serving an ideological bias, the way the MSM was so quick to run with the story about the allegation of a McCain - lobbyist tryst, and yet so reluctant to look into the allegations of an Edwards affair really does seem to support complaints of ideological bias by the media favoring Democrats.
8.9.2008 2:00am
Tom Tildrum:
The Russians may have launched their offensive after learning of the Edwards news, in order to minimize world attention.
8.9.2008 2:03am
GV:

In this case, of course, if the "ideological whims" of Rupert Murdoch were the deciding factor, Fox would have billed the Edwards story higher, as that story embarrasses a prominent liberal Democratic politician.

I don't know that this is right. Edwards being run through the mud doesn't really affect democrats. On the other hand, this story is likely going to bring up mentions of the fact that John McCain also had an affair. I doubt most Americans are aware of McCain's affar.
8.9.2008 2:22am
Cornellian (mail):
"This order of priorities is ludicrous from the standpoint of the real relative importance of these events. "

And yet perfectly logical from the point of view of appealing to what American television viewers are likely to find more interesting.
8.9.2008 2:26am
Nathan_M (mail):
CNN is the network that carries Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Nancy Grace. Does Fox really have a reputation for being more superficial than CNN, or just being more conservative? I've never watched Fox News (we have two channels of CNN inflicted on us in Canada, but no Fox News) but I can't imagine how news could be done more superficially than CNN manages.
8.9.2008 2:28am
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
Ilya Somin wrote:
to its credit, the Fox News site is giving top billing to the Russia-Georgia story - despite Fox's longstanding reputation as the more superficial of the three big news networks

Whatever the Fox News website shows now, I noticed that today's "Special Report with Brit Hume" on the Fox News Channel, which is supposed to be a "hard news" program, led with the Edwards story followed by the Russia-Georgia story
8.9.2008 2:30am
EH (mail):
Fox may be superficial, but that doesn't prevent them from being more hawkish. Proffering war as a common state of affairs suits them.
8.9.2008 2:34am
loki13 (mail):
It's not news.... it's CNN!
8.9.2008 2:48am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
as posted over at leasticoulddo.com, which had a similar view:
http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_08...html#1218255710
Volokh conspiracy is asking the same question.
But heck, I'll give it a shot.
For most americans, what happens in small eurasian countries doesn't change their lives such. Plus, they are burned out on 20 years of coverage of the war in afganistan.
On the other hand, whether the blue party or the red party wins the next election will matter, a little.
The red party is the holier-than-thou party, which sees the blue party as a coalition of communists, crooks, and sex fiends.
Under sex fiends we've got JFK, LBJ, WJC, and now Edwards.
It's not about the sex, it's about the coverup. Watergate wasn't about a hotel burglary, it was about Nixon's involvement in a coverup that spun out of control. Clinton's impeachment wasn't about whether he did or didn't rape Jaunita Broadrick and send armed troopers to procure Paula Jones. It was about the abuse of executive privilege, the threats, the perjury, the character assassinations, the coverup that spun out of control. The Edwards story isn't about Edwards, it's about Hillary and Obama.
It's not that he was boinking some chick while his wife had cancer. It's that the US papers have been sitting on the story for a year until a tabloid broke it. It's about a politician actually admitting he's "increasingly egocentric and narcissistic."
It's about the three lies in today's confession.
It's about whether the Democratic Party has any shame at all.
The trouble with the D's running buffoons like these is that the usual alternative is whoever the GOP puts up, which last time was Bush, and we know how that turned out.
So yeah, I'd say Edwards is a bigger story.
8.9.2008 4:04am
Dave3L (mail) (www):
The Volokh Conspiracy posted information on the Edwards affair well before the Russia/Georgia conflict. As a matter of fact, the Volokh Conspiracy didn't even post about the conflict until Saturday. Instead, it posted about, of all the possible superficial topics, the movie Mamma Mia. Even Ilya Somin posted about the significantly less important and less interesting topic of a NJ condemnation lawsuit well before he saw it fit to criticize others for their treatment of the apparently obviously dramatic and newsworthy conflict in Georgia.

Does any of this have anything to bear on the level of superficiality of the Volokh Conspiracy? Of course not. Like other media outlets, the VC can choose to report on issues that its writers feel its readership wants to know about, and order that reporting in whatever way it chooses. It is not beholden to some indiscernible "real relative importance" scale of prioritizing reportage. And whether it is the VC or CNN, surely taking a single data point such as this one and elevating it to standing for the broad proposition that an outlet is more or less superficial than whatever the public perception of it may be qualifies this post as yet another in an ongoing series of the "dumbest thing I have read all day."
8.9.2008 4:11am
dsn:
@Nathan_M

Sadly, yes it really is more superficial. I didn't think that was possible that Fox was as bad as everyone implies it is, until I stayed at a hotel in Isreal that had Fox not CNN. Watch a bit - I'm sure you can some on youtube, and try not to throw something at the TV / computer.
8.9.2008 4:16am
Jim at FSU (mail):
The Edwards affair was well known on the internet long before the mainstream media decided to run the story. Russia only recently invaded Georgia. Not only is the Georgia thing more newsworthy (since it is actual news) but it is also a million times more important than who Edwards is having sex with in his spare time.
8.9.2008 4:38am
Ilya Somin:
The Volokh Conspiracy posted information on the Edwards affair well before the Russia/Georgia conflict. As a matter of fact, the Volokh Conspiracy didn't even post about the conflict until Saturday.

The VC is a blog, not a comprehensive news service. We post on issues of interest to the bloggers and (usually) also on issues where we have some expertise. On the vast majority of issues, we don't post at all, because they don't interest us, we don't have expertise on them, or both. By contrast, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc., ARE comprehensive news networks and DO claim to prioritize the most important stories. The standards that apply to a news network are different from those that apply to an opinion blog. I would have thought that that was obvious. But apparently it needs to be spelled out.
8.9.2008 4:48am
trad and anon:
The Edwards affair was well known on the internet long before the mainstream media decided to run the story. Russia only recently invaded Georgia. Not only is the Georgia thing more newsworthy (since it is actual news) but it is also a million times more important than who Edwards is having sex with in his spare time.
Had sex with, if Edwards's claim to have ended the affair two years ago are to be believed.

And agreed that this is no longer be a news story of any importance, because he's a has-been rather than the powerful Democratic Party figure he used to be. 2004 was four years ago, and he's not a Senator anymore. His Presidential campaign made it nowhere: on Intrade: his numbers peaked at 20% in January 2007 and went steadily down from there. He's gone into private consulting rather than staying in the public eye pushing a cause a la Al Gore.

I'd say this is the political equivalent of Jamie Lynn Spears's pregnancy: a scandalous story about a celebrity that attracts a lot of public attention, but the only impact it has on the world is through the media attention it attracts. In Georgia, on the other hand, people are being killed by Georgian troops and Russian "peacekeepers" thanks to Putin's desire to extend his iron grip as far as he can.
8.9.2008 5:19am
Blar (mail) (www):
Orson, "the MSM" was not quick to run with the story about the alleged McCain-Iseman affair. Only the Times (the one in New York) determined that it was suitable to carry.
8.9.2008 5:20am
Joe Bingham (mail):
IMO, they're scrambling because they sat on the story so long, hoping no other MSM source would run with it either. But that's a prisoner's dilemma, thankfully.

Fox isn't trying to compensate, because it was the first MSM source to report the story, I believe. I may be misrecalling.
8.9.2008 7:24am
Dave3L (mail) (www):
CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc., ARE comprehensive news networks and DO claim to prioritize the most important stories.

DO they claim to prioritize the "most important" news stories? Where can I find this claim? I believe that most, if not all, journalists, editors and publishers would say that they seek to fulfill the information desires of their readership, not force feed them stories based on Ilya Somin's ranking of importance.

Further, I am not sure that it is obvious to everyone that the Georgia conflict is "more important," whatever that means, than the Edwards affair. The average reader of CNN can take news about Edwards lying to them and use it in their political determinations, both about Edwards (whether as a VP or cabinet candidate) as well as about the Democratic party. But what do we really need to know about Georgia?

Plus, under your determination of the priorities of news reporting, practically anything that does not rise to the level of international conflict (business news, entertainment news, who won the world series) would not lead. I certainly don't want to read that paper. And it belies your following assertion:

The standards that apply to a news network are different from those that apply to an opinion blog.

Where can I find these standards? You said they should be obvious to me. Thus, could you please point to these obvious standards, wherein "news networks" are required to rank news according to some undefined set of importance (presumably related to your worldview), but "opinion blogs" can do whatever they so choose (including post poor media commentary such as that exhibited here)? And who sets these standards?

Clearly the VC and CNN serve different purposes, have different readership, and, of course, different staff and different budgets. But that doesn't provide a good basis for deciding that CNN should be held to an undefined standard of reporting (and one that seems to only exist in your head at this point), while the VC should be free of such questions. You did eventually write about the conflict, demonstrating that you, at least, believe that you have "expertise" on the issue, enough so that you would subject others to your view. In your Update #2, you claim that there is a "right" prioritization of the Georgia conflict over the Edwards affair (and presumably over any other news of the day, including the olympics). If you are so secure in your knowledge that there is a "right" prioritization of reporting on this issue, shouldn't we assume that this "right" priority should apply to you, too? And if not, why shouldn't you be held to the same standard that you would propose for another?

Of course, clearly you should be allowed to write about whatever you want, and whatever someone else wants to read. But the same should apply to CNN. One would think that would be an easy concept for a purported libertarian.
8.9.2008 7:32am
mls (www):
There must be a law and economics (maybe just economics) lesson in here somewhere. The amount of effort that it would take people to derive usable information from the stories about the Russian-Georgian conflict is not worth the expected return from such information. By "people" I refer not just to news consumers but also to the media itself, which seems to have no idea of how to put the information into a larger context that would make it useful (eg, for people deciding how to vote). And the presidential candidates, as well as the current administration, would seem to bear blame as well- they have not developed and/or articulated an international vision or strategy that would provide a framework for understanding or responding to information regarding the conflict.
8.9.2008 8:18am
Hoosier:
GV: "On the other hand, this story is likely going to bring up mentions of the fact that John McCain also had an affair. I doubt most Americans are aware of McCain's affar."

Because there was no affair. You'll want to check on that NYT story. I think you missed what happened.

I don't recall who made this point yesterday (Byron York?), but CNN sat on the Edwards-cheats-and-lies story until yesterday. Then it became OBSESSED with it. They gave it most of the late-night time slot.

The invasion of Georgia, on the other hand, was relegated to the crawler.

Dave3L thinks this is just fine. I suspect that his view is closer to the norm than is mine (if rather more strongly held, to judge by his posts). Which helps explain why CNN went with wall-to-wall coverage.

The whole Edwards/MSM matter is very depressing, while the NYT "story" on McCain was especially disturbing; they have lost a great deal of credibility. Now I suppose I'm just going to have to wait until the Enquirer starts covering the war in Georgia.
8.9.2008 8:25am
A.S.:
objectively important issues

The Edwards affair is more objectively important to most Americans. This is a man who had a very good chance to our next VP or AG. That is far more important to most Americans than some fighting between two random countries in the middle of nowhere.
8.9.2008 8:31am
Hoosier:
"And the presidential candidates, as well as the current administration, would seem to bear blame as well- they have not developed and/or articulated an international vision or strategy that would provide a framework for understanding or responding to information regarding the conflict."

I would also like to have that framework. It isn't clear to me that this is possible, however. The Soviet Union lost its lease more than a decade and a half ago. Yet there has never been a post-Cold War "X-Article." Truman and co. hit upon the framework of "Containment" rather slowly, but still had the *basic security concept* in place--those not all of its policy implications--within two years after the end of WWII.

One must give Truman and his team a great deal of credit. Marshall, Acheson, Kennan, Bolen, Hickerson, et al. were a hell of a lot more capable than the folks who have staffed the Clinton and Bush Administrations But I don't think the problem here is with the quality of policy makers. Threats to US interests come from such a wide, disparate array of sources that it is hard to imagine what "doctrine" could provide useful guidance to, let's say, energy security, South Ossetia, Islamist terrorism, *and* the growth of the Chinese military.

"Spreading democracy," for instance, doesn't seem to apply to most of the challenges the US now faces in the world.
8.9.2008 8:41am
A. N. Moose:
Ilya, you said:
I suppose I should make it clear that I'm not claiming that Fox is generally less superficial
but also:
despite Fox's longstanding reputation as the more superficial of the three big news networks.
So correct me if I'm wrong: what you mean is that superficiality is an observation in in Fox News' reputation (i.e., observation of viewers' and non-viewers' opinions), but the update stipulates that you were reporting on the same rather than revealing your own judgement.

If that is so, then I don't see the need for the remark in the first place. After all, most of Fox's criticism seems to come from non-viewers (whereas CNN's age and intial novelty gave it wide exposure and the chance to create an impression with policies that may have changed, making more shallow its own reputation). What I'm trying to say is that all TV news is shallow and hard to watch (and I exclude per-se opinion shows). Leaving out that point makes the rest of the posts arguments very weak.

Anyway, the lead story being about a top-list Democratic party VP scandal is notable, despite its age (blog scoop) and tabloid quality.

The trouble in Georgia is complex, goes back quite a bit, involves curious timing, and seriously strains political ties between a number of parties (European and Chinese proximity, independence and US support, Russian oil resources). I don't blame news networks for treating it lightly, meaning lack of analysis. Also, it should remind you of the primacy of internet-only news, which -- with, for example, the Times' refusal to run any Edwards story even on their own online outlets until now -- told us the who, where, and how before anybody else. And the why is trickling in, aided by historical exposition by experts and linked to up the wazoo.

There is a story in what the mainstream media has done by ignoring what should be their main journalistic questions. Still, they seem able to understand this and the lack of customer pressure to demand it. The demand is being fulfilled elsewhere. My main question: do you think cable news is representative of what people care about? It is somewhat for those who continue to watch it, but even for those it supplments better sources and acts as a form of entertainment because other sources exist. Furthermore, big news outlets can be slow to adjust to news tastes, leaving them a very bad indicator of cultural rot.
8.9.2008 9:06am
Orson Buggeigh:

The whole Edwards/MSM matter is very depressing, while the NYT "story" on McCain was especially disturbing; they have lost a great deal of credibility. Now I suppose I'm just going to have to wait until the Enquirer starts covering the war in Georgia.


Thanks, Hoosier - I couldn't say it better. When the tabloids are engaging in better investigative reporting than the New York Times, it really doesn't give you much hope for so called MSM, does it?

The point Hoosier made about quality people in the Truman administration is worth pondering as well. The bitter politicization of government doesn't help. Clinton and G. W. Bush both prized loyal minions over able advisors - and look how well that's working out.
8.9.2008 9:16am
tarheel:

Because there was no affair.

You'll want to check the records about how and when McCain's relationship with his current wife began. There most certainly was an affair.

In my view none of that should matter, but let's not pretend these things did not happen.
8.9.2008 9:19am
A. N. Moose:
tarheel, thanks for the link. That fills in some details I'm sure many of us had missed.

From my observation of a very limited selection of Left blogs, it's interesting that some philandery is dismissed and championed, no doubt fueled by a generally libertine outlook. If that's an accurate assessment, the idea of bringing up McCain's 1970s philandery as a counter to Edwards' leads to strange conclusions. Of course, Edwards may not be the reason for McCain coverage here... but it sure looks that way.
8.9.2008 9:29am
tarheel:

From my observation of a very limited selection of Left blogs, it's interesting that some philandery is dismissed and championed, no doubt fueled by a generally libertine outlook.

I think both sides are guilty of this, for sure. As I said, this stuff matters not a bit to me in terms of my vote -- I voted for Clinton twice, and I would have voted for McCain in 2000. If it does matter substantively, however, it should only matter for a current candidate, not a former candidate.

My view on this is probably colored by the fact that I met Elizabeth Edwards and think very highly of her, and I hate that her life is being torn apart in this very public way.
8.9.2008 9:44am
JohnKT (mail):
For me, the conflict over Ossetia is ironic. In informal conversations with friends I've been using US policy regarding Ossetia/Georgia/Russia as an example to illustrate my guess about campaign "issues" vs real issues.

IMV, there are three campaigns. 1st is for party support; 2nd is for campaign money; and last and least is for the popular vote.

I use Ossetia as a real issue that isn't on the table for discussion. All my interlocutors have never heard of it. Somebody wryly remarked that the purpose of foreign wars was to help educate Americans about geography.

It's a real issue, not just because of the shooting war now. In our support of Georgia, I think Buchanan is right - we are poaching on Russian interests that can only cause trouble that we don't need right now. For those not familiar with the issue, we support Georgia against Russia to make trouble for Russia. Russia supports Ossetia, Georgia's breakaway province, to make trouble for Georgia. Our policy should be neutrality.

In contrast, for the 3rd part of the campaign, issues are "wrinkled white haired" men, or arugula eating. I couldn't vote for anybody who eats arugula, could I? Or for a wrinkled old man.

The funny part is, now that Ossetia is on TV news, none of the people whom I've sprung Ossetia on, will remember that I used it.
8.9.2008 9:48am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
McCain's adultery 30 years ago is almost never mentioned (even now, when the Edwards story provides a natural context in which to raise it). I guess this proves that if Edwards runs for office in 30 years, no one will ever mention his adultery, either.

Very recently Hannity said this:

It’s a character issue … Don’t we have a right to know before we elect somebody? ...If you cheat on your wife, are you gonna be honest with your country?


But of course McCain wasn't mentioned. So much for "right to know."

moose:

From my observation of a very limited selection of Left blogs, it's interesting that some philandery is dismissed and championed, no doubt fueled by a generally libertine outlook.


I think you have it backwards. There is only one party that presents itself as the champion of 'moral values,' while also harboring more than its share of toe-tappers and heiress-chasers.
8.9.2008 9:59am
riptide:
You're missing the big picture - the Edwards story is easy to understand and explain.

With respect to Georgia there is
a) a lot of backstory
b) the requirement to explain over and over again that we're not talking about Georgia-the-US-state. That's way too complicated.
8.9.2008 10:15am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"harboring" isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe the larry craig incident...
8.9.2008 10:26am
BobVDV2 (mail):
Ironically, this post now gets top billing on my RSS feed of the Volokh Conspiracy. Of course, that's due to the fact that blog posts are viewed chronologically, so don't think this makes VC superficial!
8.9.2008 10:32am
calmom:
OK. I'll bite. To the American people the Edwards story is more important than the Ossetia story and not for merely salacious reasons.

1. It speaks directly to the bias in the media. The country cannot trust the major news outlets. THEY are the ones covering up information. They don't do investigations anymore. They are just outlets for the campaigns to feed the line to the public. They have done a poor job of covering Obama's record in the Illinois state house. In other words, our media is not only biased but lazy.

2. The story points out yet again that anyone who blindly adores and trusts a politician is being pollyannish (to put it charitably).
8.9.2008 10:34am
Hoosier:
Orson Buggeigh:

Your point about loyalty and partisanship is spot-on. Aside from invading Iraq, the biggest mistake that Bush made in the war on political Islamism may turn out to be the fact that he didn't have "a Henry Stimson" in his circle.

After the fall of France, FDR tapped that leading GOP foreign policy wise man to take the War Department, and a outspokenly pro-Allied Chicago newpaper publisher (no, not THAT Chicago publisher; the other one), also a Republican, as his Navy Sec. (Frank Knox. Navy was still an executive department).

After the 9/11 shock wore off, I kept waiting for this. Steve Solarz to the UN? Sam Nunn as "Special Advisor" to the president? John Breaux to Energy? Congressman What-his-name from Washington State to CIA?

But nothing. This was a HUGE mistake--though a characteristic mistake, I admit. He could have, and should have, made it clear from early on that war is not a partisan issue. That politics "stops at the water's edge."

The Democrats didn't exactly step up and produce their own Arthur Vandenburg. And they have been happy to play to their left base on the domestic security issue. But it really was Bush's move to make.

He blew it.

I have some hope for better people in the near future. If there is a president McCain, he may well choose Richard Haass for NSA, and/or Lugar for State. Both would be excellent.

Obama? You can't do better than Sam Nunn.

And if either wants a REALLY creative analytical mind, I am currently on the job market. (They'll just have to understand that I'm going to operate out of Indianapolis.)
8.9.2008 10:49am
Hoosier:
"heiress-chasers"

YEAH! John Kerry WAS an embarassment, wasn't he, juke?
8.9.2008 10:51am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Looks as if the MSM is answering to a (small) market, and being more precise about it.
So, yeah, the reader/listener/viewership still attending likes the Edwards story and the professionals know it. But those remaining who still attend are insufficient to maintain the industry.
So the rest of us are more broadly interested in things like breakaway provinces being broken up by breakaway townships which have internal unrest due to potentially breakaway blocks. Morons. Them, not us.
8.9.2008 10:59am
JK:
Does anyone else get the feeling that if the Georgia story was getting front page coverage this post would be, "why is the liberal MSM hiding the very, very important Edwards affair story?!"

Anyway I've always noticed that the front page of CNN, NYTimes, etc isn't a prioritization of the most important story, it usual an interesting story that was posted very recently. Right now Georgia is the front of NYtmes, and “Bernie Mac died” is the front of CNN… I think it just means “this is a story we wrote very recently,” not this is the most important story of the day.
8.9.2008 11:09am
Hoosier:
riptide: "b) the requirement to explain over and over again that we're not talking about Georgia-the-US-state. That's way too complicated."

That occured to me also, but I hoped it was just my cynicism. Were you just joking? Or do you think this is really a factor?

"With respect to Georgia there is
a) a lot of backstory "

Yes. And it is hard to blame Americans for not knowing anything about it. My prize undergrad of the last few years decided to write her senior thesis, under my direction, on a historical question in Russo-Georgian relations. The lack of scholarship on Georgian history and politics STUNNED me. I tend to think that every topic has been done-to-death by now. But if you get on a big research university's library catalogue and search for Georgia, you may be surprised how little turns up. And much of what does exist is written from the perspective of ethnic minorities with resentments against the Georgians.

I wish there were better sources to go to for background on this. I'm open to any suggestions.
8.9.2008 11:10am
Hoosier:
"he trouble in Georgia . . . involves curious timing"

Remember the date of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?

They know how to do this without getting much media attention in the West.
8.9.2008 11:12am
Frog Leg (mail):
Hoosier: "heiress-chasers"

YEAH! John Kerry WAS an embarassment, wasn't he, juke?


There's a different heiress chaser on the Presidential ballot this year. Keep up.
8.9.2008 11:17am
ian (mail) (www):
Discounting an un-hyperlinked headline at the top of the page, CNN now has the death of Bernie Mac set more prominent than Russia/George.
8.9.2008 11:17am
ian (mail) (www):
Correction: Georgia*

Tried to link a screenshot but, sadly, I must've screwed it up.
8.9.2008 11:19am
Hoosier:
tarheel: "Because there was no affair."

I will assume you cut the context from my comment without meaning to change my intent.

You nevertheless did do so. Here is the context:

"Because there was no affair. You'll want to check on that NYT story."

This is a reference to the implication of te NYT story, not a reference to his previous marriage. So your response pointing to 30 years ago does not make my statement invalid at all. Does it?
8.9.2008 11:19am
tarheel:
Hoosier: Actually, you assumed GV was talking about the NYT piece, but that is not at all clear from his post. He just said "McCain's affair." I didn't mean to change the intent of your post. I simply wanted to add a link and some detail to GV's accurate comment.
8.9.2008 11:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
daniel:

"harboring" isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe the larry craig incident...


Help me find a better word. 'Stalling?'
8.9.2008 11:33am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
calmom:

They have done a poor job of covering Obama's record in the Illinois state house.


Some coverage of that subject can be found here, here and here.

It speaks directly to the bias in the media. The country cannot trust the major news outlets. THEY are the ones covering up information. They don't do investigations anymore.


After NYT published the Iseman story, McCain issued a denial. As far as I can tell, this is how much further investigation was done, by NYT or anyone else (in MSM): zero. This is how many times Iseman has been interviewed: zero. This despite the fact that a former top McCain campaign official viewed the Iseman situation as "alarming." (That was reported by NR back at a time when the GOP still had some hope of nominating someone other than McCain.)

McCain's only executive experience was 13 months, 30 years ago, in a job he doesn't even mention in his official campaign bio. Not much is known about this period. As far as I can tell, MSM has done this much investigative reporting on that period: zero. This is how many times reporters have asked him to sign SF-180, to release the records of that period: zero.

Those are a couple of examples of how "they don't do investigations anymore." And the failure to mention McCain's adultery, while obsessing about Edwards, is an example of how "THEY are the ones covering up information."
8.9.2008 11:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

"heiress-chasers"

YEAH! John Kerry WAS an embarassment, wasn't he, juke?


Kerry chased Heinz while still married to his first wife? Really? If so, then the situations are comparable.

Here's another difference: when Kerry married Heinz, he had already been a senator for 10 years. He didn't need her money and connections to launch his political career.

Here's another difference: Kerry was already rich ("Forbes").

In contrast, the circumstances seem to indicate that McCain left Carol for Cindy because, aside from being 24 (he was 42), Cindy's family had money and political connections, which McCain then used to launch his career as a politician. After working for his father-in-law for a while. As Ross Perot said:

McCain is the classic opportunist.
8.9.2008 11:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

I will assume you cut the context from my comment without meaning to change my intent.


You said "there was no affair" in response to someone who did not reference the Iseman story. Therefore your remark falsely implied that there had never been an affair. And I think most people don't know about the earlier affairs (apparently there was more than one).

Also, you are not in a position to claim "there was no affair" with Iseman. All we know is that McCain issued a denial, and then the 'liberal' media decided to drop the subject. I guess we have to wait for National Enquirer to investigate that story.
8.9.2008 11:34am
Hoosier:
"You said "there was no affair" in response to someone who did not reference the Iseman story. Therefore your remark falsely implied that there had never been an affair. "

My reference was clearly to the NYT story. As my full quote demonstrates.

I know you are here primarily to campaign for Obama and against McCain. But you might want to take realities of this sort into consideration.

As to: "how much further investigation was done, by NYT or anyone else"?

YOU KNOW how much effort, over how long a period of time, was given to the "story." And they blew it. How much more time and effort OUGHT they to have given it?

I don't agree that the MSM neglected the Edwards story for partisan reasons. Ask Spitzer, for instance. But I DO believe that the NYT and the other media realized the Times had embarassed itself, and that no one was willing to touch it after that.

tarheel: Yes. I understood GV to be talking about the NYT story, since the discusion seemed to be about current coverage of current stories. I'm sorry if I got his intentions wrong. My point, again, is that it was rather clear what I was talking about.
8.9.2008 11:54am
amativus (mail):
Well now the top news is the death of Bernie Mac, what does THAT say about voters?
8.9.2008 11:57am
amativus (mail):
Sorry, *voters = news priorities
8.9.2008 11:58am
TMac (mail):
I had to google Bernie Mac to learn who he was so I guess the MSM isn't doing its job of keeping me informed about the important people in the world.
8.9.2008 12:00pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

I know you are here primarily to campaign for Obama and against McCain.


What a relief to know that I'm the only one here with partisan interests (unlike, say, you). Thanks for clearing that up.

How much more time and effort OUGHT they to have given it?


As far as I can tell, the investigation ended when McCain issued his denial. And as far as I can tell, Iseman has never been interviewed. In my opinion, these are both indications that the investigation ended prematurely.
8.9.2008 12:23pm
Eli Rabett (www):
So, when do we get full coverage of McCains philandering?
8.9.2008 12:29pm
GV:

tarheel: Yes. I understood GV to be talking about the NYT story, since the discusion seemed to be about current coverage of current stories. I'm sorry if I got his intentions wrong. My point, again, is that it was rather clear what I was talking about.

I was not talking about the NYT story. I had actually completely forgotten about it and would have been more clear had I remembered it. I was referencing his earlier affair. Sorry for the confusion.

I don’t understand the argument that private affairs should not matter at all. I don’t think they’re an impeachable offense. Don’t even believe lying about one should result in impeachment. But cheating on your wife says something about your character. And while I think people overestimate the importance of character in elections, it is surely relevant, isn’t it? If John McCain should get some credit for his acts of bravery in Vietnam, shouldn’t he also lose some credit for his acts of disloyalty (which took place later in time)?
8.9.2008 12:45pm
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
"A tawdry affair by a presidential candidate who dropped out of the race a long time ago is insignificant compared to a bloody conflict with major implications for US strategic interests in a crucial part of the world (to say nothing of the loss of life)."

True. And yet...
8.9.2008 12:46pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"So, when do we get full coverage of McCains philandering?"

When he gets caught visiting his paramour in a hotel room at 3 am.
8.9.2008 12:51pm
Hoosier:
"I was not talking about the NYT story. I had actually completely forgotten about it and would have been more clear had I remembered it. I was referencing his earlier affair. Sorry for the confusion. "

GV: Thanks for clearning that up. Sorry I misread you.
8.9.2008 12:52pm
neurodoc:
The Edwards affair is more objectively important to most Americans. This is a man who had a very good chance to our next VP or AG. That is far more important to most Americans than some fighting between two random countries in the middle of nowhere.
Was the speaker of those words smirking when s/he uttered them? Even if Edwards were someone who presently has "a very good chance to (be) our next VP or AG" rather than someone who had (and it was had for VP after the first Tuesday in November 2004), how "objectively important" would news of his affair be in any event? (By "objectively important" I mean something with the potential to affect our collective interests, not that which can do little more than titillate.)
Hannity said this:It’s a character issue … Don’t we have a right to know before we elect somebody?...If you cheat on your wife, are you gonna be honest with your country?
Can we have a show of hands by those who agree with Hannity that "we have a right to know" whether or not a candidate has engaged in adultery, and that a candidate who has engaged in adultery is less fit for office on account of it? Where does that "right" flow from and what empirical evidence is there that marital fidelity is any kind of predictor of success in office?
8.9.2008 12:53pm
tired of blogs:
I'm disappoint that Ilya hasn't responded to Dave3L's second post. It's hardly unsubstantive, and drama amuses me. I daresay drama is the point of the internet. Get on it!
8.9.2008 1:00pm
calmom:
Actually, the LAT did cover the break up of McCain's first marriage and his affair with Cindy. If you can judge a story's impact by the number of letters to the editor it generates, that story was a big nothing.

It happened thirty years ago and McCain has never lied about it.
8.9.2008 1:00pm
MnZ:

So, when do we get full coverage of McCains philandering?


Perhaps when McCain starts talking about how he is such a devoted husband?

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Edwards would have won the nomination. Would Edwards or his operatives been going around talking about how McCain was not the model husband 30 years ago...unlike John Edwards who stuck by his ill wife?
8.9.2008 1:01pm
pluribus:
Rumors of a romantic relationship between Edwards and Hunter circulated for months. Edwards strongly denied them. Lacking proof, and concerned about violating the Edwards family's privacy, the MSM avoided the story. Now Edwards admits he blatantly lied, and the MSM has gone with the story.

Rumors of a romantic relationship between McCain and Iseman circulated for months. McCain denied them. (I listened to his denial and thought it was rather limp, but that is only a personal opinion.) Lacking proof, and perhaps concerned with the McCain family's privacy, the MSM have avoided the story.

I'm not here to campaign for or against anybody, nor to impugn anybody's character. But there is a certain similarity between the two stories. Only die-hard McCain supporters would deny that is within the realm of possibility that the MSM will eventually have something to tell us about McCain and Ms. Iseman.

It is no answer to say John McCain would never do something like that. He has admittedly done so at least once in the past. The relevant question is whether he, like Edwards, is lying about the rumors. That is not an irrelevant question when asked of a presidential candidate.
8.9.2008 1:03pm
neurodoc:
I don’t understand the argument that private affairs should not matter at all...cheating on your wife says something about your character. And while I think people overestimate the importance of character in elections, it is surely relevant, isn’t it?
"Character" is undoubtedly important, the only question being what aspects of "character" are most relevant. "Character" has many dimensions, and some are a good deal more pertinent than others when judging fitness for public office, in particular the presidency. Tell us, if you will, whether presidents who (we believe) were faithful to their wives (e.g., Carter) were generally better for the country than those who weren't (e.g., FDR and JFK)? If marital fidelity has no predictive value as far as how competent they will prove in the exercise of their official duties, then why pay the matter any attention?
8.9.2008 1:06pm
calmom:
The other difference between Edwards and McCain besides the fact that McCain was forthright about his past in his book is that McCain married Cindy, has been married for thirty years and apparently loves her. Edwards affair was by his own words a loveless sex fling. To a woman, that's a big difference. We forgive a man in love.
8.9.2008 1:07pm
NYer:
It's sad, perhaps, but it isn't surprising. Most Americans probably don't care about the fighting in Georgia, regardless of how important it is relative to Bernie Mac or John Edwards. And I agree with the comment above that most Americans don't know that a separate country named "Georgia" exists - or didn't know until now.

The NY Times has pretty consistently kept the Georgian conflict on the top of the page since yesterday, but CNN and the other 24/7 networks don't have the same audience. As I am writing this, the three stories shown under CNN's "Popular News" heading right now are: (1) Comic actor Bernie Mac dies; (2) Clay Aiken is a father; and (3) (the video link of) Hooters for Neuters.
8.9.2008 1:15pm
neurodoc:
The relevant question is whether he, like Edwards, is lying about the rumors. That is not an irrelevant question when asked of a presidential candidate.
I think it is or should be an irrelevant question. It is in these matters that our national policy, unenforceable of course, should be "don't ask, don't tell," and then there would be no need to lie.

Is there nothing in a candidate's personal history that shouldn't be laid out in full view for public scrutiny? No concern about discouragement of very well-qualified potential candidates by this sort of probing of personal lives? This moral measuring winnows out the less well-suited, leaving us with the best possible leaders?
8.9.2008 1:17pm
Uncle Creamy:
Maybe it's just me, but the world is probably better served if CNN limits its coverage to sex scandals and celebrities and leaves important world events to others.
8.9.2008 1:22pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The Edwards affair is more objectively important to most Americans. This is a man who had a very good chance to our next VP or AG.
On what planet? You may have forgotten, but he had a very good chance to be our last VP, and was a disaster as a candidate. He had no chance of being picked again.
8.9.2008 1:33pm
TerrencePhilip:
neurodoc makes interesting points. The Democrats do not share his view, however. They are not going to have Edwards speak at the convention- he might not attend- and his chances at some official role, such as cabinet member in an Obama administration, are finished.

I just feel bad for his wife; and for the baby.
8.9.2008 1:39pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
PartisanHack writes:
In contrast, the circumstances seem to indicate that McCain left Carol for Cindy because, aside from being 24 (he was 42), Cindy's family had money and political connections, which McCain then used to launch his career as a politician. After working for his father-in-law for a while. As Ross Perot said:
Of course, just a few days ago, PartisanHack was writing that McCain got remarried to Cindy because Carol had been in a car accident. And he cited the very same quote from a guy who had absolutely no knowledge of the situation as evidence of his first theory!
8.9.2008 1:46pm
Michael B (mail):
"I suppose I should make it clear that I'm not claiming that Fox is generally less superficial than CNN or MSNBC, merely that they chose the right order of priorities in this particular instance." Ilya Somin

It was CNN's Eason Jordan and CNN's Tom Johnson who negotiated for CNN's access and status quo reporting of Saddam & Sons' Iraq. See also: CNN's Iraqi Cover-Up: CNN admits that knowledge of murder, torture, and planned assassinations were suppressed in order to maintain CNN's Baghdad bureau.

For in-depth, book length treatments of the problem, see some of Jacque Ellul's sociological works such as Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, among a few others, though very few that probe with requisite depth.
8.9.2008 1:48pm
Public_Defender (mail):
CNN long ago Foxified itself. I heard a report on On the Media in which a CNN news chief defended covering stories with no news value (the disappeared-pretty-blonde-girl-du-jour, for example) simply because, well, he had no choice. Adding Fox-style anchors like Nancy Grace and Lou Dobbs didn't help.

And although this is a blog, not the MSM, the conspirators did put a lot of time and effort into analyzing whether a has-been had cheated on his wife, and no time into analyzing what was going on between Georgia and Russia.

One of the useful parts of blogs is that they reflect the quirkiness of the bloggers. I like the oddball topics I see here and elsewhere. Y'all also have every right to blog about whatever you want. But as long as you allow comments, your choices are fair came for discussion because your choices do, to at least some extent, reflect your priorities.

It's even more fair to comment on the choice of topics when a post discusses the MSM's devotion to a sensational story over a substantive one.
8.9.2008 2:03pm
Dave N (mail):
We lament that the John Edwards story gets priority over the Georgia story, yet at the time I post this comment, there are NOW 76 coments on this thread, while only 18 on the substantive thread regarding the Russo-Georgian conflict.

So, even here, we see where the interest is.
8.9.2008 2:07pm
The Franchise (mail):
Question: Is the "Mistress" also the "Tiptress" who's info led to the Nat Enquirer ambush?
8.9.2008 2:21pm
michael:
Dave3L, I suppose Ilya has other things to do besides point out to you what everyone else already knows:

CNN is a news organization; its mission is to report the news. A blog isn't. I know you're awfully excited to use your new law school tricks to play devil's advocate, but stop wasting everyone else's time.
8.9.2008 2:24pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
(2) Clay Aiken is a father

Clay Aiken isn't gay!?
8.9.2008 2:48pm
MarkField (mail):

"Character" is undoubtedly important, the only question being what aspects of "character" are most relevant. "Character" has many dimensions, and some are a good deal more pertinent than others when judging fitness for public office, in particular the presidency. Tell us, if you will, whether presidents who (we believe) were faithful to their wives (e.g., Carter) were generally better for the country than those who weren't (e.g., FDR and JFK)? If marital fidelity has no predictive value as far as how competent they will prove in the exercise of their official duties, then why pay the matter any attention?


Completely agree.
8.9.2008 2:56pm
Dave N (mail):
I hate to say it, I honestly do, but J.F. Thomas just won the thread.
8.9.2008 2:59pm
Michael B. (mail):
As previously pointed out, there's a lot to the Georgian story: Russian imperialism and nationalism as recently visited in the Solzhenitsyn post, the British empire's use of these middle earthlings as allies, the relationship of Ossetia (?sp) to Georgia. The lack of comment may speak to our lack of knowledge. OTOH as recently as a week ago if I recall correctly, respectful discussions occurred on NPR and from the Obama campaign about the potential role of John Edwards in a Democratic administration; why wasn't he then a past candidate of historical trivial interest? Without acknowledging the supressed salacious facts that could have been the story line and perhaps saved Mrs. Edwards some pain.
8.9.2008 3:00pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

When he gets caught visiting his paramour in a hotel room at 3 am.


McCain cheated with Cindy while still living with Carol. Please explain why the time and location of the cheating makes any difference.
8.9.2008 3:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
doc:

… that a candidate who has engaged in adultery is less fit for office on account of it


I tend to agree with you. But it's very noticeable that the press (and not just Hannity) is making a big fuss about Edwards and not about McCain. I realize it was a long time ago, but most people probably don't know about it. And unlike Edwards, he's actually running for president. And he's running on the concepts of 'straight talk,' character, honor and judgment. So if an adultery story is relevant for any candidate, it's especially relevant for McCain.
8.9.2008 3:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
calmom:

the LAT did cover the break up of McCain's first marriage and his affair with Cindy


As far as I can tell, that's the only story in US MSM. Not exactly extensive coverage.

It happened thirty years ago and McCain has never lied about it … McCain was forthright about his past in his book


Wrong. In his book, he claimed the affair didn't start until he was separated. Legal documents show otherwise. This is documented in the LAT article with which you are supposedly familiar.

Aside from that, "never lied" is a stretch, since the affair itself was a kind of lie. As Hannity said, "if you cheat on your wife, are you gonna be honest with your country?"

McCain married Cindy… Edwards affair was by his own words a loveless sex fling


I think it's hard to argue that having an affair and not coming back is less of a betrayal than having an affair and coming back.
8.9.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mnz:

Perhaps when McCain starts talking about how he is such a devoted husband?


As I said, McCain is running on such things as 'straight talk,' character, honor and judgment. He is also running as the candidate of the 'family values' party. Therefore his track record as an adulterer is highly relevant.

Aside from that, McCain does indeed present himself as a family man. Cindy's picture on his home page takes up more space than his. In his bio he mentions his "seven children and four grandchildren," and the kids get their own separate page. And Cindy has her own page, too. Any information there about Carol, or about a divorce, or an affair? Not that I can see.
8.9.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pluribus:

It is no answer to say John McCain would never do something like that. He has admittedly done so at least once in the past.


More than once. I believe he admitted to multiple affairs.
8.9.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
terrence:

They are not going to have Edwards speak at the convention


If the idea is that adulterers shouldn't speak at conventions, maybe McCain won't speak at his.
8.9.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

writing that McCain got remarried to Cindy because Carol had been in a car accident


The car accident is why McCain left Carol. Cindy's youth, beauty, money and connections are why she got picked instead of someone else. If that's too complicated for you to follow, that's your problem.

he cited the very same quote from a guy who had absolutely no knowledge of the situation


Ross Perot knew the family. He was already paying Carol's hospital bills, and he was responsible for introducing McCain to the Reagans. So you should explain why you're claiming that Perot "had absolutely no knowledge of the situation."
8.9.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael:

CNN's Iraqi Cover-Up: CNN admits that knowledge of murder, torture, and planned assassinations were suppressed in order to maintain CNN's Baghdad bureau.


I wonder if Saddam appreciated that as much as the cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is) he obtained with the assistance of Reagan and Rumsfeld, right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians.

Then again, I suppose Saddam also appreciated the $53 million that ended up in his pocket when we allowed 14 tankers to leave Iraq shortly before we invaded (details here, here, here and here).
8.9.2008 3:09pm
ShelbyC:
I'm curious about why folks think that none of this matters, either about Edwards or McCain. Should a candidate for public office have a highly developed sense of personal integrity? Is adultry consistent with highly developed sense of personal integrity?
8.9.2008 3:10pm
trad and anon:
In his bio he mentions his "seven children"
One per house, I guess? Or per decade?
8.9.2008 3:48pm
NRWO:
Neurodoc says: “Tell us, if you will, whether presidents who (we believe) were faithful to their wives (e.g., Carter) were generally better for the country than those who weren't (e.g., FDR and JFK)? If marital fidelity has no predictive value as far as how competent they will prove in the exercise of their official duties, then why pay the matter any attention?”

What personal characteristics do have predictive value? My sense is that political partisans -- and voters in general -- will always find ways to discount bad behavior of candidates they like. This is because (a) bad behavior (e.g., adultery) can be offset by one or more perceived good characteristics (e.g., probability of being a good CiC); (b) whether a candidate has good (or bad) character is often a matter of judgement that cannot be conclusively proven; and (c) whether bad character is dispositive in a decision to vote against a candidate (or vote at all) depends on the alternatives.

In any case, bad behavior such as adultery can significantly impede the ability of an executive to discharge his or her duty when it leads to distractions that funnel attention away from job goals. If a president has an affair, and he believes discovery of it would damage his reputation or ability to be-re-elected, he may be subject to blackmail.

In addition, people who believe that some candidates have performed well despite having affairs may create the perception that on balance affairs have negligible effects on the performance of chief executives – when having an affair (versus not having one) creates distractions (e.g., public debate about honesty and fitness for office) that probably reduce performance (e.g., the theory that Clinton’s decision to bomb a weapons depot – that turned-out to be a pharmaceutical factory – was influenced by Monicagate).

Also, discounting the effects of affairs probably increases the incentive of would-be philanderer-executives to have affairs (for, if you know people are generally willing to discount your affair, so long as public perception remains favorable, you are more likely to do the naughty thing).

Finally, discounting affairs (or any type of bad behavior) can, to use Moynihan’s term, define deviancy down, increasing the likelihood that people find the behavior less objectionable and, if they’re at the margin (on the cusp of making a decision to have an affair), increase the likelihood of engaging in deviant behavior.

My visceral reaction to the pieces about McCain, pointed to by Tarheel and Juke (and about which I wasn’t aware), can be summed-up in one word: Disgust.
8.9.2008 3:54pm
pireader (mail):
ShelbyC asked--"Is adultry consistent with highly developed sense of personal integrity?"

I'm a management consultant. Over the years, I've had occasion to know a considerable number of men (and some women) who held positions of great responsibility in large organizations in both the private and public sectors, across a range of countries. I knew them and their colleagues well enough to be aware of their actual/reputed personal lives. They've ranged from strict family men (and women) to out-and-out womanizers.

As best I can tell, there's no relation whatsoever between successful leadership--including the highest professional integrity--and a personal life of sexual fidelity or promiscuity.

Over the past ten years since Messrs. Clinton and Gingrich brought this issue into the headlines, I've asked several of my partners for their views. None of them saw any relation either.

YMMV
8.9.2008 3:55pm
Public_Defender (mail):

We lament that the John Edwards story gets priority over the Georgia story, yet at the time I post this comment, there are NOW 76 coments on this thread, while only 18 on the substantive thread regarding the Russo-Georgian conflict.

So, even here, we see where the interest is.


And, alas, the knowledge. I say this as someone who both commented here and does not know enough to post an intelligent comment on the Georgia-Russia war.
8.9.2008 4:24pm
John Herbison (mail):
Assume for sake of discuaaion that Fox News is carrying water for the Republican Party--admittedy not a difficult assumption to make. Who is harmed by a discussion of marital infidelity by a candidate for president?

Senator Obama has been slammed six ways to Sunday by the Rovians in John McCain's employ, but none of the criticism has impugned his devotion to his wife and daughters. McCain has an acknowledged history of horndoggery while married to a crippled and disfigured first wife, including divorcing her to marry a 24 year old Barbie beer heiress.

McCain makes much of his military background (though he doesn't talk about losing five planes). Many of McCains supporters make much of his reputation as a man of honor. During his multiple affairs, McCain was an officer in the United States Navy; ergo, his adultery violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He may have been an officer, but he was surely no gentleman.

McCain is currently trying to shore up his standing among evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians. (Some commentators who are more knowledgeable than I have written that McCain's "The One" ad includes symbolism associating Obama with the Antichrist.) In this context, those who take the words of Jesus literally may conclude that McCain's current marriage constitutes a present state of adultery. (Oh, how I wish that someone in the media or, better yet, some preacher that McCain tries to suck up to would ask McCain about Jesus' teachings at Mark 10:9 and Luke 16:18.)

In this context, the wariness of Fox News regarding John Edwards' admission advances a Republican agenda.
8.9.2008 4:28pm
The Ace (mail):
is likely going to bring up mentions of the fact that John McCain also had an affair.

Except John McCain didn't have an affair.

It was inferred he did by a sloppily written story in the NYT.

Those are 2 different things.
8.9.2008 4:35pm
MartyA:
The role of the mainstream media in the Edwards scandal is fascinating. Their refusal to cover the story is just like their refusal to cover any possible negative in Obama's background. There is the issue of Larry Sinclair, for example.
My bet is they will continue to ignore Obama's background, early next week declare the Edwards story to be over, and revert to type on protecting left wingers, Kwame, for example.
The legacy media isn't just inept, it is anti-American. And, next week, they have to protect Russia and help prove how evil a friend of George Bush's is.
8.9.2008 4:38pm
Hoosier:
"We lament that the John Edwards story gets priority over the Georgia story, yet at the time I post this comment, there are NOW 76 coments on this thread, while only 18 on the substantive thread regarding the Russo-Georgian conflict.

So, even here, we see where the interest is. "

Well, I TRIED to talk about that. But they wouldn't LET me!
8.9.2008 4:38pm
The Ace (mail):
I wonder if Saddam appreciated that as much as the cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is) he obtained with the assistance of Reagan and Rumsfeld, right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians.

Hilarious.

Saddam didn't receive assistance from Reagan or Rumsfeld.

Allegations are not fact.

Except when you're a liberal.
8.9.2008 4:40pm
The Ace (mail):
By the way, I love that the response from jokebox is to: a) Lie b) Attempt to change the subject and C) Ignore inconvenient facts.
8.9.2008 4:42pm
really (mail) (www):
What an opportunity for an ecumenical moment. The Republican convention with a priest in robes swinging an incense censor followed by rabbis and Episcopalian clergy and Obama's half brother dressed as an imam. Senator Mccain could ascend the podium and confess that if he had just not misled John Edwards all would be hunky dory and John would be AG. For good measure, John M. could confess that beyond his recent 30 year old affair with his current wife, his grandfather on several occasions in the nineteen teen's used the n-word. Various Volokh commenters could ably finish out the script (try to work in William the Conqueror).
8.9.2008 4:48pm
Hoosier:
So . . . do you all think that Mikheil Saakashvili would be more (or less) effective in his response to the Russian invasion if he were having an affair with a blonde chick?

(Trying to heave this train back onto the track.)
8.9.2008 4:50pm
Hoosier:
MartyA:
"Their refusal to cover the story is just like their refusal to cover any possible negative in Obama's background. There is the issue of Larry Sinclair, for example. "

I suspect the MSM avoids the Sinclair Affair for the same reason it provides so little useful coverage on the Yeti.
8.9.2008 4:52pm
Perseus (mail):
8.9.2008 4:56pm
Hoosier:
UPDATE:

"Russian fighter jets targeted the the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline which carries oil to the West from Asia but missed, Georgia's Economic Development Minister Ekaterina Sharashidze said on Saturday."

Because them pipleines move FAST!

(Remind me why these guys lost the Cold War . . . ?)
8.9.2008 4:56pm
GV:

Except John McCain didn't have an affair.

It was inferred he did by a sloppily written story in the NYT.

Those are 2 different things.

"The Ace," if you're going to join a thread this late and comment on an early comment, you might at least want to see if your comment has already been addressed (which it has).

As an aside, I think the fact that several people on volokh (who I assume are not low-information voters) don’t know that John McCain had an affair means that the vast majority of Americans also have no idea. And regardless of whether having an affair means you’re less likely to be a good president, it is clear that most people think it has some relevancy. Indeed, the people who claim to carae the most typically vote Republican. Thus, as I said before, I think the real loser in this John Edwards saga is going to be John McCain because it is likely to lead to more mentions of his prior affair with Cindy, which apparently most people don’t know about.
8.9.2008 4:59pm
Hoosier:
""The Ace," if you're going to join a thread this late and comment on an early comment, you might at least want to see if your comment has already been addressed (which it has). "

GV is correct. And in the process, I learned that crow doesn't taste too bad. Kinda like chicken.

"Thus, as I said before, I think the real loser in this John Edwards saga is going to be John McCain because it is likely to lead to more mentions of his prior affair with Cindy, which apparently most people don’t know about."

And this will have as much impact as Favre with the Jets? (see next VC post, above)
8.9.2008 5:21pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

The Russians may have launched their offensive after learning of the Edwards news, in order to minimize world attention.


That was the thread winner.

If the Russians were attacking the other Georgia, where CNN is, then that would be more interesting to both CNN and Americans in general.

Cats and dogs fighting does not interest us too much. If we get pictures of dead kids, our interest level may increase.

(I understand Georgia is a NATO applicant but it is not in NATO yet. If it was a NATO member, I would be interested in the war since it would involve the US. Since it will not involve the US, I don't care, like 999999999999% of Americans.)
8.9.2008 5:27pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ross Perot knew the family. He was already paying Carol's hospital bills, and he was responsible for introducing McCain to the Reagans. So you should explain why you're claiming that Perot "had absolutely no knowledge of the situation."
Actually, you should explain why paying someone's hospital bills a decade earlier -- or any of the things you cite, really -- means Ross Perot has the foggiest idea what John McCain was thinking when he split up with his wife. Especially since Carol McCain -- the only person other than John McCain who would actually know why they split up -- says otherwise.
8.9.2008 5:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
GV, I doubt the fact that McCain had affairs 30 years ago, and that he ended up marrying the person he was carrying on the affair with, is going to affect anybody's vote. If it were recent, it would, perhaps.

I think the people who care about affairs generally tend to be non-supporters of the candidate in the first place; the problem with an affair is not so much that it costs you votes directly, but that it changes the focus of your campaign. The media spends all its time asking you about the affair instead of your plan to give everyone a puppy and a hug, and when you try to attack your opponent, nobody notices.
8.9.2008 5:37pm
Hoosier:
Final (?) point:

For those who have said they know nothing about the Russia/Georgia situation: A USEFUL BACKGROUNDER is at the Economist online, with many links to reports from the magazine on past events.

Requires subscription (If you are an academic or student, check out your university library's E-journals. You probably have access.)
8.9.2008 5:38pm
GV:
David, I agree with you that most people only feign concern about an affair when they don't like the candidate already, but we're talking about voters at the margins. Perhaps only 8% of voters truly care, but that's a lot of people. Regarding the time delay, I would normally agree with you, but it's hard to claim that what he did so long ago doens't really matter given that McCain's service in Vietnam has been heavily touted by him as an important credential.

I suspect a lot of middle America who doesn’t have strongly held views on either candidate will be surprised to find out about McCain’s affair and think less of him for it. And at least some of those people will not vote at all or vote for Obama based on this. If I’m right, then this story would be a plus for Obama.
8.9.2008 5:51pm
LM (mail):
neurodoc,

Tell us, if you will, whether presidents who (we believe) were faithful to their wives (e.g., Carter) were generally better for the country than those who weren't (e.g., FDR and JFK)? If marital fidelity has no predictive value as far as how competent they will prove in the exercise of their official duties, then why pay the matter any attention?

Because we don't learn from history -- we just collect fetishes. Ever since the press outed Gary Hart, breaking the unspoken rule to look the other way, there's been no getting that genie back in the bottle. It's a given that infidelity is of the public interest. Like how since Nixon gave secrecy a bad name we've never seriously considered whether there might not be a few things (e.g., FDR in a wheelchair) we're better off not knowing.
8.9.2008 5:55pm
DCP:

A few points:

1. The MSM didn't go after Edwards on this, the National Enquirer did, and he has nobody but himself to blame for that. He went to the MSM to "come clean" and he did it on a friday afternoon, sandwiched in between the Russia story and the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

2. McCain is obviously a member of the adulterers club and everyone knows it. If you're wondering why the MSM doesn't launch into attack mode over this, it's probably because it happened 30 years ago, he remains on friendly terms with his ex-wife and the woman he cheated with is now his long term wife and they have four kids together. It's one thing to report on John Edwards infidelity when he comes to you and offers a public confession about his recent escapades. It's another to start slinging mud on a happy marriage with four children trying to reopen scars that presumably healed along time ago.

3. I don't think the media wants to dig in these ditches if they can avoid it. It's not a big secret that this was not Edwards first infidelity, that he has some baggage in this department, and that his ex-staffers (one of whom is a friend of mine) have spoke about a year long affair he had while a Senator. It's one of the reasons the Democratic brass never fully embraced him. But the MSM didn't go after it, nor did they when Wesley Clark's campaign started the rumor about Kerry having an affair, nor did they with the latest McCain rumor. I just have a hunch that the media is not interested in this sort of thing, unless they can't avoid it (Clinton, Edwards, Criag, etc).

4. I think public attitudes on this topic have relaxed as they have with recreational drug use. This isn't 1955. I think most people are willing to tolerate a few "youthful indiscretions" as long as it's not over the top on the grounds that (a) it will not affect future performance in office and (b) setting the bar too high in the character department might weed out some of the best candidates. As evidence of this shifting standard note also that Obama's recent admission of past drug use didn't even register a blip on the radar, even in the conservative propaganda ranks. Or Barbara Walters admission that she had a fling with a prominent married Senator who was going through a rough patch in his marriage.
8.9.2008 6:26pm
JK:
Interesting post DCP, thanks.
8.9.2008 7:08pm
Hoosier:
"As evidence of this shifting standard note also that Obama's recent admission of past drug use didn't even register a blip on the radar, even in the conservative propaganda ranks. Or Barbara Walters admission that she had a fling with a prominent married Senator who was going through a rough patch in his marriage."

What bothered me was that she admitted it after all these years, for no apparent reason other than to sell her book. Her former lover is no longer in office; in this world, at least. This tarnishes his image a bit. Why do it?
8.9.2008 7:12pm
pluribus:
pireader:

As best I can tell, there's no relation whatsoever between successful leadership--including the highest professional integrity--and a personal life of sexual fidelity or promiscuity.

Then, why do candidates go to such great lengths to conceal this sort of conduct? Why did Clinton emphatically deny all the Flowers/Broddrick/Jones/Willey/Lewinsky charges? Why did Hart drop out of the race after he was found carrying on with a babe? Why did Edwards tell Woodruff he was hanging around the hotel in the middle of the night, and holding the door shut so reporters couldn't follow him into the men's room, to prevent the public from finding out? There are new charges that Edwards was paying Hunter $15,000 a month to keep quiet. If so, why?

I admit that adultery isn't the only, or even the most serious, offense a public official or candidate can be guilty of. Bribery. Breaking an official oath. Nepotism. Thes are all more serious. But I don't understand why adultery, and even worse promiscuity, shouldn't be regarded as an offense at all.
8.9.2008 7:24pm
pluribus:
David M. Nieporent:

I doubt the fact that McCain had affairs 30 years ago, and that he ended up marrying the person he was carrying on the affair with, is going to affect anybody's vote.

I agree. It certainly won't affect my vote. Particularly since McCain has publicly admitted that he acted badly in the whole affair. I'm more willing to forgive an offense if the offender admits to it.

If it were recent, it would, perhaps.

I agree. If it should develop that the Iseman story has some basis, the fact that McCain got up on national TV and denied it would would certainly affect my vote.
8.9.2008 7:33pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
The FOX bashers hate two things about it: One, it doesn't parrot the liberal tribe and, two, it has double the ratings of every other news network.
8.9.2008 7:43pm
whit:

I think you have it backwards. There is only one party that presents itself as the champion of 'moral values,' while also harboring more than its share of toe-tappers and heiress-chasers


which is great, but at least in the case of edwards, there are metric #$(#$(loads of quotes from him criticizing clinton for adultery, etc. I'm not going to repeat them, but whichever party claims to be the one of moral values, edwards specfically engaged in a significant amount of specific criticism regarding adultery.

and of course... more importantly. it's the whole coverup (not to mention the chick he was boinking was being PAID by his campaign).

then there's the whole cheating on your wife who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

but EASILY the worst and most arrogant part was running for president with this in your (very recent closet) and not disclosing it. if he HAD got the nomination, and he was the nominee right now, and this came out, it would practically guarantee a repub win.

compare and contrast with, for example, the new governor of NY who came into office and took the wind out of everybody's sails by admitting some past dalliances
8.9.2008 7:46pm
LM (mail):
pluribus:

I agree. It certainly won't affect my vote. Particularly since McCain has publicly admitted that he acted badly in the whole affair. I'm more willing to forgive an offense if the offender admits to it.

I wouldn't judge someone else's personal life in the first place. That said, if McCain keeps up the negative campaign against Obama, I wouldn't be surprised if it's brought up that, assuming the LA Times article is true, McCain appears to have lied about the affair in his 2002 autobiography. That event is pretty recent, and in the tradition of Republican attacks on Bill Clinton and John Kerry, it's not the behavior that's the problem -- it's the lying about the behavior.
8.9.2008 8:01pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

What bothered me was that she admitted it after all these years, for no apparent reason other than to sell her book. Her former lover is no longer in office; in this world, at least. This tarnishes his image a bit. Why do it?

It's reprehensible. The only redeeming spin I can give it is that having an affair with Barbara Walters shows abysmal judgment on so many levels that it just may be a greater disturbance to the force for somebody to get away with it because she didn't yap about it.
8.9.2008 8:11pm
MarkField (mail):

Then, why do candidates go to such great lengths to conceal this sort of conduct?


Because even though there isn't any obvious connection between sexual misconduct and the ability to be president, some voters think that there is such a relationship.


But I don't understand why adultery, and even worse promiscuity, shouldn't be regarded as an offense at all.


You're assuming that there's some connection between promiscuity and competence in office. As others have noted, it's pretty hard to show that it's true. Let me give one example of the problem with "character" arguments and then move on to the specific case of promiscuity.

Take honesty (outside the context of sex). We all, I'm certain, think this is one of the most important personal characteristics. Is it something we should consider in a candidate?

Consider two presidents with essentially opposite reputations for honesty. Abe Lincoln is widely considered to be our most honest president. His nickname even asserts it. In contrast, FDR was widely considered dishonest. Both were successful presidents, one because he was honest, one because he wasn't (in some ways, of course; nobody is entirely dishonest).

What this tells us is that any one single characteristic probably isn't important in judging candidates. It wasn't the honesty, or lack thereof, per se which was significant in either case, it was the whole package.

Ok, now let's look at sexual misconduct. I'm phrasing it somewhat generally because the point is to analyze character. An example: some people might say that it's important only if the president has an affair while in office. That could be an argument, but not one based on character. If character is what we're interested in, then the existence of sexual misconduct at any time in life would be probative of character (at least potentially).

Here's a list of presidents whom we know or reasonably suspect to have committed sexual improprieties of greater or lesser importance: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Cleveland, Wilson, Harding, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Reagan, Clinton.

Here are the ones for which we have no evidence one way or the other: John Adams, JQA, Van Buren, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Harrison, McKinley, TR, Taft, Coolidge, Hoover, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Bush 1 and 2.

Now, I did these lists off memory so others can chime in if I'm in error. I wouldn't claim the lists are exactly right, but they're close. Which one produced, in general, the more successful presidents?
8.9.2008 8:18pm
LM (mail):
whit,

which is great, but at least in the case of edwards, there are metric #$(#$(loads of quotes from him criticizing clinton for adultery, etc. I'm not going to repeat them, but whichever party claims to be the one of moral values, edwards specfically engaged in a significant amount of specific criticism regarding adultery.

Maybe the correlation isn't as high as it appears, but there does seem to be an awfully high incidence of hypocrisy among moral crusaders. I never really trusted Edwards, so Bob Schrum's accusations rang true to me. I'm sorry for what Edwards' family must be going through, but I'm relieved to have a potential land mine removed from Obama's path.
8.9.2008 8:26pm
John Herbison (mail):
Bush 1, Mark? What about Jennifer Fitzgerald, who is reported to have served Papa Bush in a variety of positions?
8.9.2008 8:43pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

And this will have as much impact as Favre with the Jets?

Favre's already had a positive impact on the Jets. They got rid of Chad Pennington.
8.9.2008 8:57pm
The Ace (mail):
"The Ace," if you're going to join a thread this late and comment on an early comment, you might at least want to see if your comment has already been addressed (which it has).

John McCain did not have an affair.

So no it hasn't.
8.9.2008 8:59pm
The Ace (mail):
As an aside, I think the fact that several people on volokh (who I assume are not low-information voters) don’t know that John McCain had an affair means that the vast majority of Americans also have no idea

You have no evidence John McCain had an "affair."
8.9.2008 9:04pm
The Ace (mail):
GV is correct.

Um, no, he isn't.
8.9.2008 9:07pm
tarheel:
Ace, I would encourage you to read this story before posting again on this thread. I know you like making fun of other posters, but at this point you are only making yourself look foolish.

For those who took the time to read all the comments before posting, sorry for the repeat.
8.9.2008 9:10pm
pluribus:
MarkField:

Consider two presidents with essentially opposite reputations for honesty. Abe Lincoln is widely considered to be our most honest president. His nickname even asserts it. In contrast, FDR was widely considered dishonest. Both were successful presidents, one because he was honest, one because he wasn't

I wasn't aware that FDR was most admired for his dishonesty. I thought he had some other characteristics, like vision, courage, insight, eloquence, optimism, self-confidence, ability to surround himslf with good advisors.

Here's a list of presidents whom we know or reasonably suspect to have committed sexual improprieties of greater or lesser importance: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Cleveland, Wilson, Harding, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Reagan, Clinton.

Now we're talking "sexual improprieites," eh? Without research, I can tell you emphatically that Jefferson, Jackson, Clevland, Wilson, and Reagan never engaged in adultery, or lied about it. Jefferson was a widower many years when he had an affair with Sally Hemmings, who was his deceased wife's half-sister. His offense was in writing such racist tripe about black people, which is a different issue entirely. And though Washington may have fathered a slave, it was before his marriage to Martha, to whom he was (by all accounts) devoted. And if greatness is compared to marital fidelity, Lincoln takes the top spot on both accounts.
BTW, I never argued, nor do I believe, that marital fidelity is the only, or even the most important, virtue a political candidate can have. It is one. See what I wrote above.
8.9.2008 9:13pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Bush 1, Mark? What about Jennifer Fitzgerald, who is reported to have served Papa Bush in a variety of positions?
I believe that it was "reported" about as much as McCain's affair with Iseman was "reported." That is, rumors were reported, nothing more. Unless you count Spy magazine, whose only alleged source denies it.
8.9.2008 9:22pm
MarkField (mail):

I wasn't aware that FDR was most admired for his dishonesty. I thought he had some other characteristics, like vision, courage, insight, eloquence, optimism, self-confidence, ability to surround himslf with good advisors.


I certainly didn't mean that FDR was "admired" for his dishonesty. He was and is admired for lots of reasons, as you noted. It's just that those reasons don't include a very important item of character, and this is my point -- that any one characteristic is not likely to be relevant; it's only the whole package which is important.


Now we're talking "sexual improprieites," eh?


You had used the word "promiscuity", and I re-phrased it. I don't think the change is important to the point.


Without research, I can tell you emphatically that Jefferson, Jackson, Clevland, Wilson, and Reagan never engaged in adultery, or lied about it.


Most historians would disagree with you about Jefferson, Jackson and Wilson. Jefferson admitted attempting to seduce the wife of one of his friends (John Walker), and is generally thought to have had an affair with Maria Cosway (who was married). Jackson's wife, Rachel, was married at the time they eloped. Most historians believe Wilson began a relationship with his second wife while his first was dying.

AFAIK, you're right about Cleveland and Reagan. I only included them because I was examing the broader issue (see above).


Bush 1, Mark? What about Jennifer Fitzgerald, who is reported to have served Papa Bush in a variety of positions?


I don't think the evidence for that is solid enough.
8.9.2008 9:26pm
MarkField (mail):

BTW, I never argued, nor do I believe, that marital fidelity is the only, or even the most important, virtue a political candidate can have. It is one. See what I wrote above.


I agree that you didn't say that.
8.9.2008 9:28pm
A. N. Moose:
jukeboxgrad,
I think you have it backwards. There is only one party that presents itself as the champion of 'moral values,' while also harboring more than its share of toe-tappers and heiress-chasers.
I thought someone would say that. Except that the hypocrisy angle fits if and only if the Left thinks lying about infidelity is appropriate. Evidently you think it is, because you indicate that the Left is treating these issues consistently.
8.9.2008 9:57pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
durdge also has the cnn order.
8.9.2008 11:01pm
Smokey:
Hoosier:
I wish there were better sources to go to for background on this. I'm open to any suggestions.
Well, here's one: click.

Oops. Sorry. I forgot that this entire thread is about the left's desperate attempt to hang something nasty on John McCain, in order to prop up their America-hating HE-RO.

Sorry I got confused about the purpose of the thread. John Edwards is A-OK, he didn't lie, he just fibbed, and his wife has made an absolutely miracle recovery from her "cancer." It's all good.

Carry on.
8.9.2008 11:12pm
frankcross (mail):
Not that I think it is important, but I think Reagan engaged in adultery. He is reported to have slept with Jane Wyman when she was married and may have slept with Nancy Davis while he was married to Jane Wyman. Be careful about being so emphatic.
8.9.2008 11:58pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
martya:

There is the issue of Larry Sinclair, for example.


Since you're impressed with Sinclair, I'm surprised you didn't mention Obama's gay sex with Rev. Wright.
8.10.2008 12:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ace:

Saddam didn't receive assistance from Reagan or Rumsfeld.

Allegations are not fact.


Your mastery of this subject is roughly equal to your mastery of McCain's bio. Reagan and Rumsfeld did indeed help Saddam obtain cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is), right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians.

The claims in that WaPo article are supported by official documents that can be found in various places. For example, the claim about cluster bombs is supported by a sworn affadavit (pdf, text) from a member of Reagan's National Security Council.

Take a close look. Maybe you can spot a problem with the kerning.
8.10.2008 12:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

… Ross Perot has the foggiest idea what John McCain was thinking when he split up with his wife


No one but McCain knows what McCain was really thinking. And maybe even he doesn't know. But Perot expressed an opinion:

McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory … After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.


There is reason to believe that Perot knows McCain better than you do. So if you have an opinion contrary to Perot's, you should tell us what it's based on.

Carol McCain … says otherwise.


Carol is an heroic person who is highly motivated to avoid saying anything bad about the father of her children. Especially since one of her children is working for Cindy's beer company. A nice explanation of why Carol refuses to criticize McCain is here.
8.10.2008 12:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dcp:

McCain is obviously a member of the adulterers club and everyone knows it.


There's some evidence in this thread that not "everyone knows it." Here's another indication: very few news articles even mention it. One major counterexample is this. Let us know if you've seen any other US papers mention it. Those mentions are rare or non-existent.

I think most people don't know he's "a member of the adulterers club." I think most people also don't know he's a member of the liar's club, since he lied about the affair in his book. I think most people also don't know he's a borderline polygamist, since he took out a marriage license for Cindy while still married to Carol. But at least we've seen lots of clips of Rev. Wright!
8.10.2008 12:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moose:

Except that the hypocrisy angle fits if and only if the Left thinks lying about infidelity is appropriate


I wish I understood what your point is. I also wish you would tell us which "left blogs" have "championed … philandery [sic]."
8.10.2008 12:00am
MarkField (mail):

Not that I think it is important, but I think Reagan engaged in adultery. He is reported to have slept with Jane Wyman when she was married and may have slept with Nancy Davis while he was married to Jane Wyman. Be careful about being so emphatic.


That's my memory too, but I wasn't sure enough about it.
8.10.2008 12:18am
pluribus:
7)frankcross:

Not that I think it is important, but I think Reagan engaged in adultery. He is reported to have slept with Jane Wyman when she was married and may have slept with Nancy Davis while he was married to Jane Wyman. Be careful about being so emphatic.

I will be less emphatic when you back up what you "think." Wyman divorced Reagan, to his distress. Thereafter he met Nancy Davis. Their first child was born less than nine months after their marriage. So? This is evidence of adultery? Please be more specific, and I will be less emphatic. And why would you make a totally unsupported post like this if you don't think it "important"?
8.10.2008 12:22am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pluribus:

This is evidence of adultery?


There's no video or DNA proof, but this article makes some interesting statements about Reagan.
8.10.2008 12:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moose:

this is officially None Of Our Business


The blogger you quoted has not "championed … philandery [sic]." They have expressed a reasonable opinion that several posters here have expressed: it's none of our business.

Let us know if you can actually substantiate your assertion that "left blogs" have "championed … philandery [sic]."
8.10.2008 12:52am
Dave N (mail):
Jukeboxgrad,

Your source regarding Ronald Reagan possibly commityomh is someone I have never heard of on a site I had never seen before (but whose biases are evident through its moveon.org advertising)--and he quotes Kitty Kelly (a dubious source at best) who provides no names or sources.

But, hey, this is typical of your trolling.
8.10.2008 1:21am
Dave N (mail):
Typo alert: "commityomh" (I have no idea where that came from) should be "committing adultar". The post should read:

Jukeboxgrad,

Your source regarding Ronald Reagan possibly committing adultary is someone I have never heard of on a site I had never seen before (but whose biases are evident through its moveon.org advertising)--and he quotes Kitty Kelly (a dubious source at best) who provides no names or sources.

But, hey, this is typical of your trolling.
8.10.2008 1:23am
John Herbison (mail):
Well, is the schtick now that John McCain did not have an affair, even though in his autobiography he acknowledged numerous infidelities during his marriage to Carol McCain? Damn if the Republicans aren't shameless.

Carol McCain has said little about her marriage, but she is quoted in the June 8, 2008 edition of London's Daily Mail:

Carol insists she remains on good terms with her ex-husband, who agreed as part of their divorce settlement to pay her medical costs for life. "I have no bitterness,"

she says. "My accident is well recorded. I had 23 operations" I am five inches shorter than I used to be and I was in hospital for six months. It was just awful, but it wasn’t the reason for my divorce.

"My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens...it just does."


Nookie happens. What a pity that Bill Clinton didn't adopt that phrase from the get-go.
8.10.2008 1:38am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Jackson's wife, Rachel, was married at the time they eloped.
But they didn't know that, so it can hardly reflect on their morals.
8.10.2008 2:39am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Your mastery of this subject is roughly equal to your mastery of McCain's bio. Reagan and Rumsfeld did indeed help Saddam obtain cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is), right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians.
That ranges from false to dishonest, with a mixture of lies thrown in there. Rumsfeld once shook Hussein's hand. That's the entire indictment of him. (Kind of like how Obama wants to shake Ahmadinejad's hand.) He was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort.

The rest is your usual ripping comments out of context and completely distorting them. One guy claims, with no supporting evidence, that the CIA helped Saddam Hussein obtain cluster bombs. So you turn that into "Reagan and Rumsfeld" did something. (You might note that in fact the U.S. charged Cardoen with illegally exporting to Iraq, an odd thing to do if it was authorized.) As for "helping Saddam obtain anthrax, bubonic plague," that's dishonest. Samples were shipped _for medical research_, at a time when there were essentially no controls on such materials for such a purpose. (No controls were put in place until the mid-1990s, when Larry Wayne Harris, a white supremacist, was found to have been shipped bubonic plague simply by placing an order for it.) Pesticides are perfectly legitimate civilian materials. It turns out Reagan also paid for food to be shipped to Iraq, some of which presumably fed the Iraqi army. Care to make something of that, too?
8.10.2008 3:24am
David M. Nieporent (www):
No one but McCain knows what McCain was really thinking. And maybe even he doesn't know. But Perot expressed an opinion:

McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory … After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.

There is reason to believe that Perot knows McCain better than you do. So if you have an opinion contrary to Perot's, you should tell us what it's based on.
I have, multiple times: Carol McCain says so. She's in a much better position to know than Ross Perot, who, contrary to your portrayal, is not some close friend of McCain's -- he paid for Carol's surgery because he supported POW families -- and who, contrary to your portrayal of him as some disinterested observer, actually has a political grudge against McCain because Perot's been a supporter of the nutty wing of the POW/MIA movement, which thinks McCain betrayed them.

A nice explanation of why Carol refuses to criticize McCain is here.
More dishonesty. That's not an "explanation of why Carol" does or refuses to do anything. It's a hypothetical explanation of why a hypothetical woman who was cheated on might hypothetically not criticize her ex-husband.

A just-as-hypothetical explanation, but which would unfortunately for you not quite have the ring of partisan hackery that all your posts have, is that after 15 years of marriage, 6 years of which McCain had spent in a Vietnamese prison enduring mistreatment and torture, they had grown apart. Occam's razor and all that. Rather than inventing your Bush-knocked-down-the-WTC-style conspiracy theories about McCain, the simplest explanation is usually the best.
8.10.2008 3:53am
whit:

jukeboxgrad: Edwards, as far as I know, has never been a “sanctity of marriage” wanker, and so this is officially None Of Our Business, and anyone who dogged him on this story should be fired on the principle that they don’t know journalism from rooting around in the trash. Hypocrisy is a story; human weakness is not.



as "far as you know" doesn't get you very far.

1) edwards doesn't support gay marriage and has used his faith to justify that. how is that NOT sanctity of marriage
2) edwards repeatedly lambasted clinton for adultery (and the quotes have been posted ad nauseum)

so, in brief, your post is entirely uninformed, incorrect, and draws bogus conclusions.

note that edward did not just commit adultery. he repeatedly LIED about it, as a presidential candidate. his campaign was also PAYING the woman MONEY.
8.10.2008 5:40am
davod (mail):
"UPDATE #2: I suppose I should make it clear that I'm not claiming that Fox is generally less superficial than CNN or MSNBC, merely that they chose the right order of priorities in this particular instance."

Stop squirming. Get some backbone man.
8.10.2008 10:11am
davod (mail):
"The Volokh Conspiracy posted information on the Edwards affair well before the Russia/Georgia conflict"

That's because Edward's and his wife are lawyers. Ambulance chasers, but lawyers non-the-less.
8.10.2008 10:14am
davod (mail):
The timing of the push by the MSM is important, as is why the Enquirer stayed on the story. Roger Altman a major Clinton backer is a key owner of the Enquirer.

What better way to keep Edwaeds away from the VP slot, and to keep any McCain news off the front page until The One gets back from Hawaii.
8.10.2008 10:30am
observer:
jukeboxgrad:

Give up. Your partisan hackery is tiresome in the extreme, and ably dissected by David M. Nieporent. I've never seen someone so persistent, stubborn, and patently dishonest even when it's obvious that he's mistaken. The type of person who never yields, and never admits he's wrong, for to do so would yield a political 'point' to the 'enemy.' Pitiful really.

It doesn't hurt to admit you're wrong once in a while. But you won't. That says it all.
8.10.2008 11:10am
observer:
For example, in the case of Carol McCain, you jump through hoops to invent an alternative hypothetical explanation of why her own explanation that contradicts yours is wrong. And then on top of that you also claim that a third party's theory of what really happened is the 'true' account, and that Carol McCain's own account is false.

Nieporent hit the nail on the head. Only a shill jumps through so many hoops for his preferred presidential candidate.
8.10.2008 11:15am
elim:
no matter how many times the talking point is exposed as a lie, the people like jbg will continue the "we armed SH with 'fill in the blank'". it is a mindless mantra, much like bush lied, people died. even when one sees charts showing who actually supplied him with the majority of his armaments (and it wasn't us), the refrain never changes.
8.10.2008 11:28am
elim:
why go to great lengths to conceal it-because it is crass and piggish conduct. adulterers should feel shame because it is shameful conduct, none of which means they are not capable of being a president. just as in any workplace, people deal with others having affairs just so long as they don't make fools of themselves.
8.10.2008 11:32am
elim:
family man? seems like he has a group of fine children with a couple following his path into the services. he has kids in Iraq-can he avoid the chickenhawk label with that? by the way, jbg, why haven't you recycled the Bush/black love child stuff from earlier elections-it doesn't seem like it would be too low for you.
8.10.2008 11:35am
MarkField (mail):

But they didn't know that, so it can hardly reflect on their morals.


That's what they used to say. I'm relying on David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed, p. 669 (paper). His footnote is to Remini, Vol. 1, pp. 40-58. Under this version, Jackson chased off Rachel's husband with a knife and she left with Jackson on the claim that she'd been abandoned. In fairness, there are many versions of what happened, but I figure I can rely on Fischer (I can't get to my copy of Remini at the moment).
8.10.2008 11:40am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave n:

whose biases are evident through its moveon.org advertising


Gosh, that's funny. You claim it's OK to reject a source because you don't like the ads they accept. Meanwhile, you have no problem presenting a source who has a track record as a proven liar (see here). And you were relying on that source to defend another commenter who was citing yet another disreputable right-wing source (see here). Heckuva job! And please note that in my proof that Brent Bozell and John Hawkins are disreputable, I did not need to stoop to criticizing the ads they accept.
8.10.2008 11:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

Rumsfeld once shook Hussein's hand. … He was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort.


Rumsfeld was Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East. In that capacity, Rumsfeld met with Saddam on 12/20/83. When I look at that photo, I don't see someone acting simply as "a private citizen." I see a private citizen who is serving as a special presidential envoy.

That's the entire indictment of him.


You're claiming there was nothing other than the handshake. Wrong. Rumsfeld visited Iraq multiple times, and had an important role in US-Iraq relations (some details here and here). It's not clear that he set policy, but he was at least carrying messages between Reagan and Saddam.

Kind of like how Obama wants to shake Ahmadinejad's hand.


Let us know when Obama provides Ahmadinejad with cluster bombs, anthrax and bubonic plague. Then your comparison might be something other than asinine.

One guy claims, with no supporting evidence, that the CIA helped Saddam Hussein obtain cluster bombs


The "guy" happens to be someone who served on Reagan's National Security Council, for five years. And it's not just something he "claims." It's testimony he gave in the form of a sworn affadavit. And there is indeed "supporting evidence." He refers to minutes of meetings where these decisions were made, as well as other official documents.

You might note that in fact the U.S. charged Cardoen with illegally exporting to Iraq, an odd thing to do if it was authorized.


Gosh, you're funny. Yes, Cardoen was finally indicted in 1993, by Clinton. And it was only subsequent to this that we learned how Reagan helped Cardoen commit his crimes:

Under CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq.  My NSC files will contain documents that show or tend to show the CIA's authorization, approval and assistance of Cardoen's manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other muntions to Iraq.


Yes, it would indeed have been "an odd thing to do" for Reagan to indict Cardoen for crimes Reagan helped Cardoen commit.

Samples were shipped _for medical research_


That's very impressive. You're making excuses for the anthrax and bubonic plague that Reagan helped Saddam obtain. This was done at the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians. What a shame that Reagan wasn't clever enough to realize that someone willing to gas civilians might attempt to use anthrax and bubonic plague for something other than "medical research."

Pesticides are perfectly legitimate civilian materials


These weren't ordinary pesticides:

In December 1988, Dow Chemical sold $1.5 million of pesticides to Iraq, despite U.S. government concerns that they could be used as chemical warfare agents. An Export-Import Bank official reported in a memorandum that he could find "no reason" to stop the sale, despite evidence that the pesticides were "highly toxic" to humans and would cause death "from asphyxiation."


Recall this was after it was well-known that Saddam had been gassing civilians.

It turns out Reagan also paid for food to be shipped to Iraq, some of which presumably fed the Iraqi army. Care to make something of that, too?


No, because food isn't used to kill people. However, I haven't mentioned the helicopters we sold him. Saddam used helicopters as part of his poison gas attacks.

Saddam got lots of help from us. We were helping a war criminal, but that was OK, because he was our war criminal.
8.10.2008 11:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

after 15 years of marriage, 6 years of which McCain had spent in a Vietnamese prison enduring mistreatment and torture, they had grown apart


Naturally. And Carol's 23 operations, and her limp, and her added weight, and the loss of five inches in height had nothing to do with it. It's just a complete coincidence that when the former swimwear model didn't look like one anymore, McCain dumped her for someone who was 24, beautiful, and rich.

Anyway, for someone who keeps touting Carol as the best source on this subject, it's really funny how you've ditched her explanation and substituted your own. She didn't say the divorce happened because "they had grown apart." She said this:

My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25.


Not the same thing. And not exactly a compliment. We don't need another president who had a lot of trouble growing up.

By the way, McCain is not being criticized just for divorcing Carol. It's also the way he did it: by cheating. And then lying about it.
8.10.2008 11:43am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
whit:

as "far as you know" doesn't get you very far


Please read more carefully. You seem to be under the impression that I wrote something I didn't write. You misunderstood the way moose formatted one of his posts.
8.10.2008 11:43am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
observer:

patently dishonest


Proof, please.

in the case of Carol McCain, you jump through hoops to invent an alternative hypothetical explanation of why her own explanation that contradicts yours is wrong


Please pay no attention to the fact that nieporent invented "an alternative hypothetical explanation" ("they had grown apart") that is different from the explanation offered by Carol.

And understanding the dynamics of a 42-year old man dumping his ill wife for someone 18 years younger does not require anyone to "jump through hoops." One has to "jump through hoops" to avoid acknowledging the obvious circumstances.

you also claim that a third party's theory of what really happened is the 'true' account


It wouldn't be the first time that an observer described a relationship more objectively than the people in it.

and that Carol McCain's own account is false


When Carol says that McCain "wanted to be 25," that doesn't strike me as false. In fact, that statement on her part is highly congruent with what Ross Perot said.
8.10.2008 11:43am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elim:

no matter how many times the talking point is exposed as a lie


Please try to keep up. nieporent acknowledged that we provided anthrax and bubonic plague (but it was only for "research," so it was OK). And no one denies that we sold Saddam helicopters, and no one denies that helicopters were used to gas civilians. And the proof regarding the cluster bombs is in the form of sworn testimony from a credible witness. So let us know what you've "exposed as a lie."

even when one sees charts showing who actually supplied him with the majority of his armaments


It's true that he bought lots of weapons elsewhere. That doesn't change the fact of what he got from us.

By the way, the chart you're probably thinking of is from SIPRI. Trouble is, they do not even attempt to track sales of unconventional weapons. Also, they only track sales that are reported publicly. But I've seen people like you refer to their charts as 'proof' that we didn't sell Saddam the things we sold him (which were unconventional weapons, and which were sold secretly; aside from the choppers).
8.10.2008 11:43am
Dave N (mail):
Jukeboxgrad,

Your disingenuousness is pathetic. On the other thread, you demand I provide first-hand proof for a quote Robert Altman made--yet on this one you rely on what, is best triple hearsay with respect to whether Reagan committed adultary (someone told Kelly, who put it in a book and it was then referenced by a left-wing blog). By the way, on the other thread, regardless what Bozell may have said on a different topic, the mediaresarch.org link itself provided the quote and a link to the Times of London. That the Times of London's link is now dead does not make it inaccurate--except in your feverish defense of all things Democrat.
8.10.2008 11:56am
elim:
ie. no proof on the cluster bomb angle. jbg-you spout talking points, not facts. we sold helicopters-and that matters how, exactly? if we had sold him cars which were later used as carbombs, would that be your next talking point? the simple fact is this-you would not hesitate to spout any rant to support your BDS. when will you start the McCain love child stuff.
8.10.2008 11:59am
pluribus:
I wrote:

The relevant question is whether he, like Edwards, is lying about the rumors. That is not an irrelevant question when asked of a presidential candidate.

neurodoc answered:

I think it is or should be an irrelevant question. It is in these matters that our national policy, unenforceable of course, should be "don't ask, don't tell," and then there would be no need to lie.


David Bonior, Edewards's campaign manager, doesn't agree.
Here's what he says:

"Thousands of friends of the senators and his supporters have put their faith and confidence in him and he's let him down," said Bonior, a former congressman from Michigan. "They've been betrayed by his action."

Asked whether the affair would damage Edwards' future aspirations in public service, Bonior replied: "You can't lie in politics and expect to have people's confidence."
8.10.2008 12:23pm
deepthought:
FWIW, Chris Wallace led the reporter's roundtable with Edwards (and a Nightline clip) on Fox News Sunday, followed by a general politics disussion and the Olympics, didn't get to Russia/Georgia until the fourth story.

Also, while CNN's and MSNBC's priorities are not those of news junkies, they are, I'm sure, the priorities of the American people. If you went down the street and told people that Russia attacked Georgia, they would ask if Atlanta had fallen.
8.10.2008 12:49pm
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks, Jukebox, for all the information. However, you are barking up the wrong tree. To the people here, republicans can do no wrong, and dems can do no right. No amount of evidence will change their position.

Regarding the Reagan's administration's help for Saddam in the 80s: Sheesh -- it was well known that we were helping him out at the time. Iran was our official enemy, what with the recent revolution in 79, all that "Death to America" shouting, the threat to us because of Khomeini always calling us the 'foreign devil" and whatnot. Throughout the 80s, Iran was considered our biggest enemy and threat to our safety. And even back then, Iran and Iraq were major oil producers.

Then Iran went to war with Iraq, and we saw this as an opportunity to help defeat Iran. If Iran won that war, then they would have gotten stronger, and who knows where their ambition would drive them to next: Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Israel? This war was far too important for Papa Ronnie to just sit on the sidelines and do nothing. But apparently, that's exactly what everyone here thinks -- that Ronald Reagan didn't lift a finger to help defeat our biggest threat in the middle east, and that he was willing to jeapardize one of the largest sources of oil by doing nothing. That's a pretty searing indictment of a republican president!

So OF COURSE we armed and helped Saddam. We provided "military advisors" throughout the war. We knew he was a bastard, but we also knew that Iran had worse bastards. Better our bastard wins that war than the other ones.

So okay -- then I guess you have to admit Reagan was a complete idiot and incompetent who just didn't think the war between Iran and Iraq was of any consequence to the US.
8.10.2008 1:01pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave:

what, is best triple hearsay with respect to whether Reagan committed adultary


I'm not presenting this as proof of Reagan's adultery. The nature of the thing is that it's hard to prove. I just said the article was "interesting." That's obviously an opinion. If you have a different opinion, good for you.

regardless what Bozell may have said on a different topic


You challenged me to prove he's a liar. I did so. What he said "on a different topic" is relevant, because I don't trust a proven liar to cite honestly (and I also don't trust a commenter who cites a proven liar). Therefore I need to see the primary source.

That the Times of London's link is now dead does not make it inaccurate


It's not Bozell's fault that the Times link is dead. But it's his fault that he's a liar, which means I don't trust his indirect citing of the article.

By the way, Times of London has been a Murdoch rag since 1981. So I take their work with a big grain of salt, too.
8.10.2008 1:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elim:

no proof on the cluster bomb angle


I wonder what you would call 'proof.' Video of Ronnie personally handing a cluster bomb to Saddam? You would probably claim it was a cake Nancy baked for Saddam's birthday.

You're claiming that Teicher lied under oath. Do you have any evidence to support that claim? I doubt it. I also don't think you're going to try to explain why Reagan would keep a dishonest person on his National Security Council for five years.

if we had sold him cars which were later used as carbombs, would that be your next talking point


Yes, doing business with a war criminal is wrong, even if all you're selling him are cars. Aside from that, selling the cars would indeed be wrong if we had reason to think they would later be "used as carbombs." We sold Saddam dozens of helicopters right around the time he was using chemical weapons. He later used helicopters to gas civilians. We had no reason to be surprised about this. Why is this OK with you?

By the way, maybe you think no one will notice you're backpedaling. Earlier you said this:

no matter how many times the talking point is exposed as a lie


Where exactly did you show proof of "a lie?" You're free to believe that Teicher is a liar, but where did you prove it?
8.10.2008 1:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
randy:

If Iran won that war, then they would have gotten stronger


Yes, that was the thinking at the time. But in the long run, Iran has "won that war," and has indeed "gotten stronger." We did them a huge favor and got rid of their biggest enemy. Something they could not accomplish on their own. Now Iraq is in the hands of Iran's friends. Heckuva job, Dubya.

And of course it's only a matter of time before Maliki shows his true colors (he has a history of supporting suicide terrorism against Americans), and then the GOP will tell us it's time to do to him what we eventually did to Saddam.

None of this makes any sense whatsoever until you start paying attention to who profits. Then it makes all the sense in the world. Business is good. Mission accomplished.
8.10.2008 1:45pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Rumsfeld was Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East. In that capacity, Rumsfeld met with Saddam on 12/20/83. When I look at that photo, I don't see someone acting simply as "a private citizen." I see a private citizen who is serving as a special presidential envoy.
Yes. He was a private citizen -- which was precisely why he could go, since we didn't have diplomatic relations with Iraq -- and hence did not make policy. He carried messages. In other words, your claim that he "helped Saddam" do anything is incorrect.
You're claiming there was nothing other than the handshake. Wrong. Rumsfeld visited Iraq multiple times, and had an important role in US-Iraq relations (some details here and here). It's not clear that he set policy, but he was at least carrying messages between Reagan and Saddam.
It's clear that he did not set policy, but instead carried messages. Which is entirely different than your phony accusation of him, neither of which is supported by either link -- whereas the claim that there was nothing other than the handshake is exactly what those links say. You have some weird idea that if you simply link to random things, nobody will check to see whether those links provide support for your claims.

The "guy" happens to be someone who served on Reagan's National Security Council, for five years.
And who was disgruntled after having been canned from that role.
And it's not just something he "claims." It's testimony he gave in the form of a sworn affadavit. And there is indeed "supporting evidence." He refers to minutes of meetings where these decisions were made, as well as other official documents.
Well, no. Claiming that one has supporting evidence that "would" be in his files is not actual supporting evidence; the actual alleged documents would be. But he doesn't even claim that "Reagan and Rumsfeld" did anything; he claims that the CIA did.


That's very impressive. You're making excuses for the anthrax and bubonic plague that Reagan helped Saddam obtain. This was done at the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians. What a shame that Reagan wasn't clever enough to realize that someone willing to gas civilians might attempt to use anthrax and bubonic plague for something other than "medical research."
Why would Reagan be involved in the matter at all? As I said, there were no controls on the substances at the time; all you had to do was call up the CDC's supplier and say you wanted them for medical research, and they were supplied, no questions asked. The law wasn't changed until a decade later.

These weren't ordinary pesticides:
Yes, they were, and once again, you link to something as though it supported your point when it doesn't.
No, because food isn't used to kill people.
It's used to feed the soldiers who do. Kind of like the helicopters are used to transport the soldiers who do. We sold them trucks, too; you forgot to mention that. Do you not understand the concept of "dual use" goods? The left-wing indictment of U.S. sanctions policy towards Iraq in the 1990s was based on the same deliberate or inadvertent misunderstanding, though from the opposite direction: claiming our sanctions were leading to Iraqi deaths because we were preventing Iraq from obtaining needed supplies because of their potential military applications. (Do you understand that feeding a modern-sized population requires pesticides?)


(By the way, if someone is going to rant, as you do in your posts above, about unreliable sources, then linking to CommonDreams is not exactly a non-hypocritical thing to do. True, one of the CommonDreams links is simply a copyright infringement of the Washington Post's story, but one is a story originally published by CommonDreams.)
8.10.2008 2:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Naturally. And Carol's 23 operations, and her limp, and her added weight, and the loss of five inches in height had nothing to do with it.
Not according to her, no.
It's just a complete coincidence that when the former swimwear model didn't look like one anymore, McCain dumped her for someone who was 24, beautiful, and rich.
Well, when you say "when," you actually don't mean "when," but actually "eleven years afterwards," but why stop lying about that?

Of course, maybe once McCain saw Carol and decided he no longer wanted to be married to her, he then shrewdly waited 7 years to divorce her to cover up for the fact that he didn't like the way she looked. But no non-partisan hack would think that.

Anyway, for someone who keeps touting Carol as the best source on this subject, it's really funny how you've ditched her explanation and substituted your own. She didn't say the divorce happened because "they had grown apart."
That manages to be a lie in two respects. First, it claims that I "substituted my own," when in fact what I actually said was that it was a just-as-hypothetical explanation. Second, it pretends that what I said is incompatible with what she said, when it isn't. (It's funny, but you always interpret everything hyperliterally -- EXCEPT for when you claim that McCain divorced his wife when she was in an accident, when suddenly you're willing to elide the years and years between the injuries and the divorce.) One day, when you're old enough to date, you'll learn that people do grow apart, for many reasons -- such as that the guy goes through a midlife crisis and decides he wants to be 25 rather than 40. While I definitely don't approve of that, it's understandable that someone who actually spent most of his 30s being tortured in captivity might want a "do over." If Carol doesn't hold a grudge, I'm certainly not going to, 30 years later.
8.10.2008 2:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

he [Rumsfeld] did not set policy, but instead carried messages


You seem to be pointing out that it was Reagan, not Rumsfeld, who set the policy of helping Saddam. Rumsfeld just helped carry it out. He was just following orders! OK, then it was all Reagan's fault. Fine with me.

Which is entirely different than your phony accusation of him


No, Rumsfeld helping Reagan help Saddam is not "entirely different" than Rumsfeld helping Saddam. It's a minor variation. Nice job trying to split that hair, though.

the claim that there was nothing other than the handshake is exactly what those links say


Sure. Until you actually read them, and then your lying eyes see words like these:

Declassified documents show that Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons on an "almost daily" basis in defiance of international conventions. …

Secret talking points prepared for the first Rumsfeld visit to Baghdad enshrined some of the language from NSDD 114, including the statement that the United States would regard "any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a strategic defeat for the West." When Rumsfeld finally met with Hussein on Dec. 20, he told the Iraqi leader that Washington was ready for a resumption of full diplomatic relations, according to a State Department report of the conversation. Iraqi leaders later described themselves as "extremely pleased" with the Rumsfeld visit, which had "elevated U.S.-Iraqi relations to a new level."

… documents show that his visits to Baghdad led to closer U.S.-Iraqi cooperation on a wide variety of fronts. Washington was willing to resume diplomatic relations immediately, but Hussein insisted on delaying such a step until the following year.


And like these:

With the Iran-Iraq war escalating, President Ronald Reagan dispatched his Middle East envoy, a former secretary of defense, to Baghdad with a hand-written letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and a message that Washington was willing at any moment to resume diplomatic relations. That envoy was Donald Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld’s December 19-20, 1983 visit to Baghdad made him the highest-ranking US official to visit Iraq in 6 years. He met Saddam and the two discussed “topics of mutual interest,” according to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. “[Saddam] made it clear that Iraq was not interested in making mischief in the world,” Rumsfeld later told The New York Times. “It struck us as useful to have a relationship, given that we were interested in solving the Mideast problems.”

Just 12 days after the meeting, on January 1, 1984, The Washington Post reported that the United States “in a shift in policy, has informed friendly Persian Gulf nations that the defeat of Iraq in the 3-year-old war with Iran would be ‘contrary to U.S. interests’ and has made several moves to prevent that result.”

In March of 1984, with the Iran-Iraq war growing more brutal by the day, Rumsfeld was back in Baghdad for meetings with then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. On the day of his visit, March 24th, UPI reported from the United Nations: “Mustard gas laced with a nerve agent has been used on Iranian soldiers in the 43-month Persian Gulf War between Iran and Iraq, a team of U.N. experts has concluded... Meanwhile, in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, U.S. presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld held talks with Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz (sic) on the Gulf war before leaving for an unspecified destination.”

The day before, the Iranian news agency alleged that Iraq launched another chemical weapons assault on the southern battlefront, injuring 600 Iranian soldiers. “Chemical weapons in the form of aerial bombs have been used in the areas inspected in Iran by the specialists,” the U.N. report said. “The types of chemical agents used were bis-(2-chlorethyl)-sulfide, also known as mustard gas, and ethyl N, N-dimethylphosphoroamidocyanidate, a nerve agent known as Tabun.”

Prior to the release of the UN report, the US State Department on March 5th had issued a statement saying “available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons.”

Commenting on the UN report, US Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “We think that the use of chemical weapons is a very serious matter. We've made that clear in general and particular.” …

Most glaring is that Donald Rumsfeld was in Iraq as the 1984 UN report was issued and said nothing about the allegations of chemical weapons use, despite State Department “evidence.” On the contrary, The New York Times reported from Baghdad on March 29, 1984, “American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name.”

A month and a half later, in May 1984, Donald Rumsfeld resigned. In November of that year, full diplomatic relations between Iraq and the US were fully restored. Two years later, in an article about Rumsfeld’s aspirations to run for the 1988 Republican Presidential nomination, the Chicago Tribune Magazine listed among Rumsfeld’s achievements helping to “reopen U.S. relations with Iraq.” The Tribune failed to mention that this help came at a time when, according to the US State Department, Iraq was actively using chemical weapons.

Throughout the period that Rumsfeld was Reagan’s Middle East envoy, Iraq was frantically purchasing hardware from American firms, empowered by the White House to sell. The buying frenzy began immediately after Iraq was removed from the list of alleged sponsors of terrorism in 1982. …

…Extensive research uncovered no public statements by Donald Rumsfeld publicly expressing even remote concern about Iraq’s use or possession of chemical weapons until the week Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, when he appeared on an ABC news special.


Yes, according to these links there was "nothing other than the handshake." Provided you ignore these passages I just cited.

[Teicher] was disgruntled after having been canned from that role.


Let the swiftboating begin. It's true that Teicher was not happy with the way Reagan treated him. Some interesting details about that are here. But Teicher stopped working for Reagan in 1987. If he was disgruntled enough to lie under oath, why did he keep these secrets until 1995? That makes no sense. He only spoke when he had to, because he was deposed. If Teicher was truly the dishonest, disgruntled person you claim he is, he would not have kept these secrets for eight years.

It also makes no sense that Teicher would refer extensively to government documents (like meetings of minutes), if he was lying. Those documents are in the Reagan library. It is not plausible that he would invite the risk of someone presenting those documents, and proving that he lied about what they said.

he doesn't even claim that "Reagan and Rumsfeld" did anything; he claims that the CIA did


Welcome to nieporent-world, where the CIA is an autonomous, sovereign entity that doesn't ultimately report to POTUS. Aside from that, Teicher indeed talks about Reagan's personal role in issuing a National Security Decision Directive formalizing our support for Saddam. And he talks about how he traveled to Baghdad with Rumsfeld.

there were no controls on the substances at the time; all you had to do was call up the CDC's supplier and say you wanted them for medical research, and they were supplied, no questions asked


Wrong. The biological materials we sent Saddam were licensed by the Commerce Dept:

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs has oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act. Pursuant to the Act, Committee staff contacted the U.S. Department of Commerce and requested information on the export of biological materials during the years prior to the Gulf War. After receiving this information, we contacted a principal supplier of these materials to determine what, if any, materials were exported to Iraq which might have contributed to an offensive or defensive biological warfare program. Records available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning "disease producing"), toxigenic (meaning "poisonous"), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Please prove your assertion that "there were no controls on the substances at the time."

Yes, they were, and once again, you link to something as though it supported your point when it doesn't.


You're pursuing your usual strategy of denying plain facts even when they've been put right under your nose. I cited a source which indicated that the pesticides were "highly toxic" to humans and would cause death "from asphyxiation." Does that fit your concept of "ordinary" pesticides?

Do you not understand the concept of "dual use" goods?


That's funny. When Saddam was our pal, "dual use" meant 'we're sure he's going to use this stuff benignly.' And then when he wasn't our pal anymore, "dual use" meant 'we're sure he's not going to use this stuff benignly.' Makes perfect sense.

Do you understand that feeding a modern-sized population requires pesticides?


Yes, and I'm sure the cluster bombs, anthrax and bubonic plague were also there to make sure no one starved.

if someone is going to rant, as you do in your posts above, about unreliable sources


I rant about unreliable sources when I'm in a position to prove they're unreliable. And I did so (regarding Hawkins and Bozell). So please show your proof that commondreams is unreliable. In particular, please show your proof that any of the claims here are false.

For more on how Rumsfeld helped Saddam, see what Bob Novak wrote in townhall.com on 9/26/02.
8.10.2008 4:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

actually "eleven years afterwards"


McCain started his affair with Cindy six years after he learned about the accident, not eleven years. And there were apparently earlier affairs. But don't let that stop you from pretending that McCain stood by the invalid for eleven years.

you're willing to elide the years and years between the injuries and the divorce


The eliding is all yours, because you repeatedly elide the fact that McCain didn't even know about the accident until four years later.

Of course, maybe once McCain saw Carol and decided he no longer wanted to be married to her, he then shrewdly waited 7 years to divorce her to cover up for the fact that he didn't like the way she looked


It actually was quite shrewd to not do it immediately, because that would have been even more stunningly transparent. As it is, their friends (like the Reagans) were enraged. And it makes perfect sense that an opportunist like McCain would bide his time until a very special package comes along. Like Cindy.
8.10.2008 4:35pm
Toby:
I’m waiting, with bated breath, for the partisans who have alleged repeatedly above that the US shipped every major weapons grade disease and every poison gas precursor we could to Iraq, to apply this knowledge to the equally partisan topic of whether there was reason to believe there were WMDs in that country.

Because it seems that someone who “knows” the former would concede the latter, if they were intellectually honest.
8.10.2008 5:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
toby:

whether there was reason to believe there were WMDs in that country


1984 is not 2002. Maybe you don't realize that some important events happened during those 18 years. He had some WMD, and then he didn't. This is reflected in statements made by Powell, Rice and Cheney.

Powell said this (2/24/01): "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

On 5/15/01, Powell said that Saddam had not been able to “build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction” for “the last 10 years.” Powell said we had succeeded in keeping Saddam “in a box.”

And Rice said this (7/29/01): “But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let’s remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”

And even Cheney said essentially the same thing, in a moment of uncharacteristic honesty: "the focus is over here on al-Qaida and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point."

All this was forgotten about a year later, when the time came to sell the war. There was some reason to think that he might still have some WMD, but the threat was greatly exaggerated.

It seems that someone who “knows” the former would concede the latter, if they were intellectually honest


It seems that someone who was intellectually honest would not pretend that nothing happened between 1984 and 2002.
8.10.2008 5:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
the claim that there was nothing other than the handshake is exactly what those links say

Sure. Until you actually read them, and then your lying eyes see words like these:
Exactly what I said, partisanhack. Whatever the U.S. policy was towards Iraq has nothing to do with what Rumsfeld did. Rumsfeld carried messages. Whatever NSDD 114 says has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Rumsfeld was an (unofficial) ambassador. He didn't issue NSDD 114. He's not responsible for determining the content of the messages he's delivering. Seriously, are you incapable of understanding this point? Rumsfeld sent the message that the U.S. was willing to reinstate diplomatic relations. He did not make the decision that the U.S. should reinstate diplomatic relations, nor did he decide what would happen after the U.S. reinstated diplomatic relations.
Yes, according to these links there was "nothing other than the handshake." Provided you ignore these passages I just cited.
Nothing from Rumsfeld other than the handshake. Nothing in those passages contradicts that.

It is not plausible that he would invite the risk of someone presenting those documents, and proving that he lied about what they said.
I agree. Kind of like how it's not plausible that the administration lied about Iraq having WMD, inviting the risk that people would notice, after the invasion, that there weren't WMD. Oh, I forget -- in your partisanhack world, only bad people (i.e., Republicans) lie. Also, in your partisanhack world, nobody ever misremembers or misinterprets or misstates; they only "lie." So if there's no motive for lying -- and as we know, in partisanhack world, good people (i.e. liberals) never have a motive to lie -- then everything they say must be accurate. (Note that the good people in partisanhack world never spin, either; everything they say must be 100% accurate, with no distortion.)

Aside from that, Teicher indeed talks about Reagan's personal role in issuing a National Security Decision Directive formalizing our support for Saddam.
Actually, he doesn't. He talks about Reagan's personal role in issuing a NSDD doing "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing the war. That is not at all the same as Reagan having a personal role in somehow manipulating a Chilean company to ship cluster bombs to Iraq. Your appetite for precision seems to be inversely related to how much that precision would undermine your arguments.

You also don't seem to have much of a grasp of how the executive branch functions. This isn't social studies, where executive branch employees all sit there waiting for marching orders from the president, which they then carry out in exact accordance with his wishes. (Bush may support the notion of a unitary executive, but it doesn't exist.) Different agencies have different agendas, independent of the president and of each other. Sometimes they work at cross-purposes, because their constituencies do. One agency may try to ease border controls to promote tourism while another may try to tighten border security. One agency may try to restrict commerce to harm enemy countries while another may try to promote that same commerce to help influential corporations. Etc. Nor does the president generally micromanage how the agencies do their jobs. Do you think Reagan told the CIA to keep Iraq from losing? Yes. Do you thinK Reagan told the CIA to ship cluster bombs to Iraq from a Chilean company, you're insane.

Wrong. The biological materials we sent Saddam were licensed by the Commerce Dept:
So? Do you understand what the criteria for licensing were? Or are you just blindly repeating the word "licensed" in a knee-jerk fashion because you think it supports your argument?

You're pursuing your usual strategy of denying plain facts even when they've been put right under your nose. I cited a source which indicated that the pesticides were "highly toxic" to humans and would cause death "from asphyxiation." Does that fit your concept of "ordinary" pesticides?
Yes. Not the kind one buys at K-Mart to clear pests from one's flower garden -- although if you think even that is nontoxic, I'd advise you to read the label before trying to use them -- but the kind used in large scale commercial applications, absolutely. (Or even small scale ones. Go see how a company like Terminex is regulated.)


For more on how Rumsfeld helped Saddam, see what Bob Novak wrote in townhall.com on 9/26/02.
It reiterates the same points, not one of which say anything about "Rumsfeld" doing anything beyond relaying messages.
8.10.2008 7:51pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
That's funny. When Saddam was our pal, "dual use" meant 'we're sure he's going to use this stuff benignly.' And then when he wasn't our pal anymore, "dual use" meant 'we're sure he's not going to use this stuff benignly.' Makes perfect sense.
Saddam was never our "pal," any more than Stalin was our "pal" in World War II.

And what's "funny" about that? It would make perfect sense. As would a less tendentious characterization of events, which is that once we learned that he couldn't be trusted, we were more cautious.


It actually was quite shrewd to not do it immediately, because that would have been even more stunningly transparent. As it is, their friends (like the Reagans) were enraged. And it makes perfect sense that an opportunist like McCain would bide his time until a very special package comes along. Like Cindy.
I see. So you think that upon coming home from being a prisoner of war for six years, he said, "Hmm; this person is ugly so I don't want to be with her anymore, but I'll bet if I divorce her right away, it would hurt my chances of running for office in nine years, so I think I'll stay with her until I get lucky and meet someone rich who wants to marry me." You're a nutjob as well as a partisan hack, if you think so.

But your youth is showing once again: the Reagans were upset with him when they divorced. Hint: that is routine when one's friends get divorced -- you support the person you're closer to and blame the other member of the couple and are upset with him. Big deal.

And you just can't explain away the fact that Carol doesn't support any of your theories.
8.10.2008 8:06pm
rarango (mail):
way late to the party here--the MSM dropped the ball on the Edwards thing; they have done equally poorly on reporting on what is a major political event: the war between russian and georgia--and many of the commenters want to cast this in political terms--oh yeah McCain had an affair---If you dumbasses cant underestand this let me tell you: The MSM is a friggin joke; I don't care who does the news, but the big news is the war--the Edwards thing, sad as it is for Ms Edwards isn't important

Is Edwards a dirt bag? sure--he's a trial lawyer and his dirtbagbess credentials were stipulated--and he certaintly rose to the occasion--my sympathies are with Ms Edwards and her family.

Eyes on the ball people: theres a war going on in a part of the world that is important. FOCUS
8.10.2008 8:21pm
Random Commenter:
To those of you responding to "jukeboxgrad"... stop it, already. You're just giving him what every troll wants: attention. It doesn't matter that you've beaten him. He's not going to quit.

That said, it is worth recognizing that he made at least one honest and well-informed comment in this thread:

"I wish I understood what your point is."
8.10.2008 8:52pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Two points on a drifted thread:

"Dual use" has dual uses.

One use is that whatever it is can function in two different ways. For example, certain chemicals can be used as pesticides or nerve gas. That's dual use, and anybody who makes that kind of pesticide has a dual use facility.

The other use of "dual use" is, if it's our guy, he's making pesticides and if it's not our guy, he could make nerve gas.

I guess there's a third. If the president is of the other party, the guy with the factory is making nerve gas, and if the president is of the same party, the accuser insists the guy with the factory is making pesticide.

And, when I was in, and now, unless there's been an improvement, the field antidote for nerve gas was atropine. Look on your Raid or Black Flag for the antidote. Yeah, you get a face full of that stuff and you might die of asphyxiation, when your autonomous nervous system gets so screwed up that it can't coordinate breathing, among other things.

Of all the arguments about our arming SH, the nerve gas issue is the dumbest and the most easily refuted. That some continue to try to peddle it means something...about them.
8.10.2008 10:59pm
Hoosier:
Random Commenter:

I confess my guilt. But his frequent multi-postings have cured me of my illusion that he was serious.

I shall sin no more.
8.10.2008 11:46pm
Hoosier:
Smokey:

"
Oops. Sorry. I forgot that this entire thread is about the left's desperate attempt to hang something nasty on John McCain, in order to prop up their America-hating HE-RO.

Sorry I got confused about the purpose of the thread. "

Hey, that's OK. We all make mistakes. Just keep in mind that henceforth EVERY thread is devoted to that purpose.
8.10.2008 11:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

Rumsfeld carried messages. … He's not responsible for determining the content of the messages he's delivering.


Like I said, if you want to blame the whole thing on Reagan, because Rummy was only following orders, that's fine with me. The only oddity is who Reagan selected for the simple, passive job of just carrying messages. Why not pick a mail carrier? Or a bike messenger? For some strange reason Reagan thought the job required a former SecDef. If Rumsfeld's role was as passive as you suggest, then he was a bit overqualified for the position. And the Chicago Tribune was obviously giving undue credit to a mail carrier when they complimented Rumsfeld for helping to "reopen U.S. relations with Iraq."

Whatever the U.S. policy was towards Iraq has nothing to do with what Rumsfeld did


Aside from the fact that Reagan sent Rumsfeld to Iraq to have multiple meetings with top Iraqi officials for the purpose of implementing Reagan's policy, you're right, "the U.S. policy … towards Iraq" had "nothing to do with what Rumsfeld did."

Nothing from Rumsfeld other than the handshake.


You're stating pretty explicitly that Rummy got off the plane, shook Saddam's hand, and then got back on the plane. You're precisely right, as long as you overlook the fact that Rumsfeld had multiple meetings on multiple occasions with multiple top Iraqi officials. Anyway, it's pretty amazing that Rumsfeld got credit for helping to "reopen U.S. relations with Iraq" when in fact he did nothing "other than the handshake." The guy must have a heckuva handshake!

it's not plausible that the administration lied about Iraq having WMD, inviting the risk that people would notice, after the invasion, that there weren't WMD


Wrong. Bush calculated, quite correctly, that there would be lots of people like you who would defend him no matter what he did, and come up with all sorts of fanciful explanations for the missing WMD (e.g., they're in Syria, they're hidden in Saddam's fillings, they're on the moon etc). And Bush was also quite prepared to rely on the famous alibi that ended up being effective: blame the CIA.

Bush didn't care if half the country saw right through him, as long as he could get his 50.7%. And he did, despite all the lies he told. Thanks to people like you.

Oh, I forget -- in your partisanhack world, only bad people (i.e., Republicans) lie


That's quite ironic, since Teicher is obviously a Republican, and you're smearing him as a perjurer simply because you don't like what he said. When I claim someone lied (as I have done with you), it's because I have proof (an example of you lying is proven here, although I didn't use that word at that time).

Also, in your partisanhack world, nobody ever misremembers or misinterprets or misstates; they only "lie."


It's not that hard to tell the difference between a misstatement and a lie. Here's one big clue: whether or not the person takes responsibility. This is not complicated. Most of us learned this in kindergarten.

I'll be waiting patiently while you find an example of me calling something a lie when it is more fairly characterized as an innocent misstatement.

That is not at all the same as Reagan having a personal role in somehow manipulating a Chilean company to ship cluster bombs to Iraq.


Unless you're claiming that Casey and Gates were rogues, acting against Reagan's wishes, then what they did to help Saddam obtain cluster bombs was a natural outcome of the Directive Reagan signed.

He talks about Reagan's personal role in issuing a NSDD doing "whatever was necessary and legal"


I don't know why you're making a big deal about the word "legal." Nixon, Reagan and Dubya are all GOP presidents who embody the principle that if the president says it's legal, it's legal.

Do you think Reagan told the CIA to keep Iraq from losing? Yes. Do you thinK Reagan told the CIA to ship cluster bombs to Iraq from a Chilean company, you're insane.


Hmm, let's see. When Rumsfeld acts, he's a passive messenger perfectly expressing Reagan's policy, with no responsibility of his own (even though he's technically a private citizen with no formal responsibility to Reagan). He's only a handshake machine! When Casey and Gates act, they are independent, autonomous rogues choosing to "work at cross-purposes" from the policy set by Reagan (even though they are his employees). Makes perfect sense. Here's an idea: pick one story and stick with it.

are you just blindly repeating the word "licensed" in a knee-jerk fashion because you think it supports your argument?


There's nothing 'blind' about quoting from a congressional report which indicates that our transfers to Saddam of anthrax (and other similar materials) were licensed by Reagan's Commerce Dept. Earlier you said "there were no controls on the substances at the time." You should retract that statement, or show evidence to back it up. Because I proved that statement is false.

the kind used in large scale commercial applications, absolutely. (Or even small scale ones. Go see how a company like Terminex is regulated


Pesticides are a precursor to chemical weapons. We sold $1.5 million of pesticides to Saddam in 1988, even after he had been gassing people for years. Maybe that wasn't such a great idea. 1988 was the year that Saddam gassed 5,000 Kurdish civilians.

Saddam was never our "pal"


Video of Rumsfeld greeting Saddam is here. The greeting looks pretty warm to me. And that warm greeting was followed by plenty of support and assistance.

once we learned that he couldn't be trusted, we were more cautious


You're talking about Dubya, right?
8.11.2008 1:24am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

but I'll bet if I divorce her right away, it would hurt my chances of running for office in nine years


I think it was more like this: 'I bet if I divorce her right away I don't stand a chance of ever being treated by anyone as a member of the human race.' And: 'it makes more sense to just cheat on her for a few years until something better comes along.'

you support the person you're closer to and blame the other member of the couple


You might do that. But what the Reagans appear to have done in this instance is blame the person who deserves the blame, because they destroyed the relationship due to their own "selfishness and immaturity." And that was McCain. Who says so? McCain.

Carol doesn't support any of your theories.


Yes, it's a big surprise that Carol doesn't want her son to lose the job he has working for the Hensley company.
8.11.2008 1:24am
Randy R. (mail):
My prediction: In about 20 or 30 years, when it becomes obvious to even republicans that the war in Iraq was a bad idea, they will say that we never invaded Iraq, and if we did, it was Clinton who invaded Iraq.

Anyone who suggests otherwise will be deemed a raving lunatic leftist and a liar.
8.11.2008 1:38am
heel!:
Rofl. Jukeboxgrad taking a pasting yet clings on doggedly. Don't you all get it. He'll never admit that he's wrong even when it's a huge wart at the end of his nose staring him in the face.

Your appetite for precision seems to be inversely related to how much that precision would undermine your arguments.
What an apt description of his hypocritical penchant for double standards. You'll notice that every one of his posts has the flavor of a partisan attack-dog/operative -- all conveniently toeing the party line. Has he ever once concerned himself with anything else? :)

He isn't a lawyer either. I can tell. Most of us can look at an issue from the other side and recognize plausible, reasonable, or even clinching arguments in favor. His inability to do so is crippling. It also takes a certain amount of mental charity to do this, of which he has none.

Haha, sad.
8.11.2008 3:11am
LM (mail):
I think some of you guys are fooling yourselves about jukeboxgrad. You may find him annoyingly partisan and prolific -- how many people here aren't annoyingly partisan? -- but he's no troll. His comments are usually among the most substantive and well-supported on these threads. I'm not a fan of name-calling and I don't condone his, but I will say he seems to more or less match the civility of his opponent. I don't always agree with him, but neither do I see a lot of commentators here who take proportionally fewer implausible leaps than he does.
8.11.2008 4:00am
heel!:
He's what is known as a 'persistence' troll. Simply out-persist whoever he is arguing with by insisting on the last word. From reading a great many of these threads, I have come to the conclusion that arguing in good faith is not his forte. Indeed, he often argues in bad faith.

That's hackery to me.

As a non-American with no dog in the Presidential fight, I would say my judgement is pretty neutral.
8.11.2008 7:44am
heel!:
Or I should say, rather, that my judgement is pretty impartial.
8.11.2008 7:46am
Hoosier:
heel! says "judgement," not "judgment." I suspect he actually is NOT an American.

He is to be trusted.
8.11.2008 8:47am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
heel:

He'll never admit that he's wrong


I immediately admit I'm wrong 100% of the time, under the following conditions: when I'm proven wrong. If you look closely at my posts, you'll notice various examples of this. (Most of my posts are not here. A lot of my posts elsewhere can be found here and here.)

So I'll be sincerely grateful if you show where I failed to do this.

he often argues in bad faith


It would be helpful if you could present an example. That should be easy for you since you said I do it "often."

He isn't a lawyer


Flattery will get you nowhere.
8.11.2008 8:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Im:

he seems to more or less match the civility of his opponent


lm, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for noticing this. I always start by assuming a person deserves civility, but sometimes I discover the assumption is wrong. I also think that dishonesty is one of the worst forms of incivility. A liar in a three-piece suit is still a liar.

I'm also not a believer in unilateral civility; I consider that a form of phoniness. If you're a liar, I have no respect for you, and I'm not doing anyone (including you) a favor if I pretend otherwise.

implausible leaps


I'm sincerely interested in getting help finding my factual errors (since some of those inevitably happen sometimes), and I'm also interested in getting help noticing which leaps are particularly implausible (although that's more subjective).
8.11.2008 8:59am
devoman:
Fwiw, I've been following the jukeboxgrad/Nieporent brawl and imho jukeboxgrad is way ahead on points. And I can't figure out why jukeboxgrad is termed a troll by some, unless it's just partisan hackery. His manner is civil, his rebuttals are on point, be backs up his assertions with links, etc.

Unless "troll" on this blog means "someone I disagree with who is winning the argument".
8.11.2008 9:22am
Adam J:
Heel- 'persistence' may be annoying, but Jukeboxgrad is in fact responding to arguments with decent counterarguments &while he is being rather uncivil, his opponents are as well. I think the term "troll" is being thrown around a bit lightly here.
8.11.2008 11:30am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You're stating pretty explicitly that Rummy got off the plane, shook Saddam's hand, and then got back on the plane.
No rational person would interpret my words that way.

(See what I mean about hyperliteralism -- except, of course, when it doesn't suit your partisan hackery, and then you pretend that divorcing someone years after an incident is actually the same as divorcing them when the incident happened? Just to save you some trouble, I'll give you a free interpretive guide: when I say, "The White House did" something, I don't actually mean the building got up and acted. "The White House" is a metonym in that sentence. And when I say that all Rumsfeld did was shake his hand, I don't mean he got off the plane, grabbed his hand, shook, and ran back onto the plane. In fact, he may have done many things, such as go to the restroom, adjust his tie, sit down on a chair, comment on the weather, call his wife to say, "I've landed in Baghdad," and, yes, actually say some words to the guy whose hand he was shaking. What he didn't do was set U.S. policy.)
8.11.2008 11:36am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Like I said, if you want to blame the whole thing on Reagan, because Rummy was only following orders, that's fine with me. The only oddity is who Reagan selected for the simple, passive job of just carrying messages. Why not pick a mail carrier? Or a bike messenger? For some strange reason Reagan thought the job required a former SecDef. If Rumsfeld's role was as passive as you suggest, then he was a bit overqualified for the position.
You say that because you don't understand anything about, well, anything, but in this case foreign affairs. We couldn't pick a government official because we didn't have diplomatic relations with Iraq and weren't sure it would happen. So it had to be someone outside government.

But no, not a pizza delivery guy, because we had to pick someone significant enough (a) to not be insulting to Hussein and (b) to make clear that he spoke directly for the president. That's the way foreign relations work. (You might as well ask why we have ambassadors at all, when we could just send email to foreign heads of state. Form matters as well as substance.)
8.11.2008 11:58am
David M. Nieporent (www):
He's what is known as a 'persistence' troll. Simply out-persist whoever he is arguing with by insisting on the last word.
Heel, if he did that, it wouldn't be so bad. You left out a step: out-persist his debating opponents, insist on having the last word, but then declare that his opponents are liars because they eventually gave up and let him have the last word.
8.11.2008 12:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
adam:

Thanks to you and devo for the supportive comments.

while he is being rather uncivil, his opponents are as well


I want to point out again that my approach to this (the question of civility) is purely reciprocal, and I do not strike first (except for an occasional mistake, for which I apologize).

nieporent is a good example. I first became convinced that he's a liar here, about a year ago. Prior to that time I think I was not uncivil with him (you can see this in my prior comments to him in that thread). Please note that in my comment (the one I just cited) I was fairly civil, and I pointedly avoided calling him a liar. That's because I thought it would be good to let him have another chance to take responsibility for his false statement. But he did not do so, and still has not done so, as of this moment. (Instead, there have been a series of other false statements, like the one documented here.) That's when I decided treating him with respect would be an act of phoniness on my part.

I want to say again that in my opinion dishonesty is one of the worst forms of incivility. I also think that someone who hesitates to call a liar a liar is conducting a form of collusion with the liar.
8.11.2008 1:48pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

No rational person would interpret my words that way.


When you say "my words," you're talking about statements you made as follows:

Rumsfeld once shook Hussein's hand. That's the entire indictment of him. … the claim that there was nothing other than the handshake is exactly what those links say … Nothing from Rumsfeld other than the handshake. Nothing in those passages contradicts that.


I paraphrased you as follows:

You're stating pretty explicitly that Rummy got off the plane, shook Saddam's hand, and then got back on the plane.


You should explain why that's not a "rational" interpretation of your words. Maybe you forgot that you used the word "nothing" three times, with no qualification whatsoever. That word is absolute. Likewise for this word you used: "entire." And this word: "exactly."

See what I mean about hyperliteralism


What I'm doing is not "hyperliteralism." What I'm doing is paying attention to what you've actually said, and holding you accountable for it.

he may have done many things, such as go to the restroom, adjust his tie …


Naturally. We both understand that. You're being silly.

and, yes, actually say some words to the guy whose hand he was shaking


Trouble is, he did more than just "say some words to the guy." He made multiple trips, and had multiple meetings with multiple senior officials. That's why he was ultimately given credit for helping to "reopen U.S. relations with Iraq."

What he didn't do was set U.S. policy


Nice job with the straw man. Show us where I said that Rumsfeld "set U.S. policy." It was Saint Ronnie who decided to support and arm Saddam, even though Saddam was a tyrant and a war criminal. Rumsfeld was picked by Reagan to play a major role in carrying out that policy. And carrying out the policy required Rumsfeld to do a bit more than just "say some words to the guy." He said a bunch of words, to a bunch of guys. And the effect of this was to "reopen U.S. relations with Iraq." Casey and Gates also pitched in, according to Teicher's sworn testimony.

But no, not a pizza delivery guy


If all that was required was to "say some words to the guy," it could indeed have been "a pizza delivery guy." With a tie.

You might as well ask why we have ambassadors at all, when we could just send email to foreign heads of state


We have ambassadors because diplomacy requires more than just the ability to "say some words to the guy." And that's why Reagan picked a former SecDef, and not a pizza guy. And that's why your claim that "there was nothing other than the handshake" is baloney.

The broader point is that it really doesn't matter much how the blame is apportioned between Reagan and Rumsfeld (and your focus on that minor point is just a disingenuous distraction). They were both very much members of the same club, the club that's still in power, and still operating by the same insane rules. Earlier you said this:

once we learned that he [Saddam] couldn't be trusted, we were more cautious


It will only be a few nanoseconds before we have the same epiphany regarding Maliki. And then the cycle starts again. Business is good. Mission accomplished.
8.11.2008 1:48pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

you pretend that divorcing someone years after an incident is actually the same as divorcing them when the incident happened


There are signs that McCain started the process of dumping Carol as soon as he found out about the accident:

After John McCain was released in March 1973 and returned to the U.S., he told friends that Carol was not the woman he had married.


Another sign is that he had multiple affairs prior to Cindy:

McCain has acknowledged that he had girlfriends during this time


If you're claiming that I've made a statement that's not congruent with this evidence, you should tell us what statement you're talking about. You, on the other hand, have said this:

eleven years afterwards


You're implying that McCain stood by the invalid for eleven years, even though he didn't. He lived with the invalid (while having multiple affairs) for less than seven years, not eleven.
8.11.2008 1:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

then declare that his opponents are liars because they eventually gave up and let him have the last word


More baloney. I don't declare that you're a liar because you "eventually gave up." I declare that you you're a liar because you're a liar (proof, more proof).

You've had ample opportunity to explain those false statements, and you never have. That's sufficient basis to conclude that they were deliberate deceptions.
8.11.2008 1:49pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
You've had ample opportunity to explain those false statements, and you never have.
Sure I have: they weren't false. Obama didn't publish anything, as his campaign advisor said, and no matter how many times you try to pretend otherwise won't change that.
That's sufficient basis to conclude that they were deliberate deceptions.
No, it really isn't. In fact, failing to respond to a comment on a blog is not any basis for determining anything about the intentions behind earlier comments on a blog, whether one has "ample opportunity" to do so or not.


There are signs that McCain started the process of dumping Carol as soon as he found out about the accident:
Hilarious. Obama's campaign advisor saying that he didn't publish isn't evidence that he didn't publish, but an anonymous person claiming decades later that McCain had said that Carol was different is a "sign that he was contemplating dumping his wife." Grow up, partisanhack.
8.11.2008 3:25pm
just watching666 (mail):
Yeah, I don't really get the "jukeboxgrad as troll" thing either... that said, hopefully no one gets banned here. Even trolls say the darnedest things sometimes.
8.11.2008 3:31pm
LM (mail):
juke:

I want to say again that in my opinion dishonesty is one of the worst forms of incivility. I also think that someone who hesitates to call a liar a liar is conducting a form of collusion with the liar.

The second statement doesn't follow necessarily from the first. Inaccuracies can be refuted without attacking the person. If there's a pattern of inaccuracies, that can be pointed out, and if it would lead observers to believe the source is lying, they'll reach that conclusion on their own. But calling someone a liar is uncivil because it impugns someone's character by alleging a mental state that can't be disproven. And there's rarely even any evidence offered for the bad faith, usually just the factual errors themselves.

That said, I have this argument all the time with people left and the right, and I've never convinced anyone who believes incivility can be a virtue. But on this site the merits of civility should be irrelevant. We've all tacitly agreed to a comment policy that excludes personal insults. So I think keeping one's word precludes calling anyone a liar.
8.11.2008 3:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

Obama didn't publish anything, as his campaign advisor said, and no matter how many times you try to pretend otherwise won't change that.


Nice job pretending to miss the point. The specific false statement highlighted here was that you had "a quote." You didn't. A paraphrase is not a quote. You said there was "a quote posted here yesterday from Ben LaBolt." Really? Then show us the quote.

Obama's campaign advisor saying that he didn't publish isn't evidence that he didn't publish


A paraphrase of LaBolt saying that Obama didn't write an article is a fairly good indication of something we already knew: Obama didn't write an article (although even for this unimportant point, a quote would be a lot better than a paraphrase). Trouble is, HLR contains lots of material that's unsigned, and it's not called "articles."

Those of us who speak English honestly realize that there's a difference between a signed article and an unsigned student note. And we don't disingenuously elide the difference, since the difference is material. Likewise for the difference between a quote and a paraphrase.

failing to respond to a comment on a blog is not any basis for determining anything about the intentions behind earlier comments on a blog


When you tell a lie and then the lie is pointed out to you and then you repeatedly pretend that the lie was something other than a lie, and when you don't even take responsibility for the falsity of the statement, it's fair to conclude you are this: a liar.

Obama's campaign advisor saying that he didn't publish isn't evidence that he didn't publish, but an anonymous person claiming decades later that McCain had said that Carol was different is a "sign that he was contemplating dumping his wife."


There you go again with your dishonest citing. Why did you put those words in quote marks? I didn't say them.

Another detail: the reporter's source was unnamed, which is not the same thing as anonymous.

Anyway, nice job proving that you don't understand the difference between speculation and fact. I don't claim to know for a fact that McCain started the process of dumping Carol as soon as he found out about her disfigurement. I said there are signs of this. That means I'm speculating, but there is some evidence to back up my speculation.

You, on the other hand, have repeatedly stated that Obama "didn't publish," as if you know this for a fact. Trouble is, you don't. You have some evidence which you think points in that direction. That's not the same thing as knowing it for a fact. There's a word for someone who pretends to not understand the difference between speculation and fact: liar.

And while you're tossing out non-explanations for your various deceptions, another one you never explained is documented here.
8.11.2008 4:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

there's rarely even any evidence offered for the bad faith, usually just the factual errors themselves


I think if you look carefully you'll notice that I don't call someone a liar simply for making a factual error. I think I showed some proof of this here.

In my opinion, bad faith is abundantly obvious when a factual error is clearly demonstrated and the person behind the error conducts a dazzling array of maneuvers designed to pretend that there was never any error. I've cited at least three specific examples.

We've all tacitly agreed to a comment policy that excludes personal insults.


This is a fair point, and I'll give it some thought. However, I am not a big fan of unilateral disarmament, and this site has shown a very high level of tolerance for personal insults that are utterly gratuitous. I contend that a personal insult is fair game when it's accompanied by proof of its accuracy.
8.11.2008 4:28pm
LM (mail):
heel!:

He's what is known as a 'persistence' troll. Simply out-persist whoever he is arguing with by insisting on the last word.

He's certainly persistent, but not a troll. On these threads, to somewhat oversimplify, there are discussions and there are debates. Both have their place. In the better discussions, we learn things, differences may narrow, and when there's nothing left to add, the discussion ends. In the debates, the purpose is to win. It's exasperating whenever you're trying to have a discussion and someone jumps in to debate. And debating persistently in that situation is trollish. But non-debate discussions on the political threads here (except on legal points) are the exception. More to the point, I don't recall ever seeing jukeboxgrad persist with someone who wasn't debating. That may or may not suggest a flaw in the open-endedness of comment thread debates, but it doesn't reflect poorly on jukeboxgrad.

From reading a great many of these threads, I have come to the conclusion that arguing in good faith is not his forte. Indeed, he often argues in bad faith.

Other than the persistence itself, what evidence is there of bad faith? I don't see any.

As a non-American with no dog in the Presidential fight, I would say my judgement is pretty neutral.

As an American with a dog in the Presidential fight, my judgment may be biased. I'd appreciate knowing if, and if so where, it's inaccurate.
8.11.2008 4:30pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

I don't recall ever seeing jukeboxgrad persist with someone who wasn't debating


Thanks, and good point. A debate requires (at least) two parties. A sign of bad faith on the part of those who criticize my persistence is that they never (as far as I can tell) criticize the persistence of my counterparts. Virtually by definition, my counterparts are roughly as persistent as I am.

And speaking of bad faith:

what evidence is there of bad faith? I don't see any


It might be worth noticing that heel made that accusation against me ("he often argues in bad faith") at 6:44 am. At 7:49 am, I challenged him for proof. At 3:30 pm, you challenged him yourself. It's now about 4:30 pm, and he's still making the sound of crickets. Now, it's possible that he's having a busy day. It's also possible that he was making a hollow allegation and the proof will never appear. I bet on the latter.
8.11.2008 5:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Trouble is, HLR contains lots of material that's unsigned, and it's not called "articles."
Sure it is. All the time. (*) And as I pointed out, you can't hang an argument on a hyperliteral definition of a word in a statement that you yourself just spent ridiculous amounts of time making the pointless distinction that it was a paraphrase rather than a quote. You don't know whether Labolt actually used the word "article," so there's no basis for claiming that he selected the word "article" because he was trying to distinguish between the two.

And trouble is, Obama himself said he didn't publish a note, article, or anything else, listing only his book as his publication. And yet you still haven't conceded the point, for some reason.



(*) There's no reason to believe that a layperson would distinguish between a note and an article, any more than most non-newspaper people in routine conversation distinguish between "editorial" and "op/ed," even though the terms mean something different in industry jargon.


Virtually by definition, my counterparts are roughly as persistent as I am.
Not at all. Your counterpart makes one post. You make multiple posts in response. Then your counterpart responds to some of them, and not only do you make multiple posts in response, but call your counterpart a liar because he didn't respond to all of them. Then your counterpart gives up. Then you stalk the counterpart over to other threads to complain that he didn't respond in a thread that has been off the front page because it's been so long.
8.11.2008 5:56pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Another detail: the reporter's source was unnamed, which is not the same thing as anonymous.
It certainly is. The term for when a reporter quotes someone without identifying him is "anonymous sources." Please stop playing word games; you're not very good at them, and they do nothing to advance your points, such as those points are.

Instead, try addressing the substantive point, which is that despite your demand for proof-proof-proof all over the place whenever your opponents are speaking, you cite a thirdhand claim -- which wasn't a quote at all -- about what some unnamed person said that McCain said to McCain's friends.


As for proof of your bad faith: you cited a random person in Salon speculating about the reasons why a wife might support her unfaithful husband as an "explanation" why Carol was doing so. I pointed out that the Salon piece was purely hypothetical, but you never admitted that. Then I pointed out an equally hypothetical explanation, which I labeled as such, and you pretended that I had offered it as fact, and never admitted that you had misrepresented what I wrote.

As for more proof of your bad faith, you routinely link to pieces that don't support your assertions at all, but claim that they do, knowing that most people aren't going to go look at the links to see that they don't support them.
8.11.2008 6:10pm
LM (mail):
juke,

there's rarely even any evidence offered for the bad faith, usually just the factual errors themselves

I think if you look carefully you'll notice that I don't call someone a liar simply for making a factual error. I think I showed some proof of this here.

Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was referring to the general practice, not to yours in particular. You provide a lot more evidence than most people. But that doesn't mean your evidence proves your opponent is a liar. And even if he is, saying so probably hurts your argument more than it helps it. (Not to mention, it's uncivil.)

Let's take one excellent example. That's a damning set of facts, and it's abundantly clear why it would be "hard for [you] to believe that [he] never checked the prior thread." Your suspicion was unassailable, but a stronger claim wouldn't have been. It would have been an overreach to flat out call his explanation a lie, since it would have made no allowance for any number of innocent explanations, however remote you may have considered them. (He might have written the comment without checking the thread, and simply mis-remembered what you were talking about. He might have actually checked the thread and forgotten having done that. Unlikely but not impossible. Etc.) In short, calling it a lie without accounting for possible alternatives would have been an exaggeration. And exaggerating your reasonable suspicion into an unqualified assertion would have sacrificed the moral suasion you got from letting the facts and your honest and probably accurate opinion speak for themselves. If you never gave yourself leeway for that kind of exaggeration, your arguments would be a lot more persuasive.

Going even further and calling him a liar would have made you the clear loser in the exchange. Dictionaries notwithstanding, a liar isn't just someone who's told one or a number of lies. Most of us have done that, yet few of us consider ourselves or each other liars. Being a liar connotes a general character (or mental) defect that goes beyond the act itself. And labeling one's opponent a liar has a Godwin's Law-type effect of ending the argument for all practical purposes. Once somebody has been called a liar, at least one person is no longer worth listening to.

This, in my opinion, is the blind spot you share with every other smart person I know who sees an obviousness in their opponents' dishonesty which curiously is also obvious only to others of the same political/ideological persuasion. I believe you believe Nieporent is a liar. I believe he believes you're one. But neither of you shows any sign of having seriously considered that the other one might actually believe what he's saying. Very smart people are capable of believing immeasurable quantities of stuff that's demonstrably false. We all know that's so, so why should it be so implausible in our political opponents?

As persuasive as I find many if not most of your arguments on the merits, nothing you've said convinces me Nieporent generally believes his own arguments less than you or I do our own. Exaggerations? Sure. Mischaracterized, out of context quotes? Absolutely. But a liar? Only if you call just everything that passes for public debate nowadays "lying." And though I'd love to live in that world, it's not the one inhabited by politicians and other public advocates. So while calling them all liars may be technically accurate, it mostly just robs the term of descriptive value.
8.11.2008 7:41pm
MarkField (mail):
I dislike these metadiscussions about how to have a proper discussion, but I'm going to add my $.02 in support of LM. First off, jukeboxgrad is absolutely not a troll. I can easily see how he's frustrating to his political opponents, but that's not at all the same thing.

That said, jbg, I agree with LM that you should not call DMN a "liar". I've had a great many exchanges with DMN on the internet over the past 6-7 years. He frustrates me as much as you, I imagine. He's an accomplished debater (in LM's use of that word), and he debates to win. While I've often found that he goes right up to the line, he's never crossed it with me. I admit I haven't tracked down the specific examples you cite, but you know what -- even if you're right about them, I wouldn't do it. There ARE trolls and dishonest debaters on this (and other sites). They are far worse than David, who's a smart guy notwithstanding his gung ho libertarianism, and who makes real contributions to other discussions (e.g., the Civil War threads). If you need to spend that ammunition, save it for those who deserve it in the eyes of everyone.
8.11.2008 8:30pm
devoman:
Well, since we're all having so much fun refereeing this imbroglio, let me add my $.02.

While I also agree that it's inappropriate to call DMN a "liar", let me point out that DMN hurled essentially the same charge at jukeboxgrad in his 8/10 2:24 AM post:

That ranges from false to dishonest, with a mixture of lies thrown in there.

On a substantive level, the point where I thought the tide turned in favor of jukeboxgrad was here:

In his 8/10 2:24 AM post, DMN states:

Rumsfeld once shook Hussein's hand. That's the entire indictment of him. (Kind of like how Obama wants to shake Ahmadinejad's hand.) He was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort.

jukeboxgrad points out that...

Rumsfeld was Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East.

Then in his 8/10 6:51 PM post, DMN states that:

Rumsfeld was an (unofficial) ambassador.

Whoa, I say to myself.... What happened to the Rumsfeld as private citizen assertion? Was he being disingenuous hoping not to get caught? Or was it an honest mistake? I page back looking for a retraction, mea culpa, or some form of acknowledgement of the point. The only thing I find on point is this (at 1:37 PM):

First DMN repeats jukeboxgrad's statement:

Rumsfeld was Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East...

Then he concludes with:

Yes. He was a private citizen ...

Oh, I get it... the old black is white trick. You know, I went to Europe last year as a private citizen. Little did I know that I could have passed myself off as Presidential Envoy!

Let's face it; this is a distinction that makes a difference; you can't just wallpaper over it. It was right at this point that DMN began to lose credibility in my mind, in this particular debate.
8.11.2008 9:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Devoman, since I don't know you and never had any exchanges with you, I see no reason to get into a fight with you. Let me just say this: that's the sort of misguided gotcha-ism that serves no purpose.

Those statements do not contradict. Rumsfeld was a private citizen as opposed to a government official. That was the very reason he was sent. I was not denying that Rumsfeld was acting on behalf of the government. The context of the comment was not to argue that he didn't speak for the government, but that at the time he wasn't responsible for making government policy. Rumsfeld didn't go to Iraq in 1984 because he said, "You know, I want to be allied with Saddam Hussein"; he went to Iraq in 1984 because the administration said, "We want to restore relations with Iraq, and we need someone outside govenrment to deliver a message to Hussein. Can you do it?"

Now, if I were writing a summary judgment brief, I would be very precise each time I wrote a phrase, putting in all caveats. Or, more likely, I would write something like:

Rumsfeld, while a private citizen, visited Iraq at the request of the White House (hereinafter, "Unofficial Ambassador.")

But this is just a discussion on a blog. I don't feel the need to explain something in longhand every time I mention it, or put in every footnote or caveat. Nobody was claiming that Rumsfeld went spontaneously without being asked by Reagan, so I feel no need to clarify that I wasn't making that argument.
8.11.2008 10:30pm
MarkField (mail):
I missed that, devoman, but I think it was wrong for David to call jbg a liar also. Frankly, I think they're both posters who have important things to add to the discussions here and elsewhere.
8.11.2008 10:47pm
LM (mail):
devoman,

Cataloging the personal attacks here from the right would be a full time job, which is why I didn't touch it other than suggest that though I believe in de-personalizing political debate, it takes real partisan myopia to think that should start here with jukeboxgrad.
8.11.2008 11:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

you can't hang an argument on a hyperliteral definition of a word in a statement that you yourself just spent ridiculous amounts of time making the pointless distinction that it was a paraphrase rather than a quote. You don't know whether Labolt actually used the word "article," so there's no basis for claiming that he selected the word "article" because he was trying to distinguish between the two.


You are being unintentionally revealing when you claim that the distinction between a paraphrase and a quote is "pointless." They are not the same thing. You persistently pretend that they are. An honest person does not claim the existence of a quote when all that exists is a paraphrase. But that's exactly what you did here. And you provided no link or reference (I provided the relevant link here). This tends to create the impression that it was your intention to mislead.

Aside from that, the point you're now trying to make is pure sophistry. You're trying to have it both ways, by citing the paraphrase while also conveniently discarding the part you don't like ("articles"). If you want to claim that the paraphrase is worthless, that's fine with me. But if you want to claim that it has meaning (and you obviously do), then you have to take into account the fact that it's a statement about "articles." Trouble is, you've been pretending that word isn't there.

So aside from pretending that the paraphrase is a quote, you're also reading it selectively, and ignoring the part of it that you find inconvenient. And you repeatedly refer to that source in an indirect manner, which means a typical reader doesn't have the means to verify your statement by looking at the original source. In all your posts on this subject, I believe you have provided that link this many times: zero.

There's no reason to believe that a layperson would distinguish between a note and an article


Actually, there's reason to believe that Ressner does understand something about the difference "between a note and an article," because he mentions both:

Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama didn't write any articles for the Review, though his two semesters at the helm did produce a wide range of edited case analyses and unsigned “notes” from Harvard students.


That's not exactly the clearest sentence ever written, but it seems to indicate that the writer understands that "articles," "case analyses" and "notes" are not quite the same thing.

It's worth noticing that your comments on this subject don't just repeatedly gloss over the word "articles." They also gloss over the existence of the "unsigned 'notes' " that Ressner mentioned. You are pretending to know for a fact that Obama wrote none of those unsigned notes. Trouble is, you don't actually know this.

Obama himself said he didn't publish a note, article, or anything else, listing only his book as his publication


You are making reference to a page here, where Obama listed his first book under the heading "Publications," and listed nothing else. Thanks for yet another nice example of how you routinely exaggerate your evidence. This page does not put you in a position to claim that "Obama himself said he didn't publish a note, article, or anything else." It only puts you in a position to point out that on this page, he chose to take credit for no other publications. In a comment here I explained various reasons why a person might decline to take credit for an unsigned note.

call your counterpart a liar because he didn't respond to all of them


I don't call you a liar because you fail to respond to all my comments. I call you a liar because you make false statements (like claiming the existence of "quote" that doesn't exist, or claiming the existence of a statement in NYT that doesn't exist) and then fail to take responsibility for the statement.

Aside from those examples, you frequently make factual statements that are demonstrably wrong, and then you ignore the challenge when challenged to show proof. A recent example is this: "there were no controls on the substances at the time."
8.12.2008 2:29am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

Then I pointed out an equally hypothetical explanation, which I labeled as such, and you pretended that I had offered it as fact, and never admitted that you had misrepresented what I wrote.


I didn't pretend you "offered it as fact." I merely pointed out that your explanation was different than the one offered by Carol, who you are touting as the best source.

You should indicate where in that post of mine I pretended you "offered it as fact," and where I "misrepresented" what you wrote.

you routinely link to pieces that don't support your assertions at all, but claim that they do


You conveniently provide this number of examples: zero. And you're projecting in a brazen manner. You have done precisely what you just falsely accused me of doing (proof).
8.12.2008 2:29am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

I was referring to the general practice, not to yours in particular.


Thanks for explaining. I misinterpreted you.

He might have written the comment without checking the thread


I think you're focusing on a relatively minor aspect of what was discussed here. The key point was not that he walked away from the thread. Obviously there are all sorts of benign explanations for such a thing. The key point is that he said NYT printed something that they didn't print. He has had lots of opportunities to take responsibility for that false statement, and has pointedly failed to do so.

But a liar? Only if you call just everything that passes for public debate nowadays "lying."


I think dishonesty has in fact been normalized. I think this is a serious and insidious development, and I think maybe your standards are too low.
8.12.2008 2:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mark:

I admit I haven't tracked down the specific examples you cite


With all due respect, I think this undermines your ability to make the suggestion you're making, a suggestion I would otherwise be inclined to take very seriously.

I've cited at least three specific examples. The one that is probably the easiest to verify (that is, requiring the least amount of clicking, reading, and thinking) is explained here.

In your opinion, is it legitimate to refer to a paraphrase as a "quote?" Is that distinction really "pointless?"
8.12.2008 2:30am
devoman:
David M. Nieporent:

My intention was not to reduce a complex debate into a single gotcha (and I apologize if I made it seem so). I was following the debate from the sidelines fairly closely and it was simply a point I noted at the time.

I think what I was really responding to was some of the other partisan sniping from the sidelines.
8.12.2008 8:48am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

I was not denying that Rumsfeld was acting on behalf of the government. The context of the comment was not to argue that he didn't speak for the government, but that at the time he wasn't responsible for making government policy.


This is a nice example of how you glibly reposition yourself, and rely on straw-man arguments. So let's push aside the weeds and see what was really said. I said this:

Reagan and Rumsfeld did indeed help Saddam obtain cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is), right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians.


Please note that I did not say that Rumsfeld was "responsible for making government policy." I merely said he helped carry out Reagan's policy, which was to arm Saddam. And Rumsfeld played an important role, which is why he was later given credit for helping to "reopen U.S. relations with Iraq." So what you are doing in your latest statement ("he wasn't responsible for making government policy") is misrepresenting (by implication) what I originally said. In other words, you're using a straw-man argument.

Now let's review your response to my initial statement about Rumsfeld. You said this:

That ranges from false to dishonest, with a mixture of lies thrown in there. Rumsfeld once shook Hussein's hand. That's the entire indictment of him. … He was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort.


So let's compare what you said then and what you say now:

A) He was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort.

B) I was not denying that Rumsfeld was acting on behalf of the government.

You now claim that you weren't denying that "Rumsfeld was acting on behalf of the government." Really? When you said "he was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort," that statement of yours did indeed seem intended to create the impression that in fact Rumsfeld was not "acting on behalf of the government." Especially because you call him "a private citizen, not an officeholder," and completely gloss over the fact that Reagan had appointed him Special Envoy to the Middle East. You left it to me to bring that up.

This is very typical of how you argue. You make a statement which distorts the record, seemingly in the hope that you just won't get caught. Then when you're caught, you conduct all sorts of maneuvers to direct attention away from what you actually said.

In this case, a maneuver you used was to put a lot of effort into pointing out that Rumsfeld didn't set policy. Trouble is, I never said he did. But this straw man you invented was a convenient distraction.

Speaking of getting caught, we're still waiting for you to show proof for this:

there were no controls on the substances at the time
8.12.2008 9:39am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
So let's review just a few of your greatest hits. You decided it was fair to refer to a paraphrase as a "quote." That's explained here. And you didn't mind admitting that you think the distinction is "pointless."

You decided it was OK to claim that NYT printed something that they didn't print. That's explained here.

You decided it was OK to imply that DOE hadn't confirmed in writing findings that they had indeed confirmed in writing. That's explained here.

You decided it was OK to say that Rumsfeld "was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort," even though you were well-aware of the fact that "Rumsfeld was acting on behalf of the government." That's explained here.

That's just scratching the surface. Keep up the good work.
8.12.2008 9:58am
MarkField (mail):

With all due respect, I think this undermines your ability to make the suggestion you're making


Conceded. My real point is not whether David is right or wrong, honest or not, in these particular cases, but whether he is in general someone whose tactics deserve that strong condemnation. As I said, I have a LOT of experience debating with him, and while he's frustrating, I've not found him trollish or dishonest. I do take that background into consideration.

As I said, I dislike these metadiscussions because my view is that people can do whatever they want and readers can make their independent judgments. Your posts are definitely worthwhile reading, so I'll leave it at that.
8.12.2008 12:23pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
You are being unintentionally revealing when you claim that the distinction between a paraphrase and a quote is "pointless." They are not the same thing.
But the distinction is indeed pointless. In ordinary conversation -- something you seem to have trouble with -- things don’t depend on what the meaning of "is" is.

Aside from that, the point you're now trying to make is pure sophistry. You're trying to have it both ways, by citing the paraphrase while also conveniently discarding the part you don't like ("articles"). If you want to claim that the paraphrase is worthless, that's fine with me. But if you want to claim that it has meaning (and you obviously do), then you have to take into account the fact that it's a statement about "articles." Trouble is, you've been pretending that word isn't there.
I'm not trying to have it both ways. I'm citing the paraphrase and not "discarding" anything. I'm not parsing it word-for-word, because rational people don't have discussions that way. I'm looking at the meaning, not the words, because that's what a paraphrase is. That's not "both ways" at all. That's taking a paraphrase for what it is.

You're trying to have it both ways, parsing it as though it were a quote -- but as noted, drawing conclusions that would be unsupportable even if it were -- but then whining that it isn't a quote. See, if you were a civil person, you would have simply said, when this discussion first started, "Actually, that's only a paraphrase of LaBolt, not a direct quote, so we really can't be sure; it says 'articles,' and he might have been trying to distinguish between an article and a note." Then we could have evaluated how plausible your interpretation was, and we could have seen that it wasn't plausible at all, since your interpretation would have LaBolt providing an answer that was already known and dodging the actual question that was asked.

Actually, there's reason to believe that Ressner does understand something about the difference "between a note and an article," because he mentions both:

Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama didn't write any articles for the Review, though his two semesters at the helm did produce a wide range of edited case analyses and unsigned “notes” from Harvard students.

That's not exactly the clearest sentence ever written, but it seems to indicate that the writer understands that "articles," "case analyses" and "notes" are not quite the same thing.
That doesn't really "seem to indicate" that at all. People use synonyms all the time when they write, rather than repeating the same word over again. That doesn't mean that they're trying to draw subtle distinctions. Moreover, your interpretation would require that we completely ignore the sentence before the one mentioning LaBolt: "One thing Obama did not do while with the review was publish any of his own work." That's clear and unambiguous. It doesn't try to draw hyperliteral distinctions between "articles" and "notes." So either Ressner and Smith don't understand the distinction, or they weren't trying to draw it.

(You'll note that Susan Estrich, asked about it, doesn't try to come up with any contortions to explain this situation. She doesn't pretend that a reporter would be drawing such a distinction. She doesn't parse words in the ludicrous ways you do. She just says that the campaign must be lying to throw reporters off. That's not plausible either, but it's a lot simpler than your explanations.)

It's worth noticing that your comments on this subject don't just repeatedly gloss over the word "articles." They also gloss over the existence of the "unsigned 'notes' " that Ressner mentioned. You are pretending to know for a fact that Obama wrote none of those unsigned notes. Trouble is, you don't actually know this.
I know it the same way one knows anything: deductive reasoning. Ressner and Smith explicitly say that he didn't publish any of his work. LaBolt says something about Obama not publishing. Obama doesn't list it. Jim Lindgren, IIRC, reported that people on the Chicago faculty were unaware of it. Not one of the dozens of people on law review that year have said he did.

(There's an old joke about the mathematician and his friends driving down the road, passing a pasture, passing a flock of black sheep. One of his companions says, "Look, the sheep in this area are black." Another says, "This particular flock of sheep is black." The mathematician responds, "On one side." Reminds me of you. (Except that you'd add the word "Liar!" to the last line.) When we see a sheep, we're not required to include the caveat that maybe it has another color on the other side.)

The only theoretical explanation why Obama would have kept it a secret in the past and be keeping it a secret now, going so far as to lie, would be if it were politically damaging. But if it were, it would have leaked long ago. Contrary to your misunderstanding, "unsigned" does not mean secret. It's just HLR custom to publish them without signatures. Lots of people know.

In a comment here I explained various reasons why a person might decline to take credit for an unsigned note.
All of those "explanations" are not explanations, but ignorant and ill-informed speculation, laughable to anyone who knows the slightest thing about the legal academy. You might as well have added, "He was blackmailed by Louis Farrakhan into not revealing that he wrote it, on the threat of Michelle Obama's secret link to Al Qaeda being exposed." That would have been as credible as your "explanations." (Or, aliens may have erased the memory of everyone who knew he wrote it. You forgot that one.)
8.12.2008 1:56pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
This is very typical of how you argue. You make a statement which distorts the record, seemingly in the hope that you just won't get caught. Then when you're caught, you conduct all sorts of maneuvers to direct attention away from what you actually said.
Well, no. I make a statement. You deliberately misinterpret it (or, scarier, you don't realize how ludicrous your misinterpretations are), and then, when I clarify that no rational person could think that this interpretation is what I meant, you accuse me of "lying" rather than just admitting that you misinterpreted what I said. Even if what I wrote was so ambiguous that the misinterpretation were my fault rather than yours, that wouldn't make it a "lie" to clarify that you in fact misinterpreted it.

In this case, a maneuver you used was to put a lot of effort into pointing out that Rumsfeld didn't set policy. Trouble is, I never said he did. But this straw man you invented was a convenient distraction.
You never "said" he set policy, no, but you accused him of responsibility for it (lumping him in with Reagan), and actively refused to admit that Rumsfeld's role was to deliver messages (despite quoting articles that said just that). What exactly is the distinction there? If he wasn't setting policy, then the accusation that he "helped" is pointless. After all, the taxi driver who drove Rumsfeld to the airport "helped" do it, too, but you didn't include that guy in your indictment. Why? Because the driver wasn't setting policy.


(Oh, and just to respond to one last bit of confusion of yours, something you seem to have trouble with with everyone you argue with: not providing sources is also not "lying." If you choose not to accept the statements of anybody who you disagree with politically without footnotes, that's your choice, but the mere fact that you make this choice doesn't make them all liars.)
8.12.2008 2:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mark:

I've not found him trollish or dishonest. I do take that background into consideration.


Fair enough. I think the key point is that you and I are looking at different sets of evidence, and therefore we're reaching different conclusions. I haven't seen the discussions you're talking about, and you say you haven't looked at the discussions I'm talking about. Why would he be honest on some occasions and not on others? Who knows. There are lots of obvious guesses. But the evidence I'm looking at proves dishonesty. I'm open to other explanations for it, but I haven't seen any plausible ones.
8.12.2008 3:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

the distinction is indeed pointless. In ordinary conversation … things don’t depend on what the meaning of "is" is.


The meaning of "is" is not a mystery. Likewise for the meaning of "quote," and a paraphrase is not a quote.

I'm looking at the meaning, not the words


Thanks, that's classic. You're admitting that you don't need to pay attention to the words that are actually there, because you already have your own idea of what the meaning is.

That's taking a paraphrase for what it is.


Please try to stick with one story. If what you're looking at is "not the words," then you're not "taking a paraphrase for what it is." You're ignoring part of what was said because you have your own preconceived notion of what you want the meaning to be.

your interpretation would have LaBolt providing an answer that was already known and dodging the actual question that was asked


As usual, you're making lots of assumptions and pretending to have information you don't actually have. You weren't present at this conversation between Ressner and LaBolt, and Ressner provided this many quotes from that conversation: zero. Among other things, you don't know "the actual question that was asked." And it's indeed highly plausible that LaBolt doesn't want to be discussing one or more unsigned notes that Obama may have written, and therefore decided that a better course was "providing an answer that was already known."

your interpretation would require that we completely ignore the sentence before the one mentioning LaBolt


I've already pointed out (in other threads) that Ressner contradicted himself. The complete paragraph is self-evidently the result of sloppy thinking, writing and/or editing. Therefore it's a mistake to give it the weight you're placing on it.

One sign of confusion (if not bad faith) on Ressner's part is that he seems to not understand that HLR doesn't publish signed work by any current HLS student. He sweeps this important fact under the rug, and so do you.

She just says that the campaign must be lying to throw reporters off.


There you go again, distorting the record. What she said here is not that the campaign "must be lying." And what she said is congruent with my interpretation of the facts: he wrote one or more student notes, and just doesn't want to talk about it. Whether or not you think it's OK for him to do that is another discussion. But it's not OK to claim that he didn't publish any unsigned notes (as if you know this for a fact), because you simply don't know for sure whether he did or not.

Not one of the dozens of people on law review that year have said he did [publish an unsigned note]


Wrong. Noam Scheiber offers a comment on this exact matter:

I've checked with some former Law Review colleagues who also believe Obama wrote an unsigned piece.


I have already cited that, here, so I think it's disingenuous of you to pretend to not know.

aliens may have erased the memory of everyone who knew he wrote it


I guess the aliens forgot to erase the memory of the "former Law Review colleagues" who talked to Scheiber.

"unsigned" does not mean secret. It's just HLR custom to publish them without signatures. Lots of people know.


Really? Says who, besides you? I contend that it's typical for the authors of unsigned notes to decline to take credit for them. I've already described various benign reasons for this. You, on the other hand, seem to be claiming that "lots of people know" who the authors are, and that there's something weird or unusual about the author choosing to not take credit, especially later on. If so, then it should be really easy for you to show an example of anyone, anywhere, in any context, taking credit for an unsigned student note they wrote for HLR. Since you know so much about "the legal academy," it should be awfully easy for you to show such an example. Or an example of another person claiming their knowledge of who wrote an unsigned note. There should be lots of instances of this sort of thing, since " 'unsigned' does not mean secret," and "lots of people know."
8.12.2008 3:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

I make a statement. You deliberately misinterpret it


You have failed to show that I ever did "misinterpret" you. This is just your way of trying to avoid taking responsibility for what you've actually said. When you say things like "there was nothing other than the handshake," that's not my interpretation. It's not even a paraphrase. It's a quote of your exact words.

Likewise for when you say "he was a private citizen, not an officeholder, and had nothing to do with any U.S. policy towards Iraq of any sort," and then later run away from your own words by saying "I was not denying that Rumsfeld was acting on behalf of the government."

If he wasn't setting policy, then the accusation that he "helped" is pointless. After all, the taxi driver who drove Rumsfeld to the airport "helped" do it, too, but you didn't include that guy in your indictment. Why? Because the driver wasn't setting policy.


Gosh, that's great. Your timing is impeccable. Yes, the driver "wasn't setting policy," so he has no responsibility. But we don't always apply that kind of logic to drivers. Take a certain driver named Hamdan, for example. I think the US claimed he "helped" OBL, even though Hamdan "wasn't setting policy." You're objecting to the fact that I said Rumsfeld "helped" implement Reagan's policy toward Saddam. Your claim is that Rumsfeld "wasn't setting policy," so therefore he couldn't possibly have "helped." How absurd. I guess Hamdan couldn't possibly have "helped" OBL, since Hamdan "wasn't setting policy."

… not providing sources is also not "lying." If you choose not to accept the statements of anybody who you disagree with politically without footnotes, that's your choice, but the mere fact that you make this choice doesn't make them all liars.


Nice job with yet another straw man. I obviously do not claim that everyone who disagrees with me is a liar, and I obviously do not claim that everyone who fails to provide sources is a liar. But when you make demonstrably false claims (e.g., "there were no controls on the substances at the time"), and then duck the challenge when challenged for proof, this tends to create the impression that the claim came straight from your imagination. Especially when you demonstrate the same pattern on multiple occasions, as I documented here.
8.12.2008 3:29pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I guess the aliens forgot to erase the memory of the "former Law Review colleagues" who talked to Scheiber.
Well, I think the aliens were more thorough than you think, since those unnamed 'former Law Review colleagues' don't seem to actually remember that Obama wrote a piece; they just "believe" he did. Whitney Houston believes the children are our future. You believe in the easter bunny and a unicorn law review note.

I have already cited that, here, so I think it's disingenuous of you to pretend to not know.
Yes, it's obviously "disingenuous" of me to "pretend not to know" something merely because you wrote it. After all, your words are so meaningful and important that not only must everyone have read every word you wrote, but they must remember them a month later. There's no other possible explanation such as having forgotten what you wrote or not having read it in the first place. Obviously.

That was an unintentionally funny link, though, since you manage to accuse Politico of "distorting what LaBolt said" even though you don't know what LaBolt said, and they do. You claim you don't routinely accuse people of lying, but you spend a paragraph calling Politico liars with no basis whatsoever. And you do it again here:
One sign of confusion (if not bad faith) on Ressner's part is that he seems to not understand that HLR doesn't publish signed work by any current HLS student. He sweeps this important fact under the rug, and so do you.
You keep accusing people of not understanding, not knowing, or hiding this fact, but nobody has done so. It's solely a red herring on your part. If Politico had said, "His name isn't listed as an author, so therefore he didn't publish anything," then that would be either mistaken or lying. But nobody has said that. You're the only one pretending that signed/unsigned is significant, as opposed to published/unpublished.

I've already pointed out (in other threads) that Ressner contradicted himself.
He only "contradicted himself" if we assume that (a) LaBolt used the specific word 'articles' and (b) when LaBolt used the word 'articles,' he meant that in law review jargon rather than in a colloquial sense. You have no evidence for either assumption. If LaBolt said, "Obama didn't publish anything" or if LaBolt said, "Obama didn't publish any articles in the law review" meaning "Obama didn’t publish anything," then there's no contradiction at all.

Really? Says who, besides you? I contend that it's typical for the authors of unsigned notes to decline to take credit for them.
Your contention is wrong. Nobody omits published works from their resume. Your guesses as to reasons are not just mistaken, but laughable to anybody who has actually been on law review. (Or anybody who has ever met a law professor, for that matter. Offended? By a law review note?)

As I explained, the only actual reason Obama would refuse to acknowledge his work would be if it was politically damaging -- say, if he called for slavery reparations. But the more politically damaging, the less likely that there's any chance it wouldn't have been discussed a long time ago. (Hillary tried to make hay of Obama's kindergarten work, for pete's sake!)
8.12.2008 4:27pm
LM (mail):
juke,

I think dishonesty has in fact been normalized. I think this is a serious and insidious development, and I think maybe your standards are too low.

Maybe. I don't approve of it. But if I want people in office who share my policy goals, I don't see how I can condemn as liars everyone who goes into politics, even if being a politician requires one to be less honest than I'd like.
8.12.2008 5:12pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

those unnamed 'former Law Review colleagues' don't seem to actually remember that Obama wrote a piece; they just "believe" he did


The jokes just keep coming. You were the one who was just making a fuss about "hyperliteralism," and the importance of "looking at the meaning, not the words," and how "you can't hang an argument on a hyperliteral definition of a word in a statement that … was a paraphrase rather than a quote." Scheiber said this:

I've checked with some former Law Review colleagues who also believe Obama wrote an unsigned piece.


Your interpretation? That "those unnamed 'former Law Review colleagues' don't seem to actually remember that Obama wrote a piece." Makes perfect sense, as long you're willing to indulge in "hyperliteralism." Let's recall what you said:

Not one of the dozens of people on law review that year have said he did [publish an unsigned note]


No qualification there. No 'apparently,' or 'as far as I know.' Yet again, you claim to have perfect knowledge, even though there's evidence your statement is false. And when you're reminded of that evidence, what do you do? You "hang an argument on a hyperliteral definition of a word in a statement that … was a paraphrase rather than a quote."

He [Ressner] only "contradicted himself" if we assume that (a) LaBolt used the specific word 'articles' and (b) when LaBolt used the word 'articles,' he meant that in law review jargon rather than in a colloquial sense. You have no evidence for either assumption.


Neither of us knows what LaBolt actually said. I don't claim that I know for sure that LaBolt did (a) and (b). I only claim that it's at least possible, if not likely. You, on the other hand, are pretending to be certain about what was said. Your statement was this:

Obama's own campaign has said no [Obama never published an unsigned student note], according to a quote posted here yesterday from Ben LaBolt.


You claimed the existence of a quote that doesn't exist, and you implied that your interpretation of the paraphrase is the only possible interpretation. In other words, you made an assumption about (a) and (b), and acted as if your assumption is a proven fact. Trouble is, it's not. Unless you can prove that LaBolt did not do (a) and (b). But of course you can't do that. As usual, you're exaggerating your evidence, and presenting your assumptions and interpretations as if they were proven facts, even though they're not.

Nobody omits published works from their resume.


Then it should be really easy for you to provide examples of how people routinely take credit for the unsigned student notes they write for HLR. Yet again, you expect us to assume that something is true simply because you say so, even though you have a track record of making many false statements (example: "there were no controls on the substances at the time").

the only actual reason Obama would refuse to acknowledge his work would be if it was politically damaging


That's one explanation, and there are others, which I've explained and which you've ignored.

But the more politically damaging, the less likely that there's any chance it wouldn't have been discussed a long time ago.


There you go again, presenting your speculation as if it were fact. If he had written something politically damaging, maybe we would have heard about it by now, and maybe not. Incidentally, one of your ideological cousins has indeed gone to a lot of effort to claim that Obama wrote pieces that are "politically damaging." He said "I spotted a bunch of pieces I sure wouldn’t want to admit to having written if I were running for President."

It's highly plausible that Obama doesn't want to take credit for any of those pieces, and thereby trigger a distracting discussion about whether or not they damage him. I don't claim this interpretation of the facts is the only interpretation. But what you've done is take your interpretation and present it as if it's a proven fact, even though it's not. That's what you do.
8.12.2008 6:04pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

I don't see how I can condemn as liars everyone who goes into politics, even if being a politician requires one to be less honest than I'd like


I see your point, and I tend to agree. It is perhaps the case that a perfectly honest person would just never get anywhere in our current political system. So we can't avoid choosing between candidates who are all supposedly less than perfectly honest.

But that's an argument for accepting a certain level of dishonesty from candidates. In my opinion, that's a quite separate matter, as compared with accepting dishonesty from someone I run into on a blog.

And even then, I don't see the situation in binary terms. There are borderline cases where it's hard to reach a firm conclusion. I don't make a fuss unless I see offenses that are unmistakable and repeated.
8.12.2008 6:15pm
LM (mail):

But that's an argument for accepting a certain level of dishonesty from candidates. In my opinion, that's a quite separate matter, as compared with accepting dishonesty from someone I run into on a blog.

I agree. Our main differences are probably tactical. And even there I admit I'm conflicted. On the one hand, there are the constraints (in this case mainly the comment policy). On the other hand I share your objection to unilateral disarmament, especially in light of the partisan criticism that triggered this sub-thread in the first place. I guess the tiebreaker for me is that I think the tactics in question make arguments less persuasive to anyone not already persuaded.
8.12.2008 8:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
"I guess the tiebreaker for me is that I think the tactics in question make arguments less persuasive to anyone not already persuaded."

That's a fair point, and I take it very seriously, and I'll keep it in mind. Thanks for sharing your astute analysis.
8.13.2008 1:06am
LM (mail):
Thanks for considering it, astute or otherwise.

And thanks for your good work. Keep it up.
8.13.2008 1:22am