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Conservative Political Commentary

Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

"But, seriously, folks, I just flew in from D.C. and, boy, am I tired. I mean, my arms are tired. From flying."
posted by Tom

From the AP:

DULUTH, Minn. - Something about Sen. John Kerry's darker appearance has caught Lynne Cheney's eye. During a campaign stop with her husband, a group of volunteers moved into the crowd with microphones for the question-and-answer period. Vice President Dick Cheney told supporters to look for the people with dark orange shirts. When Cheney paused as if searching for the words to describe the shade of orange, Lynne Cheney said, "How about John Kerry's suntan?" The remark drew a big laugh from the crowd and the vice president.

Responding to her comments, Kerry campaign spokesman Bill Burton said, "Is Mrs. Cheney jealous considering how hard it is to get sun in the undisclosed location with her husband Dick? Or is she distracted over how red-in-the-face George Bush should be considering his failed presidency?"

(Laughter. Applause.)



Hey, thank you. No, really. What a room! What a crowd! That's right, my name is Bill Burton. No relation to Richard.


Or Dan ...


Or Halli ...

(Laughter. Applause.)

No, hey... Thanks... No, really ... It's great to be here at the annual NARAL Pro-Choice convention.


That's right, formerly The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. But what's in a name?


I'm a spokesman for the Kerry Campaign ...


The campaign's entering its second trimester ...


But we're going to try to abort the Bush presidency....

(Laughter. Applause.)

But seriously... As I said, I'm a spokesman for the Kerry campaign ...


That's right. Isn't he a great guy?


And he's a nice guy, too. A warm guy. You can tell by his color he must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit ...

(Laughter. Applause.)

Seriously, though, we kid him a lot about his tan, but we all know it's part of his plan to become the second Black president...

(Laughter. Applause.)

He's a great guy. He's a funny guy, too. Just the other day I said to him, "John?" And he said, "Who, me or Edwards?"


He can be a real cut up that way. But, seriously, it's really confusing having two Johns on the campaign. Especially when we get phone calls for them at headquarters. (Mimics holding a phone to his ear). "Hello, Kerry campaign headquarters, hope is on the way." (Sighs and rolls his eyes.) 'Which one?"

(Laughter. Applause.)

I'm telling you, after a couple hours answering the phone there you feel like Al Gore during his first debate with Bush.

(Laughter. Applause.)

Funny thing, though, when we're on the campaign bus, there aren't enough johns.


You know ... johns ...


Bathrooms. It's a pun ...

(Sounds of "Oohs", "Ahs", then laughter.)

Whoa, tough crowd. If I wanted an illiterate audience, I'd perform at a Teamsters rally ...

(Laughter. Applause.)

But, seriously ...


No, really, we love the Teamsters. Who else can we get to assault anti-Kerry protesters on the campaign trail?

(Laughter. Applause.)

We tried using ACT-UP members once, but all they did was give the protesters makeover tips ...

(Laughter. Applause.)

No, thank you ...


No, really ... What a room! What a crowd!

posted by Tom | 9/30/2004 06:27:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

This just in ...
posted by Tom

Michael Moore apologizes to the nation for exploiting 9/11 and does his bit for homeland security...

posted by Tom | 9/29/2004 04:25:00 PM
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Has-beens who need has-beens are the luckiest has-beens in the world...
posted by Tom

Barbra Streisand's secretary, hair-stylist and masseuse has scripted another liberal diatribe in the boss's name, Where is our Free Press? Babs laments the heat Dan Rather is feeling as a result of his fraudulent Bush smear on 60 Minutes II and sees the conservative attack on him as representative of the Bush administration's successful intimidation of the media.

Although "the documents CBS presented could not be confirmed for their authenticity," she informs us through her royal scribe, the "details of Bush's military record have been out for public consumption for years."

Which set me off on one of my reveries:

Barbra Streisand's reputation as a demanding megalomaniac has been known to the public for years. Even fellow brain dead liberal Kris Kristofferson (a Viet Nam veteran, by the way, which tells us something about that status automatically qualifying one for the presidency) said that working with her on the schlock remake of A Star is Born was an experience "worse than boot camp."

Of course, all of the complaints about her domineering, abrasive personality are hearsay. If one were to ask Babs herself, she would whine that everyone who would like nothing better than to see her devoured by wild animals (that were no doubt more than half-mad from starvation before touching her carcass) are chauvinists, misogynists, blah effing blah.


"Next on Entertainment Tonight, startling new evidence that the Barbra Steisand you've heard about is Mother Teresa compared to what an intimate source knows first-hand! Memos to underlings, letters to friends AND secret diary entries in the diva's own hand make for an explosive expose of the very unfunny Funny Girl."
And so on and so forth.

During the advertised ET segment, our reporter and his/her source reveal the damning correspondence and diary pages:

"Fire that little snot, (redacted). I don't care if she is eight months pregnant. I specifically told her I wanted Industrial Strength Kleenex in my bathroom." (Memo to personal manager, 1987)

"Jim's such an asshole. He really thinks I watched Marcus Welby, MD back in the 70s and secretly lusted for him all those years." (Diary entry, 2003)

"Bill's dick is not crooked, contrary to what that slut Paula Jones has said. And whatever made her think he wanted someone with a honker like hers to 'kiss it' is anybody's guess." (Letter to a friend, 1996)

"Yes, I'm depressed that the only people who buy the shit I sing are suicidal females and drag queens, but I've got bills to pay. We spent Jim's last Aamco check months ago." (Letter to Liza Minelli, 2000)

“I don’t care what the prognosis is. No free autographed pictures. EVER! That’s why God gave her two breasts…” (Memo to secretary, 2001)
And so on and so forth.

Almost immediately, left wing bloggers from coast to coast decry the documents as obvious forgeries:

"For one thing," writes a operative, "Industrial Strength Kleenex wasn't even on the market in 1987. And then there's all the correctly spelled words like 'specifically' and 'prognosis'. It's patently obvious Barbra didn't write these."
And so on and so forth.

George Soros offers $1,000,000 for the head of the ET reporter who participated in the "fraud". The New York Times editorial page condemns all fradulent reporting not committed by African-Americans. In protest, Maureen Dowd refuses to complete the next three assignments due in her on-line journalism course. Gay men stage a demonstration in Washington, DC in an effort to get Congress to fine not only the stations that broadcast the phoney story, but everyone in the country who watched it. (For some strange reason, the demonstrators huddle around the Washington Monument instead of march on the capitol building.) James Brolin tells an interviewer, "If I knew I wouldn't get laughed at, I'd threaten to beat up whoever it was who forged those documents."

Streisand sues. The center cannot hold. Things fall apart.

I can dream, can't I?

posted by Tom | 9/29/2004 07:57:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Face of Fear
posted by Tom

AFP - Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry appealed for an end to the TV advertising war that has marked his election battle against President George W. Bush. Kerry said the avalanche of negative television spots and attacks being shown on US screens was scaring off voters.

"Did you see John Kerry windsurfing in that last Republican attack ad?" my father shouted into the phone last night. "Your mother and I have had it. We'd rather live in Iraq under Saddam Hussein than in this ... this ... forsaken land! You never saw any negative ads in that country when Hussein was in power! If you're smart, you'll leave, too."

He hung up without even a goodbye. I watched my wife frantically pack the kids' suitcases.

"I'm booking the very next flight out," she said. "I don't care where it's going, so long as it's out of the U.S."

I told her mom and dad were doing the same.

"They're right," she said while trying to comfort our whimpering son and daughter. "There, there," she cooed, "the big bad meanie Republicans won't scare us anymore with their big old meanie ads about John Kerry."

Turning to me, she said, "A threesome with Uday and Qusay would be better than watching these horrifying ads. How can you stand it?"

I shrugged, "You only have to put up with it every four years ..."

"You know what I think?" she said, her eyes growing wider. "I think you're a Republican. I think you support Bush. I don't think you're human! I think you're evil! EEEEEEVILLLLLLLLLLLL!"

Those were her last words to me. Last night, I heard the screen door slam, and a big yellow taxi took her away. Sometimes, you don't know what you've got til it's gone. Which isn't true for things like small pox, syphillis, herpes ... But that's another story.

I woke up this morning in my now empty suburban single home. I lay there resentfully contemplating the two Americas, how the Bush tax cuts went only to the most wealthy, who receive all the quality health care and are the only ones who can afford the latest versions of plasma TVs when they come on the market, which means only they get to see NFL games in the most vivid colors. Maybe my parents and Lorraine were right. Bush had destroyed the economy to the point where I and my neighbors could hardly afford additional HD TVs for our children's rooms. Now he was turning Afghanistan and Iraq into democracies that would no doubt devolve into a farce of a system like ours, with candidates pointing out in paid advertisements why they are more capable leaders than their opponents.

My thoughts were interrupted by a commotion outside. No, it was more than a commotion. It was pandemonium. Men shouting, women and children crying, car doors slamming shut, and engines starting. This wasn't the usual work-week cacophony. It was panic.

I jumped out of bed, ran to the open window and looked up and down my treelined epitome of bourgeois living. Some of my neighbors, their SUVs and minivans stuffed with luggage and whatever other personal belongings they could fit inside, were already driving away, while others were still loading up everything they could carry. My friend across the street was packing the last of his Bruce Springsteen CDs into his Cadillac Escalade. His wife and teenaged daughter were huddled together on the front passenger seat.

"Ed!" I called out to him. "What're you doing?"

"Did you see that latest attack ad Bush ran against Kerry?" he yelled back.

"Which one? The one with Kerry windsurfing to the Blue Danube Waltz?"

His wife and daughter screamed and closed the windows.

"Will you stop!" Ed yelled. "I only just got them calmed down!"


"We'll never be able to listen to Strauss again, thanks to that chimp, that draft dodger, that fortunate son! We're leaving!"

"Where are you going?"

"Canada. Where there's nationalized health care. You don't see them fighting the War on Terror, do you? Nooooooo ... And there's no point in staying here if we can't pick a president without all of these negative campaign ads. It's not what Jefferson and the other framers envisioned when they wrote elections into the Constitution. Okay, they were all white men who owned slaves and oppressed women and stole this country from the natives. Their hearts were in the right place. They wanted a democracy, goddamit! Don't tell me you're staying?"

"I haven't made up my mind yet. Lorraine and the kids left last night."

"What are you waiting for?" Ed yelled as he climbed behind the wheel. "Another Swift Boat ad?"

I heard his wife and daughter's blood curdling screams before he slammed his door shut and drove off, then I watched in stunned silence as, one by one, my other neighbors drove away, abandoning the lawns they had worked so hard to maintain over the years because they were afraid, afraid of what the negative Republican ads would do to the country they once knew.


I'm alone now, acutely aware of how fragile democracy is. I can't shake these thoughts of revolution, of workers of the world uniting, of making a pledge to my local PBS station over the internet so that I can hear the ding on NPR and say, "Hey, that's me!" Bush and the Republicans have destroyed our fragile democracy with their ads. It would be a sham election this year as it was in 2000. With no living registered Democrats voting, the Republicans would win easily. That had been Karl Rove's plan all along. He really was a Machiavellian genius, and if I ever read Machiavelli, that observation will probably make even more sense to me.

There's nothing left for me now. My parents, my wife and children, my friends are all gone. Our democracy is in tatters. I can only think of happier times, before Rove's superficial and ugly attack ads usurped the in-depth political commentary of Michael Moore, Dan Rather, Kitty Kelly, Richard Clarke ...

Alas, there's no point in dwelling on the idyllic past. Now I can only think about the grim future, about four more years of hell. I'm filled with dread.

posted by Tom | 9/28/2004 06:00:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

As Dan Sails Over the Edge, Kerry Leans Forward and Tightens Grip on Rope
posted by Bathus

The day before yesterday the Kerry campaign issued this quasi-denial (i.e., a "non-denial" denial):
A Kerry campaign official said the campaign could find no record of any contacts with Burkett.
But then yesterday (surprise, surprise) Joe Lockhart, a senior Kerry campaign advisor and former Clinton press secretary, abandoned that quasi-denial and admitted he had indeed spoken with Burkett:
At the behest of CBS, an adviser to John Kerry said he talked to a central figure in the controversy over President Bush's National Guard service shortly before disputed documents were released.

Joe Lockhart denied any connection between the presidential campaign and the papers. Lockhart, the second Kerry ally to confirm contact with retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, said he made the call at the suggestion of CBS producer Mary Mapes.
. . . .
Lockhart said he does not recall talking to Burkett about Bush's Guard records. "It's baseless to say the Kerry campaign had anything to do with this," he said.
Which part of Lockhart's statement do you believe?

Lockhart's highly original claim that he "does not recall" talking with Burkett about the memos is obviously yet another quasi-denial in an impending string of quasi-denials.

Lucky thing for Lockhart, for this quasi-denial he has a witness of indisputable credibility to confirm his version of the conversation:
Burkett said his interest in contacting the campaign was to offer advice in responding to Republican criticisms about Kerry's Vietnam service. It had nothing to do with the documents, he said.
You have to give Lockhart and Burkett credit for having the forethought to get their story straight ahead of time: "And, oh, by the way, if anybody should ever ask, we never talked about these memos, right?"

In an earlier post, I had generously speculated that the Kerry campaign had played no role in manufacturing the forged memos and had not itself provided the documents to CBS, but had instead acted as an intermediary between CBS and Burkett. Perhaps I am too generous, but I continue to believe that was probably the case, notwithstanding Lockhart's transparent quasi-denial.

I also observed in my earlier post that, if the Kerry campaign's role was limited to playing middleman between Burkett and CBS, then that sin was "miniscule" judged by "contemporary campaign standards of no-holds-barred opposition research." I further speculated that, unfortunately for Kerry, the embarrassment he would suffer would be disproportionate to that minor sin.

As to my last bit of propheteering, the Kerry camp's bumbling is making me sound like a voice straight from the Old Testament. So since the Kerry folks were so ready to receive Bill Burkett's timely advice, maybe they'll listen to mine, which I offer in the spirit of compassionate conservatism:
In these last twelve days, have you Kerry folks learned nothing from watching Dan Rather's slow-motion slide down the face of the cliff? Did you not wince when he bashed his brains on every rock along the way? Do you not understand that the same fate awaits you if you insist on clinging to his tether? You must do everything you can to cleanly cut the rope that ties you to Dan Rather. You must cut the rope before he drags every one of you over the edge right behind him.

You can't save Dan, so save yourselves. Cut the cord now, and then toss the rope down after him.

Are you so naive to believe that CBS will finish out this story in a way that spares you Democrats? More likely the opposite. Sure, CBS loves you liberals, but CBS loves CBS even more. So CBS will do everything possible to spread the blame around, and that means putting as much blame on you as it can.

Every quasi-denial you offer now makes it that much easier for CBS to make you look worse later. Every quasi-denial you offer now strings out the inevitable revelation of the ugly truth and costs your candidate time and credibility he can't afford to waste.

So get it all out as fast as you can.

Beat CBS to the punch before CBS punches you out. Make a very big deal of firing Joe Lockhart and whoever else among your team had the slightest contact with Burkett, Rather, or CBS.

But don't ditch Max Cleland. There's no upside to ditching a triple-amputee. Instead, roll Max out on stage one last time to tearfully explain how his devotion to a brother-in-arms led him to do something for which he is now sorely ashamed. America loves a theatrical confession, and nothing could top a speech like this from Cleland: "Thirty years ago, I paid a great price when I threw myself upon a grenade to save my beloved comrades from certain harm. Thirty years ago I fell upon a grenade that wasn't mine. But today the grenade I fall upon is my own. I pray that this act will spare the brothers and sisters who share my cause."

There won't be a dry eye in the house.

To wrap your little morality play, Kerry himself could personally apologize to Bush for the misdeeds of his underlings. An apology might make your John seem halfway honest; it might even make him seem human.

And then your guy could get back to talking about prescription drugs and teacher salaries or whatever it is he thinks this election is about. It's all a long shot, but what have you got to lose?

One last thing: If you do manage to pull this off, from here on out I'd steer clear of that band-of-brothers crap.
[Note: Unlike Bill Burkett, I wouldn't offer my advice to the Kerry campaign if I thought there was a fool's chance in hell they would take it.--Adeimantus]

posted by Bathus | 9/21/2004 01:15:00 AM
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Sunday, September 19, 2004

Insider troubles for Sumner Redstone?
posted by lostingotham

American Thinker has posted an article noting Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone's massive stock sale last week and suggesting he is inviting an insider trading investigation. Of course Adeimantus readers knew this three days ago.

posted by lostingotham | 9/19/2004 05:45:00 PM
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Rathergate Fallout: For Kerry, a Small Sin But a Major Embarrassment
posted by Bathus

By tomorrow this post could all be old news, or worse yet, flat-out-wrong.

But the weekend's slight lull in hard-news stories on the Dan Rather memos scandal leaves me unable to resist the temptation to indulge myself with idle speculation on the following question:

What role, if any, did the Kerry campaign
play in the publication of the fake memos?

It seems pretty clear that a disgruntled former National Guard officer, Bill Burkett, was CBS's immediate source for the Killian memos.

Intense scrutiny has centered on the role of William Burkett, a former National Guard official who charged last February that he saw Bush Guard documents in a trash can in 1997, an allegation that Guard officials strongly denied. A source who worked with CBS on the story said Burkett was identified by a producer as a conduit for the documents. Three days before the broadcast, Burkett e-mailed a friend that there was "a real heavy situation regarding Bush's records" about to break. "He was having a lot of fun with this," said the friend, Dennis Adams. Burkett told a visitor that after the story ran, Rather phoned him and expressed his and the network's "full support." CBS has declined to comment on the sourcing of the network's story.
So my question now is:

How did CBS first learn that Burkett had these memos?

Back in February of this year, CBS News had used Burkett as a source for an earlier report on Bush's National Guard service. And, as is now well known, Burkett already had an established history of publicly rabble-rousing against Bush. Therefore, it is certainly possible that, without the assistance of the Kerry campaign, CBS first learned of the memos because Burkett contacted CBS or CBS happened to re-contact him to look for more dirt to shovel into the same old anti-Bush story it had been pursuing for so many months.

So it is certainly possible that the Kerry camp played no role in this scandal.

But the timing of Burkett's contacts with CBS and the Kerry campaign do seem suspicious.

Around the same time that Burkett was first in touch with CBS about the memos, Burkett was also in touch with Kerry campaign, via Max Cleland:

A retired Texas National Guard official mentioned as a possible source for disputed documents about President Bush's service in the Guard said he passed along information to a former senator working with John F. Kerry's campaign.

In an Aug. 21 e-mail to a list of Texas Democrats, Bill Burkett said that after getting through "seven layers of bureaucratic kids" in the Democrat's campaign, he talked with former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland about information that would counter criticism of Kerry's war service. Associated Press obtained a copy of the e-mail Saturday.

Burkett, who lives near Abilene, wrote that no one at the Kerry campaign called him back.
Several sources are reporting that Cleland has confirmed that Burkett had indeed contacted him and that he had instructed Burkett to take his information to the Kerry campaign. For its part, the Kerry campaign has now issued a quasi-denial (i.e., a non-denial) of any communication with Burkett:

Former Democratic senator Max Cleland confirmed that he got a call from Burkett in mid-August offering "valuable" information about Bush. He told Burkett to contact the Kerry campaign. A Kerry campaign official said the campaign could find no record of any contacts with Burkett.
According to The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, it was in this same mid-August time frame that "60 Minutes" producer Mary Mapes learned of the existence of a person claiming access to incriminating memos about Bush:

In mid-August, Mapes told her bosses that she had finally tracked down a source who claimed to have access to memos written in 1972 and 1973 by the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Bush's squadron commander in the Texas Air National Guard.
My speculation is that someone in the Kerry campaign, perhaps without ever seeing the memos himself and perhaps without ever getting back in touch with Burkett, tipped off Mapes about Burkett and his memos: "Hey, Mary, we've just heard from a guy who claims to have some Bush National Guard documents that we really think you might want to see. We're not going to do anything with this ourselves, but we might be able to give you the guy's name, if you promise never to reveal publicly that we put you onto him. He's somebody you folks have talked to before, so there's no reason for anyone to suspect that we've had a hand in this." (And if the documents had not turned out to be such blantant forgeries, nobody would have suspected, or cared, that the Kerry campaign had helped CBS track down the memos.)

To sum up, my (rather unexciting) speculation is that the Kerry campaign probably did not directly provide the fake memos to CBS, but instead played the role of a middleman, bringing Bill Burkett and Mary Mapes together.

If that's the case, then judged by the contemporary campaign standards of no-holds barred opposition research, the Kerry campaign's culpability in this fiasco would amount to a miniscule sin. Unfortunately for Kerry, in politics as in life, the magnitude of a sin does not always equal the magnitude of the embarrassment its exposure entails.

While I'm at it, here's a little more in the way of speculation:

The suggestion, floated by Terry McAuliffe, that Karl Rove manufactured these memos is, of course, utter nonsense. On the other hand, it is conceivable that, before "60 Minutes" publicized the memos, the White House had already ascertained that they were fakes. (It is also possible, but less likely, that Buckhead was tipped off by someone in the White House before or very shortly after the infamous "60 Minutes" episode went off the air.) But even if the Bush team did know in advance that the memos were fakes, who could blame them for concluding that they had no obligation to prevent Dan Rather from committing professional suicide?

posted by Bathus | 9/19/2004 05:30:00 PM
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Thursday, September 16, 2004

I find this all Rather funny (but enough with the puns already)
posted by Tom

As he reaches the twilight of his long career as a DNC operative at CBS, Dan Rather must be weighing which public embarrassment at the hands of Democrats was the worst he has suffered: Getting decked on live television at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, or basing an entire “investigative report” on forged documents the Democrats handed him and his producer in what was ironically an effort to embarrass George Bush. Personally, I think the latter is worse, because at least getting knocked on his keester in '68 was a finite event. The most recent nightmare just goes on and on, aided and abetted by Rather himself, as you can see in his following response to a question posed by The New York Observer's Joe Hagan in a recent interview. Rather's asked if he’s worried “that the current scandal would tarnish his reputation.” He's not only worried about his own reputation, but he frets for his fellow liberal Democrats in the media:

"To me, even people who aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like me know I’m a lifetime reporter trying to be independent and to report without fear or favor, to be an honest broker of information. On the times when I’ve failed, either because I didn’t ask enough of the right questions, or didn’t ask the right questions, I, and almost every other journalist, have taken a fair enough criticism for, in many people’s judgments, not asking the right questions, or not asking the right questions strong enough, long enough in the time preceding the war. And I think some of that criticism is justified. I do not except myself in that criticism.
If you’re searching for the Larry King of print interviewers, by the way (and who would be?), you need look no further than Hagan. As a matter of fact, look no further than this interview for the most vapid questions asked about a major political scandal since the intrepid Mr. King asked Mary Matalin, “You hope the allegations against Bill Clinton aren’t true, right?”

You’d think the next question from Hagan would have been, “Say WHAT?!” Alas, no. He’s evidently a transcriber, not a journalist. Read Rather’s answer once and you come away thinking he obviously believes syntax is what you pay on cigarettes and liquor. But read it a couple more times and you appreciate the man’s pathological narcissism. Anyone still wondering why this moron has not yet 1) admitted the alleged Killian memos are fake, 2) retracted the ‘report’ that was based upon them, and 3) apologized to the administration and the public for his shoddy partisan Democrat cheerleading can basically find the answer to this mystery in his response to Hagan’s question.

Pardon me while I, to use a down-home-spun Ratherism, unpack that statement like Lady Astor riffling through her steamer trunk the first afternoon on board the Titanic.

"To me, even people who aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like me know I’m a lifetime reporter trying to be independent and to report without fear or favor, to be an honest broker of information.”
You don’t need to be a trained psychoanalyst to spot his megalomania. It’s either that or utter stupidity. Can the guy really be this clueless? People who dislike him – which I assume is what he means by “aren’t inclined for one reason or another to like” him, but I’m open to alternative interpretations – think he’s an independent and honest journalist? Is he totally oblivious to the fact a great many people think he is the equivalent of dried bird droppings on their front stoop precisely because they perceive him as a 72-year-old male crew-cut version of Monica Lewinsky servicing the Democratic Party in his reports and so-called exposes?

This entire scandal never would have erupted if even those who dislike Rather trusted him to do his job professionally and without grinding his partisan axe. Everyone would have accepted his evidence at face value, confident he had vetted it for authenticity. If a great many people are inclined toward anything, it’s a deep, deep mistrust of everything Rather reports, and they are so inclined for one reason only: Rather’s well documented history of biased reporting. (For an earlier example of Rather’s propensity for sensationalist fiction, see The National Review article, The First Rathergate.) This is why numerous bloggers and document experts were ready to pounce on those forged memos and within approximately 24 hours pretty much demonstrate they weren’t worth the paper they were copied on.

“On the times when I’ve failed, either because I didn’t ask enough of the right questions, or didn’t ask the right questions, I, and almost every other journalist, have taken a fair enough criticism for, in many people’s judgments, not asking the right questions, or not asking the right questions strong enough, long enough in the time preceding the war. And I think some of that criticism is justified. I do not except myself in that criticism."
We can only assume the “war” mentioned is the current war in Iraq, which would have compelled anyone but a simpleton like Hagan to politely ask just what the frigging hell Iraq has to do with Rather’s shoddy journalism. The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing, which is the point, but you’d think an interviewer would at least make an effort. What we have here, though, is Rather’s version of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, the tragic (and some think morbidly funny) self-centered reporter with a Christ Complex. Basically, Rather is saying:

“Mea culpa, mea culpa for not having done enough to save the American public from the dangerous – the evil – foreign adventures of George W. Bush. This report on his failure to fulfill his military duties with the same kind of courage John Kerry showed when he volunteered for Viet Nam was my attempt to atone for my earlier laxity. But I was no more irresponsible than my colleagues with regard to Bush's folly in Iraq. We’re all guilty and should feel ashamed. Scourge and crucify me now if you must. I willingly take upon myself the sins of all journalists who did not prevent our country from embarking on another Viet Nam. Oh, and forget I perpetrated a fraud on the public in the hope of influencing an election.”
Well, I suppose if it’s a choice between partisan journalists concocting phony stories using forged documents and al Quaeda blowing up shopping malls in attempts to influence the election, I’ll go with the former. Still, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or that Rather is any less of a horse’s ass.

Which forces a segue to the fair, balanced, and independent Bill O’Reilly, who of late has been competing with Rather in the making an ass out of oneself department as he argues that his idol at CBS didn’t premeditatedly present the forged documents and is therefore not guilty of fraudulent reporting. The ex-high school teacher and tabloid show host turned wannabe lawyer ignores the fact the authenticity of the documents was called into question by CBS’s own experts prior to Rather airing the report. At best, Rather is guilty of recklessness in going ahead with evidence the authenticity of which he knew was doubtful. Couple that with the mountain of proof compiled by other document experts over the past week and Rather's refusal to admit they're fakes and nothing on God's green earth can exonnerate him either on a personal or professional level when he is forced to concede what everyone but Bill O'Reilly knows already. One can imagine an idiot like O’Reilly being told by thirty or so different mechanics that the brakes on his car are completely worn to the point where they’re going to fail, but he continues to drive without replacing them, and after running over a kid because his brakes failed, proclaiming his innocence because he didn’t “intend” to run over the kid. This is the guy who’s looking out for you. Thanks, Bill, I'll handle it myself.

I suppose I digressed. I’ve a tendency to do that. That’s why my brilliant colleague and the owner of this site, Adeimantus, gets his stuff printed up in the Wall Street Journal and I provide the filler here.

At any rate, CBS/Rather’s latest defense, that while the documents may not be authentic, what they purport to describe is accurate and therefore President Bush is obligated to answer the questions, should have John O'Neill and the rest of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smacking their heads. (Numerous reporters got the same fax from the DNC/CBS and were floating this around before Rather’s follow-up report last night in which a mummified ANG secretary told voters the memos were fake, but she "felt" George W. Bush was given special treatment.) All SBVFT should have done in order to get face time on 60 Minutes was forge a few memos and after-action reports by senior officers. They could have described how John Kerry put in for Purple Hearts for self-inflicted wounds not caused in the heat of battle, how he spent Christmas Eve 1968 not getting shot at in Cambodia but getting laid in some Vietnamese brothel, how he fled from combat situations until the shooting stopped, etc. The Swifties could then have gotten, oh, say, 250 guys to corroborate the false documents. Dan Rather and CBS and NPR token negro Juan Williams and a host of other Kerry publicists would now be demanding that the senator address these 'serious questions' raised about his Viet Nam service.

Yeah. Sure.

If I ever sit down to write "Great Democrats of the 20th Century", which will prove to be one of the shortest books ever published (along with "French Heroes of WWII" and "A History of Left-Wing Thought"), the first chapter will be devoted to the guy who cold cocked Dan Rather in 1968. He has earned his place in history.

posted by Tom | 9/16/2004 07:43:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Absolutely the Most Arrogant, Most Inane, Most Downright Stoopidest Thing Dan Rather Has Ever Said, Bar None
posted by Bathus

If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story.

Dan Rather, September 15, 2004

How do you ask a man to be the last man to break a story?

posted by Bathus | 9/15/2004 10:52:00 PM
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Liability for Viacom under 10b-5
posted by lostingotham

Professor Bainbridge has posted a response to questions I (and others) had emailed him regarding potential liability for Viacom under Rule 10b-5 for CBS's failure to come clean on Rathergate. I have nothing but respect for the good professor, but my take is Rather different. So--with the caveat that Professor Bainbridge teaches this stuff whereas I can barely remember my Securities Law class at Georgetown--let me offer this response.
1. I can't see how you show that the fraud (assuming there was one) was not "in connection with" the purchase or sale of a security. Even with the rather liberal touch and concern standard the Supreme Court has adopted to determine when a misstatement is made in connection with the purchase or sale of a security, there still must be some link between the two. I am unaware of any precedent in which the link between the alleged misstatement and the purchase or sale of a company's stock was this tenuous.
With its continuing assertions that the memos it reported last week are accurate, CBS is making a material statement as to the nature of its product (information), to wit: that it is accurate. I can think of few things that more closely touch and concern the sale of the stock of a corporation than a description of that corporation's product. Were General Motors to issue a statement to the effect that it had invented a car that ran on perpetual motion, said statement would surely meet this prong.
2. The speaker must have acted with scienter. It would have to be proven that Rather was reckless. if it turns out that his source was at least semi-reputable, that's going to be hard to do. Especially if the current take on the whole story - the documents are fake, but the basic gist is true - is supported.
I agree that it would be difficult to show scienter as to the original broadcast, but CBS has not stopped making statements. Now that a mountain of evidence as to the documents' falsity is available, CBS is at least reckless in continuing to state that they are genuine.

3. How do you show but for causation, even using the fraud on the market theory? What shareholder sold because he believed Rather (selling because you didn't believe Rather obviously doesn't count, because you were not misled).
I don't see why the analysis must be so narrow. CBS News is a significant business unit of Viacom. Its value lies in its ability to attract viewers and, as a result, advertisers. It attracts viewers in large part because it produces a quality (i.e. accurate) product. An investor assessing Viacom's value in the long term must surely evaluate whether it continues and will continue to produce that product. Dan Rather is saying that CBS continues to produce accurate news reports. That statement is false, and the market will surely incorporate the fact of the diminished value of CBS's product into Viacom's share price. Again, if GM announced tomorrow that it had invented a car that ran on perpetual motion, causation for a 10b-5 suit would surely be satisfied.

4. How do you show loss causation? You'd have to do an event study to show the extent of the damage caused by Rather's statements. The mere fact that the stock dropped in price roughly contemporaneously with the whole kerfuffle is nowhere near enough.

How do you ever show loss causation? You get a big pack of experts together to argue with Viacom's experts over what caused the drop (or gain). Meanwhile you've survived summary judgment and the lawyers' clocks are ticking.
5. It's got to be material. In other words, whether there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would consider the information important in deciding how to act. In the totality of Viacom, a hit to CBS News likely is not material. CBS News could disappear tomorrow and the company's bottom line likely wouldn't change in a noticeable way (it probably would improve, but not so you'd notice).
Maybe so, maybe not. CBS is certainly among the most visible of Viacom's operations (and certainly the one most jurors will have heard of), so its value cannot be fully measured by reference to a balance sheet. Besides, I recall information as being material if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would consider the information to be important or to have significantly altered the total mix of information made available about the investment. Basic v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224, 231-32 & 235 n.13 (1988). "Significantly altering the total mix" strikes me as a pretty low hurdle to pass. Either way, it's a question of fact and therefore likely to be eventually decided by a jury. How confident do you think Viacom would be that a jury would find CBS's continuing bullshit immaterial?

I don't want to overstate the case--it surely isn't a slam dunk. But it has the advantage of (a) having enough meat on its bones that a lawyer who brought it wouldn't face sanctions, and (b) being certifiable as a class action, meaning that even small per share damages would mean enormous potential liability. Certainly smart trial lawyers like John Edwards have won big with less.

UPDATE: Bainbridge's major concerns seem to focus on two elements of a claim: materiality and causation (both transactional and loss causation). Let me say a few more words on each:

The standard test for materiality comes from TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., 426 U.S. 438 (1976), as applied to 10b-5 cases by Basic, Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988). A fact is materal if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable shareholder would consider the fact of significance in determining how to act. Materiality does not require that knowledge or lack thereof would have caused the shareholder to act differently, only that it would have assumed actual significance in the mix of information the shareholder considered. While the law contains no precise numerical standard for when a fact becomes material, securities lawyer friends tell me that a fairly widely accepted rule of thumb is that information affecting 10% or more of an issuer of securities' assets, sales, or earnings is material while information affecting 5% or less is usually not (obviously there's a gray area between 5 and 10%).

A quick glance at Viacom's most recent 10-K shows that its television business (consisting of CBS and UPN) accounts for 29% of the company's 2003 consolidated revenues. I cannot imagine, therefore, how information that has the potential to do serious damage the CBS brand could not be material.

It should also be noted that Viacom cannot easily escape liability by couching its claims as "opinion." In Virginia Bankshares, Inc. v. Sandberg, 501 U.S. 1083 (1991), the Supreme Court held that a statement by a company that its board "believes that $42 per share is a fair price" is an endorsement of the underlying fact (i.e. that the price is actually fair), not just a statement that a belief is genuinely held.

Finally on materiality, my guess is that the error in the initial report is not material. It was not a statement about Viacom's business and thus not substantially likely to be taken into account by a reasonable investor contemplating a purchase or sale of Viacom's stock. CBS's statements since then, however, (and especially Dan Rather's "I know that this story is true") amount to direct characterizations of CBS's product and business practices. Again, I can think of few things an investor would be more interested in when purchasing a company's stock than the nature of the company's products and business practices.

On loss causation: In order to prevail in a 10b-5 suit, a plaintiff must show that the defendant's misrepresentation was the cause of the plaintiff's loss. Where a large company like Viacom is concerned, determining exactly what causes share-price fluctuations can never be an exact science--there are simply too many factors acting on the market to be able to say with absolute certainty precisely what's behind any given share price fluctuation. But the standard of proof required in a 10b-5 suit (preponderance of the evidence) is much lower than absolute certainty. A plaintiff need only show that it is more likely than not that a misrepresentation caused a price change.

Consider the facts: On the day CBS first aired the story, Viacom's stock reached 35.20 per share. As forgery allegations swept the blogosphere, the stock dipped to 34.22--a nearly 3% loss--only to rebound to 35.25 on Friday in the wake of CBS's announcement that it continued to believe the memos were genuine. As the proof mounted and several major media sources have joined bloggers in declaring the memos fakes (and CBS in serious trouble), Viacom's share price has steadily trailed off, closing yesterday at 34.18--again, nearly 3% off its September 8 high. In a little less than a week, Viacom's shareholders lost nearly $2 billion in share value. Over the same period the SIG Cable Media Index, which tracks Viacom's market sector, climbed from 316.17 to 318.41 (despite the fact that Viacom is, itself, a component of the index). While Viacom's stock was tanking to the tune of $2 billion, its competitors stocks gained 1%. Share prices are largely driven by investor perceptions. The CBS scandal has been in the news every day since the 8th. Can you think of any other news concerning Viacom during the same period that might explain the slump?

On transactional causation (a.k.a. "reliance"): Where securities transactions take place (as almost all transactions involving Viacom stock do) through a major exchange (as opposed to between a face-to-face seller and buyer), courts usually apply the "fraud on the market" doctrine of transactional causation. Under this doctrine, it is supposed that investors rely "generally on the supposition that the market price is validly set and that no unsuspected manipulation has artificially inflated the price, and thus [rely] indirectly on the truth of the representations underlying the . . . price." Blackie v. Barrack, 524 F.2d 891 (9th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 816 (1976). Hence, where the fraud on the market doctrine is applied, its effect is to create a presumption of reliance on any material misrepresentations. Basic, Inc. v. Levinson; see also, List v. Fashion Park, Inc., 340 F.2d 457 (2nd Cir. 1965) (When a fact is shown to be material, there is a strong indication that it was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff to enter the transaction). If, as I argue above, CBS's misrepresentations are material, transactional causation is almost certainly satisfied (The only exception I can find is where a plaintiff knows the material misrepresentations to be false and invests anyway. Given CBS's repetition of its claims and its resort to various "experts" in defending them, I think showing that an investor "knew" the claims to be false would be a very tough slog.)

Now, I'll warn once again that I am not an expert in the area of Securities Law, so you should take that fact into account when weighing my disagreement with Prof. Bainbridge (who is one of the top guys in the field). But experts make mistakes, too--especially in mushy areas like whether or not a good trial lawyer could tag someone with a big civil suit. So with all due (and genuine) respect for Bainbridge's enormous expertise, I still disagree with his conclusion that there's no basis for a 105-b suit against Viacom.

UPDATE: CBS Ratings are way down and its affiliates are not happy. Material? You decide. (hat tip: Instapundit)

UPDATE: Sumner Redstone, the Chairman of Viacom, exercised options for shares worth about $12 million on Tuesday, netting a $6.7 million profit. This is the first time Redstone has ever exercised Viacom options. Mr. Redstone may wind up wishing he'd read Professor Bainbridge's post on insider trading before he made this move.

posted by lostingotham | 9/15/2004 08:18:00 PM
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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sorry Dan, That's the Way It Is
posted by Bathus

Today's post begins with two observations. Forgive me if they already seem rather too obvious. (No pun intended.)

1) Bloggers have established beyond reasonable dispute that the Killian memos are inept forgeries.

2) In so doing, bloggers have also established beyond reasonable dispute that, with the aid of ordinary citizens who funnel them ideas and information via the internet, they have forever altered the terms under which the Mainstream Media (MSM, acronym of the day) shall disseminate its product to the larger public. The revolution is over. The bloggers (in their PJs) have won. The world is a better place for it.

Toward those two already well-established truths, the MSM navigates its way hesitatingly, cautiously, grudgingly, tardily. Yet though the MSM consults its own interests more than it considers the public good, the MSM shall arrive at the first truth within a few weeks at most. As to the second, the journey will take longer, but the destination is no less certain.

The question now is: When, if ever, will CBS concede that the Killian memos are forgeries?

It's bad enough that CBS's malicious bias rendered it susceptible to such blatant deception. [Note: Previous link probably won't work in Internet Explorer browser.] Yet both the defect of malicious bias and the error it wrought, if acknowledged early on, would be curable. But by continuing to vouch for the forgeries in spite of crushing proof to the contrary, CBS has become an accessory-after-the-fact in the original deception and a party to a continuing deceit. By refusing to admit a reckless error, CBS has transformed that error into an ongoing premeditated journalistic crime.

But let us put aside the question of what journalistic integrity demands, a quaint concept with little motive influence among CBS's decision-makers. Instead let us focus on a question to which they are more attentive, the question of CBS News' current and future standing as a credible news organization. CBS News' credibility among Republican viewers now stands at a paltry 15%. The powers-that-be within CBS and its corporate parent must be capable of the calculation that, aside from CBS's actual integrity, its perceived credibility--already significantly diminished--will evaporate altogether if CBS long continues in its irrationally stubborn attempts to defend the forged documents.

In trying to whistle their way past the graveyard, CBS and its few allies inevitably will stumble into new difficulties. Until CBS acknowledges that these documents were fraudulent, any further explanation CBS gives will properly be perceived by the public as a self-interested deception designed only to paper over its previous falsehood. Dan Rather, an experienced observer of scandals, understands at least that much. So he has indignantly announced that he has nothing more to say on the subject.

This indignant silence is almost halfway virtuous: Although Rather still stubbornly refuses to admit his prior mistake, he dearly wishes to avoid drawing further attention to the offense with new falsehoods. The only possible way to avoid new falsehoods is to say nothing at all. And so Dan Rather has taken a pious vow of silence, from which he swears he can be disturbed by nothing less than "definitive proof":
Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not [authentic], I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill.
(Rather prefers information manufactured in the amateur rumor mill.)

By the way, was "definitive proof" the standard CBS applied when it chose to foist these specious documents into the public discourse? No, the standard CBS says it followed in reporting the existence of the memos was a "preponderance of evidence," a much lower standard than "definitive proof." Aside from what's lately been discovered, even the purported "preponderance of evidence" that CBS relied upon at the time has proven to be at best unreliable and at worst intentionally distorted. Is it any surprise that the actual standard CBS applied was the "hotness" standard? The memos were "too hot not to push."

CBS and Rather are now learning a thing or two about "hotness."

And so Rather's rant continues:
My colleagues and I at '60 Minutes' made great efforts to authenticate these documents and to corroborate the story as best we could. . . . I think the public is smart enough to see from whom some of this criticism is coming and draw judgments about what the motivations are.
Yes, the public is plenty smart enough to draw judgments about motivations. That's why Rather's job and CBS News' ratings totter on the precipice.

If more "definitve proof" really were still needed, the corner offices at Black Rock would obviously be a good place to begin the search. Therefore, to reduce the risk that yet more "definitive proof" might come to its attention, CBS has announced (contrary to earlier reports) that it has no plans to conduct an internal investigation:
Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned.
One would think that a company ostensibly engaged in journalism would possess enough collective experience of the traditions of that fine profession to know that a scandal like this one can't be brought to a halt by indignant stonewalling denials. CBS might have briefly consoled itself with the hope that other news organizations might give it a pass as a matter of professional courtesy. And they did--for about twenty-four hours. Yes, lest CBS somehow turn the tables against them, NBC, ABC, Fox, The Washington Post, The LA Times, The Dallas Morning News, et al, will be somewhat more cautious than usual in pursuing this story. But to its journalistic competitors CBS presents both a more enticing and a more vulnerable target than other companies that have found themselves the subject of the media's delicate attentions. CBS is a more enticing prey for obvious competitive reasons. And a more vulnerable one as well because, notwithstanding CBS's announced decision not to conduct an internal investigation, it is all too tempting for newsmen to let things slip while downing a few beers. There must still be at least a few professionals at CBS News, and they can't be too happy about the mess Dan Rather has poured over their heads. Ditto for the few media outlets which, having precipitously taken up CBS's defense, now find themselves sharing in its humiliation.

No matter how much Dan might wish it otherwise, the grand poobaahs at CBS cannot be so abstracted from reality to believe questions like the ones now being raised about CBS's forged memos will simply go away. How can CBS save itself from further damage? The obvious answer is, CBS must:

1) apologize for its error;

2) acknowledge the truth as it is now known, including information CBS is still withholding;

3) make an honest effort to discover whatever truth remains untold about the memos, including the failings within CBS News that led it to become a party to the deception;

4) undertake institutional reforms to prevent future offenses.

Oh, but how to apologize? That's always the tricky part. Dan Rather seems to have carried himself beyond the point of no return. And the most contrite apology in the world won't save Rather and the network from plenty of much deserved ridicule. Perhaps his superiors in the CBS hierarchy will be so merciful as to offer him the opportunity to apologize now, retire in two or three months, and thereby spare himself the ultimate humiliation of an immediate, unceremonious dismissal. But if Rather can't bring himself to 'fess up, the execs at CBS will spend a few days or weeks working out their damage control strategy, and then they'll cut him loose "quicker than a trout fisherman unhooks a channel cat."

posted by Bathus | 9/12/2004 09:00:00 AM
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Thursday, September 09, 2004

It's not that I enjoy bashing liberals. They just make it so damn easy.
posted by Tom

Anybody catch Ralph Nader on O'Reilly the other night?

He was asked about the on going Kerry-Bush-Viet Nam controversy, and in that stentorian manner of his that makes John Kerry's personality seem exciting, he told O'Reilly it was a fact that John Kerry went to Viet Nam and George Bush didn't.

Yeah. And ....?

Apparently there is some profound meaning in this fact that Nader believes everyone should intuitively grasp. Surely, any thinking person would realize there's something deeply, deeply wrong with George W. Bush once he acknowledges the fact Bush did not go to Viet Nam and Kerry did.

Nader went on to sneer about Bush the 'chickenhawk', obviously referring to the president's 'tough talk' on terrorism and his deployment of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq when he himself stayed out of harm's way some 35 years before he even thought of becoming president. Here Nader is implicitly telling the audience that combat veterans like John Kerry exclusively possess the moral authority to serve as commander in chief and wage war. As a matter of fact, veterans like Kerry are the only ones possessing the moral authority to even discuss war or contemplate sending the armed forces of the US into battle.

Funny thing, though, Ralphie hasn't supported any military action taken by the United States ever since he turned his lies about the automobile industry into a career of lies about everything in American society that turns a profit (the only moral profits are those going into his own pockets). Nader's one of those left-wing purists when it comes to armed conflicts: All war is immoral and waged only to further corporate interests. It didn't matter to him that the first Gulf War was waged by a combat veteran (albeit of WWII, not Viet Nam), George Bush, Sr. That was spilling blood for oil, if you remember.

So, if we understand Nader correctly, a chickenhawk like George W. Bush lacks the moral authority of a combat veteran like John Kerry to serve as commander in chief and to send troops into combat. Except in Nader's universe, using the American military to protect American interests is pretty much always using it to protect corporate interests and is therefore pretty much always immoral. It would seem, then, that Presidents who are combat veterans possess the moral authority to do what Nader deems immoral. Such men earn his condemnation and contempt. They are worthy of it, you could say.

Of course, a combat veteran president who ordered the US military to attack Ford or General Motors or Pfizer or Astra Zeneca or Bristol Myers would make Nader as happy as the proverbial pig in shit. Under such circumstances, he, Michael Moore, Bill Maher and the rest of the liberal moron brigade would be waving flags and praising the troops.

Anyhoo, as he does after verbalizing his statist bumper stickerisms about corporate America, the environment, etc., Nader was ready to move onto the next subject after informing O'Reilly of the Kerry/Nam - Bush/No Nam fact, smugly confident that he had identified the vast chasm of character that lies between the two candidates. When O'Reilly asked a couple of feeble follow-ups, Nader looked perplexed, as he always does when other people don't grasp the meaning of his knee-jerk, simplistic facts immediately.

Now, if the toughest interrogator Nader will ever face is an ex-high school teacher whose claim to journalistic fame prior to Fox was having hosted the tabloid show Inside Story, he's truly a blessed politician. He'll never have to worry about someone asking him to explain the significance of the fact John Kerry went to Viet Nam and Bush didn't. Then again, Nader would be shocked to find out any explanation was needed. Everyone just knows there's something about the Viet Nam conflict that makes one special simply by having been involved in it. For four months.

Which got me to thinking ...

William Calley went to Viet Nam and Bush didn't. He was there longer than Kerry. Maybe liberals should have nominated him for president. Think about all of the hassles they would have avoided. Unlike Kerry, everyone knows for sure what Calley did in Viet Nam to earn his reputation. Wouldn't have had to worry about any challenges to that record. No, sir. And if liberals really, really loved Kerry because of his service in Southeast Asia, they could have pressured his brother to choose him as a running mate. And Nader would have been able to kill two birds with one stone on O'Reilly, telling him, "It's a fact Calley and Kerry went to Viet Nam, Bill. Bush and Cheney didn't."

And rest assured, O'Reilly would have asked a couple of stupid follow up questions, then moved on.

posted by Tom | 9/09/2004 01:21:00 PM
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Quiz for Undecided Voters: The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime
posted by Bathus

At some point in every presidential election, every candidate claims that the contest is The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime.

Well, this year is no different, except that this year that claim can't be dismissed as overwrought campaign hyperbole. This election might very well be The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime.

I expect that most of you probably already have a pretty firmly set idea about why this election is so important. And I also have the feeling that, whether you're "fer it or agin it," your idea about what makes this election so important is exactly the same as mine.

But in case you're one of those undecided voters who still can't quite wrap your mind around what makes this election The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime, maybe this will help clarify your thinking.

As you know by now, moments after the close of the GOP convention last week, John Kerry gave a midnight speech to rebut that slandering, chickenhawk chimp from Texas. Demonstrating the clear vision with which he would lead us through the difficult days ahead, Mr. Kerry used the last five minutes of his candlelight address to explain in careful detail why he thinks this election is The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime.

As you read the following excerpt from John Kerry's midnight speech, pay close attention to his reason(s) for why this election is so important. There will be a short quiz later.
Post-Republican Convention Campaign Rally

transcript of last 5 minutes of Kerry speech;
(this excerpt starts at the 31st minute of the clip)

My friends, this quite simply, and it's not because I'm saying it to you, this is The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime. And the reason I dare to say that to you is because, the reason I say that to you is because, all over this country as John and I were travelling across the country by bus and by rail, you came out. You all stood out there at twelve thirty at night in some places. You hold signs. You're hoping for the America that we know we can be when we live up to our values and our ideals. And I'll tell ya, as we cross this great land of ours, John and I felt this incredible sense of responsibility and the spirit of our nation. We went through communities at twelve thirty at night, several thousand people. We were goin' through one little community, and, and people, I was leanin' over the side of the train shaking hands, and people were cheering and saying you, you gotta talk to us, and I saw this sign, and the sign said, "John, give us eight minutes, and we'll give ya eight years." I'm tellin' ya folks, you, you never saw, you never saw a train stop so fast. And I never knew I could stop a train so fast.

And then we went on from there, and, and, we came to this wonderful little crossing out in the desert--beautiful rocks and the sunset goin' down--and it just gives you the sense of the power of our country. And there standing by a railroad crossing, as we went through clickety-clack at whatever miles per hour, was one lone figure, standing there at attention holding the American flag and saluting the train as we went by, all by himself. That's America. That's what this country wants, is a hope for the future.

And I'll tell you another.

Two nights ago, a few nights ago, I was in Philadelphia, and I got introduced to this tussle-haired little kid, guy came up to about here on me, tiny little kid. But he showed me this picture. And it was a picture of him sittin' out in the street where he was during the summer with a sign and a table. At the table he had some bracelets, and the sign said, "Kerry for President." And this little six year old kid had gotten his nine year old brother to make the bracelets for 'em. And he was sellin' the bracelets. And this six year old kid came up to me with a tupperware container, handed it to me, with $680 to change America, to change America.

So for all of you here tonight, we got about 60 days, in the Most Important Election of a Lifetime, where everything you care about is on the line: your job, your healthcare, education, the capacity of our kids to be able to afford to go to college and get the skills they need to open the doors of opportunity, the ability of children to be safe after school, the ability of teachers to have a class size where they're actually able to teach, and not be punished by a system that is punitive. We need to respect education; we need to respect science; we need to reinvest in America, and when John Edwards and I are there, I'm tellin' you, we are going to fight every day, all day, for the middle class of America, to give a tax cut to the middle class of America, to make the workplace work for the middle class of America, to put America back to work.

And John and I know this, we know this: Every day of this campaign, if you'll do your part, because I'll tell you what, the outcome of this election is far more in your hands than it's in John's or mine. It's in your hands. If you'd go out there and do what, what, what, uh, little Willie Fields, six years old, did, if each of you will pick a number of people to talk to, and just talk common sense. Just tell 'em the truth. Just tell 'em there's nothing conservative about running up the biggest deficits in American history and piling debt on top of our children. Tell 'em! Tell' em that hope is there for America. Tell 'em that for the United States of America, because of who we are, the sun is rising if we get the right leadership that heads us in the right direction. Tell 'em that America's best days are ahead of us. And tell 'em that while some people may want to divide this country into the red states and blue states, not John Edwards and John Kerry. We want this to be one America, red, white, and blue. All of it working for all Americans. Let's go out and get the job done. Let's get back our own democracy in the United States. Thank you and God bless you all.


According to what John Kerry explained in his midnight speech, the 2004 presidential election is The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime because:

  • A) John Edwards and John Kerry have travelled all over this country by bus and train.

  • B) You're hoping for the America that we know we can be when we live up to our values and our ideals, or something like that.

  • C) At twelve thirty one morning, John Kerry saw a sign in the desert.

  • D) John Kerry never knew he could stop a train so fast.

  • E) There is a wonderful little place out in the desert with beautiful rocks, and when the sun is going down it gives you the sense of the power of our country, or something like that.

  • F) A train goes "clickety-clack" at whatever miles per hour.

  • G) It means an awful lot to a lonely guy at a railroad crossing who stands at attention holding a flag and salutes passing trains.

  • H) John Kerry will tell you another.

  • I) It means an awful lot to a tussle-headed six year old Philadelphia kid who gave John Kerry $680.

  • J) Everything you care about is on the line.

  • K) Your job is on the line.

  • L) Your education is on the line.

  • M) Your healthcare is on the line.

  • N) Your kid's chance to learn the skills he needs to be a doorman is on the line.

  • O) Gobs and gobs of other stuff is on the line.

  • P) Teachers are being punished in a system that's punitive.

  • Q) We need to reinvest in America, or something like that.

  • R) John Kerry and John Edwards will fight all day.

  • S) The middle class needs a tax cut, or something like that.

  • T) The workplace does not work for the middle class to put America back to work, or something like that.

  • U) If you pick a number of people to talk to, and just talk common sense, you can sell a lot of tupperware in Philadelphia.

  • V) There's nothing conservative about piling debt on a tussle-headed six year old kid like that tussle-headed kid whose tussle-headed name John Kerry keeps forgetting, uh, uh, Willie Fields.

  • W) We are engaged in a war that will determine whether we will live in freedom or in fear.

  • X) The sun won't rise if we don't get the right leadership that heads us in the right direction, or something like that.

  • Y) Red, white and blue are extremely hard-working middle class colors.

  • Z) We have to get back our own democracy in the United States, or something like that.

The correct answer is posted in the sidebar announcements.

[NOTE: A reader has emailed me complaining that the speech excerpted above is not a very funny parody. That's true. It's not a parody, and it's not funny. But it is the actual transcript of the last five minutes of Kerry's midnight speech. I'm sorry Kerry's speech wasn't funny; it wouldn't be funny even if he weren't running for president. -- Adeimantus]

posted by Bathus | 9/08/2004 06:00:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

It depends on what the meaning of "thoroughly discredited" is
posted by Tom

MSNBC/Newsweek dork Jonathan Alter’s fantasies of a job in a Kerry Administration continue unabated. His latest act of sycophancy is a ‘tough love’ letter to the candidate and the DNC, “The Democrats' ‘Toughness Gap'”. And Jon Alter knows ‘tough’. Check out the photo that accompanies his column. Who could mistake that hardbitten, “Yeah, I‘ve drunk my share of appletinis, what of it?” look for anything but toughness? It's Alter's tough thesis that the Kerry Campaign and the Democrats have to get tough with the Bush Administration and not allow its surrogates, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to get away with impugning the Conqueror of Southeast Asia's heroic war record. One immediately notices the preposterousness of Alter's thesis. He has forgotten: 1) The Democrats and Kerry launched a smear campaign against SBVFT and wasted no time in drawing specious connections between them and the Bush Administration the very day their first anti-Kerry ad aired; and 2) the Democrats and Kerry accomplished 1) with the assistance of liberal media, an assistance Alter continues in this column.

His ‘tough’ premise that the democrats are, as Ah-nold would say, girlie-men when it comes to the battle for the White House is a mere smokescreen for the real purpose of this column, which is to repeat the DNC/Kerry campaign talking points that have thus far been unsuccessful in discrediting the Swifties. He dresses up this piece with nonsense about how relatively few Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt have made it to the White House because they "mostly lack the light touch or the instinct for the jugular.” Unfortunately, Jon, many also lacked family connections to the mob that could steal an election (see, Kennedy, John F.), or the sociopathic tendencies that endeared them to a liberal press (see Clinton, William J.). Alter isn't concerned with corruption, but toughness. Personally, I would posit the theory that the reason why fewer Democrats made it to the White House is because they mostly lacked enough legitimate votes (Kennedy excepted), or the illegitimate votes just couldn’t get them over the top (Kennedy excepted), but then I’m not as deep – or as tough – as Alter.

Alter can’t simply state the current democrat line that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are lying because they received seed money from a Republican who supports George Bush and an attorney advising the Bush campaign advised them. Someone close to Alter evidently loves him enough to point out the total illogic of the Democrat's position in this regard, because rather than make more of a fool out of himself than usual, he abandons this train of non-thought and chooses the line of attack common to most pseudo-intellectual liberals who have managed to land weekly columns and don't have competent editors (see Dowd, Maureen for further proof): It's like something else it isn't really like. In this case, the SBVFT are lying because they are like some other "similar" liar Alter experienced as a tough writer for a glossy entertainment magazine masquerading as a news weekly.

According to Alter, the swift boat veterans are like an anonymous World War II veteran who approached Newsweek in 1992 “with an unsubstantiated story about how he said he saw President George H.W. Bush strafing unarmed Japanese fishermen in the Pacific when both men were young Navy fliers.” Newsweek was above publishing such an “unsubstantiated” rumor. Newsweek, you see, is only interested in substantiated smear jobs like the one against Bill Bennett and his Las Vegas gambling losses, but I digress.

Note the similarity, if you will, between one anonymous WWII veteran floating a rumor and some 250 swift boat veterans, roughly a quarter of whom have sworn out affidavits testifying to John Kerry’s exaggerations about Viet Nam.

If anybody thinks they can explain to Alter how analogies work in a way he will understand, feel free.

Alter says that Newsweek refused to publish the allegations "until after the election, and if we had, Bill Clinton's campaign indicated it would have denounced them.” This is interesting phrasing, isn't it? Forget for the moment that talk is cheap, and focus on the convoluted non-denouncement denouncement. The Clinton campaign "indicated it would have denounced" such stories? Evidently the Clinton campaign didn't state emphatically it denounced such irrelevant stories, but only "indicated" it "would"- presumably under certain conditions. What were those, we have to wonder? If, say, 249 more of Bush, Sr.'s fellow pilots, many of them under oath, came forward with the same or substantially similar accusations? If the poll numbers started to look bad for Clinton? And, why, if Newsweek was so piously opposed to "unsubstantitated rumor" did it even approach the Clinton campaign with it? Methinks Alter is revealing more about the pro-Democrat machinations of Newsweek than he intends.

But of course the reason Newsweek and Alter would not publish a lone unsubstantiated allegation that Bush, Sr. committed “war crimes” is that it would have forced Newsweek and others in liberal media to acknowledge there was no proof of the allegation, which would have blown up in their boy’s face, whether he condemned the story or not. And don’t forget, there was conclusive proof Bill Clinton had dodged the Viet Nam draft, and any examination of GHW Bush’s WWII service would necessarily have reinvigorated an examination of Clinton’s non-Nam service, which Alter and his pals at Newsweek and the other Clinton glossies (and John Kerry, come to think of it) had deemed irrevelvant in 1992. They didn’t want anything to distract from Clinton's and their lies about the economy.

After getting all of this nonsense out of the way, Alter hastens to the real point of the piece, a repeat of the falsehood from the Kerry faxes that the Swift Boat veterans’ allegations that Kerry exaggerated his Nam service have been “thoroughly discredited.” As of the date Alter (who consistently proves the theory that a monkey pounding on the keyboard long enough will come up with a Newsweek column) submitted this, the Swift Boat veterans against Kerry hadn't retracted a single allegation - and still haven't. Kerry on the other hand:

- Has changed the story pertaining to the award of his first Purple Heart for an action that allegedly occurred on Dec. 2, 1968. The Swift Boat veterans said Kerry did not come under enemy fire, that his injury was the result of shrapnel from a grenade he himself fired. Kerry's own diary entry of Dec. 11, nine days after the alleged contact with the enemy and used by his official fibber, Douglas Brinkley, in "Tour of Duty" states: "We hadn't been shot at yet." A Kerry campaign flack, John Hurley, recently told a reporter it's "possible" that Kerry's first Purple Heart came from a self-inflicted wound.

- Admitted he attended a 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Kansas City, Mo., where the group floated the idea of assassinating U.S. senators. Kerry denied attending the meeting. The Swifties said he was there. FBI files confirmed his attendance.

- Amended the narrative surrounding the pivotal "heroic" moment of his four month tour of duty in Nam, the rescue of Jim Rassman after a mine knocked Rassman off a boat. Kerry's story was that his fellow swifties ran for cover while he bravely faced enemy fire to rescue Rassman. The Kerry campaign and Brinkely have since had to admit that other swifties did not run because all eywitness accounts describe that others in addition to Rassman were pulled from the water by Kerry's colleagues on other boats.

- Backtracked on the fairy tale of Christmas Eve in Cambodia in 1968 under orders from President Nixon, a myth Alter, Newsweek, and the rest of the liberal press have been Lewinskying for nigh these last 25 years and which the Swiftboat veterans have vociferously disputed.

Perhaps Alter hasn’t been keeping score, but so far it's Swift Boat Vets for Truth - 4, Kerry - 0, and so far, the only one thoroughly discredited is Kerry tool Jonathan Alter.

posted by Tom | 9/07/2004 11:57:00 AM
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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Complete Abortion Justice
posted by Bathus

The article reproduced below is something that was posted anonymously to an internet news group a couple of years ago. I had skimmed it quickly and then copied it to my hard drive for a closer reading later. But when I tried to read it, the stilted, bloated writing made me give up after the first few lines. I had forgotten all about it until I ran across it again a few months ago while clearing out old files on my computer. On that occasion I managed to reread it all the way through and found it to be the strangest argument I've ever seen on the question of abortion. The argument is utterly off-putting, yet at the same time thoroughly convincing--if, that is, you accept the writer's implicit premise that a pregnant woman's decision to have an abortion or a child is hers and hers alone.

Notwithstanding the creepily inapposite hyper-rationalism that seems to inform his understanding of relations between men and women, the writer's argument maintains an internal logic that is difficult to dispute. I really do fear that the writer's opinion, due in part to the consistency of its moral logic, is now shared by a growing number of modern males who think, "If the bitch won't get rid of it, that's her choice and that's fine with me, just so long as she don't expect me to pay her to raise the damn thing."

Even if most men who arrive at that opinion navigate to it more by blind emotion than by cold-blooded logic, the spread of that opinion still worries me. For the sake of the relations among men, women, and children, both the opinion and the logic implicitly supporting it must be countered. So ever since I reread the article reproduced below, I've been trying to formulate some sort of effective response against it. As every decent student of Plato knows, the only real way to defeat an argument is to concede its premise and then to demonstrate that the argument's conclusion is not consistent with the premise. But in this case, once I concede the writer's premise, I'm stuck with his main conclusion. Perhaps you'll have better luck. In any event, while the opinion the writer expresses is so disgusting that it will equally offend pro-choicers and pro-lifers, it also seemed to me that the writer's inflammatory argument might stimulate in both camps some new reflections about how abortion politics has raised the stakes in the eternal battle of the sexes.



One often sees surveys showing that a higher percentage of men than women support abortion. This is as it should be because abortion liberates men, at least as much as women, from the antiquated restrictions of traditional sex-based roles. This article aims to elucidate some of the benefits abortion secures for men and to encourage men to pursue the long term goal of complete abortion justice. Furthermore, because complete abortion justice does not yet exist for men, this article seeks to empower men with coping strategies to enable them privately to attain abortion justice in their individual reproductive, areproductive, and antireproductive transactions. In an era when abortion is freely available, no male can justly be held responsible for the birth of any child when any pregnant female can choose not to have that child.


The Obsolete Cultural Artifacts. Before the advent of the liberating influence of abortion, if a man impregnated a woman out-of-wedlock, traditionally he had only three options:

1) Marry the female and be bound for his entire life, not only to a woman for whom he probably had no genuine emotional attachment, but also to a mundane existence of enervating work, the fruits of which would be expended almost entirely for the support of the wife and child. Because of the dependence of the woman and her children, the man could not risk exploring or pursuing more fulfilling or pleasant life choices.

2) Allow the female to fend for herself and the child, in which case the male would most likely be made by society to feel guilt and certainly would be harmed in his reputation, which would damage his opportunities to find willing partners for future sexual transactions. He might also be psychically burdened by a culturally imposed longing to interact with his offspring to whom he could be denied access by the mother as revenge for his principled refusal to submit to artificial, socially constructed sex-based roles of head-of-family and provider.

3) Acknowledge paternity, refuse to marry, but pay child-support, in which case, the male would be burdened with the sex-based role of family provider, without receiving any of the benefits (i.e., the sexual benefits of regular access to a female; the dubious but nonetheless socially valorized psychic benefits of interaction with his offspring; and the purely artificial benefits society bestows upon a male who submits to the role of "good family man").

Even in the present relatively enlightened times when abortion is widely available, cultural artifacts of obsolete social values continue to coerce men into outmoded sex-based roles as bread-winners, protectors, soldiers, and heads of households. Archaic social values still unjustly impose responsibility upon a male--vis-a-vis a female who has freely chosen to accept a possibility that she might become impregnated by him--for a child produced of their sexual transaction, even though the birth of that child takes place only if dictated by the female's free and sole choice.

The Advantages of Complete Abortion Justice. Complete abortion justice will allow both men and women to enjoy the natural psychic benefits of frequent and varied sex partners without having any of the archaic burdens of the traditional sex-based roles imposed upon them against their individual wills. Moreover, if society valorizes a rational understanding of the liberating influence of abortion, society will eliminate the unfair advantages it now unjustly awards to the so-called "good family man." Complete abortion justice will liberate men from the shame-based and/or guilt-based constraints inherent in the suffocatingly narrow roles of protector and provider and will allow men freely to explore and to develop their creative and intellectual capacities to achieve fully self-realized individuality.

Complete Abortion Justice: Equality of Post Conception Choice. Achievement of full and equal reproductive, areproductive, and antireproductive rights for both men and women requires that the laudable principle that "no woman shall be forced to become a parent against her independent choice" must also be applied equally to men, such that "no man shall be forced to become a parent against his independent choice."

Complete abortion justice requires that there be an equality of choice that does not yet exist. Insofar as a male and a female, entering upon a sexual transaction and prior to conception of any child, have independently chosen to engage in that sexual transaction, then after the sexual transaction is finished, complete abortion justice requires that they each individually be granted an equality of choice after conception. Men, equally with women, must be permitted to exercise a post-conception choice about whether to accept any burden of parenthood.

Under current societal values, a woman cannot be compelled to accept parenthood merely on the basis of her decision to engage in the sexual act that resulted in pregnancy. Instead, with the liberating "right to choose," every woman is legally granted an independent post-conception choice about whether to become a parent. The female retains a post-conception choice either to have a child or to have an abortion. By contrast, in the currently imposed value set, the male is unjustly denied a corresponding post-conception choice. Parenthood can be imposed upon him merely on the basis of his having engaged in the sexual act that resulted in the pregnancy, even though parenthood cannot be imposed on the female who engaged in that very same act.

Not only is a male unjustly denied a post-conception choice equal to that of the female, what's even more unjust is that a male can be forced into parenthood by the female's post-conception choice to have a child. Thus, under the current unjust value set, the post-conception choice that properly belongs to the male is socially abrogated to the female, who is granted the power not only to exercise her own post-conception choice but also to assume authority over the male's post-conception choice. This abridgment of the male's post-conception equality of choice is a denial of equal justice for men. It is a denial of complete abortion justice.

Because the post-conception choice of whether to accept the responsibilities of parenthood is a private, personal, and life-altering decision, neither partner to a sexual transaction should be allowed to impose his or her own parenthood decision on the other sex partner. The equality of abortion justice requires that men, equally with women, must be permitted to exercise a post-conception choice of whether to accept any parenthood role, including the role of providing financial support for the child. This choice, when made by a male, must be honored by all other persons, including the pregnant woman, just as the post-conception choice of a female must be honored by all other persons, including the male who impregnated her.

This conclusion has been endorsed by Karen DeCrow, a leading feminist and Constitutional lawyer, who served as President of the National Organization for Women from 1974 to 1977, the very years when abortion was first enshrined as a fundamental individual right. In a letter published in the New York Times on May 9, 1982, Ms. DeCrow wrote:
The courts have properly determined that a man should neither be able to force a woman to have an abortion nor to prevent her from having one, should she so choose. Justice therefore dictates that if a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support. Or, put another way, autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.
Ms. DeCrow's words belie any claim that a female's post-conception choice is uniquely supported by the consideration that forcing her to bring a fetus to term would be an unjust imposition on her bodily freedom. A brief nine month imposition on a female's bodily freedom, though perhaps more intense, is no more cummulatively burdensome than the twenty-one year imposition present law threatens against the bodily freedom of a male, who during that entire term is subject to humiliating incarceration should he ever fail to hand over an installment of child support. True equality of abortion justice demands that neither a male nor a female should be forced to accept any burden of parenthood against his or her free choice.

Complete abortion justice obviously requires that a pregnant female remains free after conception to decide for herself whether to become a mother. By the same token, the equality of choice that is inherent in complete abortion justice also requires that a pregnant female who freely decides to have a child--instead of an abortion--cannot be permitted to impose her parenthood decision upon her sex partner by forcing him to accept any duty of fatherhood, including a duty to pay child-support, if he has expressed a post-conception choice not to accept that duty.


Some might object that until the complete abortion justice described above is realized, so that both the male and the female have an equal right to exercise a post-conception parenthood decision, abortion rights as currently distributed do not fully benefit men. It remains true that when a pregnant woman exercises her post-conception choice to have a child instead of an abortion, society does not honor the male's post-conception choice against fatherhood, but instead attempts to force the female's parenthood choice upon the male by requiring him to provide financially for the child, and may even imprison the male for failure to pay child support if he refuses to submit to society's legal, sexual, and cultural oppression. While that objection is theoretically true, in practice a man can effectively realize abortion justice privately in his own case if he acts reasonably to persuade the woman to accede him his proper areproductive and antireproductive rights.

To overcome the lack of equality in existing legal and social mores, a man is equitably entitled to employ any form of persuasion short of force to fulfill any and all of his areproductive and antireproductive rights not yet formally recognized in law. To that end, men who would otherwise be denied abortion justice must not hesitate and must be willing to take advantage of the psychological fact that a newly-impregnated woman is, as a result of hormonal changes as well as the novelty of her condition, extraordinarily receptive to well-conceived and executed persuasive techniques. Without resort to force or physical compulsion, a sensible man privately seeking abortion justice in his own case can persuade almost any woman to have an abortion by using methods similar to those set forth below.

Emotional Persuasion. These techniques of emotional persuasion must be carefully adapted to suit the particular pregnant female involved:

Preganacny resulting from a semi-monagamous unmarried relationship. If not married to the impregnated female, but if involved in a semi-regular relationship with her, the male can usually persuade the female to have an abortion through the simple but effective device of telling her that he has strong feelings for her and that he wants the relationship to continue to develop, but that he fears that having a child now will interrupt the progress of the relationship toward its "ultimate goal." (Most women will interpret such a statement as a promising hint that a marriage proposal will be forthcoming after the abortion, while the man keeps it to himself that for him the ultimate goal of the relationship is to have sex as often as he desires until such time as he no longer desires that particular woman.) If the woman persists in expressing a desire to have the child, the man can also suggest that he, too, wants to have children, but only in the context of a loving, voluntary relationship, and marrying and having the child now would put the taint of obligation on the union and on the child, forever poisoning what might have been a pure relationship. If the female still persists in attempting to enforce her parenthood decision upon the male, the male should wait until the female is noticeably "showing," and then the male should offer to marry the woman immediately, but only on the condition that the woman has an abortion prior to the marriage. The male can justify this condition on the emotional basis similar to the one described above (i.e., that having a child at this time will put the taint of obligation upon the marriage). This approach creates a high-stakes scenario for the female, one which she is unlikely to be able to manage given the emotional volatility of her condition. Thus, the female is likely to accept this condition either because her reason for becoming pregnant in the first place (to ensnare a husband) appears to have been fulfilled, or because her personal vanity will make her want to be able to claim that she did not use her pregnancy to "force" the man into marriage, or simply because she will prefer to avoid the embarrassment of walking down the isle with a big belly. Most unmarried women of our times will be persuaded by such arguments. After the woman exercises her choice to abort the child, the man can, when he desires either withdraw the offer of marriage and offer to continue the relationship as before if the female so wishes or end the relationship altogether. In any case, the male should be careful not to impregnate the same female again, as the effectiveness of this type of persuasion declines slightly when used more than once on the same female.

Pregancy resulting from a casual sexual transaction. If the pregnancy was the result of a casual encounter, even though it is possible in such cases that the child might be the product of the woman's casual sex with some other male, the accused male should resist the initial impulse to deny paternity. In this era of DNA testing, denials of paternity quickly become irrelevant, and an incorrect denial of paternity has the effect of generating intransigence on the part of the female, which limits the male's persuasive options going forward. The successful male will realize that a female's uncertainty about paternity actually increases his persuasive alternatives. Instead of immediately denying paternity, the male should valorize all of the newly-pregnant woman's emotions, both her hopes and her fears. For when a female has become pregnant from a casual encounter, the shock of the unexpected emotional reciprocation leaves her less able to discern the true state of her affairs. Rather than abandoning the field to the machinations of man- hating family court judges, the male should indicate to the female that he will "respect and support" whatever decision she should make. At the same time, instead of explicitly denying paternity, the male should work subtly upon the doubts that the female herself will most likely be having, since she herself probably knows that this was not the only casual sexual encounter that might have produced the pregnancy. The male should tell the female that, whatever she decides, he will "do the right thing." The male's vague suggestion that he would be willing to marry this woman with whom he has had only a casual encounter will only increase the female's confusion. While the female is still riven with doubt and suppressed shame about her condition, the male should off-handedly mention to the woman some story about some childhood friend whose features were so unlike his father's and his other siblings' that the father could never completely accept the child as his own, etc. When telling this story, the male should be sure to emphasize how glad he is that they won't have to worry about that kind of problem with this child because he knows she was never acting like a slut. The effect of this persuasion is to put the entire burden of the decision on the woman when she is confused by the unexpected attention shown by a man who was merely a casual sex partner, when she is herself still doubtful of the child's paternity, and when she is completely uncertain about the family dynamic that would evolve if the child has features unlike the putative father. Since a female in this kind of casual relationship does not really know the true character of the person who is now a potential life-mate, it can be very useful to display some truly disgusting personal habit (e.g., nose-picking or finger-sniffing) or some bizarre hobby (e.g., taxidermy) that women generally find both offensive and revealing of character. This approach will cause the woman first to abhor the prospect of marrying the male and secondly to begin abhor the prospect that the child she carries will turn out to be like its father. When these effects have been brought to the most intense level possible within the shortest possible time, the male should tearfully tell the woman that he has "seen in her eyes" that she does not love him, that he understands that he is not good enough for her, but that he hopes she will not punish him by having his child--a child for whom he could never, under the circumstances, be a complete father. In the very rare case in which the female exercises her right to have the child, a child which she herself neither wanted nor anticipated, it is highly likely that she will decline to seek child-support inasmuch as to do so will cause her publicly to accept a permanent social arrangement (e.g., joint-custody, visitation, etc.) with a man she considers repugnant.

Pregnancy resulting from a married relationship. Even if he has already been trapped into a marriage, a man stands a yet better chance of persuading the woman to have the abortion: In addition to the arguments suggested above, which can be adapted to fit the married situation, the implicit threat of divorce (with suggestions of infidelity on the part of the female) carries additional persuasive force.

Rational Persuasion. One may sometimes impregnate a female whose character, intellect, and education render her invulnerable to the persuasive arguments set forth above. In that case, a more direct approach, based on rational arguments will always suffice. Such women tend to be those who most strongly support the principle of the primacy of individual choice. Thus, when the impregnated female is a rational creature, an appeal to basic fairness and the primacy of individual choice will enable the male to avoid an unjust imposition of the consequences of pregnancy. Rational persuasion is truly the most noble, because it honorizes the female's deeply held respect for choice and fairness, and results in freely negotiated abortion justice in the private context between a male and female operating at the highest level of intellectual honesty. Freely bargained abortion justice arguably would be preferable even to an as-yet-unrealized legally established abortion justice because, rather than being imposed externally through force of law, a freely negotiated resolution valorizes the choices of autonomous human beings who are fully respectful of the antireproductive and areproductive decisions of their sexual transactions partners. In dealing with the rare female intellectually and emotionally capable of accessing these principles, the argument the male must present to her is as follows:
This pregnancy was the result of the conjunction of our mutual, yet separate, independent, and free decisions to have sex. When you became pregnant as a result of your independent and free decision to have sex, you thereafter justly retained, and do still retain, a further post-conception choice either to have a child or to reject the burdens of parenthood by having an abortion. Neither I nor anyone else is entitled to force you to have an abortion or to force you into motherhood simply because you agreed to have sex.

Even though I am unable to choose fatherhood against your choice, while you are able to choose motherhood against my choice, simple fairness demands that, just as you retain the post-conception choice to reject the burdens of parenthood for yourself, so also should I at least retain the same choice for myself.

You know it would be wrong for me to claim that, just because you had sex with me, I was thereby empowered to impose motherhood upon you. It would be equally wrong for you to believe that, just because I had sex with you, you were thereby empowered to impose fatherhood upon me.

If you wish to bring this fetus to term, you are free to make that choice. However, your dedication to equal rights of men and women must make you freely acknowledge that you are not entitled to force me to accept any burden of your decision. If you choose to have a child, do not expect me to bear the father's burden of providing for its financial support.

I hereby express and exercise my choice against the burdens of fatherhood by tendering to you one-half of the current price of an abortion, an amount established by the most recent quarterly publication of regional health care costs issued by the United States Health Care Financing Administration. [A generous male would offer to increase this amount to cover the entire cost of the abortion since the woman alone undergoes the procedure, for which she should therefore receive some additional compensation.] Having tendered such an amount, I consider myself relieved from any further imaginary obligation either to you or the your fetal tissue. Of course, independently of my post-conception choice, you remain free to choose either motherhood or abortion. But you are not free to impose the consequences of your decision upon me.
A rational female who truly believes in abortion justice and the primacy of individual choice will accept this argument and will in all likelihood remain available for future sexual transactions with the male. A failure in employing this approach can occur only if the male has miscalculated the character of the particular female (i.e., he has used a rational argument when an emotional technique would have been more appropriate to deal with the particular female he has impregnated).

This rational negotiated resolution of the issue of so-called illegitimate pregnancy is certainly fair with regard to the female and the male. It does lead to certain societal issues should the female choose to bear the child, in that the child will not have the financial support traditionally provided by a man oppressed into the archaic sex roles. However, the persistence of this or any other coincidental problem stems more from society's incapacity to develop alternatives to the anachronistic sex-based family roles than from any deficiency in the argument itself.


That the predominant benefits of abortion accrue to men has some historical support. The earliest fighters for female equality, the suffragettes who won women the right to vote, took the position that abortion should be prohibited. They believed that legal abortion would actually be used by men as yet another tool to manipulate and oppress women at a point in their lives when they were most vulnerable and would allow men to avoid reciprocal obligations that supposedly arise naturally from sexual relations between men and women. While the early feminists were obviously wrong about women's capacity to deal rationally with circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, their intuition that the greater benefits of abortion accrue to men seems plausible. Experience and theory have demonstrated that men as well as women, if properly educated against society's false construct, can bargain as rational creatures to secure equal benefits from abortion.

The purpose of this article has been to show rationally why men should join with women to protect and to expand abortion rights. Though the abortion right, in its present incompletely developed permutation, is currently viewed as a woman's right, the benefits of the exercise of this right, even in the absence of full abortion justice, still can accrue to men at least as much and probably more than to women, inasmuch as the shackles of traditional sex-based roles restrain men, if more subtly, then also more completely, than they do women. The liberation of persons of all genders from such anachronisms and the development of a just society of complete individual autonomy depend upon men's ability to recognize, pursue, and demand full equality of abortion justice. However, until full equality of abortion justice is achieved in law, enlightened males should consider themselves equitably entitled to exploit all means of persuasion, rational or irrational, short of physical force to secure abortion justice privately in his individual case.

posted by Bathus | 9/05/2004 01:19:00 AM
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