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Saturday, January 15, 2005
 
I Want to Be a Team Player, But....Multiple Updates!

Roger has a post about Hugh Hewitt's appearance on O'Reilly last night, and links to this transcript.

O'Reilly & Hugh are talking about the story on the Kos/Armstrong payments from the Dean campaign, which I have blogged about previously. But I gotta disagree with Hugh here:

HUGH HEWITT [AUTHOR]: No, Bill. In fact, the idea of payola is very dangerous. Bloggers on the take are very bad for the business of blogging. Blogging of real journalists, and people like Power Line and like InstaPundit and myself, we don't like it when Daily Kos shows up on the take of the Howard Dean campaign. Now Daily Kos says, this is one of the bloggers from the left, says he disclosed it, but not to the satisfaction of anyone who watches him. I didn't know.

Now I can't help contrasting this to the story about Jon Lauck and Jason Van Beek, who both ran pro-John Thune blogs that were funded by the Thune campaign and that never disclosed that funding (although it was reported in a South Dakota newspaper during the campaign). I slammed the two, especially Lauck, who reportedly received $27,000, particularly because I had frequently linked his Daschle v Thune blog as a source of uncontaminated by liberal media bias news about the race. Granted, I knew he was a partisan Republican. I didn't know he was a paid part of the Thune Campaign. As I put it in a comment on Captain's Quarters, it's the difference between Peter Beinart and Terry McAuliffe. Beinart's a Democrat but we all know that he feels free to offer constructive criticism of the Democrats in public. We all know that Terry McAwful is not going to be criticizing the party. So we give Beinart just a tad more credibility than we would Terry.

Anyway, that's why I got hot under the collar at the time; in my opinion Lauck had been presenting himself as Beinart when in reality he was McAuliffe. And not just on the blog, but in appearances on Hugh's radio show, and in articles published in National Review Online. NRO's editor, Kathryn J. Lopez, commented in the Corner just the other day that she would not have published those articles had she known.

Hugh's response to Lauckgate was appropriate, if a little understated:

That having been said, the two blogs that received support from the Thune campaign ought to have declared that support. It is prudent to anticipate criticism and to disarm it by disclosure.

But how do you square that response with his indignation over Kos? Remember, Kos disclosed . See the little disclaimer in the corner? It was written about in a couple of articles including this one in the New York Times Magazine.

Moulitsas's [aka Kos] ''friendly relations'' with particular candidates got him into a public fight with Zephyr Teachout, who became briefly famous last winter as the guru of the Dean Internet campaign, which in fact employed Moulitsas for several months. Over the summer, she complained in several online forums, and to Moulitsas directly, that he and other bloggers were blurring the lines between editorial and advertising, lines that had always been sacred in journalism. According to Teachout, they were posting comments in support of candidates for whom they were also working as paid consultants and not explaining that conflict of interest, or at least not fully enough for Teachout.

I want to root for the home team, here, but I also want to be honest. There are lots of reasons to criticize Kos, but this does not seem to be one of them. I'd add that even if the Lauck/Kos comparison were perfect (i.e., that Kos had not disclosed), I'd probably still feel angrier at Lauck on this particular issue. Why? Because I was the one being deceived by Lauck's blog. If I read anything on the Daily Kos I would have generally not trusted it anyway. Indeed, for this reason it probably makes more sense for each side of the blogosphere to police itself. Nothing I or any conservative blogger can write is going to affect what Kos or MyDD does anyway, right?

So that this doesn't just come off as criticism of Hugh, what should be the standard? In my mind it's full disclosure. I don't think it's realistic to expect popular political blogs not to take advertising dollars from candidates. Captain's Quarters and other blogs accepted advertising from political candidates this election cycle, and I think that's fine as long as it's disclosed (as advertising, by its very nature, is). What about fund-raising? Many blogs did fund-raising for candidates; I would not be surprised if some didn't get a little "scrape" for themselves. Again, this is probably fine as long as it's disclosed.

Update: Captain Ed has much the same take.

Update II: Hugh responds to criticism from the pro-Kos bloggers.

Lauck is in the same position as Kos of failing to make adequate disclosure, though I doubt very much that his disclosure would have changed anyone's opinion about his blog because it was so specific and so pro-Thune to begin with.

That's not a standard; for one thing couldn't Kos could argue that he was pro-Dean to begin with? Realistically, if Kos's disclosure was insufficient, then you can't turn around and forgive Lauck.

Update III: Hugh linked to this post by Chris Suellentrope of Slate. Crucial passage:

Moulitsas' crime isn't taking money from Howard Dean. He, too, can get away with a suspended sentence for insufficiently disclosing his role in the Dean campaign once he was off the payroll. The hanging offense is that Moulitsas took money from other, undisclosed, political clients. And while he may have disclosed—in 2003—that he wouldn't disclose them, that's not good enough.

Okay, so that brings Kos pretty doggone close to the level of Lauck, I would say.
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Friday, January 14, 2005
 
K-Lo on LauckGate

Kathryn J. Lopez announces that she would not have hired Lauck to write on the Daschle/Thune race on NRO had she known that he was being paid by the Thune Campaign.

I apologize to readers: Had I known he had gotten any Thune money (I probably should have asked; I will now), the pieces would not have run on NRO.
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The Reality-Based Community?

Mark Steyn takes on the sore losers:

As usual, the media did their best to string along with the Democrats' alternative reality. For the most part, the press now fulfill the same function for the party that kindly nurses do at the madhouse; if the guy thinks he's Napoleon, just smile affably and ask him how Waterloo's going. So Alan Fram of the Associated Press reported with a straight face that Sen. Boxer, Congressman Conyers and the other protesting Democrats ''hoped the showdown would underscore the problems such as missing voting machines and unusually long lines that plagued some Ohio districts, many in minority neighborhoods.''

I think not. What it underscores is that the Democrats are losers. Speaking as a foreigner -- which I believe entitles me to vote in up to three California congressional districts -- I've voted on paper ballots all my life and reckon all these American innovations -- levers, punch cards, touch screen -- are a lot of flim-flam. I would be all in favor of letting the head of Bangladesh's electoral commission design a uniform federal ballot for U.S. elections. But that's not the issue here. What happens on Election Day is that the Democrats lose and then decide it was because of ''unusually long lines'' in ''minority neighborhoods.'' What ''minority neighborhoods'' means is electoral districts run by Democrats. In Ohio in 2004 as in Florida in 2000, the ''problems'' all occur in counties where the Dems run the system. Sometimes, as in King County in Washington, they get lucky and find sufficient votes from the ''disenfranchised'' accidentally filed in the icebox at Democratic headquarters. But in Ohio, Bush managed to win not just beyond the margin of error but beyond the margin of lawyer. If there'd been anything to sue and resue and re-resue over, you can bet those 5,000 shysters the Kerry campaign flew in would be doing it. Instead, Boxer and Conyers & Co. are using a kind of parliamentary privilege to taint Bush's victory without even the flimsiest pretext.


Hat Tip to KH commenter Margaret.
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The Reality-Based Community?

John at My Take On Things has some comments for the goofballs planning on protesting at President Bush's inauguration.

Several left wing, pot smoking, birkenstock wearing, Green Peace supporting, hemp clothing wearing, head up ass, social and morally inept liberal idiots, plan on holding protests, in Washington D.C. the day of President Bush’s inauguration.
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Dean's Buddy

Our buddy Patrick Hynes gives the Daily Kos, which received "consulting" fees from the Dean campaign, the old one-two.

How about when Kos said John Kerry and his campaign team "should be lined up and shot"? Does Dean endorse Kos's use of the phrase "racists thugs" to describe his rivals in the blogosphere?
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Thursday, January 13, 2005
 
Rating the Divisional Games

Obviously the New England/Indianapolis matchup is greatly anticipated, giving us the battle between the current season's MVP and the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Has there ever been a playoff matchup between a team that won 14 (New England) and 13 (Indy) games during the regular season? Yep, in 1999, Jacksonville hosted Tennessee for the AFC title and was far too gracious, allowing the Titans to slip past them to the Super Bowl. And the year before that, the 15-1 Vikings faced the 14-2 Falcons for the NFC title with the home team again bowing. Interestingly, in 1990 the San Francisco 49ers were 14-2 and the NY Giants 13-3 during the regular season, and once again the visitor earned the right to go to the big dance. Is this a trend?

The Jets-Steelers game will also be interesting as the postseason debut of Ben Roethlisberger. Can he keep his streak alive? Chad Pennington racked up his first road playoff victory last weekend. But the Jets lost to Pittsburgh at Ketchup Field only a month ago, 17-6. The Steelers are one of only 4 15-1 regular season teams, following in the footsteps of the 1984 49ers, 1985 Bears and the 1998 Vikings. All of those teams won their first round playoff game, and the 49ers and Bears went on to the title.
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Brainster's Blog: Now With 50% Less Fog

I was looking for a change of pace today, so I thought I'd look up how readable Brainster's is. I found this website where you just enter the URL of your blog and it rates it in terms of readability.

Brainster's came out pretty well on the readability issue. I came out at 8.4 on the Kincaid scale, 9.1 on the ARI, 10.5 on the Coleman-Liau, 68.4 on the Flesch index and 11.6 on the Fog Index. My SMOG grade was 10.6. Explanations of all these measurements are here.

Then I checked a couple other blogs. For example, the Belmont Club, which is a great blog but not exactly easy reading came out as expected, as much less readable. Their scores were 11.2, 12.8, 13.2, 53.7 (high numbers are more readable on the Flesch Index), 14.6 and 12.8. Kitty, whose blog has always seemed very readable to me, had very similar scores to Brainster, although in most cases her blog graded out as just a tad more readable than mine. In fact, of the 16 or so blogs I put through the scoring, hers was judged the most readable by both the Coleman Liau formula and the Flesch index. The toughest blogs to read, according to these formulas were the aforementioned Belmont Club and Power Line.

The most comparable blog to Brainster's in terms of readability was Something to Cry About. The second most comparable was the blogfather himself, Instapundit. Kitty's was the third most comparable, but really all three of these blogs were very, very comparable, with over a 99.9% correlation between our scores.

Lefty blogger Atrios was fairly comparable to my blog in readability, with a 99.8% correlation in readability scores, but Matt Yglesias (99.0%) and Oliver Willis (98.6%) were less comparable. Brainster's was quite comparable to Michelle Malkin (99.8%) but oddly not to Hugh Hewitt (97.9%). Crush Kerry was very comparable (99.9%), Ankle-Biting Pundits a little less so (99.3%).

Note that while readability is a good thing, having substantially different scores from mine is not necessarily awful. Writing about tougher or more technical subjects will almost inevitably detract from your readability scores, but it does not necessarily mean your blog is less readable in reality. For example, as noted, Power Line probably rates as the toughest blog to read, but I don't find it particularly tough sledding.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005
 
Ranking the Playoff QBS

Don Banks sizes them up as follows:

1. Manning
2. Brady
3. Culpepper
4. McNabb
5. Roethlisberger
6. Bulger
7. Vick
8. Pennington

I disagree with those rankings. First, I'd rank Brady #1. He's got two Super Bowl MVP trophies on his shelf. Until Peyton wins a championship, there's no justification for rating him above Brady. I'd knock Roethlisberger down to the bottom of the list for now. I like Big Ben a lot, but let's see him in a playoff game before we promote him over guys who've won in the postseason.

I'd pick Pennington, who's won two playoff games over Bulger and Vick, who each have one postseason victory. And I'd put McNabb over Culpepper for similar reasons.
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In Case You Hadn't Noticed

Ankle-Biting Pundits is up and running. The site is gorgeous, with oodles of amazing content. Patrick Hynes (the lead partner) is rapidly moving up the Republican pundit food chain, with articles recently in the American Spectator and the Weekly Standard, not to mention his appearances on Hannity & Colmes on TV. And the Bulldog Pundit (Patrick's anonymous writing partner) contributes excellent articles and has a great sense of how to build a community, as we saw with their fabulous Crush Kerry website.
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RatherGate: Another View

Here's a rather bizarre spin on RatherGate:

If there was a problem, it would seem to be with CBS's self-defense, not in the initial broadcast. Even after months and with resources sufficient to draft a 220-page report, Thornburgh and a team of lawyers were not "able to conclude with absolute certainty whether the [documents] are authentic or forgeries." That being the case, how can they possibly fire a news reporter operating under extreme time pressure and institutional pressure to get a scoop, for failing to do just that. Still, "[T]he failure to obtain clear authentication of any of the [documents] from any document examiner," is the very first charge in the report.

Look, this is just silly. Thornburgh & Company probably decided that establishing to a complete certainty that the memos were faked was a fool's errand. It was apparent that the memos were highly suspicious, and therefore they should have been vetted more carefully. If they had been, and if Mapes had not been so anxious to air the story, in all probability CBS would have decided against using the memos.

Others have commented that it is possible to determine whether some documents are bogus. For example, if somebody claims to have a copy of an email message from Jesus Christ to the Apostle Paul, we can safely assume that's phony. But what if they claimed to have a photocopy of a handwritten letter from Jesus to Paul? It would be very, very difficult to prove to a 100% certainty that the photocopy was bogus. So it is with the "Killian" memos. A lot of bloggers have pointed out that the memos could be produced in Word quite easily. But of course this is not the same thing as proving they could not be produced on a typewriter as well. In order to prove they could not be produced on a typewriter, you'd have to try many different brands and styles of typewriters, and even then you could not be certain that you had not missed one.

Mark Kilmer has a similar take.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2005
 
Swiftees Vs Kerry: Where Was Rassmann?

In trying to figure out who is telling the truth, between the Swift Boat Vets and the Kerry camp, one thing to look at is whether either side has lied about issues that can be checked. We know that the Swiftees were right that Kerry had lied about Christmas in Cambodia; nobody defends that story any more. But here's another example of Kerry's lying about one of the most important events in his war record: the Bay Hap Incident, for which Kerry received his Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. I like to refer to this lie as "Where Was Rassmann?"

In early 2004, Kerry's campaign was foundering when Jim Rassmann, a fellow Vietnam veteran, showed up in Iowa and electrified crowds with his description of Kerry's heroism. The story has been told often enough that it is familiar. But what I find curious is the changing nature of the story over time, specificially with regard to which boat Rassmann was on, and how he fell in the water.

Rassman was described here as having been on another boat:

On March 13, 1969, Rassman was a 21-year-old lieutenant in Army Special Forces when he was blown overboard from a boat next to Kerry’s on the Bay Hap River.

and here as well.

Another charge blew Army Lt. James Rassman into the river from another boat.

And of course, most crucially, in Brinkley (page 314):

At that instant, Army Lieutenant Jim Rassman (sic), who was on PCF-35, was blown overboard, although nobody knew it at the time.

Yet when O'Neill's book comes out saying that Rassmann had fallen off Kerry's boat because Kerry sped away from the mine explosion, Rassmann suddenly remembers that yes, he was on Kerry's boat after all. But it was still some sort of explosion:

The second blast blew me off John's swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river.

However, Kerry had previously described the actual incident in a 2002 eulogy (which he had read into the Congressional Record) for his long earlier crew member Tom Belodeau this way:

There was the time we were carrying special forces up a river and a mine exploded under our boat sending it 2 feet into the air. We were receiving incoming rocket and small arms fire and Tommy was returning fire with his M–60 machine gun when it literally broke apart in his hands.

He was left holding the pieces unable to fire back while one of the Green Berets [Rassmann] walked along the edge of the boat to get Tommy another M–60. As he was doing so, the boat made a high speed turn to starboard and the Green Beret kept going -- straight into the river.


So O'Neill was clearly right on two very specific points about which Kerry's campaign was obviously trying to prevaricate. Now, if the Kerry people were willing to lie about which boat Rassmann was on and how he fell off, what else were they lying about, and what were they hiding with the initial lies?
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Monday, January 10, 2005
 
Rathergate Report Update

I had a pressing assignment today (which will continue tomorrow), so I didn't have enough time to do significant blogging. Listened to Hugh Hewitt on fire about it during the drive time and got a chance to read some of the report. First impressions:

1. Rather should be fired. Look, it's ridiculous that he's getting to retire honorably. The panel claims:

"In late August and early September, as the September 8 Segment was being developed, Rather had even greater demands on his time than usual as he was covering the Republican Convention in New York City and then a hurricane in Florida."

Okay, we'll give him a pass on the original segment, although I strongly suspect Rather would have demanded more evidence if the segment had been critical, say, of John Kerry. But how in the world does he get a pass after the controversy erupted? Remember, Rather was the one who assured us that his sources were "unimpeachable". But any intelligent person reading the blogs the day after the story exploded would have seen that there were serious problems with the memos. Rather is trying to claim that he trusted Mapes? Hey, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

2. There is something of a dry wit evident in the writing. I loved this bit:

On Monday, September 20, the CBS Evening News aired a report in which Rather stated that CBS News could "no longer vouch for [the Killian documents'] authenticity." As one of the reasons for this position, the story prominently cited the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett had changed his story and said that he got the documents from a different source that could not be verified. The panel finds this confusing, since 60 Minutes Wednesday had never verified the original source from whom Lieutenant Colonel Burkett initially said he received the documents.

3. Hugh's right that this is not enough. If you're going to say that you couldn't establish political bias, then at least talk about the "appearance" of bias due to the constant hit pieces on President Bush, and the stunning lack of hit pieces on John Kerry despite ample material from the Swift Boat Vets, Captain's Quarters, and Kerry Haters? We found numerous incidents where Kerry lied shamelessly about his war record.
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RatherGate Thoughts

A lot of discussion on the blogs of this topic. The generic reaction is that the report didn't go far enough, in that it avoided admitting that CBS was pursuing a goal of toppling the President.

InDC Journal, and La Shawn Barber have lots of links. Powerline's analysis tipped me to this bit in an email from freelance journalist Michael Smith to Mary Mapes, the CBS producer of the 60 Minutes Wednesday piece:

What if there was a person who might have some information that could possibly change the momentum of an election but we needed to get an ASAP book deal to help get us the information? What kinds of turnaround payment schedules are possible, keeping in mind that the book probably could not make it out until after the election.

Well, that makes it pretty obvious that the goal was to "change the momentum of an election".
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What Happened?

The playoff games this week turned out rather odd. The home teams lost three of the four games, with only the Indianapolis Colts holding serve.

Minnesota at Green Bay: Turnovers told the story of this game. The Packers played the Vikings about even if you ignore the four interceptions. It is a very rare team that can go -4 in the turnover department and win the game.

Denver at Indianapolis: Peyton was the difference. Jake Plummer actually stepped up and had a pretty good game--a little better than 8 yards per attempt, only one pick. The rushing games were about even. But Peyton was averaging almost 14 yards per attempt, which is surreal.

Jets at Chargers: There's no outstanding difference in the statistics, just minor advantages to the Jets all around--8.5 yards per attempt passing to 7.6 yards per attempt, one fewer turnover, 126 yards rushing to 100 (on a few less carries).

St. Louis at Seattle: Same as the Jets/Chargers; a lot of little advantages for the Rams.

How did the quarterbacks do? All of the quarterbacks did well with one exception: Number 4 for Green Bay. In all the games, the quarterback with the higher passer rating won. Manning beat out Plummer 145.7-103.1; Culpepper over Favre 137.1-55.4; Bulger bested Hasselbeck 97.5-93.3 and Pennington outdueled Brees, 115.6 to 101.2.
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Brainster in the Media

Howard Kurtz's Media Notes: May 27, 2005

Slate Today's Blogs:

March 16, 2005

May 9, 2005

June 3, 2005

Cited for Breaking the Christmas in Cambodia story (at Kerry Haters):

Hugh Hewitt: KerryHaters was on this story a long time ago. How could the elite media not have asked these questions before now?

Ankle-Biting Pundits: Our friends Pat and Kitty at Kerry Haters deserve the blog equivalent of a Pulitzer for their coverage of Kerry's intricate web of lies regarding Vietnam.

The Weekly Standard

Les Kinsolving

Greatest Hits

What If the Rest of the Fantastic Four Were Peaceniks?

Lefty Bloggers on Gay Witchhunt (linked by 16 blogs including Instapundit)

Kitty Myers Breaks Christmas in Cambodia

Brainster Shows Brinkley Says No Christmas in Cambodia

Explanation of the Blog's Name

Power Ratings Explained



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