All posts by mjh

I'll be your host for the next 47 seconds.

Latest bin Laden tape

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | ‘Bin Laden tape’ warns US

”I tell the American people we will continue fighting you and we will continue martyrdom operations inside and outside the United States until you stop your injustice, and you end your foolishness,” [bin Laden] said.

”We reserve the right to retaliate at the proper time and place against all countries that take part in this unjust war namely Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan and Italy.

”Islamic countries that take part will not be excluded. This applies particularly to the Gulf states, chiefly Kuwait, launchpad for the crusader forces.”

News for Nincompoops?

Fact-Free News

In a series of polls from May through September, the researchers discovered that large minorities of Americans entertained some highly fanciful beliefs about the facts of the Iraqi war. Fully 48 percent of Americans believed that the United States had uncovered evidence demonstrating a close working relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Another 22 percent thought that we had found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And 25 percent said that most people in other countries had backed the U.S. war against Saddam Hussein. Sixty percent of all respondents entertained at least one of these bits of dubious knowledge; 8 percent believed all three.

The researchers then asked where the respondents most commonly went to get their news. The fair and balanced folks at Fox, the survey concludes, were “the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions.” Eighty percent of Fox viewers believed at least one of these un-facts; 45 percent believed all three. Over at CBS, 71 percent of viewers fell for one of these mistakes, but just 15 percent bought into the full trifecta. And in the daintier precincts of PBS viewers and NPR listeners, just 23 percent adhered to one of these misperceptions, while a scant 4 percent entertained all three.

[And, from the other side:]

News for Nincompoops?

Meyerson’s critique relies entirely on this faulty syllogism: A lot of people have wrong ideas about the war with Iraq. A lot of people watch Fox News. Therefore, Fox News has given them wrong ideas. Absent a single example of Fox News’s promotion of the alleged misperceptions, the whole thing collapses under the weight of its own illogic. — John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News.

The problem is in the study’s methodology for selecting errors to investigate. The errors selected for study all have one feature in common: The correct answer supports the anti-war position and an error supports the pro-war position. — Marvin S. Cohen, Arlington VA

Presidential Ecospeak

Presidential Ecospeak

Mr. Bush himself may fairly be said to have become the master of the ostensibly ecofriendly sound bite, offering oversimplified solutions to complex environmental problems and wrapping them in tempting slogans that hide their generally pro-business tilt.

Healthy Forests,” for instance, describes an initiative aimed mainly at benefiting the timber industry rather than the communities threatened by fire. ”Freedom Car” (to be powered by ”Freedom Fuel”) describes a program to develop a hydrogen-fueled car that, while beguiling in the long term, absolves automakers from making the near-term improvements in fuel economy necessary to reduce oil dependence and the threat of global warming. …[And] ”Clear Skies,” in the come-hither nomenclature favored by the White House. …

The only explanation for what amounts to a willing suspension of history and logic is that American industry, which for 30 years has cried wolf about the costs of major regulatory initiatives — the phaseout of lead in gasoline, catalytic converters on cars, controls on acid rain — has at last found a sympathetic ear in the White House.

It is this reality — the relationship between Mr. Bush and his corporate underwriters — that could give his frustrated critics an opening. …

One of the points they intend to focus on is the administration’s reflexive tendency to interpret the laws in ways that favor private claims over larger public interests. Our own modest hope is that they will also encourage more plain speaking.

a form of looting

The Sweet Spot By PAUL KRUGMAN

”What we have here is a form of looting.” So says George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate in economics, of the Bush administration’s budget policies — and he’s right. With startling speed, we’ve blown right through the usual concerns about budget deficits — about their effects on interest rates and economic growth — and into a range where the very solvency of the federal government is at stake. Almost every expert not on the administration’s payroll now sees budget deficits equal to about a quarter of government spending for the next decade, and getting worse after that.

Yet the administration insists that there’s no problem, that economic growth will solve everything painlessly.

At War with the Great Satan – General: We’re in a ‘Spiritual Battle’

A three-star general active in the search for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein has told religious audiences that the war on terrorism is a battle between a ”Christian army” and Satan, and that Muslims worship an ”idol” and not a ”real God.”

[The comments by Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin]

The General Who Roared

General Boykin was not exercising the free speech rights of a private citizen. Speaking as he did in uniform the day after he was appointed deputy under secretary was indefensible. Not only did a high-ranking government official make remarks that espoused a single religious view and denigrated others, but he damaged the national security policy of the United States. President Bush and all other top officials have said often, and rightly, that the United States is not engaged in a religious war.

Cheney Lashes Out at Critics of Policy on Iraq

On Listening

Mr. Cheney was speaking to 200 invited guests at the conservative Heritage Foundation — and even they were not allowed to ask any questions. Great. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein issue messages from their caves through Al Jazeera, and Mr. Cheney issues messages from his bunker through Fox. America is pushing democracy in Iraq, but our own leaders won’t hold a real town hall meeting or a regular press conference. …

If you’re going to give a major speech on Iraq to an audience limited to your own supporters and not allow any questions, that’s not news — that’s an advertisement, and you should buy an ad on the Op-Ed page. …

Every other word out of this administration’s mouth now is “terror” or “terrorism.” We have stopped exporting hope, the most important commodity America has. We now export only fear, so we end up importing everyone else’s fears right back.

Senior Federal Prosecutors and F.B.I. Officials Fault Ashcroft Over Leak Inquiry

Senior Federal Prosecutors and F.B.I. Officials Fault Ashcroft Over Leak Inquiry

Several senior criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department and top F.B.I. officials have privately criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft for failing to recuse himself or appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leak of a C.I.A. operative’s identity.

The criticism reflects the first sign of dissension in the department and the F.B.I. as the inquiry nears a critical phase. The attorney general must decide whether to convene a grand jury, which could compel White House officials to testify.

The criminal justice officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, represent a cross section of experienced criminal prosecutors and include political supporters of Mr. Ashcroft at the department’s headquarters here and at United States attorneys’ offices around the country.