February 2005 - W.C. Varones

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Sick Canadians slaughter thousands of baby seals


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

12:50 PM 7
A few weeks ago, Instapundit pointed me to this Patterico post about a lie in an L.A. Times editorial. The L.A. Times accused President Bush of having called the Iraq threat "imminent" in his 2003 State of the Union address. In fact, Bush made it clear in that speech that the threat was not imminent:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.
I wrote to the L.A. Times editors and readers' rep, requesting a correction. The response, weeks later, from an Assistant Readers Representative, Kent Zelas, shows that the Times editors still have no idea what they are talking about:

Thanks for your note, and for letting us know again what you think of the Times. The editorial-page editors are aware that the president didn't use the word "imminent," but the editorial did not quote him. They did read the State of the
Union address, and they believe that their interpretation of his words was as they expressed in their editorial. I'm sorry you disagree in your interpretation of what President Bush's speech meant, but I thank you for taking the time to write and let us know your opinion of editors at the Times.

My response:

Dear Kent,

Thanks for your response. However, you are incorrect. You state that the President didn't use the word "imminent." In fact, he did.

The President said, "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late."

It is clear in this statement that Mr. Bush was specifically acknowledging that the threat was not yet imminent. Your editors are being extremely dishonest in writing that he meant the exact opposite of what he said.

I still believe a correction is in order and badly overdue.


W.C. Varones

Not only does the L.A. Times lie about what the President said, they refuse to acknowledge it when challenged and use demostrably false statements in their weak explanations.

UPDATE: An acknowledgment by Kent:

I'm sorry, I was wrong in my wording -- yes, he did say "imminent," and editors who wrote that editorial know that he used the word (that was my mistake in writing too fast). Though editors do take seriously the point that you and others have made, they don't believe that this warrants correction. As editors put it, there are few articles or editorials that couldn't have found a better or perfect word to express a point, and this may be such a case. But the editorial did not quote the president.

I can send you the entire text of his speech if you want to see what else he said besides that one reference that led them to write what they did. The key here is that it's an essay, and that is a matter of opinion -- the editorial board's opinion. The opinion pages are allowed to present many viewpoints whose interpretation you might question. That doesn't make them wrong, it means only that you don't agree. Had it been a news story I would have responded differently in this request for correction.

Thank you again for writing to us about this.

I have read the entire text of the speech, and nothing in it can be reasonably interpreted to suggest that President Bush was calling the threat imminent, especially in light of his clearly talking about the threat not being imminent. The Times' argument seems to be that as long as they didn't quote the President in an opinion piece, they can distort what he said as much as they want, and no one can challenge them because it's just a difference of opinion .
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A day that will live in infamy

2:13 PM 0
I am saddened to read that Hunter S. Thompson has committed suicide.

He was a true inspiration and a comic genius. I have never read a book as funny as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and have never read political commentary as wickedly vicious as the several tomes he put out over the last 20 years.

I visited his local haunt, the Woody Creek Tavern, when driving through Aspen once. I wish I had met him. My radical instincts might be obscured by my revulsion to the modern Democratic party, but they are still there. And I owe them to Hunter. Rest in peace, Doc.

UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens has a piece worth reading.

... and an even better piece at the Washington Post. HT: El Jefe.
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Pimco's Bill Gross on Social Security reform

2:01 PM 0
Bill Gross is one of the most thoughtful and independent voices out there. He charges a good fee for his money management skills, but out of the goodness of his heart, he gives us his thoughts free on a monthly basis.

Here are his provocative thoughts on the Social Security debate. Bottom line: current proposals don't really address the underlying demographic problem.
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U.N. paying journalists?

8:01 PM 0
Accuracy in Media charges the U.N. with buying favorable coverage from journalists via book deals and Soros- and Turner-funded awards.

I'm not surprised at all that:

1) the U.N. needs to stoop to tricks like this to boost its image
2) Ted Turner and George Soros would participate in a scheme like this
3) the U.N., the journalists involved, and Turner and Soros will soon come up with lame excuses explaining why their behavior is OK while Armstrong Williams was corrupt

What I am surprised about is that it took so long to come to light. Good work, Accuracy in Media!

I have criticized the U.N. and Turner before.

And before.

And before.

And before.

And before.

And before.

I ought to find another topic before someone thinks I'm a U.N.-basher. But those pious, child-raping, bribe-taking, dictator-loving, irrelevant know-it-alls are so rich with material!

HT: Polipundit
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Mayor Jerry Brown is blogging

7:39 PM 0
Instapundit (tipped by Doc Searls) pointed me to Jerry Brown's first post.

If Brown sticks to it, this will be fun. Jerry Brown is one of the most interesting and independent political leaders out there. To see his thoughts on a regular basis will be a pleasure.

I was too young to remember his governorship, but I loved his outsider campaign for president, and I hear he's doing great things in Oakland.

I hope his blog lives up to my expectations!
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Why they didn't find WMDs


Mike Moran: another journo who doesn't understand the First Amendment

12:31 PM 0
Powerline points us to this column on Chris Matthews' blog by Mike Moran. Moran calls bloggers "enemies of free expression, critical thinking and The First Amendment" for chasing down Eason Jordan.

My reply to Moran:

Mr. Moran,

You are way off base in calling bloggers "enemies of free expression, critical thinking and The First Amendment." Most bloggers in fact encouraged Eason Jordan to come forward more, and either reveal the evidence behind his reported claims, or fully explain what he said and meant.

Holding someone accountable for making serious unsubstantiated accusations is not an attack on the First Amendment. Do you even know what the First Amendment says? "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Where in this text do you find the right to be free from any consequences when someone makes apparently untrue statements that bring discredit on his employer?

It is shocking that someone of your education cannot understand the difference between government suppression of free speech and someone facing the business consequences for publicly slandering others.


W.C. Varones

By the way, when I say "someone of your education," I don't know anything about Moran's education, but I'm assuming he completed high school before Hardball gave him a column.

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Who is Bertrand Pecquerie?

8:30 PM 0
Bertrand Pecquarie is the blogger who likens bloggers to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. HT: Powerline

With a goofy name like Bertrand, I figured he must be some East Coast academic from a WASPy family. His blog says he is the Director of the World Editors Forum.

What is the World Editors Forum? "The World Editors Forum is exclusively dedicated to senior newsroom editors."

OK, so what newspaper has Bertrand as its "senior newsroom editor?"

Ah, here it is!

He was also the Director of the syndication and special events service of the French daily Libération and, most recently, he was General Secretary of the French government’s Best Practices Agency (Agence des Bonnes Pratiques) which promoted good administrative and public service practices in local and national government.

So, he's

1) not a "senior newsroom editor," but an ex-something-or-other from a left-wing paper.
2) French
3) a bureaucrat

Three strikes, and you're comparing bloggers to McCarthy!
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The new McCarthyism

2:42 PM 0
Bertrand Pecquerie says that bloggers are the new McCarthys.

What ridiculous hyperbole! It is taking all of my self-control to restrain myself from personal attacks on the intellectual capacity of Pecquerie.

His ludicrous comparison of Easongate to McCarthyism reminded me of a story I heard on NPR this morning about neo-Nazis comparing Dresden to the Holocaust.

This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Indeed, most bloggers encouraged Jordan to speak more, and to bring forward evidence to substantiate his charges.

Jordan resigned because he apparently made extremely offensive and slanderous charges that he could not substantiate and would not apologize for.

Just because a left-wing nut resigns for doing something incredibly stupid does not mean there's McCarthyism in play.

HT: Powerline
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Your U.N. at work

Lynne Stewart guilty

11:40 AM 0
No surprise here. Lynne Stewart was found guilty. I guess lawyer-client privilege doesn't extend to lawyers helping their clients commit crimes. Shocker.

Dummocrats has a good summary, with links and quotes from Stewart's past that don't put her in a good light.
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Al Franken running for Senate?

11:26 AM 0
Apparently, Al Franken is running for the Senate (via Polipundit and Anklebitingpundits). I'm not sure he has the emotional strength for a tough campaign. A while back, Franken revealed that he really is Stuart Smalley by sobbing during an interview for Canadian TV.

Seriously, though, Franken in the Senate would be bad news. It would be the death knell for "changing the tone" in Washington. Franken is not nice, and he's not funny. He's a shrill, partisan leftist. It's essentially like sending Michael Moore to the Senate.

As I write this, I'm listening to some terribly cheesy advertisements on Franken's radio show: Franken sounding awful reading a commercial for Vermont Teddy Bears, then a bad advertisement for ambulance chasers ("Have you been injured at work? We'll fight for you!"). This may be the first time I've listened to Air America Radio. My initial thought is that you might judge the size and value of a radio show by the quality of ads that companies make to put on it. If that thesis holds, Franken's show sucks.

Ads over. Now Franken is painfully singing, "Norm in the USA" to introduce a guest. It's embarassingly bad.

UPDATE: Redeeming feature found! Franken plays "Terrapin Station" going into the break!

UPDATE: I stopped listening, but hear through the grapevine that Franken says he's not running for the Senate. Apparently, this was a hoax to get people to listen to his radio show. It worked! I listened for ten minutes.
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I can't believe I voted for this jackass.


Criminal stupidity

2:15 PM 0
Daily Kos has lots on the Jeff Gannon fake White House journalist story.

Someone in the White House should be locked up for being too stupid to walk around unsupervised. This exceeds Watergate in comical stupidity.

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Kofi Annan: Nothing is my fault

11:12 AM 0
Another fraud scandal at another U.N. agency, the World Meteorological Organization. At least this one didn't involve bribes to make Security Council members vote to keep a brutal dictator in power. HT: Drudge.

Annan's spokesman disavows any U.N. responsibility, saying that the agency was run independently. "They are responsible for cleaning up whatever might have gone wrong there."

Never mind that the WMO's web site calls it "a United Nations specialized agency," or that its logo incorporates the U.N. logo, or that "in collaboration with the UN agencies and the NMHSs of Members, WMO continues to support the implementation of relevant conventions such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change..."

If the U.N. refuses to take responsibility for its agencies and assure us that funds won't be wasted or looted, why are we still funding them?
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Welcome back, Frenchies.

6:32 PM 0
Brendan Miniter welcomes Europeans into the pro-Iraqi freedom camp. And points out that George W. (Washington, that is) had some very George W. (Bush, that is)-like things to say about international alliances and the occasional need to act without them. HT: Polipundit.
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The Eason Jordan verdict is in.


New (to me) must-read blog

1:34 PM 0
I had never heard of this guy before -- until Powerline pointed me to this Times story on him. He's a left-wing professor emeritus in the U.K. who is pro-Iraqi freedom. It is so refreshing to see integrity and principle from the left.

Unfortunately, this sort of moral clarity on the left is even rarer than Republicans standing up to censorship, gay-bashing, and the religious right.
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3:57 PM 0
Welcome, readers from the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humprey Institute of Public Affairs!
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I may be in the minority, but...

10:22 PM 0
I sort of buy CNN news head Eason Jordan's weird explanation of his weird remarks at Davos. Jordan caused a blog storm by saying that several journalists were "targeted" and killed by U.S. soldiers, apparently accusing the troops of cold-blooded murder.

Jordan's explanation on Carol Liebau's blog (via Instapundit) is that he used the word "targeted" to differentiate from "collateral damage," meaning they were shot because soldiers thought they were the bad guys, not hit by random fire or exploding debris. The blog world doesn't like the explanation, but it makes sense to me. He used extraordinarily poor word choice in Davos, quickly backtracked, and now is explaining himself. I accept that -- until a transcript surfaces that shows otherwise.

UPDATE: OK, maybe I was wrong. It seems that Jordan has a history of making wild, unsubstantiated allegations against troops.

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Another great speech from Mr. Bushism

7:03 PM 0
I should have expected a great speech, but he always amazes me.

What a moving moment when the Iraqi woman hugged the woman who'd lost her son in the fight for freedom!

Too bad, however, that he had to insert the gay-bashing stuff. I was hoping he'd drop that nonsense now that he's re-elected.
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The people's representatives

1:01 PM 0
DJ Drummond at PoliPundit is doing a survey of Congress, and is having trouble with non-responsive responses.

I had similar trouble with Senator Barbara Boxer when I wrote to oppose her attempt to block the Financial Accounting Standards Board from setting financial accounting standards. She wanted to allow multi-millionaire corporate executives to keep taking wealth from shareholders in the form of stock options without accounting for the expense in the P&L.

Boxer is known as a mental midget on Capitol Hill, but her staff must be as stupid as she is, as they responded to my e-mail as if everyone who wrote about stock options must support Boxer's ridiculous position:

Dear Mr. [Varones]:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the tax treatment [I wrote about the accounting treatment, not the tax treatment!] of employee stock options. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue and I agree with your concerns [Oh, really!?!].

As you may be aware, on April 22, 2003, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which sets the nation's accounting standards, issued a decision to mandate that stock options be fully reported in a company's earnings report. This means that companies will be required to determine the cost of stock options given to their employees and then, in their financial statements, deduct that cost from total earnings [How novel: accounting for expenses in the P&L!]. This would occur even though offering stock options does not reduce a company's earnings [It doesn't? Please explain!].

The FASB has already imposed disclosure rules on the accounting industry that improve investor awareness without sacrificing accurate financial reporting. I believe requiring expensing is unnecessary and would have unintended, and negative, consequences. You may be pleased to know [No, I'm not pleased, and if your staff were literate they would know that!] that I introduced, along with Senator Ensign (R-NV), the Broad-based Stock Option Plan Transparency Act, S. 979. This bill would increase disclosure by requiring companies to include in their financial statements detailed and accurate information about their use of stock options. While this bill would result in even greater disclosure of stock option plans, which would enable investors, shareholders, and the public to take into account what is being offered to employees, it would not require expensing.

[... blah blah blah ... blah blah blah ...]

Again, thank you for contacting me regarding employee stock option plans. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any issue that concerns you.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

How can Congress represent the people if they and their staff are too illiterate to understand what the people express to them?

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Those who don't learn from history...


Credit where credit isn't due

1:43 PM 1
The U.N., which for years has been doing everything in its power to prevent democracy in Iraq, is now trying to take credit in blog ads for the new democracy. "No one will ever again get 100% of the vote. The U.N. is there." They've even put a page on their web site trying to pretend that they were on the right side of this issue.

This is the same U.N. that, on Saddam's payroll, allowed Saddam Hussein to siphon billions of dollars from the supposedly humanitarian oil-for-food program. The same U.N. that refused to do anything to enforce a decade of resolutions against Saddam.

If Kofi Annan, France, Germany, and Russia had their way, there would be no democracy in Iraq. But they'd still be getting paid from oil-for-food!

These ads are coming from the U.N. Foundation, the one that Ted Turner funded with a $1 billion pledge several years ago (since reduced, I believe, or at least delayed). Next time you hear about Ted Turner's great gift to humanity, remember that it's not necessarily going to help anybody in need. It's going to create deceptive propaganda to make people think the U.N. is actually doing some good.

UPDATE: InstaPundit's reason for taking the ads:

But I have a very broad ad-acceptance policy, for two reasons. (1) The money does more good in my hands than in the U.N. Foundation's or George Soros's; and (2) If I only took ads from people I agreed with, soon critics would say that my opinions were following the ads, rather than the other way around.
I can't disagree with that!
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Insurgents to execute G.I. Joe doll

1:21 PM 0
The insurgency is really struggling... they are now threatening to execute a G.I. Joe doll.

This photo (via Drudge), posted on an alleged insurgent web site, shows a soldier with an oddly tiny head and a plastic expression on his face. His captors point an M-16, to this point not a common insurgent weapon, at his head.

Nevertheless, the newswires reported the story credulously (cached on FreeRepublic, via PoliPundit; the wire services seem to have taken down the story without comment) that insurgents showed a captive American soldier on their web site. If it's bad news, it must be true!

UPDATE: I laughed out loud at this on Power Line.
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Welfare reform, European style

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