October 1, 2004
Anti-Kerry "Calumnies" from Swift Boat Vets
"The first section, about his actions in combat, presents a belated rebuttal to the calumnies of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (whose leader, John O'Neill, turns up in some old clips from 'The Dick Cavett Show')." - Movie reviewer A.O. Scott, October 1.
Must-See TV: "Everybody Hates Women"?
"Television executives have giddily reverted to the sexism and racism that brought the humor police down on the networks in the first place.Even the presidential debates are such a throwback to the Eisenhower era that the networks might as well broadcast them in black and white. The PBS anchor Jim Lehrer was not chosen to moderate all three presidential contests, as he has been in the past. He was assigned only the first debate in Florida. The next two will be presided over by other aging, white males: Charles Gibson of ABC and Bob Schieffer of CBS, the only two network news anchors who make Mr. Lehrer seem kooky. (Gwen Ifill, who is female and black, will moderate the less important vice presidential debate.).It's not just that Everybody Loves Raymond. Now Everybody Hates Women." - TV critic Alessandra Stanley, October 1.
Bush Admin Called Critics "Unpatriotic"When, Exactly?
"Mr. Blair's official line about the false intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq was: 'I can apologize for the information that turned out to be wrong, but I can't, sincerely at least, apologize for removing Saddam.' That raises a lot of questions, but at least the words 'apologize' and 'wrong' were put on record, and his critics were not called unpatriotic." - Editorial, September 30.
Kerry "Holds Back on Purpose"?
"As Mr. Kerry approaches this campaign's home stretch, with the first debate tomorrow night, there is much in his past to suggest that he believes elections are won in the endgame, that he holds back on purpose and begins concentrating intently on the race only when he believes the voters are, too. It remains to be seen whether an approach that has worked in Mr. Kerry's liberal home state or with Democratic primary voters eager to anoint a consensus candidate will be effective in a national election, but Mr. Kerry has little choice but to perform at his peak now." - Todd Purdum, September 29.
Clam Up the Terror Talk, Cheney
"For Vice President Dick Cheney's weeklong campaign swing, little was left to chance. Or so it seemed. Campaign advance workers for each of the rallies and town hall or round-table discussions chose every participant, combing lists of Republican activists and donors. But these advance workers could not control what Mr. Cheney said or predict that his dark message would be out of sync with what many in his ardently supportive audience wanted to hear: his stand on domestic social issues. Mr. Cheney, in unscripted remarks that began several of the events, was bleak, the harbinger of a future dominated by terrorist threats. One observation, made in one form or another at every event, warned of a possible cataclysm.Only two people in this decidedly unscientific sampling of about a dozen people in three cities said they wanted to hear about Iraq." - Joel Brinkley, September 27.
Passing Along More Democratic "Patriotism" Whines
"'There used to be a time when aiding and abetting the enemy was a treasonous offense,' Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said in an interview. 'Now it's become a routine political charge.' Mr. Durbin urged the Kerry campaign and his fellow Democrats in a closed party caucus meeting last week to confront the Republicans over that line of attack. Mr. Bush, at an appearance in the Rose Garden last week with Prime Minister Ayad Allawi of Iraq, suggested that terrorists could be emboldened by what he has repeatedly described as Mr. Kerry's changing positions on Iraq. Before that, Representative J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois and speaker of the House, said he believed that Al Qaeda would be more successful under a Kerry presidency.'It's a fairly common occurrence in wartime that people who dissent are accused of being unpatriotic,' said Alan Brinkley, a historian who is the provost of Columbia University. 'But to have it come from high levels of this kind is somewhat unusual.'" - Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner, September 27.
Ugh! Tommy Franks Sounds Just Like Fox News!
"[Gen. Tommy] Franks is a profane, impatient man, too fond of caffeine and hyperbole, whose talents are better suited to telling stories than to explaining military strategy.His reports of war-planning meetings with President Bush and high-level cabinet members, for example, read as if scripted by the Fox News Channel ('We will do what we have to do to protect America,' he quotes the president saying grimly after one meeting)." - Michael Franks, staff editor of the Times op-ed page, September 26.
Another One for the "Unsubstantiated" File
"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which drew national attention with advertisements making unsubstantiated attacks against Mr. Kerry's military service, has less money and uses several strategies to stretch its dollars, said one of its leaders, John O'Neill." - Glen Justice and Jim Rutenberg, September 25.
What About Hussein's Mass Graves?
"Business is booming at the Baghdad morgue. Before the war, before the fall of Saddam Hussein's government, seven or eight bodies arrived each day at this nondescript building in northeastern Baghdad for autopsies. Most deaths resulted from car crashes or other accidents. Killings were rare, and gun violence rarer still, a testament to the monopoly that Mr. Hussein held on the use of force. Now the paper-and-cardboard ledgers where the autopsies are logged are torn from overuse. On an average day, the morgue receives 20 to 25 bodies, the human cost of the post-war wave of crime and insurgency engulfing the city." - Alex Berenson, September 26.
The "Un-American" Bush Campaign
"President Bush and his surrogates are taking their re-election campaign into dangerous territory." - Opening sentence of a September 25 editorial, "An Un-American Way to Campaign."
(Flat) Earth to Clymer
"Indeed after watching the coverage of the Swift Boat story, it is easy to imagine an evenhanded cable exchange revolving around a political ad saying one candidate thought the earth was round. Its sponsor would be challenged on cable by someone who said the earth was flat. In an effort to seem fair to both sides, journalists can forget to be fair to the public." - Former Times reporter and political director of the National Annenberg Election Survey Adam Clymer, September 27.
Still Harassing Halliburton (and Cheney)
"Controversy is nothing new for the company, which was run by Vice President Dick Cheney for five years until 2000. KBR has long been associated with the coziness of politics and business in the oil industry in Texas, and has become a symbol of the reach of American energy conglomerates into many politically unsavory areas around the world. Halliburton acquired Brown & Root, the corporate ancestor of KBR, in 1962.Then there is the continued criticism of Halliburton's connections to Mr. Cheney and its work in Iraq, which have led some investors to completely stay away from the company." - Simon Romero, September 24.
Emphasizing Possible Deficits, Not Definite Tax Relief
"The Republican-controlled Congress easily passed legislation on Thursday that would extend expiring provisions of last year's tax cuts for families as well as about 20 business tax cuts, at a cost of about $146 billion over 10 years. Even though Democrats protested that the tax cuts would worsen the federal deficit and should be paid for with spending cuts or other tax increases, party leaders gave their members free rein to vote for the bill rather than incur the wrath of voters just a few weeks before Election Day." - Edmund Andrews, September 24.
Holden on to Left-Wing Dreams
"'The Take,' a stirring, idealistic documentary that examines the grass-roots cooperative movement in financially devastated Argentina, raises basic questions about economics, government and human nature. Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, the Toronto-based film makers who directed and wrote 'The Take,' describe themselves as 'activist filmmakers.' They believe in a Marxist-leaning society whose workers put aside personal ambition for the greater good. They see globalization as the newest way that strong countries bully and prey on the weak while purporting to do good.Even given the rosiest financial scenario, at what point do the old ways resurface and brute self-interest and corruption kick in? After watching the film, your outlook will depend on the degree of your belief in humanity and your familiarity with history. Whatever happens, the movement still faces an uphill battle." - Movie critic Stephen Holden on a new left-wing documentary, September 22.
Kerry Suffering "for Changing His Mind"
"Yet Senator John Kerry seems to be suffering in the polls for changing his mind. Republicans have tagged him a flip-flopper, and the mildly ridiculous term has somehow become a potent weapon, an 11-letter dig suggesting that Mr. Kerry has shifted policy positions frequently and is therefore weak, indecisive and more ambitious than principled. Senator Kerry's defenders say he is a pragmatist whose views reflect the complexity of evolving issues. So what makes the term flip-flopper so radioactive this year? Why is Senator Kerry falling victim to the charge?.In today's angry politics, however, change is bad, conversion is good. President Bush's transformation from a frat-boy alcoholic to a teetotaling Christian public servant is believable; so are the multiple epiphanies on race experienced by Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, if only because they asked for forgiveness.'" - Damien Cave, September 19.
Rodney King or Martin Luther King?
"By virtue of his troubled life and a single decent gesture, he is embedded in the American conscience.Mr. King, 39, has tried to stay out of the public eye, finding it difficult to live with the title of human punching bag. Still, he often finds himself the leading man of the police blotter. He has been arrested 11 times, for, among other things, spousal abuse, hit-and-run driving and being under the influence of PCP. He was also arrested for indecent exposure after parkgoers complained about a naked man jumping up and down on an ice chest.There is a saying that carries through the jail cells of America: Every man has committed a felony. The difference between a good life and a wasted one can be attributed to luck and timing. And so Rodney King does not ask for sympathy, but for understanding. Even good guys make mistakes." - Charlie LeDuff in an interview with Rodney King, September 19.