Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

nothing succeeds like failure

It appears that the Democratic party has come close to linking its future to the success of the terrorists opposing democracy in Iraq. And, if one believes the mainstream media coverage coming from Iaq, this looked like close to a sure bet. So much so that the Democrats rolled out what passes for heavy artillery these days (Ted Kennedy) to lauch another attack on Bush administration policies. According to the liberals, the election should have at least been delayed in deference to the importance of the terrorists.

But, once again, George W. Bush did not budge and, guess what? Participation in the Iraqi election has made it a huge success -- in all but one part of the country, voter participation was higher than in the recent U.S. presidential election. In fact, the election process went so well that even the liberals in the media are being forced to call it a success.

So where does this leave the Democrats? "Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who lost the November presidential election against Republican President George W. Bush, described the Iraqi elections as 'significant' and 'important' but said they should not be 'overhyped.' " So to Kerry it is okay for the media to have attacked the Iraqi elections for months based on all kinds of hypothetical criticisms but it is apparenty wrong to celebrate their success.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

thought police in Florida

"Two boys, ages 9 and 10, were charged with felonies and taken away from school in handcuffs, accused of making violent drawings of stick figures."

Elementary school children in Ocala need to start being careful to control their imaginative drawings lest they lead to felony charges.

"When an adult or even myself look at the picture looked at it at first I was thinking there is really not much to the picture or I would not be that scared by the picture those children drew," Ocala police spokesman Russ Kearn said. "However, we have to put ourselves in his mind and that's the bottom line here. It is his well-being and the way he perceived that picture to be. It actually put him in extreme fear and he was in fear for his life."

I am not legal expert but it was always my understanding that threats that rose to the level of crimes need to be specific and credible. In this case, the investigating officers needed to rely on the imaginations of other children to interpret these drawings -- certainly the one published on the news stations web site doesn't seem that bad. As far as the "threat" being credible, well maybe that isn't required in Florida.

Perhaps the two 10 year olds will even be tried as adults. Perhaps the Ocala authorities, apparently folks with plent of time on their hands will implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding threatening drawings. I would expect them to establish an expert panel of 3rd and 4th graders to assist with the interpretion of other school children's drawing to make sure that they are all non-threatenting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

rantings of an angry old man

As reported by Matt Drudge, "Ted Turner called FOX an arm of the Bush administration and compared FOXNEWS's popularity to Hitler's popular election to run Germany before WWII."

Sounds like sour grapes from a guy whose network started out with a very strong position and has been losing audience share rapidly. From the perspective of a typical mainstream media liberal, the Fox news position, near the center of political views, looks quite a bit to the right but for Turner to call Fox "an arm" of the Bush administration is ridiculous and making silly comparisons to Hitler makes Turner look at moonbatty as Michael Moore.

But before Turner starts saying any news organization is "an arm" of any political group, he might want to recall some history involving his own CNN. For years, CNN had a nice monopoly on western coverage in Iraq courtesy of Saddam Hussein. When Hussein was thrown out of office, it was revealed that CNN had suppressed any reporting of torture or other similar repressive activities of the Saddam regime. Was CNN an arm of the Hussein regime? Who knows for sure but it was certainly more so than FOX is "an arm" of the Bush administration.

"A FOXNEWS spokesperson responded, 'Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind -- we wish him well'..." -- 'nuff said

Sunday, January 23, 2005

locked up and loving it!

"French journalist George Malbrunot recounts his horrific days in captivity and how he is now convinced of one thing: America's Iraq policy is doomed"

Writing in the German Publication "Der Spiegel", French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot describe their capture by Iraqi bin Laden supporters, being held prisoner and their subsequent release.

Without knowing much, one might think that these journalists would have gained a real appreciation of freedom after being held captive and threatened with death. But remember, these were French journalists. Also, since the story was published by left-wing Salon, it would be a real surprise if there was any message there in favor of freedom and liberty; words and concepts even more offensive than usual to leftists in light of George Bush's use of them in his Inauguration speech.

So, the bottom line is that the French were true to form; they were bullied and pushed around by a bunch of terrorists and they are convinced that surrender to these terrorists is the only answer.

The first part of the story is how the men explained to their captors that they were French and that since the French had opposed the American liberation of Iraq, they should be released. That didn't carry a lot of weight with this group of terrorists who were evidently enjoying the publicity they were getting in France The story makes no mention as to whether the desperate Frenchmen also claimed allegiance to John Kerry as his election was what bin Laden and the terrorists were really looking for -- getting the French to offer to surrender was nothing worthwhile.

The journalists, now safety returned home to France are apparently better off due to the publicity they obtained while in custody. One wonders if even the most liberal of American media would champion captured Americans who spent their time in captivity attempting to sell out their country's basic principles. In France, however, it appears their are no basic principles worth standing up for.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

not "Michael Moore's bodyguard but only "a bodyguard who was once assigned to protect Michael Moore"

The reference clarifies the story that one of Moore's bodyguards had been arrested on a gun charge. Evidently, Moore contracts his armed bodyguard service out to others and, while the individual in question, had been assigned to Moore at some point, he was not at the time of the gun arrest.

But while there is some delicious irony in the thought of an employee of an anti-gun zealot being busted on a gun charge, the real issue remains the hypocricy of liberals like Moore who want to be protected with firearms but are happy to deny that right to everyone else.

moore moore and an election method that might work for liberals

"Although he lost to mainstream hit flicks like "Shrek 2" and "Spider-Man 2" at the box office, Moore had the last laugh, taking advantage of the People's Choice Awards' new Internet voting system to enable "Fahrenheit" to trounce those flicks as favorite motion picture.

In year's past, People's Choice winners had been determined by the Gallup Organization, a national pollster. This year, for the first time, "the people" voted online — and Moore used his popular Web site to tell the film's fans that a vote for "Fahrenheit 9/11" was a vote against President Bush."

So now, Osama bin Laden's favorite director is the "People's Choice" as well and, between liberals, who cares if the election was rigged as long as the result is the correct one. It seems to be working in Washington state although, since they are not using new technology there, the liberals have had to resort to some of the old standards like having felons and dead people vote. As Moore has demonstrated, with Internet voting, an election can be readily rigged and there is no nasty evidence left around for bloggers to dig through.

you can't have your gun but i'll keep mine

In another example of how liberal anti-gun activists are total hypocrites, one of Michael Mooore's goons was arrested for carrying an illegal weapon.

"Filmmaker Michael Moore's (search) bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night. "

Although Moore has most recently been known for his anti-Bush propaganda efforts, he also directed "Bowling for Columbine", an anti-gun piece that, while taking advantage of the high school shootings in Colorado, made Moore quite a bit of money. Although the Columbine shooters had violated something like 14 state and Federal gun laws, most of the felonies, the anti-gun crowd took advantage of the incident to demand even more. How that could have been effective in preventing the Columbine incident is unclear since, once the perpetrators had been shot and killed by policies, they couldn't be prosecuted for any crimes.

Moore now joins hypocritical leftists such as Rosie O'Donnell and Carl Rowan who are opposed to guns owned by others but want to keep their own. Rowan, of course, is the most outrageous since he personally blasted a teenager with an illegal gun who had the temerity to trespass into his swimming pool. Being politically well connected in super anti-gun Washington, DC, however, Rowan was not prosecuted for any of the felonies he clearly committed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Jeb Bush in a change of heart

"Since before Christmas, [Governor Jeb] Bush has received appeals from state lawmakers and friends of the foster parents to get involved in the case, but Bush said the judiciary has the legal authority in the case and the governor cannot intervene."

I guess this is part of the reason for the big public relations push. Evidently the Scotts and their team of publicists believe they can somehow stampede the governor and legislature into passing a private bill for their personal benefit, much as was done a year or so ago for the parents of Terri Schiavo who also had suffered a string of court losses. Of course, the Schiavo private legislation has been ruled unconstitutional but the parents continue to file all kinds of silly motions in order to delay the inevitable.

One can certainly hope that Governor Bush has learned a lesson from the unfortunately Schiavo case. In that case, as in this one, the dispute had been thoroughly litigated by a number of courts with all of the decisions supporting one side but with the losing side attempting to resort to slanted publicity to get something from the legislature that they couldn't get legitimately from the courts.

Of course, the most famous case of getting private bills was that of Elizabeth Morgan, a plastic surgeon in the Washington, D.C. area who had such a powerful team of publicists working for her that she was able to get two private bills passed by the U.S. Congress. Amazing! Also, while incarcerated by a District of Columbia judge for contempt (ultimately overridden by the first of the private bills), she was dating a Federal appeals court judge who, as I recall, was permitted to make conjugal visits.

since CBS news is a joke already

Why not make it a joke literally. Instead of having Dan Rather read stories from the teleprompter written by liberal moonbats like Mary Mapes and then have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing a whitewash when the stories turn out to be completely fraudulent, why not make the whole news broadcast a joke in the first place.

"Asked twice, [CBS chief Leslie] Moonves wouldn't rule out a role on the evening news for Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, whose 'The Daily Show' skewers politicians and the news media each night. Moonves is co-chief executive of Viacom, which owns both CBS and Comedy Central. "

And Stewart's skewering has a decided left wing flavor to it which would fit in with the liberal slant that CBS has been imposing on its news broadcasts for years.

Propaganda producer Michael Moore has shown that partly or completely made up stories can be foisted off as fact on gullible members of the public who will not only believe the garbage they are shown but will actually pay for the privilege of having their intelligence insulted.

Surely Moonves is smart enough to realize that the discredited Bush documents story is not the only one the network has aired that would quickly fall to a bit of "oversight" by pajama-clad bloggers. Using a Moore type approach that relies only on enough facts to set the context for the fiction that follows might work quite well. When caught, the network would simply note that the story is not intended to be completely factual. This would have worked wonders for the Rather case (and they actually sort of tried it with the "fake but accurate" claim).

If CBS did this alone, they might be made to look a bit stupid by the other liberal mainstream media but if they started to capture audience, the others might join in. Right now, CBS is a weak #3 in a 3 horse race with some folks saying that the CBS attempt to deny Bush re-election was so ham-handed it probably helped Bush so desperate moves are worth a try.

Monday, January 17, 2005

having a good publicist

Having a good publicist makes all of the difference between maning and complaining to your friends and neighbors and doing the same thing on national television.

"The adoptive parents who were forced to surrender a 3-year-old boy they raised to his biological mother on Monday compared the weekend handover to a death in the family and said they would continue their legal battle to regain legal custody."

What is missing here is the fact that this couple never had legal custody in the first place so saying they are trying to "regain" it makes no sense. It is this kind of day-to-day carelessness and bias that the public has come to expect from the mainstream media. In this case, the bias is in favor of the folks who got the media attention in the first place. The child's actual parents seem to be comparatively disinterested in publicity.

Friday, January 14, 2005

What liberal bias? -- this one!

Joe Conason, writing for Salon, demonstrates why the liberal media bias is unlikely to be affected by the CBS scandal or likely anything less than the loss of the audiences that support them.

"Thornburgh's admirers cherished high hopes for the CBS investigation, which mostly turned out to be quite unrealistic. They wanted him to reveal that the whole Bush National Guard controversy was just a Democratic dirty trick. (It wasn't.) They wanted him to assert that the president fulfilled his military obligations without receiving any preferential treatment. (Bush didn't.) They wanted him to prove that the questioned Guard documents were forgeries. (He couldn't.)
Worst of all, after four months of investigation, Thornburgh couldn't even sustain the moldy clich about liberal bias. Among conservatives who cannot question their own outdated assumptions, that outcome stimulates the darkest paranoia: Good old Dick Thornburgh must have joined the liberal media conspiracy, too. "

Conason, of course, is quite happy with the CBS review panel's use of metaphysical certainty as the criterion to determine both the validity of the forged documents and the liberal bias at CBS. Using the metaphysical certainly criterion applied by the panel in these two areas, there are very few conclusions that could be drawn about anything. Few criminal convictions, for example, could be sustained under such a standard since there is almost always some minimal probability that the crime could have been committed by another party (even if there is a confession in hand!). DNA evidence would be worthless as the best DNA results are have a error rate of one in a billion or so which would certainly not be acceptable to the CBS panel.

While the forged documents have only been reproduced accurately using present day technology with certain specific technical characteristics (such as font pseudo-kerning) that were simply not available in the early 1970s, it can never be ruled out with metaphysical certainly that some unknown piece of equipment existed in the Texas Air National Guard office that somehow exactly reproduced what can today only be done with Microsoft Word and computer fonts.

As far as liberal bias, the panel reports provides an extraordinary trove of detail of how liberal bias operates in practice. Anyone who expected some sort of "smoking gun" to be produced is naive. But look at the extraordinary resources and effort that CBS invested in a story whose only intent was to damage the President. And remember that George Bush did receive an honorable discharge and it is available in the public records. As regards John Kerry, however, CBS showed zero interest in looking into why his discharge papers were not issued until years after they should have been and they spent no time cultivating sources who might have been interested in leaking official documents that Kerry refused to release. Again, all Bush documents had long since been released.

The panel report was prepared for CBS under some sort of legal services agreement and that agreement probably spelled out the nature of the engagement, the types of conclusions that the panel was permitted to draw and the levels of proof that CBS wanted to have applied to any such conclusions. Perhaps CBS is concerned about litigation or maybe they are worried about losing that share of the 35% of Americans that still don't believe that Bill Clinton had sex with "that woman" who are still willing to watch CBS news.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

lawyerly conclusions

Jonathan V. Last, posting at the Daily Standard, provides some additional information from the Rathergate panel report regarding "proof" that the Killian memos were fraudulent.

The panels, own expert states:

". . . the documents appear to have been produced in Times New Roman typestyle. . . . Times New Roman was only available on typesetting and other non-tabletop machines until the desktop publishing revolution in the 1980s. Therefore [Tytell] concluded that Times New Roman could not have been available on a typewriter in the early 1970s and the Killian documents must have been produced on a computer."

Last adds

"Which brings us back to Joseph Newcomer. After all of his examinations, Peter Tytell had reached exactly the same conclusion as Newcomer. And, like Newcomer, Tytell's judgment to the panel could not have been more forthright. The panel reports, "Tytell concluded that the Killian documents were generated on a computer."

So how did Thornburgh and Boccardi manage to walk away from their own expert's decisive verdict? The answer is hidden in footnote 16 on page 7 of Appendix 4:

Although his reasoning seems credible and persuasive, the Panel does not know for certain whether Tytell has accounted for all alternative typestyles that might have been available on typewriters during that era."

The panel's conclusion regarding the validity of the documents is troubling in light of the work of their own expert. In addition, the failure of the panel to put the issue of the validity of the documents to rest has rekindled the anti-Bush moonbat community (evidently including Dan Rather) who are so anxious to believe that the story is true and the documents are real.

But is was up to CBS to make any conclusion regarding the validity of the documents and not the panel it hired. The panel report was prepared for CBS not for the public and, like any document prepared for hire, one can be sure that CBS provided specific ground rules and provided itself an opportunity to view and modify the text before any general release to the public. Is CBS worried about litigation as some commentators have said? I don't think so but that might be a possibility. What is more likely is that CBS was simply unwilling to go so far as to admit the totality of the fraud perpetuated on the public by their news division.

Given the panel's criteria, it would be impossible to come to a negative conclusion regarding the documents absent a confession by their creator. There is no accepted repository of "all" available typewriter fonts any more than there is an official reposity of all words in the English language.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

more on cbs -- whitewash or graywash

The referenced URL seems to be the best brief summary of the CBS review panel report which has already been written about quite a bit that I have seen.

The underlying 234 page report is clearly a document written by lawyers who are advising their client (CBS) as opposed to a document that is intended to draw conclusions.

One could ask the question as to what would have been proof that would have permitted the panel to conclude that the documents were, in fact false? The answer would probably be that only a confession from whoever created them would be enough. Like a DNA naysayer who is not satisfied with a one in a billion chance of error, this panel is clearly looking for a level of "proof" that is not obtainable.

As far as the political bias of Mapes, Rather, et al., again the panel report presents information without drawing conclusions, even when the conclusions are obvious.

Rather than faulting the panel, it seems most fair to blame CBS. Certainly there is enough raw material there for CBS to have issued a statement concluding that, by any reasonable standard of proof, the documents were fraudulent. At the same time, there is ample evidence, again by any reasonable standard or proof, that the whole thrust of the story was motivated by political bias.

It seems pretty clear that this episode will not lead to any sort of broad change in procedures or practices at CBS. Rather appears to escape with his skin due to his not being involved with the bogus "vetting" sessions which were supposed to be used to question the story and Heyward seems to escape by having delegated his responsibilities to West. Of course, the previous statements by Rather and Heyward taking full responsibility are apparently now inoperative.

One can only imagine how Dan Rather would have acted had he been on the Titanic; throwing off women and children while he rushed to save his sorry a**.

Monday, January 10, 2005

still faking it

Today, the investigative report regarding the forged documents used by Dan Rather to attempt to bring down the president was released. The report is chock full of interesting details but is a bit short on what would seem to be obvious conclusions.

Let's take the validity of the documents themselves which the panel was unwilling to conclude were false. The fact is that the documents were proven false by at least two independent methods. The first was by their style and usage which were inconsistent with genuine military documents of the era (and military documents tend to be highly structured and organized). The second proof was the ability to easily reproduce the documents using a modern version of Microsoft Word with default settings. Each of these methods is very powerful and they are completely independent.

The panel also indicated that it did not find any evidence of bias at CBS. Perhaps they were expecting to find a memo from Mapes or Rather to the Kerry campaign recommending ways they could help defeat the president. As the old saying goes, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" and, in this case, the proof of the bias is in the watching.

I don't really think there is going to be any real change at CBS. It would be interesting to know what kind of severance packages are being offered to Mapes and the other folks who are being asked to resign. The message seems to be that getting caught is the problem not preparing and presenting a story based on bogus materials The report even reveals that Rather's apology was, in fact, as insincere as it appeared. He is still a true believer and may spend more time and effort looking for the real typewriter that did it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Where did turkeys go? it all depends upon what the meaning of "needy" is

"The director of a Detroit food bank wants to know what happened to 60 turkeys -- 720 pounds of frozen birds -- that his charity gave to members of U.S. Rep. John Conyers' local staff two days before Thanksgiving to give to needy people

[A representative of the charity] became suspicious that the turkeys didn't get to poor people after hearing from a friend that a federal court worker had said he was offered free turkeys from a member of Conyers' staff."

But who is to say what "needy" means? Was this clearly defined by the folks providing the turkey? I'm reminded, of course, by Bill Clinton's classic parsing of words, the meaning of "sexual relations" the meaning of "is", etc. Is is certainly appropriate of Conyers, one of the more rabid liberals in Congress to take advantage of any Clintonian techniques to obtain free Thanksgiving turkeys for staffers and supporters.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

a "review" dan rather would love

Corey Pein, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, helps to burnish that organization's liberals credentials by writing commentary on the debunking of the CBS forged documents that Dan Rather would certainly love.

Evidently annoyed by the success of the blogspere in so quickly bringing down Rather's attack on the Bush reelection effort, Pein criticizes bloggers like Charles Johnson from starting from the assumption that the documents were forgeries.

But the power of Johnson's work was its simplicity. It used Microsoft word with default settings. Johnson merely typed in the text taken from one of the forgeries and came out with a result that was almost the same as the forged document itself. The simplify comparison, he created an animzated gif with the document he created overlaid on the forgery -- the evidence is there for all to see!

Pein's concerns, that it would be hard to make any conclusions about a document, claiming that " copies cannot be authenticated either way with absolute certainty" don't really apply as the match between the modern version and the forgery is so close. Had the forgery been more sophisticated, this argument might applied but the fact is that the forgery was a crude one. This kind of argument is no different from saying that fingerprints can't be successfully recovered from a certain surface in the face of recovery of prints that in fact match some known set. Anyway, for anyone who doubted the elegant simplicity of Johnson's work could reproduce it for themselves quite easily! Perhaps Pein could take some time and do just that.

But what kind of analysis would convince Pein. Evidently that conducted by David Hailey.

"In order to understand “Memogate,” you need to understand “Haileygate.” David Hailey, a Ph.D. who teaches tech writing at Utah State University — not a professional document examiner, but a former Army illustrator — studied the CBS memos. His typographic analysis found that, contrary to widespread assumptions, the document may have been typed. (He points out, meanwhile, that because the documents are typed does not necessarily mean they are genuine.) Someone found a draft of his work on a publicly accessible university Web site, and it wound up on a conservative blog, Wizbang"

What Hailey attempted to do was to determine if the fonts used in the documents could be closely matched to fonts found in an on-line repository searched using the term "typewriter". Finding a font that he liked, he proceeded to cut and paste the characters together (in Photoshop) to produce an approximation of one of the forgeries. He couldn't fully reproduce the character set, however, becuase of the "th" and a couple of other characters. But Hailey's work is not too helpful (except maybe for Rather and Mapes supporters) since it fails to consider the between character spacing as Johnson's work did. To take our fingerprint analogy a step further, what Hailey has done it to say there are so many sworls and so many whorls and you could then put these together in any number of different ways.

So Pein would have us believe that these documents were created in the early 70s, stored away somewhere other than the in the military files they presumably originated from, subject to numerous generations of photocopying and then, some thirty-some years later would somehow match almost exactly a easily-created modern day reproduction using inter-letter spacing technology that didn't even exist when the documents were presumably created? Well, Pein rejects the Johnson/Newcomer analysis because she believes they started out assuming that the documents were forged. Using her logic, no crime could be solved using fingerprints since the police have to start out assuming that they can match the prints against known prints in order to find the culprit.

Having rejected Johnson/Newcomer et al's forensic analysis, Pein turns to the crime-solving equivalent of eyewitness accounts and, sure enough, there are some contradictions. Someone she concludes that, while CBS was wrong to use "unverified" documents, the blogsphere was wrong to attack the network.

So, here we have a body and a knife with fingerprints matching a known criminal. What do we do Ms. Pein? Using the logic in this article, we would throw out the fingerprints, start looking for folking hanging around on the street at the time. One man saw a Hispanic about 5'8" while another saw a Caucasian about 6'. Maybe we could check the photograph file but, using Pein's philosophy, that would be assuming that the perpetrator was a previously identified criminal. And maybe it was a suicide after all -- time to send it to the cold case file.

Monday, January 03, 2005

CBS to become "fair and balanced" -- why bother?

"According to a Broadcasting & Cable source in Washington, D.C., CBS News president Andrew Heyward, along with Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, recently met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration.

CBS News’ popularity at the White House—never high to begin with—plunged further in the wake of Dan Rather’s discredited 60 Minutes story on George Bush’s National Guard service."

Given the fact that CBS has, to date, done absolutely nothing to resolve the forged documet case, their committment to becomming "fair and balanced" is suspect on its face. In addition, none other than Dan Rather himself claimed that CBS News president Andrew Heyward personally approved the story based on the false documents.

But why bother to claim to even want to become fair and balanced? Without some pretty big changes starting at the top it just isn't going to happen. Mere chair shuffling of Rather himself or terminating a one or more lower-level staffers is not going to raised the network's credibility.

At this point, no one is even clamoring to have CBS become fair and balanced. Most of the comments I have seen are critical of CBS for claiming their liberal bias doesn't exist but, after the forged documents case, that claim only rings true with the group that still believes Bill Clinton didn't have sex with that woman.

The CBS new division is a distant number three in a three horse race so perhaps they want to start to attract some red-state viewers. But they are supposedly making buckets of money in their news division so why pretend to be something they have no intention of being?