Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Why lie over meaningless nothings?
On Monday's Late Nite show, Dave Letterman shows this very funny clip of a bored kid at the President's speech in New Orleans. The kid -- about 12 or 14 -- yawns, twiddle's his thumbs, cracks his neck -- basically anything a kid does to pass the time when bored stiff. Only he's on the podium 8 feet from the President of the United States. It's just hysterical. (See the mirrors below for the video clip)
Dave did something similar with NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani' son at Rudy's inaugural -- the boy who was about 7 at the time. It was also a very funny clip, and Dave ends up having him on the show. There were good natured laughs for everyone.
Now here's where things get really, really weird.
CNN runs the clip off of Letterman's show, but mentions "We are being told by the White House that THE KID WAS EDITED INTO THAT VIDEO." (see links for clip below). Letterman than says:
"That Ladies and Gentleman as sure as I am sitting here is an absolute out and out 100% lie. The Kid absolutely was there he absolutely did everything."Dave insists on the air this was real, unedited footage. Then he shows a 2nd CNN anchor, who announces the kid was there, but not exactly as shown (?!?).
The White House called CNN and lied to them about this. But why? Why lie about something as irrelevant and inconsequential as some goofy bored kid? Its just plain stupid. (Give Dave credit for having fun with this). The big question: Why this almost unnatural compulsion to lie? I just don't get it . . .
UPDATE: April 1 2001, 10:35 pm
CNN now says the White House did not call.
Something smells here; Otherwise, how did a White House denial make it onto CNN? Someone at CNN inserted a piece of disinformation based upon something. Who did this and why? CNN should explain what actually happened.
Here are the updated news sources:
Bored Boy Behind President Gets Nationwide Attention
Boy Yawns, CNN Bumbles, Letterman Yelps
NOTE: Several mirrors are carrying the clips, as Overspun's bandwidth is exhausted:
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Condi Rice: Not a very good liar
George W. Bush has told his share of whoppers, as did his father ("Read my lips -- no new taxes"). Both Bill Clinton ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman") and Ronald Reagan ("trees cause more pollution than automobiles do") were extremely accomplished liars -- indeed, there was almost a poetic beauty to their bullshit. The key to each of their fibbing ability was their personal charm; Reagan had his charismatic manner, while Clinton's style was to "feel your pain." Two fabulous fibbers, they were.
Al Gore was also a liar, and not a particularly good one. While not as much a fibber as Clinton, or as bad as his opponents made him out to be. That "Gore claimed to have invented the internet" story? Turns out not to be true. Still, he told his fair share of lies, and streched the truth when convenient.
When it suited them, JFK and LBJ were both full of it. There was some serious duplicity surrounding Ford's pardon of Nixon, which Ford never adequately explained to anyone's satisfaction. A quid pro quo was widely believed to have existed, and Ford's denials rang hollow. As to Richard M. Nixon himself -- please, don't even ask.
Amongst the present administration, there are many highly accomplished and skilled prevaricators: Starting with the suave and polished Colin Powell. He's smooth, with a grace and presence that allows him to get away with the occasional mal mot. His U.N. testimony before the Iraq War, of course, turned out to be nearly all chicanery, but you almost sensed that he believed it. His U.N. presentation was, at the least, highly misleading, and makes one wonder what research Powell did to verify the veracity of his power points. But Powell was (likely) relying on other people's unproven assertions, and probably on purpose. That allowed Powell to act shocked (I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!) when the allegations proved false. As George Costanza noted, "its not a lie if you believe it."
Dick Cheney is another highly accomplished liar. He has an awesome command of facts and figures, which he conveniently ignores when it suits him. His narratives, peppered as they are with details, have an air of authenticity to them regardless. He speaks in a very measured and confident tone. This allows him to get away with more than his fair share of misleading statements, distortions, and outright falsehoods. His lies are never erroneous, but are brazen and purposeful. Where Powell may blame someone else, all of Cheney's lies are his own.
John Snow is also a decent liar -- at least better than Paul O'Neill was. Snow jobs, as they've come to be known, are the usual corporate hokum that you get within any large entity, and the US Government is as large as they come. Snow goes with the talking points, and states them forcefully. He's still pounding away on the Payroll/Household survey discrepancy, an issue which credible economists -- including Alan Greenspan and the BLS -- have already resolved. Snow hasn't gotten the memo yet that this is a dead issue. Right or wrong, he's still no point.
Rumsfield is my favorite administration dissembler, mostly because he is so disarmingly blunt. He has a brusque, no nonsense manner which allows him to skate over the truth on a regular basis. Challenge him on anything factual or specific and he looks at you like you've got two heads. For a reporter, it must be a disconcerting sensation when the Secretary of Defense treats you like an idiot child. His forthright manner is endearing in a bizarre sort of way. Sure, he's Dr. Strangelove, but he's our Strangelove.
In case you could not tell, I enjoy watching a good liar. I'm not particularly skilled at it (otherwise I would be in Sales.) In both my careers -- I was a practicing attorney before I joined the Wall Street crowd -- I've been witnessed some utterly astounding liars. Truly pathological, immoral, steal-grandma's-last-dime kinda liars. From a corporate viewpoint, I watch CEOs lie all the time. It requires a degree of finesse to balance the occasional "white" lie while still maintaining a reputation for veracity. That, in my opinion, is what separates the good CEOs from the truly great ones. There are obvious strategic advantages -- and pitfalls -- to lying, and most people lack the skill set to know how and when to selectively employ classic misrepresentation techniques.
Of all the distorting, misleading prevaricators in the White House today, Condi is the least capable, least convincing, least likely to get away with a real humdinger.
She's simply not that good at it.
On 60 Minutes, she looked uncomfortable. She wasn't forceful or confident. Her answers seemed "legalistic" or at times, simply evasive. She often look away from the interviewer. Once or twice, I noted she was looking down and to the right -- often a good "tell" as to a lie. As a viewer, I very much got the sense she was not so much"recalling" specifics as much as creating them.
Do not misunderstand this -- this was not due to a heightened sense of ethics or moral compulsion; She is simply not particularly talented in this department. She's an academic, not a Washington insider or politician. As such, she is not a very accomplished liar.
What make her lies so much worse is that she keeps insisting on repeating things which are verifiably false. Its harder to accept falsehoods from a person when they keep rubbing your nose in statements which are demonstrably untrue.
Her most glaring falsehood is the insupportable notion that "no one had any idea that commercial planes would be used as part of the attack." Condi has said this repeatedly. That's been shown to be false in several ways:
All the way back on July 26, 2001, CBS reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft, on the advice of his FBI security detail, stopped flying on Commercial Aircraft. Previously, he had flown commercial, as did his predecessor, Janet Reno.
An edict to the AG that he NOT FLY COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT is solid evidence that the FBI knew that aircraft were a potential target. Given all the terrorist "chatter" which intelligence agencies have said existed in June and July of 2001, its clear that there was plenty of notice about commercial aircraft. (Not that "we" heard anything about it at the time).
San Francisco Gate columnist Harley Sorensen reported the same on June 3, 2002. This is simply old news, still available on the web. It took me all of 30 seconds to find factual details on Condi's silly dissembling and refute them. It has to make you wonder why she would tell so obvious a lie -- one that is so easily and verifiably false. Only an extremely poor liar would do that; A Freudian would say she want to get caught. I have no idea what her motivation is, other than pointing out she is not a skilled prevaricator.
The New York Times noted today that in an August 6, 2001, President Bush was told that Al Qaeda might seek to hijack aircraft. The 9/11 Commission has found that US intelligence agencies had some warning of terrorists using airplanes as missiles.
That's before we even get to Richard Clarke's testimony about 1996 Atlanta Olympics security detail. He's commented that the security detail had fixed on ways to prevent aircraft from being flown into the Olympic stadium, creating a no fly zone, using helicopters, etc.
There are witnesses named to this discussion. If Clarke is not telling the truth, then that should be easily provable. Get the Special Agent in charge of the Atlanta FBI Office in 1996, or Cathal Flynn, a retired Navy SEAL who ran FAA security. They are witnesses to this discussion, according to Clarke's book.
If there's a moral to this story, its this: John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan -- accomplished liars, both -- accepted responsibility when things went terribly wrong. They didn't hide the truth, but accpeted it, even embraced it. JFK took full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Reagan shouldered the blame personally for the 233 Marines who died when terrorists attacked their barracks in Beirut.
For these acts of political responsibility and human decency, their approval ratings went up. There's a lesson in this for the present administration -- and perhaps for the the next one as well . . .
|On how terrorism was treated before Sept. 11||"The Bush administration saw terrorism policy as important but not urgent, prior to 9/11."|
-- From testimony for 9/11 Commission hearing, March 24, 2004
|"I would like very much to know what more could have been done given that it was an urgent problem." |
-- 60 Minutes, March 28
|On whether Bush pressured Clarke to find an Iraqi link to Sept.|
|"I said, 'Mr. President, we've done this before… there's no connection.' He came back at me and said, 'Iraq, Saddam; find|
out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way."
-- 60 Minutes, March 21
|"I have never seen the president say anything to people in an intimidating way to try to get a particular answer out of them."|
-- 60 Minutes, March 28
|On whether Rice had demoted Clarke||"Rice decided that the position [Clarke held] of National|
Coordinator for Counterterrorism would also be downgraded."
-- In his book, "Against All Enemies"
|"He wasn't demoted. We had a different organizational structure. Dick was still the national coordinator. He was still doing all|
of the things he had been doing."
-- March 24 press briefing
Rice Leads Counterattack
CBS 60 Minutes, March 28, 2004
Ashcroft Flying High
CBS News, Washington, July 26, 2001
Heads-Up To Ashcroft Proves Threat Was Known Before 9/11
SF Gate, June 3, 2002
Meet the Press,
White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke
March 28, 2004
Mendacity Index: Which president told the biggest whoppers?
The Washington Monthly, September 2003
Monday, March 29, 2004
Microsoft to create search site for Weblogs
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Microsoft became the first big Internet company Friday to say that it would create a special search Web site just for Weblogs.
The company said MSN Blogbot will debut in the first half of the year, along with MSN Newsbot, a search site devoted to news.
The service will not index all blogs, just the ones that MSN determines provide the most useful information, a company official said.
Several Web sites are already dedicated to searching blogs, including www.daypop.com, www.blogdex.net, www.popdex.com and www.technorati.com. Google indexes and provides search results for blogs, as does Yahoo. But neither company separates blog listings from their regular search results.
In related news, Microsoft ramps up on search engine
Footnote TV: The Daily Show w/Jon Stewart
Footnote TV annotates and references the sources in some of your favorite legal or politicla TV shows. Smartly written and scrupulously sourced, its tagline is "examining the issues behind your favorite TV shows."
Sunday, March 28, 2004
An open plea to the good people at Typepad:
I have been getting deluged with Comment Spam. I've read elsewhere that many many other bloggers have also.
There are several ways to combat this:
• Grey listThis is a major problem which needs to be dealt with, and soon. I'm not aware of what Typepad is doing to combat this, but they should do something -- and soon.
Any IP Address which have been "Comment Banned" by 3 or more bloggers gets put onto a "Grey list." Not quite a Blacklist, it a Grey listed IP address precludes that entity from posting more than 1 comment every 3 hours. This is across the entire typepad network. That's right -- only 4 comments per day to all of the typepad blogs. ALL OF THEM.
If a Greylisted IP addresses (including that firm or advertised message) is found to be using different IP addresses to post the same commercial spam, than they all get blacklisted. All of their IP addresses, and any associated accoutrements used to post comment spam -- name, email or web page -- gets blacklisted.
Palace Rooftop Fun
US Soldiers adapt to life in Baghdad: Take one Counter Intel agent, one Army Ranger, one of Saddam's Palaces, add a miniramp and some skate boards, and this is what you get:
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Amazon customer service number
Long story short: I had a big pain with an Amazon order fuck up. It was lost, they made good and shipped a new order, than 2 months later the original order shows up. Trying to return it was abominable without a customer service number -- which they make nearly impossible to find.
Here it is:
We do understand that there are times when you'll want or need to talk to someone on the phone. For your future reference, our phone numbers are:
U.S. and Canada: 1-800-201-7575
If you want to thank me, you can pick something off my Wish List
Friday, March 26, 2004
Dynamiting Dead Whales
Okay, so you are in charge of Highway and Park maintenance for the state of Oregon.
An 8 ton whale washed up and the beach, dead. It begins to stink.
What is your solution?
Dynamite, you say?
This is hysterically funny . . .
Thursday, March 25, 2004
A site full of all things nostalgiac, going back to the 60's, 70's and 80's.