Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Friday, June 07, 2002
Rant and Counter Rant

Jay Caruso, one of the bloggers at Media Whores Online Watch, which I blasted on Wednesday, has put up a response to my criticisms at Daily Rant, his other blog.

Who's got time to write 2 blogs, by the way? Especially since Jay also says he has a young child. I would barely have time for one, except for my convenient lack of a life. Anyway, to get to Jay's criticisms:

I wrote: MWO Watch copies the loud, in your face attitude of MWO, but it doesn't copy their interest in actual facts. It prefers insults and sneers to troubling exercises like research.

Jay answered:First of all, I'd like to know what 'actual facts' Alex is referring to on MWO. Here is a quote from a commentary they had regarding a new story coming out in Esquire about President Bush:

What they failed to report was Andy Card's concern -- and Karl Rove's glee -- at how Karen's departure had made Rove the winger into the capo di tutti capi of the Dubya regime.

I would definitely agree that MWO is an opinion-rich environment, with more than an occasional cheap shot. But if you look around, there are plenty of facts there.

For instance, one current article, "BUSH, CHENEY, AND THE HALLIBURTON SCANDAL", has numerous facts, apparently mostly cribbed from an article in the Boston Globe, that I have seen reported sparsely or not at all elsewhere:

  • Bush 41 got his first job working for Dresser, due to his father's close ties to Dresser's then-President, Neil Mallon. Dubya's brother Neil, the noted S & L executive, is named after Neil Mallon.
  • Mallon and G. H. W. Bush met at Yale in Skull and Bones. Bush subsequently served on the Dresser board.
  • Halliburton bought out Dresser after negotiations launched on a hunting trip Dick Cheney took with Dresser's CEO in 1998. Ten thousand employees were fired as redundant by the combined company. This merger has been an unmitigated disaster for Halliburton, which is now faced with billions of dollars in asbestos claims from a former Dresser subsidiary.
  • Halliburton is now in such bad shape from the asbestos claims that it is seeking relief from the US government.
  • The threat of asbestos liability was known to negotiators at the time of the merger, but wasn't disclosed to stockholders. Whether the Halliburton board was warned is an interesting question which goes unanswered.
  • Cheney made millions of dollars selling his stocks and exercising options when the price was over $50 a share and the market had not been informed of Dresser's asbestos problems. That information, along with other problems, has driven the current share price for Halliburton bellow $20.

Another story describes Tucker Carlson on 'Crossfire' repeating the bogus claims that FBI agents set the Waco fire and Dee Dee Myers meekly going along with him, with extensive quotes from transcripts.

So there is some significant meat on the site, along with the invective.

MWO Watch:
This is par for the course at MWO. Yes, sometimes MWO raise some serious questions, and for that they should be commended. They were the ones who revealed (at least to me anyway) that the reporting of the Washington Post regarding Congress's knowledge of the 'shadow government' Bush put into place following the September 11 attacks. The Post story, which came out in March or April reported members of Congress had not been informed. However, a Cleveland Plain Dealer story at the end of October completely contradicted that is it reported that the leaders of Congress were indeed informed of what was going on.

I don't know what MWO said about this. They either keep no archives at all or hide them someplace very hard to find, which is atrocious.

About this story in general, what amazed me, and also demonstrated how badly the media elite is in need of an aggressive watchdog, is that the Post was universally credited with 'breaking' a story that had appeared in a major newspaper the previous year.

I noted that in two consecutive posts, MWO Watch had mocked MWO for an ad hominem shot at Rush Limbaugh, then engaged in some pretty crude insults of its own to readers sending critical e-mails. Jay replied:

There has been a common misconception that MWO Watch is a site that is written with one voice, and the critics refer to posts by two separate people as though Henry and I have some kind of rules to abide by. This is not the case. I post when I feel like it and Henry posts when he feels like it. We'll email each other tipping each other off to certain things, but what we post is done on our own. Henry decided to make a comment about MWO and their use of the term 'fathead' with respect to Rush Limbaugh. My comments responding to other comments are irrelevant in that regard.

As for me, anybody who has read this site, knows that I am respectful to dissenting views, and do not engage in ad hominem here, and I appreciate that my liberal readers have not done so either. I like the dissent, and there are times when faithful readers like Midderpidge offer some rebuttal to what I write, which makes me think more about the issue. However, I am not about to offer a shred of respect for some left wing nut who is going to call me a fucking Nazi!

Jay, there's an old Jewish saying: When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. The Rant (which is ultimately just as partisan as MWO Watch) posts intelligent, respectful commentary and gets respectful critiques of your positions. MWO Watch posts red meat invective and gets responses comparing you to notorious murderers or calling you a Nazi. Maybe there's a lesson in that.

Now we enter, with grave trepidation, the swamps of Florida. MWO routinely refers to the 2000 election as stolen, a position with which, for the record, I agree. MWO Watch posted an article under the headline "MWO's BIGGEST WHOPPER - SO FAR" on the recount.

MWO:"As everyone knows from subsequent reports making clear that overvotes would have been included in the recount - and making clear that Al Gore won under all six scenarios counting overvotes and undervotes - the US Supreme Court did cast the deciding vote installing Usurper."

MWO Watch:That is a total lie. Overvotes would not have been included in the recounts. Florida law at the time said as much.[Emphasis in original.]

The overvotes in question were ballots where a vote was entered for one candidate and the same candidate's name was entered on the write-in line. There were overvotes that included votes for multiple candidates, but these ballots could not have been counted. The countable overvotes are known to have tilted significantly to Gore.

The order by the Florida Supreme Court called for only the counting of undervotes. However, Slate showed that the Judge who was supervising the recount, Terry Lewis, was considering adding overvotes to the count. If he had, and the recount had been completed, Gore would have very probably won.

Contrary to the flat statement of MWO Watch, we simply don't know whether the overvotes would have been included. But it seems likely they would have:

  • Lewis himself has stated he would have been "open to" counting them.
  • The documents in Slate suggest that Lewis was leaning in that direction.
  • Counting the overvotes was consistent with the general purpose of both Florida law and the Court's order, which was simply to count every available vote. Since these overvotes met the standard of showing 'clear intent of the voter', there was no good reason not to count them.
  • The quote that MWO Watch includes to prove that overvotes wouldn't have been counted says: "How about the 'overvotes'? Section 101.5614(6) provides that a ballot should not be counted '[i]f an elector marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office,' meaning the voter voted for more than one person for president. "[Emphasis added] So this reference is clearly to the uncountable, and not the countable overvotes. In fact, what this judge (in a dissent) seems to be disagreeing with, is precisely the fact that the decision didn't explicitly require including countable overvotes.

By the way, this is all focusing on minutia while ignoring the basic question. MWO Watch doesn't seem to dispute that Gore would have won if all the legal votes had been counted. They're pretty much just saying that, even if the recount had gone forward, due to mistakes by the Gore attorneys and the Florida Supremes, enough valid Gore votes would have been missed for Bush still to win. Once you concede that Gore, along with the national popular vote, seems to have won the plurality of legal Florida votes - and also there's little dispute that Gore had a sizable majority in votes that had to be thrown out because of confusing ballot design - you're pretty much admitting that Bush's legitimacy rests, at best, on a legal technicality.

Jay also disagrees with my characterizing Instapundit's item as 'endorsing' MWO Watch. It doesn't explicitly say that the blog is good, and MWO Watch isn't on Glenn's lengthy blog roll. (Neither are Daily Rant or Public Nuisance.) I still think that's a reasonable interpretation of Glenn's line, "Advantage: Blogosphere!". Feel free to decide for yourself.