Monday, August 25, 2003

Dean Launches Sleepless Summer Campaign, Manufactures Groundswell of Support -- GOPUSA

It is very interesting that the GOP should decide to attack Dean in this particular manner. The facts stated are far from ominous as the article attempts to claim. Any candidate would prefer 200 donnations of an average of $50 for 5 donations of $2000 at any stage in the game but particularly now. A $2000 donor has maxed out their allowed donnations, they cannot contribute again. A $50 donor can be approached for more donnations. The federal matching funds cover only the first $250 of any donnation. So the 200 donnations of $50 actually net $10,000 while the 5 big donnations net $11250.

The other own goal in the piece is admitting that Dean is attracting voters who don't normally vote. That is exactly what a candidate dreams of. The party bases can be relied upon to vote, it is the people outside the base who the candidates want to reach and get to the polls. It is much easier to get a non-voter to vote than to get a regular voter to switch party.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

BBC NEWS | Lockerbie: Response then and now

An interesting piece on the reaction to a Lockerbie incident if it happened today. The only problem is that it almost ignores the chief reason that Thatcher and Reagan did not launch an invasion of Lybia after the Lockerbie bombing, they simply did not know that Lybia was responsible at the time. Lybia was not even the main suspect at first, until the '91 gulf war Syria was the official suspect.

There is a similar problem with the night club bombing that started the cycle, the US accused Lybia immediately after the bombing but no hard evidence of complicity appeared until the late 90s. It is somewhat strange to see Thatcher being almost attacked for weakness fo making what is surely an obvious calculation, attacking Lybia might well stir up a hornets nest.

The other big factor was that the cold war was going on and an invasion of Lybia would stretch forces already thought to be inadequate to fend off the USSR. NATO generals would still give lectures on how the USSR would invade western Europe within a week using 'echelon warfare'. The fact that many of the Soviet tanks were WWII vintage was ignored in this analysis. Folk like myself who thought the soviets were having a sufficiently difficult time in Afghanistan that they were unlikely to attack NATO were called naive. Later when I read the history of the British empire I found that similar stories had run in the British press on a regular basis throughout the 1800s, a period where Britain's military superiority was even greater than the position the Us is now in. The stories never seem to change - except when the need arises.

Yet another reason for caution was the twin horrors of Vietnam and Afghanistan. The US did not at the time believe that it had overwhelming military superiority of the sort that could invade countries like Lybia in a few days with negligible casualties. The crash program of electronic warfare gadgets begun after Vietnam had not yet started to pay its biggest dividends. During the 1980s the balance of power was definitely on the side of defense. Lybia's own invasion of Chad was held off by a small band of mercenary forces using technicals - anti-tank guns mounted on land rovers against the lumbering Soviet tanks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

CNN.com - Fox sues Franken over 'fair and balanced' - Aug. 12, 2003

So far Al Franken has been unable to respond to the Fox lawsuit. Most likely he is still too hung over from celebrating the free publicity.

Any attempt to achieve prior restraint of a publication of any sort in the US is almost certain to fail. When the subject matter is political the chances are practically nil. Fox is trying to get the book blocked on the grouds that it's tagline 'a fair and balanced look at the right' infringes its trademark but reports of the lawsuit make it clear that that is not the real reason that the Fox suits are upset.

Prominent in all the media reports are complaints in the lawsuit about Franken's alleged 'misbehavior' at a litterary dinner. Specifically Franken called Fox anchor Bill O'Rielly a liar. So why not file a slander lawsuit or attempt to get the book which repeats the allegation blocked for libel? Well the problem here is that Franken's allegation is absolutely true.

O'Reilly had claimed on his show to have won a Peabody award for his previous show Inside Edition. Only problem, he didn't and the claims were made on tape and he repeated the claim after the facts had been pointed out. Inside Edition has never won a Peabody award. It won a Polk award, but not when O'Rielly was on the program. Sure you can confuse Peabody and Polk, but not when you are calling it the highest award in journalism. Its a bit like an actor claiming to have won an Oscar when in fact they only won a Golden Globe. It is just not the sort of mistake you would make if you had really won either.

So why on earth would Fox sue when this would only bring more attention to the fact their anchor is a liar and increase sales of Franken's book? Litigation is a pretty high risk strategy and it is unlikely that they will receive any sympathy in the rest of the news media (well apart from the propaganda outfits owned by Richard Scaife). The answer can be found in the comment made by O'Rielly that he would 'let the Fox lawyers handle it'.

Clearly the Fox lawyers have concluded that a libel case does not have a chance, so to keep their anchor happy they have filed a trademark lawsuit.

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