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January 20, 2005

THE EXIT POLLS DEBATE; PENTAGON DENIALS OF 'GAY APHRODISIAC' ARE FALSE; FEINSTEIN'S CONDI SELLOUT; IRAN'S NUKES--WHY?; THE NATION'S GAY-OFFENSIVE CARTOON, and other notes

Lincoln1_2 "BABE LINCOLN" is the title of a rather unfortunate Robert Grossman cartoon in the current (January 24) issue of The Nation, showing Lincoln's head on a woman's body with an ample, protruding bosom and dressed scantily in 19th century women's lingerie. Larry Gross, Director of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, has written me to comment on this embarrassing cartoon that, "besides not being funny -- a serious sin, as Oscar Wilde might have pointed out -- it's fairly offensive in its knee-jerk association between 'Gay' and 'woman in man's body' or whatever yuck yuck image Grossman intends. It's not much different, interestingly enough, from what was on the cover of the Weekly Standard." Yes, Larry, it is different--it's much worse. This Nation cartoon is like something out of a time warp: the long-ago disproven notion that a man who loves a man really wants to be a woman is truly from another age. Judge for yourself--the cartoon is reproduced to the left of this column --and then, if you agree, you may register your objection by e-mailing the mag's editor, Katrina VandenHeuvel, at kat@thenation.com....

THOSE EXIT POLLS on which a lot of folks in the blogosphere based their erroneous theories of a great conspiracy to steal the November election seriously overestimated Kerry's support, the firms who conducted the exit polls have now admitted. "Procedural problems compounded by the refusal of large numbers of Republican voters to be surveyed led to inflated estimates of support for John F. Kerry, according to a report released yesterday by the research firms responsible for the flawed surveys," recounts today's Washington Post, and their study of what went wrong with the exit polls also revealed that the younger interviewers they hired did a lousy job compared to those of more mature age.

We have a technically inept voting system in this country and always have had, but there wasn't much more error or fraud in this election than in elections past--it's just that the mistakes and occasional local malfeasance got more attention this time around because of the 2000 Florida "chad" debacle. And the report by veteran pollster Warren Mitofsky and Joe Lenski of Edison Media Research also declared that they  "found no evidence of fraud resulting from the rigging of voting equipment, a contention made repeatedly by those who question the 2004 vote."

It would be nice to think that the endless process debate which some progressive Democrats insist on continuing as a substitute for confronting the policy bankruptcy of their party (to the delight of the centrist Democratic establishment) will now give way to a real discussion of the content of the party's politics. But a conspiracy theory, once embedded, is hard to expunge, and the genuine crimes of the Rove-Bush Republicans are so huge that some people are prepared to believe them capable of anything--even when the evidence is to the contrary....

PENTAGON claims that its proposal to develop biochemical weapons that would affect the personalities of "enemy" soldiers--including a "gay aphrodisiac" that would make them horny for one another--were "not taken seriously" and "rejected" in 1994 are false, says the Sunshine Project, which used a Freedom of Information Act request to secure the documents on which it based its original expose of the biochemical weapons program, which included the use of narcotics.

The Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate continued to include the plans in its materials as late as 2001, according to documents just released by the Sunshine Project--whose analysis of the DoD denial, complete with links to the documents it cites, you can read by clicking here.....

FEINSTEIN TAKES A DIVE FOR CONDI -- my friend David Corn's blog has an acid dissection of California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein's abysmal performance in presenting Condi Rice to the Senate committee reviewing her nomination for confirmation.

Corn writes that "Feinstein's fawning introduction of Rice was an insult to anyone who believes the administration presented a fake case for war--and that happens to be most Democrats....Feinstein practically endorsed the Bush administration's dissembling and disingenuous explanations for the invasion. After all, she was endorsing one of the chief dissemblers and ignoring Rice's crucial role in the caper.... Feinstein has aided and abetted the administration's ongoing effort to deny there is such a thing as a WMD scandal." To read the entire piece, click here.....

WHY IS IRAN PURSUING W.M.D.? The Middle East Report Online has just published a sharp, carefully documented analysis by Joost R. Hiltermann, "Iran’s Nuclear Posture and the Scars of War," which suggests very strongly that Iran's attempts to produce weapons of mass destruction are blowback from the U.S. policy of coddling and aiding Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran. Hiltermann is no apologist for the Islamic Republic of Iran--he says quite clearly that "Iran [is]engaged in this apparently dogged pursuit of WMD concealed by an endless series of dodges, half-truths and quasi-concessions it fails to implement." But his explanation for why Iran is acting that way makes it clear that U.S. planning for a military solution to the Iranian nuke problem--now in advanced, on-the-ground reconnaissance stages, as the unbeatable Seymour Hersh revealed in The New Yorker this week--is wrong-headed. You shouldn't miss Hiltermann's piece, a perfect companion to the Hersh revelations, and you can read it by clicking here.....

THE INAUGURATION ON $250,000 A DAY: My dear pal and blogodfather Micah Sifry (who pushed me into blogging) has a fascinating encounter with one of the co-chairmen of Bush's inaugural festivities, Brad Freeman, in the new issue of The Nation. Micah, co-author (with Nancy Watzman) of "Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?", dissects how there is "something dangerously rotten about the work Freeman does so well. " Also, a coalition of Big Business led by Boeing and Pfizer will spend at least $5 million to promote Bush's destruction of Social Security, Bloomberg reports today....

IN ANOTHER SCANDALOUS ISRAELI infliction of suffering on the Palestinians, today's Haaretz, the prestigious Israeli daily, reveals that "thousands of Palestinians who live in the West Bank will lose ownership of their property in East Jerusalem....estimates say this could add up to half of all East Jerusalem property."

Moreover, the Sharon government is using the Wall of Shame as an excuse to seize more lands. Says Haaretz, "With the recent construction of the fence in the Jerusalem region, Palestinian landholders from Bethlehem and Beit Jala requested permission to continue working their fields, which are within Jerusalem's municipal jurisdiction. The state's response stated that the lands ]no longer belong to them, but have been handed over to the Custodian for Absentee Property.] At stake are thousands of dunam of agricultural land on which the Palestinians grew olives and grapes throughout the years.

"'These people's property was always considered absentee assets, but so long as no fence existed, these people could get to their property and everything was fine from their standpoint,' said a senior judicial official involved in the case. "The fence is the result of terrorism. It's not fair that a man becomes an absentee because his tie to his land has been cut without his doing. But morality is one thing, and what is written in our laws another.'" Read the entire Haaretz article by clicking here.

"HOTEL JOURNALISM",  wrote the great Robert Fisk in The Independent two days ago, "is the only phrase for it. More and more Western reporters in Baghdad are reporting from their hotels rather than the streets of Iraq's towns and cities. Some are accompanied everywhere by hired, heavily armed Western mercenaries. A few live in local offices from which their editors refuse them permission to leave. Most use Iraqi stringers, part-time correspondents who risk their lives to conduct interviews for American or British journalists, and none can contemplate a journey outside the capital without days of preparation unless they 'embed' themselves with American or British forces.

"Rarely, if ever, has a war been covered by reporters in so distant and restricted a way. The New York Times correspondents live in Baghdad behind a massive stockade with four watchtowers, protected by locally hired, rifle-toting security men, complete with NYT T-shirts. America's NBC television chain are holed up in a hotel with an iron grille over their door, forbidden by their security advisers to visit the swimming pool or the restaurant 'let alone the rest of Baghdad' lest they be attacked. Several Western journalists do not leave their rooms while on station in Baghdad...." To read the rest of Fisk's eye-opening dispatch from Iraq, click here.

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Comments

looking for a jounalist called Robert Grossman working for new york times int.

Posted by: ricky | May 20, 2005 8:43:12 AM

just for you.

Posted by: Reza | May 15, 2005 10:23:53 AM

"THOSE EXIT POLLS... seriously overestimated Kerry's support [because of] the refusal of large numbers of Republican voters to be surveyed." The pollsters making this claim have produced NO EVIDENCE that this happened. Actually, their statistics show that rate of refusal (to be interviewed) was no different than in previous elections.

Instead, they are ASSUMING this is the explanation despite having no evidence that it is true (since they -- by definition -- didn't interview the persons who refused to be interviewed, they don't know the party affiliation of those people). Rather, since they are unwilling to accept the possibility of electoral fraud, they are forced to assert this CRAZY CONSPIRACY THEORY that ordinary Republican voters all over the county, who had no contact with one another, boycotted exit polls in a coordinated way. In addition, this theory also requires Democratic voters to have spontaneously become MORE likely to talk to pollsters than in the past (since the overall response rate didn't change, they would have had to make up the difference if Republicans ran away). Nor is there any explanation for what the MOTIVE of this Republican conspiracy might be?

(Whereas the ability of high level Republican officials to coordinate actions through the Republican Party structure is obvious, as is the motivation for doing so.)

The clincher that clearly demonstrates that Mitofsky and Lenski are pulling this "explanation" out of their butts is their claim that they  "found no evidence of fraud resulting from the rigging of voting equipment." What did they do, walk around their office suite looking for evidence of election fraud, like Bush walking around the White House looking for WMDs?! If they conducted some sort of investigation, with depositions and access to poll logs and voting machine software, they should let us in on it. It would be quite surprising given that there are lawsuits and Congressional inquiries trying to get this data and being turned away.

They ought to cut out the BS, and make their raw polling data public. Then we really could make some progress and get to the bottom of this. There is no legitimate reason to keep the data secret at this point.

Instead, they continue to hide it while at the same time proposing as a "solution" that partial or raw data no longer ever be released -- in the future, data will always be "cleansed" to match the reported results. I'm sure the deposed status quo candidate in Ukraine wishes he had thought of that.

If Mitofsky and Lenski's claims that they bungled the most extensive, expensive, and thorough exit poll in history are correct, then we should see them being shunned by the media in the future, and other firms hired instead. If instead, they continue to be respected by their peers, and treated as the leaders in the exit polling field, then we can conclude that this is all smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: Randy Div | Jan 22, 2005 11:39:50 PM

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