September 30, 2004

Debate One Deconstruction

Part of blogging for me is honesty. There's no room on my blog for spin, and i hope long time visitors know that about me. So it pains me to say that, in my opinion, President Bush was bad tonight. Not fatally bad, but still bad.

Sure, the president scored some points. His approach to North Korea clearly makes more sense than Kerry's. He was effective in highlighting Kerry's tendency to insult the same allies he says he wants to court. He was reassuring on continuing the all volunteer armed forces. And he struck the right tone when criticizing Putin.

But the president was also repetitive, hesitant, and defensive. He slouched, his ears seemed to stick out more than i remembered, and he pounded the podium too much, which i hate because Hillery does that too. He also missed numerous opportunites to point out major Kerry contradictions, passing them up in favor of repeating the same conclusory slogans.

Why didn't Bush list all the anti-military votes that Cheney reviewed in his convention speech? He should have hammered on Kerry's "87 billion" vote at least two more times. And it still boggles my mind why Bush can't or won't effectively explain the reason why we have to be on offense in the War on Terror (like Giuliani did so beautifully at the convention) and why Kerry's plan is solely and dangerously defensive.

(And why did the president have to buy into Kerry's "war should be the last resort" bullshit. After 9/11, the last resort is too late. Isn't that part of the Bush Doctrine? Yeah, yeah, i realize that Bush has to agree with that "last resort" line for political reasons, but in this new world of terrorist sleeper cells on our soil, i'd much rather have war be the third or fourth from the last resort.)

i cringed a number of times watching the president search for words. But i do that every time he speaks formally. He doesn't do that on the stump, so i can't understand his difficulty in debates, speeches and press conferences. The truth is that the president is just not the best spokesman for himself. In fact, i think i could have done a better job tonight than he did.

But tonight i also realized that this election is more of a battle of surrogates than any other election i can recall. The greatest vulnerabilities of both candidates are things that neither candidate can talk about.

Bush couldn't talk about Kerry's betrayal of this country while he was in uniform. He couldn't bring up the questions about Kerry's medals. He couldn't equate Kerry with the loony America-hating left that supports him. He couldn't put down Teresa.

Kerry couldn't accuse Bush of having been AWOL. He couldn't accuse Bush of being a religious fanatic, like so many of his supporters do. He couldn't call Bush evil, or Hitler, or even use the word "liar." And because Kerry still has to win over pro-war voters, he had to straddle the fence on Iraq.

Actually, i thought Kerry's reconciliation of his various Iraq policies was rhetorically pretty effective - at least on the surface. As i understand it, Kerry now says he is for the war, wants to win the war, but thinks that Bush is doing it all wrong and he'd do it better. The problem is, Kerry's new position still contradicts his many old positions, and maybe even some new ones too.

The blogosphere is already compiling a pretty good list of Kerry's contradictions. Right on Red names a few:

He said Saddam was a threat, but the war was a mistake, we should’ve brought allies on board, but the allies we did bring were not enough. He said that he would never ask permission to defend the country, but then later said that any preemptive action must pass 'the global test'. He said he would increase troop strength but would decrease it in Iraq. He said that something must be done about Darfur, including possible deployment of some kind I suppose, but criticized the President for over-committing troops!
At any rate, i still think Bush could have done a better job of confronting Kerry on his record. Kerry sidestepped Bush's repeated "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" attacks. But i would have asked rhetorically why Kerry voted for the 2003 war, when we didn't have France and the UN on our side, yet he voted against the 1991 war, when the UN approved and the French contribution was considerable.*

As for Kerry's performance, i was impressed. If one ignores every contrary thing Kerry has said in the past, and his lackluster political career, and his demonstrated arrogance and unlikeability, you might almost think he looked presidential tonight. He certainly gave the impression that he was the more knowledgeable and relaxed candidate.

However, the biggest flaw in Kerry's perfomance to me was one that might not be obvious to the casual debate observer (by that i mean, those idiots who still, for some insane reason, have not yet made up their minds). It's one thing for Kerry to insist that he has a plan. But i still need to hear what that plan is. Kerry couldn't tell us. i guess you could call it the six million dollar man plan: "better, stronger, faster." But when Lehrer asked Kerry to be more specific, he wasn't.

The bottom line is this: Kerry didn't lose tonight. He stayed alive by exceeding expectations. Bush didn't lose tonight either. He kept Kerry alive by reminding us all that we should not have high expectations of Bush in a debate. i only hope people remember that debating skills are not necessarily reliable predictors of presidential leadership. And i expect Bush will watch the tape, cringe like the rest of us, hopefully work on his presentation, and show some improvement next time.

* In 1991 the French sent their 6th Armored Division and two regiments of Foreign Legionnaires (their only really badass troops), among other forces.

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Keys To The Debate

It is a cliché, but worth repeating: A candidate can't win the election with a debate, but he can lose it. The only exception to that rule i can think of was Ronald Reagan, but he was exceptional in so many ways.

Tonight, watch for Kerry's zinger. i'd be very surprised if he didn't work in a Bentsenesque sound bite, hoping it will become water cooler talk tomorrow. He has to try, he's losing the election and his only chance to turn things around is to be aggressive.

But Kerry, and his team, are also desperate. And desparation breeds disorganization, which breeds failure. Look at Gore in 2000. Remember how he had a different persona for each debate? There was "sighing Al," and "friendly Al," and "macho Al." None of them worked, and he ended up looking silly, like he was trying too hard.

Bush needs to simply stick to his game plan and let Kerry self destruct. i hope Bush doesn't do anything out of character because he doesn't need to. He just needs to hammer the same points he's been hammering on the stump for the last month, and Kerry should start to come apart.

Look at the Superbowl Raiders of two years ago, if you like sports analogies. Or this week's Cowboys - Redskins game. Or any Muhammad Ali fight. When you got your opponent on the run, he tends to fuck up more.

You like war analogies? Patton knew this trick, as did Guderian. And Napoleon was a master of the rout. So was Schwarzkopf in 1991. But these men kicked ass by careful planning and a wise reliance on the incompetence and/or unpreparedness of their opponents.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, try to resist the temptation to boast that Bush won the debate. In presidential debates, it's the loser that matters. If Kerry looks silly, or arrogant, or desperate, or if he tells a whopping lie a la Al Gore, emphasize that aspect to your co-workers during your lunch break.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

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September 29, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

No commentary is necessary on this one. It's just a really fine poem, by Alice Corbin Henderson (1881 - 1949). Enjoy:

Muy Vieja Mexicana

I've seen her pass with eyes upon the road --
An old bent woman in a bronze-black shawl,
With skin as dried and wrinkled as a mummy's,
As brown as a cigar-box, and her voice
Like the low vibrant strings of a guitar.
And I have fancied from the girls about
What she was at their age, what they will be
When they are old as she. But now she sits
And smokes away each night till dawn comes round,
Thinking, beside the pinyons' flame, of days
Long past and gone, when she was young -- content
To be no longer young, her epic done:

         For a woman has work and much to do,
         And it's good at the last to know it's through,
         And still have time to sit alone,
         To have some time you can call your own.
         It's good at the last to know your mind
         And travel the paths that you traveled blind,
         To see each turn and even make
         Trips in the byways you did not take --
         But that, `por Dios', is over and done,
         It's pleasanter now in the way we've come;
         It's good to smoke and none to say
         What's to be done on the coming day,
         No mouths to feed or coat to mend,
         And none to call till the last long end.
         Though one have sons and friends of one's own,
         It's better at last to live alone.
         For a man must think of food to buy,
         And a woman's thoughts may be wild and high;
         But when she is young she must curb her pride,
         And her heart is tamed for the child at her side.
         But when she is old her thoughts may go
         Wherever they will, and none to know.
         And night is the time to think and dream,
         And not to get up with the dawn's first gleam;
         Night is the time to laugh or weep,
         And when dawn comes it is time to sleep . . .

When it's all over and there's none to care,
I mean to be like her and take my share
Of comfort when the long day's done,
And smoke away the nights, and see the sun
Far off, a shrivelled orange in a sky gone black,
Through eyes that open inward and look back.

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September 28, 2004



Tony gives us the good news and the bad news about changes at The Tonight Show.

Dawn debriefs us on her visit to Panama.

Congratulations to The Physics Geek family on their new little physics geeklette!

Jen resists the siren call of the waffle king.

Thomas Galvin picked last night's MNF winner, and a few others, too.

Moxie, Paul, and Kin are among the many bloggers making fun of Kerry's latest attempt to become (his words not mine) the second black president. And Ann Althouse provides a historical perspective on this issue.

It's Victor's birthday today! If he and Nic decide to go out for dinner, who do you think will be picking up the check?

i have to agree with Professor Hewitt on the great tie controversy. That thing is butt ugly. (scroll down to see it)

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September 27, 2004

Monday Night Football, Week Three

Tonight it's Dallas at the Redskins. Both teams are led by elite coaches trying to restore some former glory to their respective teams. Both teams have one and one records. The spread is 1.5 points, with Washington as the favorite. It sounds like a close one, but i need only one reason to pick Washington to cover the spread: Vinnie Testaverde sucks.

Update: Testaverde still sucks. Defense won that game. Like Dallas, i'm now 2 and 1 on Monday night. In Fantasy Football, DFMoore kicked my butt on the strength of Peyton Manning's performance Sunday, and i've now fallen to 2 and 1.

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The Winner, Part 2

way to increase hits
hold a contest then withhold
ha ha the winner

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September 24, 2004

Who Said It?

Update: The following post is apparently fake, and not so accurate either. Sorry.

Who said the following quote:

We know we can't count on the French. We know we can't count on the Russians . . . We know that Iraq is a danger to the United States, and we reserve the right to take pre-emptive action whenever we feel it's in our national interest.
If you guessed George W. Bush, you are wrong.

If you guessed Dick Cheney, you are wrong.

If you guessed Don Rumsfeld, you are wrong.

If you guessed Condi Rice, you are wrong.

If you guessed Colin Powell, you are wrong.

If you guessed Paul Wolfowitz, you are wrong.

In the words of THK, wrongk, wrongk, wrongk.

It was the Democratic candidate for president, John Kerry, who said it way back in 1997 on CNN's Crossfire.

You anti-war liberals, i've said it before, Nader is still your best option.

Via Powerline

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The Winner

The winner of the Joe Don Baker Haiku contest is . . .


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September 23, 2004

Pimpin' For 300K

Brittany's not actually married, according to this NY Post article, which also contains details of her pre-nuptial agreement.

Spears' rep, Leslie Sloane Zelnick, who had thought the singer was officially married, told The Post:

'Her marriage is not technically legal. But as far as Britney and Kevin [Federline's] union is concerned, it is a marriage and they are married. The papers were filed, but because the wedding date was switched so quickly, they didn't come through, and the marriage hasn't become legal yet.'

Another source said when — and if — the papers do come through, Britney will not stage another white-dress wedding when she's officially and legally married next month.

Assuming they're still together, i would add.
Us Weekly said Spears' prenup caused the 'technical' delay, as Federline was 'unhappy with how much he stood to gain if the marriage dissolved.'

The prenup gives Federline only '$300,000 a year for exactly half the tenure of their marriage' — a pittance, considering Spears' $32 million bank account.

A pittance? Hell, for 300 grr, i'd marry the bitch.

This is the most deplorable clause, though:

'Britney shall have no financial obligation to contribute to the support of [Federline's] two children.'
She's got all that money, she stole the dad from those two innocent kids and their mother, and she won't even cough up a little child support?

American Skankwoman, is right.

Via Wind Rider.

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September 22, 2004

No Poetry Today

No Poetry Today, but be sure to check out Poetry Thursday on Hugo's blog tomorrow.

Update: Victor the Rat has unilaterally decided to turn this into Joe Don Baker Haiku Day, which is such an absurd idea that i have to give it my hearty endorsement.

annika isn't celebrating Poetry Day today. In protest, I'm turning her comments into Joe Don Baker Haiku Day. Frequent annika commenter Scof has already submitted an excellent one that offers an insight into JDB that I hadn't realized before. I, of course, have submitted a couple and I'll do a couple more before the day is over.
i will judge all haikus submitted before 7:00 a.m. PDT tomorrow (for the benefit of my overseas visitors - Kevin Kim, that means you) and the winner gets a prize from my stash of highly coveted annika's journal merchandise!


Don't know who Joe Don Baker is? Click here.

Update: Deadline extended to 10:00 p.m. Thursday night.

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September 20, 2004

"Hi Mom, College Is Fun, And I Finally Found A Diet I Can Stick To!"

Is the following a joke, or is it serious? Probably both.


From a site called College Sex Advice comes this:

The Freshman Sex Diet

The dreaded Freshman Fifteen - those infamous extra pounds that new college arrivals inevitably pack on. This weight gain typically results from a diet of dorm food, pizza parties, keggers, and junk-food fueled all-nighters, coupled with reduced physical activity. Luckily there is a fun and easy solution that can keep you in shape - have sex!

Sounds reasonable? Wait, it gets better:
Sex is great exercise and it's more fun than going to the gym. Sex is good for your circulation, improves aerobic fitness by increasing heart rate and respiration, and exercises many major muscle groups. Each time you have sex, you burn between 100 to 300 calories per hour, depending on how vigorously you go at it. If you can't find a partner, don't worry; masturbation burns calories too.

To get the most fitness value out of sex, be sure to include lot of different activities in your session . . . To spot-tone problem areas of the body, here are some specific exercises you can do during sex. Your partner doesn't even need to know that you're working out while you screw. Try to avoid counting reps under your breath - it could spoil the mood.

Some PG rated examples: "Cowgirl Quad Lifts," the "Inner Thigh Scissors Squeeze," and "Missionary Push Ups." You get the picture.
Chilling in front of the TV is prime snacking time for lots of folks. Same goes for listening to music or watching movies. Next time you settle down in front of the tube, instead of reaching into that bag of chips, reach down your pants and spank the monkey or pet your kitty. If you're with friends, don't be shy; try to get them in on the act too.

Umm, Ohhh-kay . . .

My days at Cal were pretty wild, but i think any guy who tried that, even at Berkeley, would've gotten a different kind of beat-down pretty quickly, and often.

i don't know. Has college changed that much since i was a freshman?

Link via Life of Brian.

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Rather Caves

Now that CBS News and Dan Rather have accepted the obvious, i think its an excellent time to hit them with another round of e-mails calling for Rather's resignation. Throw Mapes in there too, for good measure.

In case you haven't seen it, here's the statement:


Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question—and their source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.

Contact CBS News by clicking here.

More: Why does it take "extensive additional interviews" (presumably referring to CBS's upcoming Burkett interview) for Rather and company to discern what anyone else can see, simply by looking at the documents for five minutes.

That's the problem with "journalists." They don't have the brainpower to understand technical issues (which the bloggers grasped immediately), so they rely on hearsay almost exclusively. They would make horrible lawyers.

He that liveth by hearsay, must perish by hearsay.

Send those e-mails, please.

Update: A rather amusing poem by Smallholder at

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Gimme A Quick Pick, Cash Value

Quickly, tonights game, Vikings at Eagles, McNabb and Owens vs. Culpepper and Moss, blah blah blah. The difference for me is Westbrook over Onterrio Smith, though the Vikings might have a better run defense. Spread is Eagles minus three. i think the Eagles will cover, go with Philly.

Update: Eagles over Minnesota, 27-16. Moss and Owens were roughly even in effectiveness. But Brian Westbrook rushed for 69 yards and caught for 69, including several big plays. Whereas Onterrio Smith only had 28 yards rushing.

Go ahead and say it: i fucking rock!

Update 2: Oops, i just checked out this weeks results for the Blogger's Bowl fantasy football league. My opponent this week is Victor's Rats of Chaos (what is it with that boy and rats?), and while i currently lead him by a hefty margin, Yahoo has not yet updated the stats and he has four Philly players on his team. He's predicting an additional 60 points based on McNabb and company's performance tonight.

As Charlie Brown would say: "Rats!"

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Hey, she can have sex now!

Oh that's right, she already has.

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September 17, 2004

Stupid And Ironic Comment Of The Week*

What do herpes, hurricanes**, crabgrass, Carrot Top, and commenter Robert McLelland have in common?

Nobody wants them, nobody likes them, they keep coming back, and they just . . . won't . . . fucking . . . go . . . away.

Usually i either delete McLelland's shit, or i fuck with it by translating it into French, then into German, then back into English and leave it there. Strangely, i find his comments make more sense after the Google translator has shredded them.

But Little Mac's latest comment, under my Fat Ollie Willis post, is going to stay right where it is, unaltered, (except for his link, which i deleted).

The comment is so deliciously ironic, i want everyone to see how Bush haters think:

Reich Whingers will do anything to get Dear Leader facsist re-selected to office for four more wars. . . .

ps. Don't think because I'm Canadian that I won't influence this election. I have absentee ballots from New York, Michigan and Florida from three different identities. On each I will loudly vote for John Fitzgerald Kerry (unless I decide to write in Osama). [emphasis mine]

i wonder if Mac is familiar with the psychological term "projection." Or maybe he's too dense to be aware of it.

i think this little anecdote is a perfect illustration of the message behind Professor Hugh Hewitt's excellent book: If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It


* No, i don't plan to make this a regular blog feature.
** of both the meteorological and football variety.

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Extra Friday Poetry

Today is William Carlos Williams' birthday (1883 - 1963). i don't think you can make a list of the greatest American poets without including Williams. What i like so much about WCW was that he wasn't neurotic or mentally ill, he didn't commit suicide, he was like a normal guy who wrote great stuff. In fact, he was a practicing physician in Rutherford New Jersey and happily married. Here's a well-known fragment from one of his longer poems, which is so simple, but so good.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

And another, one of my favorites:

The Young Housewife

At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband's house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.

i like this one too:

The Term

A rumpled sheet
Of brown paper
About the length

And apparent bulk
Of a man was
Rolling with the

Wind slowly over
And over in
The street as

A car drove down
Upon it and
Crushed it to

The ground. Unlike
A man it rose
Again rolling

With the wind over
And over to be as
It was before.

Williams had this ability i envy so much. He was able to create a full picture of a moment in time with only a few words. It's like reading a Hopper painting.

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September 16, 2004

ROTFL Moment Of The Week

Fat-lard-ass Ollie Willis* comes up with some doozies, but yesterday he farted out a real howler of a line:

John Kerry is a better leader, a better man, a better patriot than George Bush and everyone else on the left (and a few honest folks on the right) knows it.
Yah? In what freaking parallel universe, lard butt?

* For whom no amount of money would induce me to give a link.

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Updated Thoughts On E-mailing CBS News

On Friday, i began my crusade to get people to e-mail CBS News and ask for Dan Rather's resignation. i also think it's a good idea to demand that CBS release the name of the person who gave them the forged memos.

The issues that arise from this scandal are too big and too far-reaching to ignore, and that is why i'm so passionate about this. Thank you for the sincere concern of those of you who e-mailed me, reminding me not to neglect the demands of my first year law courses. i know you are right. But i also know that i have built a small reservoir of goodwill among the few readers of this blog, and if i can multiply that goodwill for this important purpose, i see it as my duty to do so.

My own e-mails to CBS have evolved with the story, and as CBS's stonewalling has progressed. Here is my latest version, which i sent after reading CBS News President Andrew Heyward's long awaited, and anti-climactic press release:

I eagerly awaited CBS News President Andrew Heyward's press release regarding last week's 60 Minutes II program and the Killian memos. When the three sentence statement was finally released, I was left with the impression that CBS's news division is in disarray.

It is now beyond doubt that all of the memos disclosed by CBS News on the 60 Minutes II program are forgeries. It is also beyond doubt that Dan Rather, his producer and the staff of 60 Minutes II failed to exercise even the most rudimentary journalistic neutrality or judgment concerning the use of these forged memos.

Accordingly, I cannot see any reason for Dan Rather to remain employed as anchorman of the Evening News, or in any capacity at CBS. His continued evasions and denials contradict reality and reflect badly on your organization's public image.

Every day that Mr. Rather remains as the face of CBS News brings further lost credibility to your once great news department. Please forward this message to the appropriate person, as my request that Mr. Rather resign immediately.

In addition, there is no longer any reason to protect the identity of the person or persons who transmitted the forged documents to CBS News. In fact there is ample reason to disclose that information immediately.

I'm sure you will agree that manipulation of a presidential election through deceit and fraud is a serious matter. I'm sure you will also agree that CBS News should not appear to be tolerant of such acts, and certainly should not be seen as an abettor to fraud. Yet, unless CBS News discloses the name of the person or persons responsible for the forgeries, your organization will suffer a loss of prestige and credibility that may take generations to rebuild.

CBS is still entrenched. The emergence of the secretary will probably prevent Rather from being fired, which is unfortunate. But one thing is clear. CBS News has no intention of doing the right thing. They had plenty of chances to do that already, and they went in the opposite direction. i think their lawyers may have had something to do with that, and Rather probably begged them to give him one more chance to buttress his story. He outfoxed everyone with this latest coup, but it doesn't change the fact of his egregious breach of journalistic ethics. Nor does it absolve the mysterious forger of any wrongdoing.

Regardless of whether Rather resigns, or CBS discloses the forger, i remain convinced that people should continue to e-mail CBS News with their opinions. If there are Congressional hearings, someone is going to ask the CBS representatives how many complaints they received concerning this whole scandal. And i want their response to be as large a number as possible.

Contact CBS News by clicking here.

See also: Kevin at Wizbang has background on how CBS developed the National Guard story. And Val Prieto at Babalu Blog has a link for you to contact your local CBS affiliate too.

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September 15, 2004

The Secretary

Am i the only one who saw 60 Minutes II tonight?

i think CBS rushed the interview with the secretary onto the West Coast broadcasts only, because there's no word of it on any of the blogs i've checked.

She was probably well coached beforehand. She agreed with all the allegations raised by the forged memos, while at the same time denying their authenticity.

Her demeanor seemed credible, but i have to ask. With this lady out there, why did anyone feel the need to pull such a clumsy forgery stunt?

Score one point to CBS, apparently.

By the way, Rather was positively disgusting. He visibly sighed with relief after one of the secretary's statements. And he did his best to keep spinning this story in his favor.

So now we're supposed to forget about the forgery and talk about Bush? i ask again, if this lady was out there, why the forgery?

And despite the secretary's comment that Killian's son "wouldn't know nothin'" there's still the matter of Killian's wife and son.

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Which organization is in greater disarray at the moment: CBS News or the Kerry Campaign?

i realize it may be hard to distinguish between the two.

Now seems like an excellent time to e-mail CBS News again!

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