February 18, 2007
I believe in many conspiracies: I believe that a bunch of jihadis conspired to hijack passenger jets and fly them into the World Trade Centers, for example. I also believe that Iran conspires with Muqtada Sadr to extend the former's influence into Iraq.
And I have long suspected that there is, at the least, a conspiracy of shared interests among the elite media in this country -- and many allies within the State Department, the CIA, academe, and such -- to destroy the Bush Administration and engineer the Republican loss of Congress (done) and the presidency (unlikely).
But I believe we are witnessing a rare instance of an out and out, traditional conspiracy among newspaper editors who actually made a deliberate decision to copy certain language from each other. See what strikes you about this New York Times article:
The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort to force debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq....
The 56-to-34 vote in a rare Saturday session was the second time Republicans were able to deny opponents of the troop increase a debate on a resolution challenging Mr. Bush....
But the outcome, four votes short of the 60 needed to break a procedural stalemate....
Seven Republicans split from their party and joined 48 Democrats and one Independent in calling for a debate....
“We will be relentless,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the third-ranking Democrat. “There will be resolution after resolution, amendment after amendment, all forcing this body to do what it has not done in the previous three years: debate and discuss Iraq....”
A vote to open debate would have allowed the Senate to begin considering the identical language that was approved on Friday by the House....
Without 60 votes for the procedural motion, the Senate was unable to start debate.
I have never before seen a filibuster, the "procedureal stalemate" hinted at above, described as an attempt to prevent debate; in fact, it is the cloture vote -- which failed yesterday -- that is an attempt to end debate and actually bring a measure to a vote.
It was the Democrats attempted to cut off debate and actually vote on the Senate version of the House rebuke (not refutation) of President Bush's strategic change of course in Iraq, thus leaving us in the failed status quo (I'm certain that if they succeeded, the next vote would be one to withdraw the troops -- on the grounds that we hadn't changed a policy that was failing).
Certainly, no newspaper ever described the Democratic filibusters against dozens of presidential nominations to the federal bench as "cutting off debate" on those judges. Those actions were rightly described as preventing a final vote.
At the absolute most, the Republicans voted to prevent the start of final debate/voting on this particular non-binding resolution; but this is a peculiar use of the word "debate" that is part of Senate jargon. It doesn't mean "debate" in the normal, dictionary sense, as that has been going on continuously since before we invaded Iraq. There has been and continues to be ample opportunity to "debate the Iraq war" in the Senate:
- Whenever any appropriations, budget, or spending bill comes up in the Senate that in any way touches on the war, a debate on the war inevitably ensues;
- Debate over the war invariably breaks out during any other debate over a bill touching on the war, such as the bill currently before Congress to "fully implemenent" the 9/11 Commission recommendations, or the anti-terrorism bill, also currently before Congress;
- During any confirmation hearing involving any nominee even remotely associated with Iraq, the military, or an intelligence agency, another debate on the war spontenously erupts;
- During any testimony by any member of the administration -- yet another debate on the war;
- During any committee hearing or meeting on any subject whatsoever... you guessed it. Another debate.
- Finally, Majority Leader of the Senate Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) can, any time he wants, recognize members for an extended debate... on the Iraq war or any other topic he chooses.
None of these requires breaking a filibuster; the GOP can stop none of these debates from occurring... and they occur virtually every week of every month of every term, and have done so even back when the Republicans ran the joint. Rather than the symbolic debate on the war being stifled, it has virtually consumed the business of the United States Senate, to the exclusion of much real legislation (for example, consideration of the necessary spending bills for the current fiscal year, which have yet to be debated).
The Senate debates and debates and debates every aspect of the war, like a deranged, obsessed UFO nut going on about the "Greys" who have taken over Washington, Moscow, and Bermuda. But one element of the obsession is to insist that nobody is even debating the war -- the nutroots can't get a hearing! They don't get to make their points! Their freedom of speech is being denied! (Translation: the opposition wants to confuse matters by participating in the discussion, to paraphrase the late Robert Anton Wilson.)
And nearly every elite newspaper uses the same bizarre circumlocution to keep up the pretense that Republicans are denying Democrats "a debate" on the war.
The Washington Post was the most ambivalent; they alternated between calling the filibuster an attempt to prevent a vote (which is is) and an attempt to cut off debate (which it isn't):
With the 56 to 34 vote, Democrats fell shy of the 60 votes required to kick off debate on a nonbinding resolution passed by the House last week that expresses support for the troops but criticizes Bush's decision to expand combat ranks by more than 20,000 troops....
Seven Republicans voted with the Democrats to allow the debate to proceed.
The Los Angeles Times also slipped a pro-forma reference to the Democratic attempt to end debate as the attempt to initiate debate:
In addition to Collins, Republicans voting to debate the measure were Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and John W. Warner of Virginia.
The Wall Street Journal slyly slips it in as part of a quotation from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-Bedlam, 95%) -- but allows the term "debate" to stand without debate (paid subscription required):
"The United States Senate, the greatest deliberative body in the world, is probably the only place in this great land where this debate is not taking place!" said 89-year-old Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune ("the Strib") took the easy way out, as usual; they reprinted the Washington Post article... but they added this bit at the top:
Sixty votes were needed to begin debate on the nonbinding measure, which would repudiate Bush's increase of troops.
In fact, of course, the Senate spent the entire day debating the non-binding resolution; Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK, 80%) was particularly scathing during this debate on Reid's demand that the senators all come in on Saturday and debate a futile and meaningless exercise in defeatism.
I thought at first that maybe all these papers took the phrase from the Associated Press; but I didn't recall the AP story from yesterday using it... and indeed, at least the one published yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times does not:
The 56-34 vote fell four short of the 60 needed to advance a nonbinding measure identical to one the House passed Friday. Seven GOP senators broke ranks, compared with only two during an earlier test on the issue.
But if that is the case -- where did this amazing coincidence of terminology come from? The only other explanation that occurs to me is that editors at the other newspapers simply copied what the New York Times wrote, that the Republicans had "rejected an effort to force debate" on the Iraq war. I suspect they originally wrote their articles straight; but when they saw that artful bit of misdiction in "America's newspaper of record," the lower-tier editorial boards gushed, "What a great way to put it! Let's us do that as well."
I can't think of any other way that such a contorted and misleading phrasing, never before used, could appear on the same day in a half dozen major newspapers and probably dozens of minor ones.
Of all the major media stories I read, only the Chicago Tribune truly got it right:
In a rare Saturday session, one day after the House issued a stinging rebuke to President Bush's plan to boost the number of troops in Iraq, Senate Democrats were unable to muster the 60 votes necessary to end a Republican filibuster and pass what has become a symbol of resistance to the war....
Angry Republicans insisted that the language in question would demoralize American soldiers fighting in Iraq. And they rejected assertions that their filibuster was preventing the Senate from debating the merits of the war strategy.
"Here is the truth that the American people need to know: Republicans in the Senate have not prevented any debate over the war in Iraq," said Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). "We are debating the war again today. We have debated the war in the past and we will continue to debate the war in the future.
So a tip of the hat to the Trib, and a raspberry to the rest of the fourth-estate tarts. For God's sake, gentlemen -- can't you leave off the inappropriate politicking for even a moment?
Ah, but I forget: "the personal is political," as the feminists constantly insist: thus, for newspaper editors who cut their teeth on the anti-war, anti-Republican protest movement of the late sixties (post-November 1968), whose entire existence is wrought up in their leftist politics, there is no sphere that is not essentially political; when they sit down to breakfast, they ponder the of geopolitical significance of eggs sunny-side up or hard-boiled.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 18, 2007, at the time of 5:47 PM
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» Strange coincidence... from Random Jottings
Dafydd has an interesting post on how most major papers phrased the recent activities in the Senate as "Republicans closing off debate on the war." In fact the Democrats were trying to end debate—that's what "cloture" means—and force a... [Read More]
Tracked on February 20, 2007 8:28 AM
The following hissed in response by: Scott
Please... You think silly things like facts can stop them?
Don't you dare try and popint out to them that the Dem's were the ones try to stop debate, using solid logic, reasoning, and facts...
The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith
Scott, we mustn't let facts get in the way of truth.
The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith at February 19, 2007 12:34 AM
The following hissed in response by: Scott
Facts are absolute. They either are, or they aren't. Truth is relative, it is mutable from person to person...
The "truth" of global warming, for example, or the "truth" behind any given religion...
Give me facts, good or bad, and allow me to decide my own truth. Wht those paper's reported is Liberal Truth. It is 100% disconected from "fact". It is formed in the absense of fact. If I were to get into a discussion before class Monday (good lord, i need to get to SLEEP! class in 7 hours, need to be up in 4) about the senate vote, I will first have to fight through the "truth" that they voted on the resolution the Dems keep talking about. Then I have to fight through the "truth" that it was a vote to aloow debate.
The facts are: The senate voted to END debate, and the Republicans prevented it from passing. The Republicans voted not just for debate, but for CONTINUED debate.
The truth could be either:
1. The republicans voted to continue debate on a topic worthy of debate so that facts might be brought to bear
2. The republicans prevented the ending of debate so the measure could be allowed a full vote and thus removed from the aggenda, and real work may be done
Both use facts, but are very different, if you look at them.
Short version: Truth is subjective, Facts aren't. Liberals refuse to allow facts cloud their personal truths. It is a mindset we must not allow. FACTS, not TRUTH
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
I think a lot of folks see through this crap to tell you the truth. I don't mean that they really understand all the parliamentary procedures and rules and everything, but they know that this is politics. And it might well back fire on the Democrats whatever their fan club in the press says.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at February 19, 2007 2:27 AM
The following hissed in response by: snochasr
I have to admit I was fooled. I thought that the Republicans who joined the Democrats on this vote wanted to START debate, not end it. That's what I get for believing what I read in the newspapers. I might as well get my news from CBS.
So what's wrong with these GOP Senators? Anybody know?
The following hissed in response by: Rovin
Welcome to the party of inclusion, who ran on a ticket that professed they would allow both party's to submit amendments,(The act of changing for the better; improvement), and alternative resolutions to put the peoples business ahead of personal agendas. NOT!
Conspiracy or absolutism?
Conspiracies are usually hidden to a degree. But with the leftoids, it's really quite transparent.
The above hissed in response by: Rovin at February 19, 2007 8:12 AM
The following hissed in response by: Big D
What I see happening is that the major American Newspapers get their talking points from the Democrats, who spin freely knowing that the newspapers will support their agenda.
The following hissed in response by: snochasr
It's worse than that. Since liberals have no fixed standard of the truth, they can say one thing one day and another thing the next. Even without the press covering up this pathological lying, they feel secure in saying anything they please.
The following hissed in response by: Scott
Exactly my point, snochasr...
Truth is mutable. Fact is not. Ignore truth, and focus on facts.
The following hissed in response by: jgr
"The United States Senate, the greatest deliberative body in the world, is probably the only place in this great land where this debate is not taking place!" said 89-year-old Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia...
(there ought to be a law against him!)
Of course, the US Senate is nothing but the greatest place of nonsensical jawing in the world, illustrated perfectly by this 89 year old bullwhacker. Your charge of collusion, Dafydd, did come true in one other place: the weekend network morning news, where I was astounded to see the TV reporter for the story use this silly Byrd phrase--without attribution--as the lead in for her piece.
The phrase blew my mind then. It blows my mind now.
I wish most voters would focus on the undeniable insanity of this criminal behavior against American interests in Congress, and in particular on the seditious words of John Murtha, who outdoes even my favorite Senatorial anti American, Carl Levin.
The following hissed in response by: charlotte
The power of the press tends to corrupt; absolute press power corrupts absolutely.
When a corrupt press exercises its power in service to a corrupt party, then our country experiences the Murtha-Sulzberger syndrome of easy inanity, vanity, profanity, insanity and, ultimately, inhumanity.
We’ll know we’ve reached that stage of inhumanity if our press and Dems ever protest Gitmo and American wars of liberation over terrorism, genocide, slavery and ideological oppression promulgated by others. Fortunate for us, our not-so-objective free press and in-for-themselves humanitarian Dems would never go that far…
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