Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Via Gerard: I find it worthy of comment how much the New York Times reads like the National Review, or maybe even a Rush Limbaugh sound clip, in editorializing about the Dan Rather lawsuit against CBS, the disgraced anchorman’s former employer. Must be somebody’s first day…or last day…or both.
Mr. Rather, 75, asserts that the network violated his contract by giving him insufficient airtime on “60 Minutes” after forcing him to step down as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in March 2005. He also contends that the network committed fraud by commissioning a “biased” and incomplete investigation of the flawed Guard broadcast and, in the process, “seriously damaged his reputation.”
In the suit, filed this afternoon in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Rather charges that CBS and its executives made him “a scapegoat” in an attempt “to pacify the White House,” though the formal complaint presents virtually no direct evidence to that effect.
The portrait of Mr. Rather that emerges from the 32-page filing bears little resemblance to the hard-charging, seemingly fearless anchor who for two decades shared the stage with Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings as the most watched and recognizable journalists in America. By his own rendering, Mr. Rather was little more than a narrator of the disputed broadcast, which was shown on Sept. 8, 2004, on the midweek edition of “60 Minutes” and which purported to offer new evidence of preferential treatment given to Mr. Bush when he was a lieutenant in the Air National Guard.
This is the first time I’ve been aware of the New York Times insisting on “evidence to that effect” in this context, or even bothering to take note of lack of such evidence. Good on them. Maybe after generations of running under the slogan “All the news that’s fit to print,” they’re finally living up to it.
As for Mr. Rather, I seriously doubt he needs a post-retirement career to be able to afford the buckwheat. Nevertheless, I’m tempted to entertain the fantasy that he’s found one, as a secret agent for the talk radio industry. Once you overcome the initial misgivings about such intellectual extravagance, this would all make sense. Perfect sense.
Dan Rather, fearless anchorman, tells us all what to think for a quarter of a century as the successor to Uncle Walter, and we believe him just like we believed Uncle Walter. Dan Rather is busted when someone slides a Microsoft Word document under his nose, and he and his producers present it as a document typed up in 1974 because they were told to think that. The bust is made by something called “blogs,” which didn’t exist for some 80% or more of Dan Rather’s career as Uncle Walter’s successor, and perhaps 90% or so of his career as a hard-hitting newshound. So…
…hucksters and shysters tell Dan Rather what he should think, and he tells us what we should think, naturally inspiring the question “how the hell long has this been going on?” But after the bust brings his career to an inglorious end, he presents himself not as a fearless anchor, or a hard-hitting newshound, but as a know-nothing pretty-boy behind a fancy desk reading from a teleprompter.
So he’s an old-school, notebook and shoe-leather take-no-prisoners journalist when there’s glory involved, but when it all turns to crap he’s suddenly just a talking head and nothing more. His former colleagues are just as guilty of failing to do the proper homework, and have been observed conducting themselves with equal measures of duplicity. In short — nobody got fooled by the Microsoft Word document. Everybody says it was somebody else’s job to check it out properly. Nobody got fooled…and yet, with all these reputations in tatters and all these careers ruined…you, the viewer, are still a stupid idiot Bush-bot if you don’t believe the documents were authentic.
When all the dust has settled, you tune into the evening news…why?
If Dan Rather can follow a news trail as well as people say, and is as smart as people give him credit for being, that’s got to be the answer. He’s a turncoat. He’s communicating a hidden message to us, that we should stop watching the boob tube and start reading blogs and listening to talk radio. That has to be it…because he’s turning the industry that made him a wealthy man — into a freakin’ joke.
An interesting aside: I was going to use the phrase “Swift Boat” as a verb to discuss what happened to poor Dan, when exploring the whole sorry episode from his perspective. It occurred to me that it’s never been satisfactorily explained to me what exactly this means — nevermind how often I hear it. In fact, “swift boat” may very well be the first term to be thoroughly worn out and tossed into the cliche junk heap before I even managed to catch a glimmer of the substance behind it. Well, I don’t like using words without knowing what they mean, and I don’t like shrinking from using words just because I don’t know what they mean. I certainly don’t like it when a lot of other people know something I don’t.
So I looked it up.
The substance was unsurprising, but the lack of discussion was not. There are — exactly — two definitions in the online Urban Dictionary, one constructed for appeal to the lefty-loosies and one for the tighty-righties:
1. The phrase “swift boat” describes a Vietnam-era patrol boat, but it is increasingly being used to describe the political tactic of using a concentrated media effort to discredit a person or idea.
The phrase developed out of the 2004 U.S. presidential election, when a group called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” attempted to suggest that Democratic candidate John Kerry lied in order to earn two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star during the Vietnam War. The group, as it turns out, was funded primarily by people who also frequently donated millions of dollars to the Republican party. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was formed for the sole purpose of discrediting Kerry’s Vietnam War service and has not been heard from since the end of the election.
2. To thwart a conspiracy to deceive the public by getting the facts out on someone despite a concerted effort on the part of the media to ignore and/or actively discredit a politically inconvenient truth.
ABC’s false stories were unable to prevent the veteran’s group from being able to swift boat Kerry’s Vietnam fantasy.
Both sides give you an ounce of real definition, and a gallon of self-service to their own respective agendas. At this writing, one can easily observe that people who cast votes for these definitions, overwhelmingly would have preferred a Kerry presidency in 2004 and presumably now as well. But from this, we don’t know a lot about “swift boating” other than that it’s an assertion of something that some people happen to dislike. Wikipedia is no more helpful:
Swiftboating is American political jargon that is used as a strong pejorative description of some kind of attack that the speaker considers unfair—for example, an ad hominem attack or a smear campaign.
The term comes from the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth (formerly “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth”) and their widely-publicized attacks on 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry. Historically, terms like “swiftboating”, “Swift Boating”, “Swift Boat tactics”, etc. were given currency by people who had very negative views of SBVT.
I briefly toyed with the idea of editing the article and removing the reference to “ad hominem”; I have never once heard the term “swift-boating” used to refer to an ad hominem attack. I have heard it repeatedly used to describe things the speaker would like listeners to think were ad homs; but nothing that would, according to said speaker’s own arguments, qualify.
The phrase “ad hominem” has certain rules to it. You have to engage in deception by distracting from the subject at hand. You can’t be attacking the argument itself; if you are, it’s unlikely any logical fallacy is being engaged, and this certainly isn’t an ad hom. If I use poor logic in the classic example of “All fish live in water, Flipper lives in water, therefore Flipper is a fish” — and you are heard telling someone “Don’t listen to Morgan, he is using poor logic” — this is not an ad hominem attack. You’re attacking my argument by attacking the logic used to construct it.
A better example of ad hominem would be “Don’t listen to Morgan, he only drinks beer from glass bottles.” The misplaced presumption of solidity in the attack, is the key. The presumption should be misplaced because the attack deals with personal attributes, removed from the substance of the original argument. People who drink beer from glass bottles can be right about things, people who drink beer from cans can be wrong about things.
Come to think of it, a great example of the ad hominem is “The group…was funded primarily by people who also frequently donated millions of dollars to the Republican party.”
But I’ve learned to leave my edits out of Wikipedia, whose problems of late result from being policed above, rather than below, par. While I believe in the experiment overall, I fear it is doomed to carry, everlastingly, at least a stain of defeat. This is perfectly acceptable to me, since we live in an imperfect universe filled with imperfect things. But some folks have made it their mission in life to police Wikipedia. Edits that offer another perspective on things, disappear so quickly that they have no effect at all, and this is by the design of an excessively enthusiastic editor who doesn’t happen to like that other perspective.
Said hyperactive and overly self-indulgent editors tend to lean left. That’s just the way things are. Leftists have more time.
On the swift-boat verb, I like my own definition better than the others I’ve read. Not just for the way it flows, but for it’s marriage with the truth. And it is truly an occasion worth noting when I manage to be concise while everybody else rambles on endlessly and in relative futility. Things do not often happen that way.
The act of pointing out something with regard to a matter under immediate discussion, that extremist zealots (particularly those inclined to the left) would just as soon have been left unmentioned. Especially, testimony from knowledgeable individuals that would place a purported certainty into significant doubt.
I think that says it all. To say someone has “swift boated” is not, despite appearances, an accusation of anything. It is a simple declaration. “I am an extreme, politically-motivated zealot and I wish you hadn’t said that.” It doesn’t mean anything beyond that.
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