Political Animal

REPORTING THE WAR….Arthur Silber complains

REPORTING THE WAR….Arthur Silber complains today about confirmation bias:

Since the war began two weeks ago, I have noticed the following (it began well before then, but has become much more noticeable recently): almost every strongly prowar blog that I read references many stories which support the rosiest scenarios about how this war will play out, and what will happen in a post-war Iraq (and beyond). Similarly, most antiwar blogs I read link to many stories raising questions about the positive scenarios, stories which may show serious troubles arising, both now and in the future.

This is pretty obviously true, but in a way I think it might be exactly backward. The main thing I’ve noticed has been the insistence of everyone that all the other guys are biased. Conservatives insist, for example, that the BBC is little more than a communist propaganda tool, while liberals kvetch about the cheerleading on CNN.

But Arthur’s right: as I mentioned in my post about Robert Fisk a few days ago, you shouldn’t ignore news just because you don’t like it. It might be true anyway. And if you want to know how the war is going, check out Fox, CNN, and the BBC and then split the difference. You’ll probably get pretty close.

GIBBERISH….Can someone please tell me

GIBBERISH….Can someone please tell me what the hell this William F. Buckley column means? It just sounds like gibberish to me. Until the last line, that is…

It would be nice if Chirac were to appear in due course at the White House, drop his pants, and wave his white under drawers, surrendering to the superior statesmanship of President Bush.

…at which point it leaves gibberish behind and tries to imitate the sophisticated humor of South Park. I thought WFB was supposed to be an intellectual?


FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING….Reader Peter Jung sends us this story from the Queensland Courier-Mail about a five-year-old girl who rescued her kitten from a (thankfully non-poisonous) local viper:

Marlie Coleman did not think twice about taking on the scrub python when it wrapped its jaws around her kitten Sooty in their Cairns backyard earlier this year.

The sharp-toothed python let go of the kitten, but attached itself to Marlie’s lip, hanging on until her mother heard the screams and shook it off.

As you can see from the photo on the right, viper-feline relations are considerably better here at CalPundit HQ. In fact, Inkblot feels his safest when he’s curled up on the couch in the cold-blooded emprace of our pet python. On the left, the all-too-warm-blooded Jasmine is poised to attack some freshly planted catnip.

And reader Douglas Reynolds writes: “Your affinity for cats I don’t get, they always seemed like such Republican animals….” Well, let’s see: cats are sneaky, self-indulgent, demand attention, and don’t realize just how good they have it thanks to the hard work of those around them. So, um, yeah, I guess I see your point.

Today’s bonus cats come from Kip of Long story; short pier, who posted a link last Friday to this graphically entertaining scrapbook of his cats, Ranger and Kali. Check it out.


THE TIMETABLES OF WAR….Tim Goodman in the San Francisco Chronicle says that CNN knew when the war would start two weeks ahead of time:

On March 4, according to a source at CNN, the brass in Atlanta knew it was happening March 19 and wasn’t being too tight-lipped about it. The source, who requested anonymity, told The Chronicle on March 4 that executives there said the war “had been scheduled” for March 19 and plans were under way.

It probably doesn’t matter that someone leaked this to CNN ? although it certainly seems like poor operational discipline, doesn’t it? ? but if this is true then it means that all the “diplomacy” that was going on between March 4th and March 16th was just a sham.

Sure, we all suspected as much, but not quite this baldly. I wonder if we’ll hear more about this?